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SeaWorld, Busch Gardens takeover completedSubmitted by Nick Sim on Thursday, December 3, 2009 18:30
The $2.7 billion takeover of the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme park chains by the Blackstone Group has been completed.
The deal sees Busch Entertainment Corp., the company that operates the parks, renamed to SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. Blackstone has paid the previous owners Anheuser-Busch InBev $2.3 billion in cash upfront for the parks, with up to a further $400 million to follow.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment will operate all of the former Busch Entertainment properties, including SeaWorld Orlando, Discovery Cove, Aquatica, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, SeaWorld San Diego, SeaWorld San Antonio, Sesame Place, Adventure Island and Water Country USA.
Guests are unlikely to see many immediate visible changes at the parks, although the Budweiser Clydesdale horses will no longer make appearances at them. Anheuser-Busch beverages will continue to be sold throughout the parks under the terms of an existing sponsorship deal.
It is unclear whether the takeover will affect existing plans for new attractions at the chain's parks. SeaWorld Orlando has pushed ahead with plans to add new slides to its Aquatica water park, although this was likely to have been agreed prior to the takeover.
Blackstone already owns Merlin Entertainments Group, which runs the Legoland theme parks and major UK theme parks including Alton Towers and Thorpe Park. It also owns 50% of Universal Orlando, alongside NBC Universal.