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Amusement Parks to Feel Effect of Year-Round School

October 14, 1987|MARY ANN GALANTE | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles' new year-round schools may be a learning experience for Southern California's tourist attractions.

"It certainly won't help us during the summer," said Stuart Zanville, a spokesman for Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park. Noting that the park's 3.5-million annual attendance depends largely on the weather, he said: "We don't know whether people will automatically come in the wintertime." Other amusement park operators were also unsure what the effect would be of switching to year-around schools in Los Angeles.

The school board voted Monday to place all 592,000 students in the 618 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District on year-round schedules beginning in July, 1989, to ease overcrowding.

Assessing Decision

But whether the break for the city school system turns out to be a break for the tourism business remains to be seen, officials at four major parks agreed Tuesday. The move is just about certain to help even out seasonal attendance at the parks and cut the available pool of summer teen-age workers.

Officials at Disneyland believe that the new policy could bring more visitors to the Magic Kingdom during otherwise off-season months. "It may spread out our weekday attendance somewhat--and that would be just fine with us," said Bob Roth, a spokesman.

Summer employment shouldn't be affected much, either, at the Anaheim park, which draws about 12 million visitors a year. Of Disneyland's 9,000 summer workers, most are Orange County residents. "We just don't employ many high school age people from L.A. County," Roth said.

Furthermore, most of Disneyland's summer employees are graduating seniors, and few are under 18, he said.

On the other hand, Universal Studios Tour in Universal City, which hires hundreds of high school students each summer, may be step up its hiring of senior citizens.

"We're active in recruitment for seniors," said Joan Bullard, a spokeswoman for Universal. And Universal's recruitment program could be bolstered if there seems to be a shortage of kids to fill its 2,000 summer job slots.

Bullard conceded that Universal's yearly attendance of more than 4 million could be negatively affected since 40% of its guests arrive during the summer and 20% live in Southern California. "We're waiting to hear the details" about the district's program, she said.

Southern California's fourth major theme park, Magic Mountain in Valencia, says the district's new schedule won't make much difference in summer hiring since most of its student workers live in the Santa Clarita Valley, said spokeswoman Sherrie Bang.

But park hours could change, she said. Magic Mountain is open daily only from Memorial Day to Labor Day and does 60% of its business during the summer season. The park is open only on weekends and holidays during the rest of the year.

"I can't imagine we'll be shortening our operating calendar," Bang said. "But we will consider whether there's a need for a change."

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