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SeaWorld Continues to Freefall. Will It Ever Recover?

Ever since 2012, the hits have kept on coming for SeaWorld. Despite the fact that SeaWorld Orlando is currently the least expensive major theme park to visit in central Florida, has an annual passholder program with serious perks, and offers some truly aggressive deals and discounts, SeaWorld has not bounced back from its attendance lows in 2014 and 2015 and has confirmed this week what many have long suspected: this park's recovery is not going to plan at all. 

Just a few weeks ago, it was revealed that SeaWorld's biggest investor, Blackstone Group, wanted out of the pool, and their shares were being bought by a Chinese company with designs on making a Chinese SeaWorld park in the future. However, while that might have sounded like an OK plan for the future, right now things are getting worse before they are getting better. Much, MUCH worse. 

Attendance is down by huge amounts, again

Image: SeaWorld

SeaWorld Orlando has been in an attendance slump for the past half a decade, and though it was looking like the park was going to turn things around under new CEO Joel Manby, that unfortunately did not happen in 2016, and its looking like things are getting worse in 2017. Across all of SeaWorld's parks (including San Diego, San Antonio, and the flagship Orlando park) attendance has dropped 14.9 percent (approximately 491,000 visitors) during the first quarter of 2017 with 2.8 million visitors entering the parks in the quarter ending March 31, as compared to 3.3 million during that same period last year.

Image: SeaWorld

SeaWorld blamed the attendance drop on timing of the Easter holiday, which fell in the second quarter this year, and affected when schools were out for spring break. The company also mentioned that the closing of its killer whale show in San Diego was a likely reason for the attendance drop. 

In addition to the bad attendance news, SeaWorld also reported a pretty steep drop in revenue as well, with the company earning $186.4 million in revenue, compared to $220.2 million last year (which was already a record low). Overall, SeaWorld reported a net loss of $61.1 million during this quarter

Image: Brian, Flickr (license)

Though SeaWorld tried to remain upbeat about these numbers (The also mentioned that sales for annual passes increased nearly 6 percent through April when compared with last year) it looks like even more trouble could be on the horizon... 

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There are 4 comments.

The China market is clearly something that needs to be expedited as best as possible. That market could help support the struggling US markets which need to continue their push into the entertainment aspect of a theme park, meaning the rides. There's really no quick fix for repairing your brand/image so they need to find ways to survive while they continue to repair their public image. Finding a way to get their Rescue programs more notoriety could help. They do a great job of promoting it themselves, but they need to find other ways to get all the work they do with animals to public.

Just some thoughts.

Sea World might have to eventually file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection.

Please stop with your ridiculous panning of Sea World and your outrageous titles. I want Them Park news, not doom and gloom baiting.

No Killer Whales - no attendance.
Sea World did not fight back against PETA and the public
does not respect (or support) their surrender.

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