LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The owners of Joyland Amusement Park say they may not be able to pull through the COVID-19 closure if they can’t open soon for their 48th season.
“We were blessed to have a go at [the season], but it didn’t take us but about a couple of weeks and we could see that we weren’t going to make it at all,” Owner David Dean said. “We’d already used up basically what we lived on during the winter. We got open and we got to the point where we had to lay off everyone, all our part-time people and our full-time people. Then, I had to lay off myself in an effort to stay afloat.”
Dean tells KCBD that Joyland was open for two Saturdays in early March before the park closed. Nearly 90 of the employees were laid off and a few were rehired using the Paycheck Protection Program, which is about to run out.
“It’s getting a little scary for us, very scary for us right now,” Dean said. “If something doesn’t happen pretty soon, then our bank account will be dry.”
Plans with safety measures for reopening have been submitted to local and state leaders. However, there has been no guidance as to when amusement parks may reopen.
According to Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA 23, issued on May 18, “...people shall avoid visiting interactive amusement venues such as video arcades, amusement parks, or water parks, unless these enumerated establishments or venues are specifically added as a Covered Service by proclamation or future executive order of the governor.”
“We thought we were going to open Friday,” Dean said. “It would have been our opening day. We saw everybody else opening up and, yet, we remain closed. The uncertainty of it all, that’s what’s really made it tough.”
As of mid-May, Joyland has been closed for three months of its six-month season. The hope is to open the gates before that season is up for the benefit of the business and the park visitors.
“We want to be around for years to come,” Dean said. “We believe in the American dream. This business is about fun. It’s about smiles. We want to get back to that.”