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Impact of Corona Virus 19 on 2020 Season

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  • Impact of Corona Virus 19 on 2020 Season

    You've seen the stock market plunge... You see other countries cancelling school attendance and public gatherings... And there is serious talk of cancelling the summer Olympics . This weekend, our local Costco & Sams were overflowing with long lines of worried customers stocking up for the next Zombie Apocalypse. (Good luck finding an empty shopping cart!) So now you gotta ask yourself, will the panic be over by October? And if it is not, how many here will cancel their events?

    I'm not prone to panic. (In fact, I'm seeing some real stock buying opportunities now.) But I'm pragmatic and I realize it's an election year so the media is probably going to fan the flames of fear as much as possible, all the way until November 7th. It's going to be tough (and expensive) convincing people that they are not literally "risking their lives" by going to a haunt. I guess we'll have to wait and see if the virus becomes widespread and "accepted" by then, or if it's still super rare here (like it is now), or if it is just then beginning to punch through our defenses. But one thing is for sure: This may be our scariest season yet.


  • #2
    Latest updates: Japan says they are going to run the Olympics no matter what, but MGM decides to put off their newest Bond movie "No Time To Die" until November. So Hollywood apparently thinks things should calm down right after the election (just like I mentioned earlier). So did some in the music industry as Mariah Carey moved her concert to Nov. 28. Coincidence? Perhaps. But oddly enough, the traditional flu season STARTS in November, with October being the latest people are suggested to take flu shots.

    From USA today:

    The release date for Daniel Craig's final James Bond film "No Time to Die" has been postponed until November amid the global coronavirus outbreak.

    The film's producers announced Wednesday that "after careful consideration and thorough evaluation of the global theatrical marketplace" the release would be postponed from its original April release date to Nov. 12 in the U.K. and Nov. 25 in the U.S.

    MGM, Universal and Bond producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli gave no further elaboration beyond the economic impact for the decision to move the film directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga from its April 2 U.K. opening and April 10 U.S. opening.

    The Bond move from the coveted Easter weekend opening is the first high-profile film postponement resulting from the outbreak of the highly transmissible coronavirus.

    In February, Paramount Studios scrapped a three-week “Mission: Impossible VII” shoot in Venice, Italy, which would have been the first day of production for the latest movie in the action franchise.

    The global outbreak has already curtailed other group entertainment activities such as high-profile concerts.

    Mariah Carey announced Tuesday on Twitter that she was rescheduling a March 10 concert in Hawaii because of the "evolving international travel restrictions" stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Carey moved her Honolulu concert stop to Nov. 28.

    The Korean pop group BTS was scheduled to kick off its BTS Map of the Soul tour on April 11 in Seoul, South Korea, but cancelled the entire tour last week because of the virus.

    The eighth and ninth persons to have died in the U.S. from coronavirus were confirmed Wednesday; 128 cases have been reported so far in the U.S.

    The global death toll was at 3,214 Wednesday, with more than 2,900 of those deaths in mainland China, where the outbreak began.


    • #3
      Honestly I always try and think about the best possible outcome. Some are saying the warm weather of the summer can kill off the virus not from peoples bodies, but from spreading. They're predicting a anti-virus within 12 months.

      What I'm hoping is the summer gets here and the spreading slows, and sometime over the summer its a non-issue. I do think that is very possible outcome. The good news however is simple... at least for our industry we're still MONTHS AND MONTHS AWAY!

      We have time. In the meantime hopefully they find a way to contain and cure it.
      Larry Kirchner


      • #4
        I agree. I think everyone should just be optimistic and see what happens. We're months away from having to worry about it.


        • #5
          Yes, a lot can happen in 8 months (good and bad). For us, whatever the colleges do will decide what we do. If they're still open, we will open also. But if an outbreak hits and they close for September/ October, we would probably follow suit.

          The latest cancellation news is that South by Southwest just cancelled their festival in Texas. That's an estimated $335 million loss to Austin. This from KXXV:

          South by Southwest (SXSW) has been canceled due to growing coronavirus concerns.

          The City of Austin declared a State of Disaster during a press conference Friday.

          The festival issued a statement, saying they are devastated to share the news. The group announced they are now working through the ramifications of this "unprecedented situation."
          Several big names had already pulled out of the festival, including Facebook and Amazon.

          A petition on to cancel SXSW garnered over 55,000 signatures.

          SXSW was founded in Austin in 1987. The inaugural festival included 177 artists and 15 stages. In 2019, the festival had almost 2,000 showcasing artists and 94 venues and stages.​

          South by Southwest (SXSW) has been canceled due to growing coronavirus concerns.

          The City of Austin declared a State of Disaster during a press conference Friday.

          The festival issued a statement, saying they are devastated to share the news. The group announced they are now working through the ramifications of this "unprecedented situation."

          Several big names had already pulled out of the festival, including Facebook and Amazon.

          A petition on to cancel SXSW garnered over 55,000 signatures.

          SXSW was founded in Austin in 1987. The inaugural festival included 177 artists and 15 stages. In 2019, the festival had almost 2,000 showcasing artists and 94 venues and stages.

          KVUE reported Austin's 2019 SXSW Festival brought in $355 million to the city.


          • #6
            A Growing Number of Colleges are Closing in Response to the Virus. (And if they're closed during Halloween... you can expect a major impact on haunts.)

            A growing number of U.S. colleges have canceled in-person classes because of the coronavirus. The closures began in Washington state, and now include Harvard University, Columbia University, Princeton University, Rice University, Stanford University, Hofstra University, University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Washington, among others. As of midday Tuesday, more than half a million students are affected by the cancellations.

            Education technology specialist Bryan Alexander of Georgetown University has been leading an effort to track coronavirus-related higher education closures. He expects to see many more in the coming days and weeks. "Higher education has a very strong herd mentality," he says, "so I think once University of [Washington]made a shift to teaching online, I think that really got everyone excited."

            Many of the colleges announced that they were pausing in-person classes after students or staff members tested positive for the virus. Others, such as Midland University in Nebraska, announced only that they were canceling "out of an abundance of caution."

            In some cases, events for prospective students are also being canceled. But many campuses are following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are staying open when possible to offer housing and meals to students. Research labs, including those investigating the coronavirus itself, will in most cases remain open. University of Washington spokesperson Victor Balta told NPR: "The campus is not closed; therefore any researchers who need to come to campus are able to do so."

            In addition, some of the colleges that have canceled classes, such as Rice and the University of Washington, are continuing to hold athletic events.

            In most cases, colleges that have canceled in-person classes have taken steps to offer some instruction online in the interim, and those that are still holding classes are preparing to do the same if necessary.

            Stanford spokesperson E.J. Miranda told NPR, "We are not canceling classes. We are implementing online instruction for the remaining two weeks of the quarter."

            Daniel Stanford, an education and multimedia professor at DePaul University, has been collecting resources put out by universities to help faculty shift to online teaching. His list includes learning management systems like Blackboard, videoconferencing programs such as Zoom and Shindig, lecture capture tools like Kaltura and free online course platforms like Coursera.

            On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance allowing colleges to pivot quickly to distance instruction without needing to go through normal channels for approval of an online program. As for students, whose enrollment or academic standing may be disrupted, the department instructed financial aid administrators to "use professional judgement to make adjustments on a case-by-case basis" as far as financial aid amounts and eligibility.

            The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that higher education institutions that have not yet identified the virus in their community take several steps now, including updating emergency operations plans, promoting basic hygiene and stepping up cleaning and disinfection protocols.

            Once higher education leaders identify a case in their community, the CDC advises that they "determine if, when, and for how long" to suspend in-person events and class meetings. The CDC recommends that campuses try to maintain basic services, including housing and meals. For example, rather than serve meals in dining halls, the agency suggests alternatives like "grab-and-go" lunches.

            The CDC also recommends that school leaders "help counter stigma and promote resilience on campus." It advises that colleges work to "counter the spread of misinformation and mitigate fear" and that leaders "speak out against negative behaviors, including negative statements on social media about groups of people."

            On social media, students have been speaking out about the cancellations.

            "@Princeton just cancelled in person classes for three weeks because of Coronavirus but they can't replace the hand soap in our dorm that's been empty for a week," wrote a user who identifies as a member of the class of 2021.

            On Sunday, a Twitter user who identifies as a student at Fordham University wrote, "Columbia cancelled class cause 1 person was exposed to coronavirus meanwhile fordham is staying open with like 5 people exposed." The next day, Fordham canceled classes.



            • #7
              Our best hope is that the virus burns itself out in the summer, and doesn't resurface until after Halloween. It will almost certainly come back though, following the weather (and north/ south travelers). And although this season may be really rough, things will mellow out the next season (or the one after that) once a vaccine is widespread.


              • #8
                All in the last 24 hours... Travel from Europe suspended. NBA announces it is cancelled this year. Colleges here in Tallahassee go on line for two weeks (probably much longer). And Tom Hanks get the virus-- just for good measure. It's probably going to be good time to buy stocks cheap the next few days!


                • #9
                  Wow, our beloved Transworld postponed, several states on "lock down", and the summer Olympics put off until 2021. This is one for the books alright. But a $2 trillion stimulus was just passed and the stock market shot up. (So I guess it "was" a good time to buy stocks.) Assuming the virus dies down for the summer but returns in Fall, does anyone have any haunt idea alternatives?


                  • #10
                    There is a free virtual conference about the effects of the Chinese virus on our industry on March 28 and 29th. They talk about it at:


                    • #11
                      Things should return to a new level of normal before our season begins. I have survived through SARS, Bird Flu, H1N1, 9-11, several mass shootings INCLUDING one right here in Las Vegas on October 1st! We rebounded EVERY time. And most times are business was strong after. The October 1 shooting had the biggest impact as it was DURING our season. However things were already rebounding by the end of the month so that we were only down about 15% for the season. Once the public gets through events like this they WANT to escape and get back to normal distractions...WE provide them!

                      Based on past experience we should be good if things didn't return to normal until late August. I would prefer we normalize MUCH sooner, the longer the wait, the smaller the discretionary income that will be available. THAT will be our major hurdle. People will need to get back to work so they can catch up on bills! But even some of those will still want some escape time!!
                      R&J Productions
                      Las Vegas, NV


                      • #12
                        If you listen to Donald Trump who like him or not is the President clearly has been saying for days now that he wants the country to REOPEN!

                        The country can't go on much longer not being able to go back to work. The longer we're not working the longer it will take to recover. If we don't get this economy back in track fast, who knows what the condition will be come October.

                        The good news for the haunted house industry is that we have six months to see what happens. I doubt haunt owners will be parting with much money between now and when you feel BETTER about the situation. I totally get that.

                        Everything is going to be based on the how the employment is looking around Mid-July.

                        If its bad haunts will need to figure out how they can cut costs: Cut marketing - Call Staffing - Stop Spending - Cancel new Projects - Limit the days open - You simply have to look at everything.
                        Larry Kirchner


                        • #13
                          Well shit. looking at southern half of globe going into their "fall season" now it is going up there too now. The main dr. in all of Trumps press conferences is saying to expect a seasonal cycle..and we will get it this fall. Add in the last ditch effort by media to hype the shit outof anything the month before election...and our chances of being open at all are a crap shoot at best. Even though the curve "computer models" are full of shit in their predictions AND this was admitted by those who made these huge curves and predicted 500,000 dead in great Britain just yesterday (3/26/2020) ...the virus will still be around this fall.

                          Last fall here in Michigan media FREAKED OUT EVERYONE with a damn mosquito disease. HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL WAS CANCELLED ON FRIDAY NIGHTS!!!! "Do not go out after drk when mosquitos come out" Our season was DEAD for corn maze that opens in mid Sept. MEDIA IS POWERFUL SCARE MONGER! We had a few deaths but media scared the shit outof everyone. heck most have already forgot we had the problem unless their kids school sports were affected. And last year here in Michigan it was just so they had people listening to them rto see their advertisers. This fall...the liberal news will be out for Trumps blood bleeding him of any votes they possibly can/ And their fear spreading is THE BEST TOOL THEY HAVE. They are already planning this falls attack. And haunt are the pawns.

                          Wicked Farmer


                          • #14
                            One effect is the lack of product from TW to keep things fresh. Is there a list of confirmed vendors/haunts that are closing up shop because of this situation?


                            • #15
                              Yes, the media is a powerful advocate. In fact, studies have shown that media coverage is significantly more powerful at influencing decisions than paid advertising. So in essence, all the "free media" (news coverage) can damage turnout much more than all the paid advertising we can muster (or afford). That being said, word of mouth is considered even more powerful than free media & newspaper editorials. So just because the newscasters will be fanning the flames of panic all the way through the election, doesn't mean they will convince everyone for six more months to live in fear, especially if the public at large gets tired of hearing the same thing and suspects they are exaggerating to influence the outcome of Nov 7th. (That's assuming they ARE exaggerating. There is always the chance things do not improve and actually get worse. But I'm hoping that will not be the case.) Many observers claim the public ignored the media in 2016 when the their coverage of that election became so obviously one-sided. Despite all their efforts to disparage the eventual winner, their candidate still lost by a significant electoral college vote count. Whether that will happen again is anyone's guess, but if they are still reporting that the economy is doomed and it's unsafe to gather in public in October, it's gonna be an uphill battle to convince customers to spend money and endanger themselves by going out and getting in a line.

                              For me, the deciding factor is the colleges and schools. If those are shut down and using the internet to teach students, I don't think I can expect a crowd to show up for non-essential entertainment. Moreover, I have my staff to think about. A lot of my staff are personal friends that I don't want to put at risk anymore than members of my own family. This disease seems to be far less dangerous to youngsters, thank goodness, but any real risk is hard to justify. I don't expect a vaccine to be available this year (although I hope I'm wrong), and there's a good chance this virus will return with the cold weather (although Florida is usually last in the nation to feel the fall... it's usually like late in October before the evenings get cold.) A shortened season may be the best we can hope for.

                              But as others have said, it's too early to make these decisions yet. I will be checking out those free virtual seminars this weekend and hopefully, they will provide some good options and/or news.