Family entertainment businesses hoping vaccines lead to earlier re-openings

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Restrictions brought on by the pandemic have taken a huge toll on the entire family entertainment industry.

But now attractions such as Storyland-Playland in Central Fresno are hoping the COVID-19 vaccine could help them re-open sooner rather than later.

"When we get the green light, we'll be ready to go. We've got all our certifications all that stuff is already in the cue and inline," said Storyland-Playland Board Chair Bruce Batti.

Batti estimates the popular family destination is down more than $500,000 in lost revenue amid the pandemic.

Staff members are continuing to work with the city during the downtime to figure out how to reopen safely -- and make up for lost time -- when health officials say its okay to resume operations.

"In 2019 we did a lot of upgrades within the parks, we added new audio boxes at the end of 2019 at Storyland. Over on the other side we added a new entrance to Playland, the Teacups came online in 2019. So we were poised to truthfully have our best year ever," said Batti.

Playland is expected to be further down the list of re-openings because of its rides and play structures, but officials remain optimistic that Storyland will be allowed to welcome people back in early 2021.

"Storyland is more of a self guided tour, it's more make-believe so that's what we're working with with the city and having a safe environment there."

While the new stay home order is the latest blow to Storyland Playland -- the entire family entertainment industry is feeling the effects.

The nearby Chaffee Zoo has closed again, so too are movie theaters and other indoor fun centers, but the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine offers a glimmer of hope for the not too distant future.

"I used to live vicariously through the parks. You could go out there and hear kids laughing each and every day in quantities. I'm misty-eyed to get back to those days."
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