SeaWorld posts record financials, though it’s not all smooth sailing in the pandemic
Image via AP.

'Our business model is strong and resilient.'

Times aren’t completely normal at SeaWorld Entertainment, the owner of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and SeaWorld Orlando.

The parks aren’t fully staffed. Attendance isn’t back to the same numbers from 2019. International visitors — a small but valuable group of tourists — are not returning like they did before the pandemic.

But despite those challenges, the company posted its “fifth consecutive quarter of record financial results,” CEO Marc Swanson said during the latest earnings call.

“Our business model is strong and resilient,” Swanson said. “We have significant opportunities to improve and grow our revenue and profitability.”

Second-quarter attendance reached 6.3 million visitors — an 8% increase from the same time period in 2021 although it was about a 3% drop compared to a pre-pandemic 2019 second quarter.

But the company is posting strong financials compared to 2019, according to Thursday’s update.

SeaWorld Entertainment recorded nearly $505 million in total revenue — which jumped 24% versus 2019’s second quarter.

Swanson said he anticipates a busy summer season, praising July’s attendance as “positive.” After summer, the parks transition into its Halloween lineup — another moneymaker.

“We like the position we’re in and where we’ll end up as we move into the fall,” Swanson told analysts during Thursday’s earnings call.

The company is still interested in getting into the hotel business at its parks. SeaWorld is talking to multiple consultants and industry experts to help decide the future site, Swanson said, promising to provide an update over the next financial quarters.

The company said Thursday it is buying back another $250 million worth of stock.

It’s the third time SeaWorld has planned a major stock buyback this year. Previously, the company had already said it was repurchasing $500 million worth of shares. Thursday’s announcement brings the total to $750 million.

The company is also continuing to invest and build new rides at its parks to increase attendance while looking at how to reduce costs, executives said.

Some ways to save money could be limiting employee overtime, using automation to reduce labor costs and relying on fewer third-party contractors, the company said.

When it comes to staff, Swanson said the company is looking at “What is the right scheduling? What is the split between full-time and part-time?”

Another way to save money is to “leverage scale, reduce complexity and standardize food, beverage and merchandise offering,” according to the company’s investor presentation which didn’t provide further details.

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .

One comment

  • Don’t Look Up

    August 4, 2022 at 1:28 pm

    “But but but …… isn’t it the recession and inflation and gasoline prices? ….. I thought the sky was falling!!”

    Miserable Republican Narrative Falls Apart

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