Monday, October 3, 2016

USA Today Speaks with Joel Manby about the Future of SeaWorld Parks

USA Today featured an interesting interview today with the CEO of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Joel Manby, about the current status of the company along with his vision for its future.

To say the parks branded under SeaWorld have struggled since the Blackfish release is dead on, with declining visitors and revenues that have sent the company's financials into a bit of a spin.  Being a large public company at this stage, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment have worked hard to tell their side of the story in recent years to change the tide for both the parks and investors.

The interview catches us up with those efforts and what led to SeaWorld's announcement to end orca breeding, a tough decision for a company who's main feature has long been Shamu.  It sounds like some of the worst days are over, with slight gains in attendance at some parks but not others, but they're not out of the woods yet.

© SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
As for the future and what it holds, it sounds like in summary the chain will continue to focus on attractions about animals and their protection but not necessarily featuring them.  At least to a larger degree than in the past. Next year's already announced $175 million capital plan for all the parks features more rides than usual, which to me is a sign of the future.  The hope is that with big new rides at the Texas and California parks those properties will show growth for the first time in 4 years.

Other non-SeaWorld parks area also continuing to grow with rides, such as InvadR at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, new concept art for which can be seen above.

Probably most telling is a quote from Mr. Manby in the story where he said that in five years out the company doesn't want to be seen as an "animal entertainment company," instead as an "entertaining place" that focuses on animal protection and care.

Check out the full story at this link.