San Diego Business Journal

SeaWorld Parent Reports Continued Declines in Revenue, Attendance for Q-1

By Lou Hirsh Thursday, May 11, 2017
   

The parent company of SeaWorld San Diego reported a 15 percent decline in revenue for its first quarter, with attendance down by a similar percentage from the year-ago period for its 12 U.S. theme parks.

Officials of Orlando, Fla.-based SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) said the company posted $186.4 million in total revenue for the quarter ending March 31. The company reported a net loss of $61.1 million for the period, compared with a net loss of $84 million in the same quarter of 2016.

Attendance for the quarter declined by approximately 491,000, or 14.9 percent from a year ago. However, officials said attendance patterns seen during April indicate that the parks overall are essentially flat for attendance year-over-year for the first four months of 2017.

“Given the improving attendance trends we saw in April, and the incredibly robust lineup of new attractions we are launching in the coming weeks, we are well-positioned going into our seasonally important second and third quarters,” said SeaWorld Entertainment President and CEO Joel Manby, in a statement.

Manby said the company is exploring future growth into Asia, after former owner Blackstone Group LP’s recent sale of its 21 percent stake in the company to China’s Zhonghong Zhuoye Group, in a deal valued at approximately $449 million that closed on May 8. Manby said SeaWorld Entertainment will be evaluating potential expansion opportunities in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

SeaWorld Entertainment does not break out attendance or other figures for its individual parks, including SeaWorld locations in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio. The company’s SeaWorld parks have been hardest-hit by fallout related to the 2013 documentary Blackfish, which raised issues about the treatment of captive killer whales.

In response, SeaWorld has discontinued performing orca shows and announced planned 2017 investments totaling more than $175 million in new attractions and programs nationwide. Attractions including the expedition-themed Ocean Explorer are set to open this year at SeaWorld San Diego, to be followed next year by a new looping roller coaster called Electric Eel.

SeaWorld San Diego is also in early planning with San Diego’s Evans Hotels to develop a new resort at the Mission Bay theme park, though timetables and other details have not been announced.