SeaWorld without Shamu? Or could a clash of corporate cultures keep Merlin out of a Busch theme park deal?
Written by Robert Niles
There's a great comment in the Busch/Blackstone open thread that directed my attention to Merlin Entertainments' corporate policy on the care of marine mammals.Tweet
Merlin is the theme park company that operates Legoland and the SeaLife Aquariums, and is 70% owned by Blackstone Group, the reported suitor of the Busch Entertainment Corp. theme parks.
Merlin's policy seems at odds with current SeaWorld operations, including the use of marine mammals in shows.
Dolphins perform in the 'Blue Horizons' show at SeaWorld Orlando.
Would this conflict prevent Blackstone from using Merlin as the investment vehicle to acquire BEC? If so, that would mean the loss of some interesting synergies, such as between SeaWorld and Legoland in San Diego County, as well as a potential marriage between Lego and Sesame Street in the Merlin and BEC parks.
Even an independent investment by Blackstone in BEC could prove troublesome, if there is significant support within Blackstone's management for Merlin's way of handling marine mammals. SeaWorld without Shamu would be a very different company than what today's consumers expect.
Update: The comments keep getting better. Now, we've got word of a non-compete clause that Blackstone and Universal signed, which would keep Blackstone from buying or investing in any other theme parks in the state of Florida (e.g. SeaWorld and Busch Gardens), without Universal's blessing.
"Blessing" usually being a way of saying "getting money" in business.
This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.
Previous article: Busch/Blackstone Open Thread
How to save money on a Disney World trip
Insider's Pick: You can afford that Walt Disney World family vacation of your dreams. Get started with 102 Ways to Save Money For and At Walt Disney World, a great guide to planning an affordable trip to the Vacation Capital of the World. Why wait? The sooner you start saving, the sooner you and your family will be enjoying your vacation!
Top U.S. Theme Parks
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Other Top International Parks
Features, News and Advice
"Stories from a Theme Park Insider"
Theme Park Insider Guidebooks