It has been a very tough year for SeaWorld as the park group fights off a tidal wave of adverse publicity, but amazingly, despite hefty ticket price increases, then reductions and operational cutbacks, turnover and profits jumped significantly over the summer of 2013.
Despite only floating publicly in the spring, SeaWorld has appeared to manage itself well during tough times. Investors like that kind of spirit.
For park guests, the planned move by Blackstone to sell part of its majority stake is probably great news, as the sell off is rumored to place $480m in the hands of the park’s management. Vital investment funds in an industry that favors those that invest continually in new attractions.
I’ve predicted for some time that the SeaWorld management team will steadily swing the emphasis away from animal performance to themed leisure and conservation and that happy prospect looks closer than ever before with $0.5b at their disposal.
Those kinds of money won’t go far though, when you consider that SeaWorld/Bush currently operate 3 SeaWorld Parks, 2 Busch Gardens Parks and Discovery Cove.
One thing that I certainly didn’t predict, was one of my favorite theme parks turning in a profit! Busch Gardens has been trimmed to the bone in recent months, so much so, that many rumors about the survival of major attractions have been circulating as the management cut back operations and close areas down.
SeaWorld and Busch are great parks. Sure they have a few issues to address to regain public acceptance, but finally, they seem to be on their way!