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It’s no secret that SeaWorld parks (and SeaWorld Orlando in particular) have had a rough few years. Public opinion on the park turned after the release of the 2013 film Blackfish, but like any underdog, SeaWorld has been fighting hard to gain back some of its lost ground in recent years, hiring a new CEO, making some changes to animal policies, and of course investing heavily in its parks with new rides and attractions.

However, despite some encouraging signs over the past few months, SeaWorld Orlando just released some really bad news... 

1. Attendance drops across SeaWorld Parks in the second quarter by nearly 8%

Image: SeaWorld

Though SeaWorld has seen some pretty dramatic attendance fluctuations, the news from the second quarter of 2016 (which covers the period from April 1 to June 30, 2016) is particularly bad. According to SeaWorld's financial report (which you can read in full here), second-quarter attendance was down 494,000 guests (just under 8%, year over year) across all of SeaWorld's parks, primarily due to a decline in attendance at SeaWorld Orlando.

Interestingly, if you exclude SeaWorld Orlando, total attendance at all other park locations actually increased by 67,000 in the first half of 2016, which is a positive sign. However, on the flip side, this discrepancy highlights how dire things in Orlando really are, as it is clear that SeaWorld's flagship park (which has received the most investment in recent years thanks to its brand new Mako roller coaster) is pulling down the entire company, for reasons we'll get to in just a moment. But first, let's look at another unfortunate development happening at SeaWorld...

2. Revenue is down too

Image: SeaWorld Orlando

Though the attendance news is staggering, perhaps even more troubling is SeaWorld’s falling revenue, which dropped to $371.1 million for the quarter from $391.6 million during the same period in 2015. However, again, when you factor out Orlando, things look a little better for SeaWorld parks as a whole, as revenue in both the California and Texas parks for the first half of the year are up versus the prior year. 

Though there is a lot of bad news right now for SeaWorld Orlando specifically, let's take a broader look at why this is happening, and when (or if) things might get better... 

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Comments

Just got back from 3 weeks in Orlando. Seaworld was busy lady week, ok not as manic as Disney but still very busy, long wait times . Disney was crazy busy , we do tend to go in UK school holidays so used to huge crowds but this yr was wall to wall people was uncomfortable . Thankfully magic bands and fp+ meant you got on rides.

I think SeaWorld will recover. SeaWorld needs to put in new attractions like Mako, Cobra's Curse and InvadR to give people a reason to visit.

I have a slightly more simple and possibly overlooked answer, one which applies to our family travelling from the UK...We were waiting for all the new rides to open! SeaWorld, Universal, WDW, all had new rides and attractions opening in 2016 but all seemed to suggest a 'Summer Opening' schedule. So to be sure that dates don't slip (I'm thinking 'Rivers of Light' here, we deliberately postpone our summer vacation until later in the year.
So hopefully it's not all bad news and we'll see the next quarters results bounce back and balance our the year with even higher attendance overall.

Just my thoughts from our own decision and planning reasoning.

Mark

The one thing that I have yet to see mentioned anywhere in regards to the attendance slowdown in Orlando is the pending Presidential election. My own business is down this year, and I think people are generally nervous and uncertain about what either major candidate means to them personally. Uneasiness results in less spending and more conservative behavior. For some reason the media does not report on this at all, or maybe they do and I haven't seeing because I try to avoid traditional news sources as much as possible.

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