Tourism: Ticket Sales Expected to Increase
SeaWorld San Diego’s new “fun pass” , a program in which visitors buy a ticket between Jan. 6 and March 31 and use it on almost an unlimited basis through the end of the year , is expected to significantly boost the park’s visitor count.
The same program resulted in record attendance figures at other Anheuser-Busch parks in 2000, SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, said Bob Tucker, the San Diego park’s public relations manager.
The Orlando SeaWorld sold 300,000 tickets through the program, and as a result had nearly a million additional visits, Tucker said. For 2,000, the park’s visitor count totaled 5.2 million, he said.
The fun pass had a larger effect on attendance at the Tampa Bay Busch Gardens, where 600,000 passes were sold and 1.5 million visits resulted. Attendance rose 28 percent, adding up to 4.8 million visitors, Tucker said.
Although SeaWorld San Diego hasn’t released any figures for the year 2000, Tucker said 3.5 million to 4 million people visit the park each year.
Tucker said attendance was “up a couple of percentage points” in 2000.
Annual Pass Has Perks
Although the fun pass offer involves unlimited return visits within the year for a single ticket cost of $41.95, the new program isn’t likely to impact sales of SeaWorld’s $75 annual pass because the annual pass has additional perks, such as free parking, and discounts on food, beverages and additional-charge rides, Tucker said.
The pass precludes days such as July 4, Memorial Day, Labor Day and several days around the Christmas holidays.
Of marketers’ reasons for bringing the new program to SeaWorld San Diego, Tucker said, “They just wanted to have another option for guests when they’re visiting the park.”
The park doesn’t feel that profits will be threatened because of the fun pass, Tucker said.
Instead, additional visitors are expected to fill the difference, he said.
“It’s all about volume,” he said. “You can make up revenue through food purchases, merchandise, and things like that, so that’s one of the strategies.”
To promote the fun pass, SeaWorld has set up a full-scale marketing campaign that involves print, radio and television.
Tucker declined to disclose the amount the park was spending on the campaign.
SeaWorld has also announced its featured attraction for the upcoming summer season, Cirque de la Mir, which translates to “circus on water.”
The show, the cost of which Tucker would only say was “multimillion-dollar,” is planned to debut on Memorial Day weekend.
Cirque de la Mir will be exclusive to SeaWorld San Diego, Tucker said.
Developed by Burbank-based Sam Trego Productions, the show showcases tricks with Chinese poles, large inflatable balls called zorbs, trampolines, bungi swings, Russian swings and other exotic equipment. The show also features other dance, acrobatics, music and special effects, Tucker said.
Cirque de la Mir will inhabit the park’s Sports Pavilion, replacing “Intensity Games,” a show exhibiting extreme water sports competition that had been at SeaWorld since 1998.