SeaWorld’s 3rd Quarter Report Shows Drops in Attendance and Revenue

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.’s report for the third quarter of 2017 is out, and the company showed a decline in both park attendance and overall revenue.

Here are the key points the report describes:

  • Third quarter revenue for 2017 was $437.7 million, which is a 10% drop from last year’s $485.3 million third quarter.
  • Attendance for the quarter was 7.6 million visitors, an 8.8% drop from last year’s third quarter, which saw 8.34 million.
  • For the first nine months of 2017 SeaWorld saw $997.8 million in total revenue, down 7 percent from the $1.07 billion the park took in by the same point in 2016.
  • The park hosted 16.53 million guests in the nine-month period, down 6.2% from last year’s 16.53 million guests for its first three quarters.

In response to the less-than-desirable results, SeaWorld President and CEO Joel Manby displayed an optimistic attitude about the quarter. Manby noted certain achievements the company had in spite of the low numbers:

  • Finalizing the “Park to Planet” marketing and ad campaign.
  • Restructuring (the park will have eliminated around 350 positions by the year’s end).
  • Improved attendance from fall and Halloween events launched in September.
  • Products, strategies, and campaigns that will help increase performance in 2018.

As for acknowledging the drops in attendance, the earnings report cited general drops in travel to Orlando and San Diego (both international and domestic), reduced marketing regarding SeaWorld’s reputation, and the effects of Hurricane Harvey. The report states,

“Attendance, particularly for the third quarter of 2017, was also adversely impacted by the effects of Hurricane Irma which caused park closures in Orlando and Tampa, and to a lesser extent, the effects of Hurricane Harvey which caused park closures and travel disruptions in Texas as well as weather impacts in Virginia. The company believes the decline in U.S. domestic attendance, particularly in Orlando, results primarily from the combined impact of reduced national advertising and competitive pressures. The company believes the decline in attendance at its SeaWorld San Diego park partly results from public perception issues which have resurfaced since the company reduced marketing spend on its national reputation campaign.”

SeaWorld’s reputation issues are most likely related to backlash from the documentary Blackfish, which heavily criticized the company’s handling of its animals, as well as ongoing controversy surrounding whether it mislead shareholders on the documentary’s impact.

According to SeaWorld, the layoffs of the 350 employees will help the company pay for new attractions and advertising. Manby referenced one of SeaWorld’s upcoming attractions, Infinity Falls, saying it was “the longest, tallest of any water ride like this in the country.”

Manby declined to comment on rumors that made the rounds recently claiming that SeaWorld was up for sale.

Sources: Orlando Business Journal, The Orlando Sentinel



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