Theme parks’ dilemma: The British weather

Blackpool Pleasure Beach sunset

This weekend has been unseasonably mild, with many parts of the United Kingdom experiencing all-day sunshine.

It is easy to forget that we are still officially in winter until Friday next week.

Last year, who can forget Alton Towers’ blushes as they were forced to abandon the mid-March official opening of their new rollercoaster Wicker Man, due to wintry conditions.

This weekend’s dose of spring caused a number of theme parks to reach full capacity, with seafront car parks in Southend and Blackpool bursting at the seams.

All this nearly a month earlier in the year than when Alton Towers could barely open any of its rides.

To open, or not to open

Theme parks need to plan their opening calendars fairly far in advance, staff need to be given start dates and rides tested well before official openings.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach takes something of a risk by consistently opening in early-to mid-February weekends each year.

This year that decision appears to have paid off massively, with over 10,000 vistors reported to have been at the park on Saturday.

Had it been snowing, or closer to zero degrees in temperature, that figure might have been over ten times less.

And with the week preceding this weekend also having pleasant weather, UK theme parks might easily have operated in healthy profit throughout this February half-term week.

Climate change can be debated, but the British Isles have always experienced variable weather at this time of year.

While parks have been criticised for blaming bad weather for poor financial results in the past, this weekend has been a striking reminder that setting their opening calendars can be a real roll of the dice.