Walt Disney World news

SeaWorld to expand internationally?

Leah Zanolla | Posted: Mar 19, 2014 | Updated: Oct 19, 2014 - 9:25:27 AM
SeaWorld is discussing expanding their market internationally. During an investors' financial report, SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. said they are working with potential partners to open a marine park overseas. Guests may worry that focusing on international businesses may harm the stateside parks, but John Gerner, managing director with tourism consulting firm Leisure Business Advisors, says, "The risks would likely be minimal since other theme park chains have pursued this approach without cannibalizing attendance at existing parks. Theme parks typically appeal to middle class families that are unable to frequently fly to visit parks in other countries." SeaWorld says it is actively pursuing international opportunities, but declined to mention which markets they were investigating.

SeaWorld just released its fourth-quarter financial figures and despite a decrease in attendance, revenue was up 3 percent to $272 million for the quarter and up 3 percent to $1.4 billion for the year. Attendance was down 4.1 percent for the year to 24.4 million visitors. Compensating for the drop in attendance was an increase in spending, up 7 percent per capita to $60.91 for the year. Jim Atchison, president and CEO of SeaWorld, said, "Delivering these results in a challenging operating environment is a testament to the strength of our brands, company, management team and, most importantly, our team members."

Also discussed was the impending increase in ticket prices. Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando raised ticket prices last month, but SeaWorld says they may wait until June to raise their prices. Atchison said that they've "taken note" of the other parks' ticket increase, but that his park was "more likely to make additional price increases" at the beginning of summer when new attractions were scheduled to open. The recent price hike by Disney came at an unexpected time; typically, Universal and SeaWorld both follow suit within the next week.