SeaWorld did not have a good year in 2014. Not only did they lose their CEO at the end of last year, (who may or may not have been gently pushed towards the door), but it was recently revealed that last year SeaWorld took a bigger loss and produced lower revenue than in 2013, which was also a pretty bad year. According to the parks’ fourth-quarter earnings report for 2014, SeaWorld reported an adjusted net loss of $25.4 million (up from the $13 million loss reported a year ago), and year-over-year revenue declined to $264.5 million from $272 million.
While we still have a few weeks before official attendance figures for last year are released, many sources are saying that SeaWorld will hit multi-year lows when the data for 2014 is released.
Though SeaWorld is certainly not in good shape at the moment, the park isn’t going down without a fight. The park is setting the stage for some big changes for 2015, and is doing some drastic things to try and reverse their backwards momentum.
1. No admission price increases…yet
Though we’ve told you all about price hikes at both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, SeaWorld has announced that it will not be joining its neighbor parks in raising prices, instead holding down admission costs at their current level for at least the rest of the fiscal quarter (and likely, the rest of the year)
This is certainly good news for both annual pass holders who might have been thinking about cancelling their pass this year, and could also help keep visitors flowing into the park due to the low price point. Though SeaWorld probably doesn’t want to market itself as the "value" park in Orlando, the fact is that they are now the least expensive major theme park in the area.
Interim SeaWorld CEO David D'Alessandro seems happy to occupy this low-cost space, saying after a recent earnings call that "you don't have a choice but to market, promote, build your pass business and do a better job [than your competitors] in pricing. That's the way you at least, at a minimum, maintain share.
Though D'Alessandro acknowledged that there are no new attractions planned for SeaWorld Orlando in the near future (other than the Sea Lion High show), it seems that SeaWorld will be using its value status alone to compete with the more expensive Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. Only time will tell if this strategy will pay off.