Have you ever traveled around in hopes of wanting to ride a roller coaster only to find out that the park is closed? You double-check the calendar, it is summer, you are free for the day, and yet you are in an empty parking lot. Across the country, school schedules can start as early as July and, in other parts, September. The theme park industry relies not only on families and teenagers coming through the gates but also those summer jobs in the parks to keep them operating. “Kings Dominion often closed in late August because it didn’t have enough teens to work at the park,” said Wilson H. Flohr Jr., the park’s executive vice president and general manager from 1984 to 1998. “We had to close the week before Labor Day because we could not staff the park to maintain our safety and cleanliness standards. We had to turn away thousands of guests — mostly tourists from the Northeast because schools didn’t start there until after Labor Day.” In Doswell, Virginia, Kings Dominion decided to put into motion a way to change things and presented it to the state.
In 1986, Kings Dominion convinced state legislators to change the law. The law got nicknamed the Kings Dominion Relief Bill as a result. A ban was put into place to prevent schools from opening before Labor Day. “Some state lawmakers have tried changing the law, but it has become a somewhat futile and perennial exercise,” reported Fredericksburg.com. According to Eric Terry, president of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association, “an economic impact study conducted a couple of years ago showed starting schools early would have a $360 million negative impact on the state’s tourism industry.” For the first time since the law went into effect, 85 school districts received a waiver that allowed them to open before Labor Day in year. During the Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday leading up to Labor Day, the coasters were silent at Kings Dominion. Although Kings Dominion did not expand on why they decided to close on the three days, park spokeswoman, Katelyn Sherwood, remarked, “There are numerous factors that go into planning the operating schedule each year, and the planning is typically done a year in advance. During that time, we decided it was best to be open this past Monday (Aug. 28) and Friday (Sept. 1) through Monday of Labor Day weekend.” Does this mean that the park will close early in the years to come, or is this just an exception? If you had your choice Coaster Addicts, when is your favorite time of year to ride coasters?
[Feature image courtesy of Coaster Addict Dwayne.]