Sunday, November 10, 2019

SeaWorld Entertainment Names New CEO + Heard On Quarter 3 2019 Earnings Call

SeaWorld Entertainment has had to name yet another CEO, this time Sergio D. Rivera has been given the company's top spot.

According to a press release from the company, "Mr. Rivera previously served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of ILG, Inc.'s Vacation Ownership Segment, where he was responsible for development, sales, marketing and resort operations.  Prior to ILG, Mr. Rivera was the President of the Americas for Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and was responsible for the performance and growth of Starwood's brands and its owned, managed and franchised businesses in North America, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Polynesia."

So while not a direct connection to the theme park industry, he has had a lot of experience with vacationing, leisure and specifically hotels.  

SeaWorld also announced the addition of Ms. Neha Jogani Narang to the board of directors.  She was most recently a Director at Facebook, with an extensive history in consumer marketing and an apparent deep love of SeaWorld.

SeaWorld Entertainment's earnings release for the 3rd quarter of 2019 took place this past week as well, and the results were a bit disappointing, though the company's stock moved upward regardless.  In the quarter attendance decreased 2.6%, revenue decreased $9.5 million and adjusted EBITDA decreased by $5.5 million.

However looking at the year to date figures, things are still up overall.  For the first nine months of the year attendance only creased 0.3%, revenue increased by $8 million and adjusted EBITDA increased by $36.3 million.  Here's some notes from the company's conference call:

•  The company says some of the less than stellar results of the 3rd quarter are due to more rainy days in Florida, Hurricane Dorian scaring everyone away over Labor Day weekend, and a calendar shift that replaced a busy weekend day in '18 with a slow September weekday in '19.  

•  They also called themselves out for over spending about $9.5 million on marketing during the quarter due to "less disciplined management of certain marketing related costs."  Ouch, I bet someone got in some big trouble for that!

© SeaWorld Entertainment
• When weather was good the park performed strongly.  They had three days in July of near all time record attendance, and six days in the quarter of top 20 attendance totals.  In September they had "all time record breaking attendance at two of our larger parks."

• Halloween was successful this year as of the date of the call, the company noted that through November 3rd attendance and revenue were up quarter to date over 2018.

• Total capital expenditures for the 2019 season are expected to be $115 million in "core capital expenditures" and $30 - $35 million in "non-core" expenditures.  Non-core expenditures are tied to "expansion in return on investment" projects including new properties such as Sesame Place San Diego.

• Deferred revenue at the end of September is up 6%, which is mostly from an increase in season pass sales.  The company has also seen more people move from a "fun card" pass to a premium season pass product.

• The leadership was asked about capital spend in the future, since next year is so heavy on thrill rides.  They did say that they plan to continue special events at the park in addition to new rides.  But they did not mention spending on animal attractions at all.

© SeaWorld Entertainment
• There is a lot of excitement around the opening of a second Sesame Place park in San Diego in 2021.  According to the company's filings, they expect to spend up to $55 million completing their agreement with Seasme Workshop, the bulk of which is the new park.

• Next year almost every park will get a new ride or slide, the first time the company has done this.  This includes 4 new roller coasters, and slides at almost every water park.

• They expect to land in the higher end of the goal of $475 to $500 million in EBITDA by the end of 2020.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Kings Island Tops Off New Orion Giga Coaster

© Kings Island
This past week Kings Island topped off their new giga roller coaster, Orion, by placing the top of the 287 foot tall lift hill.  The job required three separate cranes, seen in the photo above, since the ride's supports do not sit directly under the apex of the lift hill.

This also means that the ride's 300 foot first drop, which classifies the ride as a giga coaster, is also now complete.  Orion's track will stretch 5,321 feet long and feature a top speed of 91 miles per hour.

Here's some video that the park released of the ride being topped out:

The park has been busy slowly building Orion's lift hill over the past couple weeks, and work has also focused on the ride's station.  That has had all its metal framing put up, and soon it will be enclosed so that workers can really dig into the ride's electrical systems and other components.  Stay tuned for more as the park is sure to make quick work of the rest of Orion's layout!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Scott And Carol Present - The IAPPA 2019 Legends Panel Discusses Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge

The upcoming Legends panel at the IAAPA Expo has announced that it will bring feature several individuals who were essential in the creation of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge in two Disney theme parks. "The objective of the annual panel is to preserve and share the otherwise-lost wisdom and methods of the industry's great achievers, in a way that helps tomorrow's leaders shape the future."

"Four amazing super-star Legends share insights, strategies and lessons learned by leaving the known path and inventing new worlds," Bob Rogers wrote of the panel. "They share lessons that you can soon be applying to your own work."

This year's participants are:

Scott Trowbridge - Portfolio Creative Executive for Walt Disney Imagineering and the head of the Galaxy's Edge creative team.

Anisha Deshmane - Assistant Producer, guiding the development of interactive experiences.

Margaret Kerrison - Managing Story Editor who served as the story lead for Galaxy's Edge.

Chris Beatty - Executive Creative Director for Galaxy's Edge.

The Legends panels is moderated by Bob Rogers, Founder, BRC Imagination Arts, who has already been inducted into the IAAPA Hall of Fame and received a Thea Lifetime Achievement award. He started his career in the industry as a magician in the Magic Shop at Disneyland.

Legends 2019: Report from the Galaxy’s Edge is set for Wednesday, November 20 at 3:30pm during the IAAPA Attractions Expo. The panel is always very popular so it is suggested that anyone interested get in line early to make sure they get a seat!

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Knott's Berry Farm to Debut Knott's Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair 4-D Ride for Park's 100th Anniversary

© Knott's Berry Farm
The other day I speculated that perhaps Knott's Berry Farm would be swapping out their current 4-D dark ride, Voyage to the Iron Reef, for one themed to their classic Bear-y Tales dark ride... and it turned out to be true!  I wish I could predict a lot of attractions just by wishing them into existence!

The park will close Voyage to the Iron Reef for good on January 5th, and get to work on opening the new Bear-y Tales ride by summertime.  The ride will be a central part of the park's "A Knott's Family Reunion" celebration that will run from May 15th through August 30th.

© Knott's Berry Farm
If you click this concept art you can see a much larger version of some of the antics that will be found in the brand new attraction.  The original was commissioned by the Knott family and created by Rolly Crump in 1975.

The park gives this description of the new ride in their press materials:

Knott's Bear-y Tales will be an "exciting journey through reimagined show scenes that are reminiscent of the original dark ride, including the Boysenberry Pie Factory, Frog Forest, Fortune Teller Camp, Thunder Cave, and Weird Woods,  culminating in a celebration at the County Fair.  The story takes place 34 years after the original adventure and will follow Boysen Bear and Girlsen Bear as they travel to the Country Fair to earn the blue ribbon prize for their famous boysenberry pies, but Crafty Coyote is back along with his mischievous pups intent on stealing all the pies for themselves.  Guests will climb aboard ride vehicles equipped with jelly blasters to try and recover the stolen boysenberry pies as they travel through whimsical and beautiful environments while competing for the highest score."

It is fantastic to see Knott's Berry Farm making such an exciting effort to celebrate their past with this new ride!  I can't wait to see the finished product.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Hersheypark Tops Off New Candymonium Roller Coaster

© Hersheypark
We just covered the latest photos of Candymonium at Hersheypark the other day, but since then the park has topped off the ride!  That's some pretty big news, so we can't pass up sharing a bit more about the ride from the footage the park released to mark the occasion.

After the top of the lift hill was carefully put into place Candymonium was proudly standing 210 feet over Hersheypark.  The video that the park sent out had some neat drone footage that gives us amazing views of not only Candymonium but also the progress that has been made on Chocolatetown.  You can see the new buildings for the area spread out in the construction zone, and of course Candymonium is looking pretty good too!

© Hersheypark
This aerial shot is the first good look we've had at work on the rest of Candymonium's layout, and you can see tons of footers for the out and back portion of the ride already in place.  The ride will cut directly through nearly the entire length of the area that Hersheypark gained in recent years.  I can only imagine how this area will be filled with additional park expansions in the future!

Here is the full video that Hersheypark released of their brand new B&M hyper coaster being topped off!

Monday, November 4, 2019

What Do Triotech and Knott's Berry Farm Have Planned for the Park's 2020 Season?

Just recently the IAAPA Expo schedule of announcement events came out, and if you haven't had a gander yet take a look here.

There's always a lot of fun announcements at the Expo, and this year looks to be no different.  There will be new coaster front cars revealed from Maurer, Rocky Mountain Construction and Great Coasters International, new rides announced by Zamperla, additions to Coney Island's Luna Park and plenty more.

But one announcement caught the eye of many, and that's one from Knott's Berry Farm and Triotech.  The tagline for the announcement is short, and definitely leaves us wanting more: "Together with Knott’s Berry Farm, Triotech will announce a new attraction celebrating the park’s 100th anniversary."

A new attraction!?  Now we do not know the scale of this attraction, but Triotech already has a pretty big one at Knott's in the form of Voyage to the Iron Reef.

© Knott's Berry Farm
The 4-D dark ride was installed at the park in 2015 as part of Cedar Fair's "Amusement Dark" series... which fizzled out rather quickly after this instillation.  Regardless of that though guests are still enjoying their trip under the sea on the interactive dark ride, which due to its very nature could possibly be rethemed with ease.

We all know that the building that Voyage to the Iron Reef is in was previously home to both Knott's Bear-y Tales and Kingdom of the Dinosaurs.  Bear-y Tales is held in high regard by park fans, but kinda not so much for the dinos.  Perhaps a retheme to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the park is in order for Voyage in order to bring back the bears in a much more modern way?

That could just be dreaming... it also could be a much smaller instillation, like one of the company's XD Dark theaters.  Who knows!  At least we don't have to wait long, as the announcement will be November 19th.