What happened

Six Flags (NYSE:SIX) shareholders outperformed a surging market last month. The stock rose 15% in May compared to a 4.5% increase in the S&P 500, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

The rally did little to erase longer-term losses, though, as shares remain lower by nearly 50% so far in 2020.

A roller coaster heading lower.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

May's stock price increase was powered by rising optimism in the broader theme park industry as the COVID-19 threat appeared to be receding. Six Flags, along with peers like Cedar Fair (NYSE:FUN), generates most of its revenue during the summer months and so shares rose as it became clear that many stay-at-home orders would be lifted around the country by June.

Now what

The regional theme park operator now faces the challenge of safely reopening its parks and serving millions of guests while an outbreak threat remains. Six Flags starts that journey on June 5 with the reopening of an Oklahoma park. Guests will be required to wear masks and observe social distancing limits, which will change the resort experience for the foreseeable future. But Six Flags is hoping its customers still enjoy their trip and continue seeing theme parks as an attractive option for outside-of-the-home entertainment.