Theme park company SeaWorld Entertainment (PRKS 1.36%), famous for its dolphin and orca displays, announced that it means to furlough 90% of its employees on April 1 for an indefinite period. The furlough comes after SeaWorld closed all of its parks in response to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. during March. After getting a last few days of pay, the workers will receive no wages or salaries for the duration of the shutdown.

The news came on Friday, March 27, in a current report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The furlough affects a workforce consisting of 12,000 part-time workers and 4,700 full-timers. SeaWorld noted that these workers are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits while awaiting the parks' reopening.

Dolphins performing at SeaWorld Orlando.

Image source: SeaWorld Entertainment.

J.P. Morgan analysis indicates the theme park closures could cost SeaWorld approximately $233 million in revenue this year. Estimates put the reduction in traffic at the parks due to the coronavirus at 3 million people, lowering total attendance to 19.6 million from a potential 22.6 million, according to the research note.

SeaWorld's measures to honor tickets and reservations disrupted by the park closures include extending domestic single-day ticket viability to Dec. 31 of this year. Date-specific "in-park experiences" and other types of reservations will be eligible for rescheduling for any date before the end of the year with zero change fees, subject to availability.

The few employees not furloughed include those who care for the parks' animals, an unavoidable fixed cost that needs to be continued throughout the closure period.