New Jersey’s smaller amusement parks struggle to stay afloat during pandemic

The owners of some of New Jersey’s smaller amusement parks say that they are struggling to stay in business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

News 12 Staff

Jun 18, 2020, 12:37 AM

Updated 1,407 days ago

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The owners of some of New Jersey’s smaller amusement parks say that they are struggling to stay in business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The summer is the busy season for these parks, and they are not able to open while Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive orders are in effect. But some of the owners say that they can operate safely if the governor will let them.
“We are an outdoor venue, so to our defense, being an outdoor venue, it’s much easier,” says Ilya Girlya, president and CEO of Diggerland in Camden County. “All of us have gone to many venues that are indoors that I’ve seen much more people and less ability to social distance, so we’re anxious and hopeful that the governor makes the right decision for us to open up sooner rather than later.”
Girlya says that Diggerland is ready to open and has implemented new safety policies, including requiring masks for employees and guests and frequently wiping down high-touch areas.
“In between guests that ride and operate machinery, our staff will be spraying down and cleaning those surfaces,” he says.
Girlya says chairs and the boardwalk will also be hosed down more often.
Photos: Your Coronavirus Pandemic Experience
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Diggerland recently added a multimillion-dollar expansion water park. But the owners say that with it now being open, they are worried about making money in the future.
"The financial investment that we have made has been enormous and like any business owner, you anticipate the customers will come and help you recoup some of that investment and not being open has been very hard and it's been very strenuous on our entire management staff,” says Girlya.
The New Jersey Attractions Association represents many of the small amusement parks in the state.
In a statement, the association says it is “working with the governor's office, and we are confident and hopeful our efforts and cooperation with the administration will yield a positive result for our businesses and the public."


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