Tuesday, June 16, 2020

SeaWorld Entertainment Showing Signs of Delaying 2020 Rides Until 2021

© SeaWorld Entertainment
We haven't had a good confirmation yet from most of the SeaWorld Entertainment parks about whether or not they would still be opening their new-for-2020 rides this year, or pushing them back until 2021.  This is of course with the exception of the Texas Stingray at SeaWorld San Antonio, which has already opened.

Some recent developments have me thinking they are looking to open the new rides (most of which are roller coasters) next year.

Social media has been buzzing the last couple days with news of a multitude of liens being placed on the company, many of which are coming out of Florida.  The liens are being placed by contractors and other vendors that have done work for the company but not been paid for it, some have even escalated into lawsuits against SeaWorld.

The Orlando Sentinel has published a story on the liens, which they report total $16 million in Orange County, Florida alone.   They include Rocky Mountain Construction still being owed $3.5 million for Iron Gwazi, and Premier Rides owed $2.7 million for Ice Breaker.  Out in California they have been sued for non-payment of work done for SeaWorld San Diego's new Emperor dive coaster.  I have not heard of any recent news related to Pantheon at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, though I've also not seen any parks in Virginia be allowed to reopen or even set a date to reopen.
© SeaWorld Orlando

It sounds like although SeaWorld Entertainment technically has the funds to pay these bills, they're holding off until the parks open and they start to generate revenue again.  At least they try to politely say that in the Sentinel story.  However, that's a hard financial crush on all the vendors who still have to make ends meet and employ good people regardless - hopefully the company makes this right, and soon.

But the point of all that is that the parks that have reopened, like SeaWorld Orlando, are not showing any progress on these new for 2020 rides and if the vendors aren't being paid you can be sure they're not showing up to help, either.

As such it feels like the rides that were supposed to all be open by now very well may be new for 2021 rides, or at the least open much later in this year.  While all the new rides are exciting to have at the parks, that would probably sadly include Iron Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa, easily one of the most anticipated new coasters of the year.

Honestly, the delay makes sense.  With attendance levels still capped for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19, it makes no sense to open a ride that is built to draw in tons and tons of visitors.  There's really no bang for the park's buck in that sense... however it doesn't justify not paying the companies who helped create it.