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Does amusement park attendance justify holding back schools?

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RICHMOND, Va. -- With summer winding down, some kids are taking advantage of theme parks like Kings Dominion in Central Virginia before the start of the school year.

In Virginia, most city and county school districts begin classes after Labor Day because of the 1986 "Kings Dominion law," which aimed to give the state's tourism industry an extra week to cash in on the busy crowds.

Many kids said they prefer the longer summer.

Mark Perkins said he wasn't ready to go back to school because he was a bit nervous about his new school.

"I like to learn, but  I guess I could take a longer summer," Kaleb Bingham said.

But a number of school districts are back in session before Labor Day after state lawmakers pushed to allow school leaders to set their own calendar. However, lawmakers failed to change the current law.

Kings Dominion Law

CBS 6 asked if area theme parks like Kings Dominion have seen a drop in attendance rates as a result of some kids going back to school early.

"We haven't….there are still families that are coming to enjoy their full summer through Labor Day weekend here at the park. And we're happy to be able to provide that for them and offer that to them," Kings Dominion Communication Manager Katelyn Sherwood said.

Sherwood could not provide specifics, but said the park is normally crowded on the weekends compared to week days.

"People are at work and things, so the weekends are going to be our busier times," Sherwood said.

Grandparent Carol Hampton said she thinks school systems ultimately decide when to resume classes.

"Some school divisions have snow and we may need kids to be in school longer than just the normal time. So, I don't think we need the law. I think we need the school divisions to make their own decision," Hampton said.

CBS 6 reached out to Busch Gardens and Water Country, but they declined to comment on their attendance rates.

State lawmakers have received political contributions, campaign money and free tickets from those local amusement parks.



    • reeltime

      Yes, “lovely” place to take a family. Lose count after 100 of how many times you hear MF this and MF that, “You know what I mean”. “You know what I mean”.

  • Ryan

    Our students are always so busy with loads of school work, especially as they age. Just let them have their fun of a decent summer break! If not, then change the summer break days for Elementary and Middle schools children while keeping this original schedule for High School students to limit more change and stress.

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