Welcome to Theme Park Insider! Join the community or log in
Theme Park Insider
Facebook Twitter YouTube Email Newsletter

Vote of the week: What does SeaWorld need to do to increase attendance?

Written by
Published: June 17, 2011 at 10:50 AM

This year's TEA/AECOM theme park attractions attendance report illustrated a tough picture for the SeaWorld theme parks. Its top two namesake parks, SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Diego, suffered their third consecutive year of attendance declines, according to the AECOM data.

The One Ocean killer whale show at SeaWorld San Diego

The Orlando park faces the challenge of attracting visitors who are now spending their "non Disney" days at Universal Orlando's Wizarding World of Harry Potter instead. The San Diego park faces tough competition from always-strong Disneyland, as well as resurgent Universal Studios Hollywood and Legoland California.

What does SeaWorld need to do to distinguish itself and win your attendance at one of its theme parks? I'll list a few options in this week's vote.

Does SeaWorld need to build new thrill rides, like the Theme Park Insider Award-winning Manta? Or should it add a family dark ride, the mainstays of the Disney and Universal theme parks? Should SeaWorld work instead on renovating its existing attractions, such as Journey to Atlantis and Wild Arctic? Or would simply getting the trainers back in the water at the Shamu show suffice? Finally, I leave an option for people who just aren't going to consider SeaWorld, no matter what the park does.


If you'd like to add another option, please mention it in the comments. Here's your chance to offer SeaWorld your thoughts and advice on how it can win your business.

Readers' Opinions

From Nick Dakuginow on June 17, 2011 at 11:00 AM
Hmm, I was deciding between new family dark ride and refurbishing the current ones like Journey to Atlantis and Wild Arctic.

I went with a new family dark ride. They just created Manta recently, amazing roller coaster, and the park has Kraken and Journey to Atlantis already. The trainers in the water with the orcas isn't a big deal in my opinion.

SeaWorld could really use a dark ride, there's not any in the park.

Refurbishing Journey to Atlantis (which I rode for the first time a few months ago, I liked it better than Splash Mountain) isn't a big deal to me, but Wild Arctic could definitely use an update to that simulator ride, maybe start from scratch with something with the same theme?

From 68.167.22.58 on June 17, 2011 at 11:09 AM
I think SeaWorld needs to add some excitement to their parks. When I went with my family two yrs ago, we were finished with the park in 1/2 a day! It was kind of boring just looking at dolphins, etc all day! Adding some thrill rides or water rides would definitely bring more attendance to this park!
From TH Creative on June 17, 2011 at 11:21 AM
IMAX 4D / animatronic experience featuring great white sharks.
From 71.67.114.13 on June 17, 2011 at 11:25 AM
TH Creative said:
"IMAX 4D / animatronic experience featuring great white sharks."

Really? Not hippos?

From Robert Niles on June 17, 2011 at 11:34 AM
I realize that many people would choose "all of the above," but given that parks don't have infinite cash and resources, I'm pushing you to pick which option would be the one that most seals the deal (if possible) to get you into a SeaWorld park.
From Daniel Etcheberry on June 17, 2011 at 11:37 AM
Add an underwater show with mermaids. Also, a family indoor ride would help.
From TH Creative on June 17, 2011 at 11:48 AM
Install a giant wizard's hat somewhere in the park.
From James Rao on June 17, 2011 at 11:56 AM
Add an adults-only show with mermaids. Errr... I mean, a new whole family dark ride.

Seriously, SeaWorld could do something really amazing with a Spider-Man style, aquatic-based attraction.

BTW, once again the point is illustrated that adding new, 54" height requirement coasters does not help long-term attendance. As much as we all love them, big time coasters just do not draw in the lucrative family market.

From Elsa Ruisenor on June 17, 2011 at 12:12 PM
I was thinking of another thrill ride, but realized that it lacks the family appeal, what would I do with a child in SeaWorld? It would have helped to partner up with Legoland and start offering a family package.
From Sylvain Comeau on June 17, 2011 at 12:31 PM
I think they should offer discounts for a one day pass to that park. I will likely go on a future trip, because we are running out of NEW things to see and do in Orlando, but I think it's around $70 for one day. That's a bit steep for a lot of shows/exhibits and not many rides. Even if we visit once, it might only be once, whereas we go back to Disney and Universal on every Orlando visit.
From Daniel Etcheberry on June 17, 2011 at 12:37 PM
Another idea: Swim with the Orcas!
From 75.171.20.221 on June 17, 2011 at 12:45 PM
SeaWorld San Diego especially needs a good intense thrill ride for me ever go there again. Like another commenter said, you're done with the park in half a day. I know they are building a new roller coaster, but it still isn't the kind that will attracts thrill-seekers.
From Robert Niles on June 17, 2011 at 1:07 PM
The Sopranos-themed family overnight, "Sleep with the Fishes," was, alas, rejected.

Seriously, though, as much as I like Kraken and Manta, SeaWorld's a family park, not a coaster park. It needs ocean- and wildlife-themed family dark rides to reach out to that family market, and give it a reason to consider SeaWorld in lieu of another visit to Disney, Universal or Legoland.

From 74.82.64.160 on June 17, 2011 at 1:21 PM
Hire back the people they layed off during X-Mas to only open their positions again 6 months later. Seaworld was so praud of not laying people off when the economy first fell then they lay people off during X-Mas some of those people expecting children. I honestly can't see how they consider themselfs a family park when they ruined so many families. They could have ofered pay cuts to all or asked who would want to leave due to a bad economy. Some people there where close to retirement they would have left. Closed the park during low forecasted attendance days, had earlier closing hours. Closing down Riptide last summer had the park empty from 9pm-10pm the park was dead, nobody in the park exept for employee's.

During this "economic strugle" they build new rides/exibits all @ the same time. So they layed people off just to be able to build them, have half the park closed & still charge full price. That brings my next point.

Lower admission price. I mean Disneyland is few dollars more then Seaworld. That is ridiculous!!! Disneyland is way more entertaining than Seaworld. Specially for the Seaworld San Diego. You can tour the entire park in 6 hours! Their are way more things to do at Disneyland.

Yes, two totally different parks. I know, but why does Swaworld even try to comptete with Disnetland by keeping their prices almost leveled. Seaworld use to be $51 dlls 5 years ago, since then they raised their tickets to $69 & only added Journey to Atlantis.

Over all, they need a lot of work before they will be a good park.

From Mike Gallagher on June 17, 2011 at 1:46 PM
Boy, that anonymous post above was a chore to read! Wondered if it might be an ex-employee.

I voted for the thrill ride, because it's not like I wouldn't consider visiting Sea World, so I didn't vote that way.

I rarely get to Florida, and have only been to California once. So, if I AM able to make a visit to those locales, Sea World would be low-priority. Don't get me wrong..I love ocean-themed stuff and thoroughly enjoyed my solitary visit, to Orlando at Christmastime 1977, right after my dad died. I especially remember a Christmas tree made entirely of poinsettias! My Mom loved that!

A few more thrill rides might entice me a bit more, but again..low-priority.

From 97.97.33.225 on June 17, 2011 at 2:49 PM
start dropping the price to get in. i know if i had a choise of spending $50 to have fun and not $80 i would go lower. if the park look at droping ticket price they would get more people in the park and the people could send more on the merch and food make up and they would make up for it there
From TH Creative on June 17, 2011 at 3:00 PM
Mr. Niles' snark about the Sopranos raises an interesting point: Does SeaWorld have any licensed entities associated with their attractions?

Universal opens Potter. Disney (re)opens Star Wars.

Maybe SWO needs to take a chance at developing an attraction based upon an established franchise.

From Victoria Jurkowski on June 17, 2011 at 3:16 PM
I never think of rides when I think of Sea World. I always saw it as more of a zoo type park. Maybe adding more animals, different kinds that you don't typically see at american zoos, would help boost their attendance. Maybe having an Australia exhibit with kangaroos and platypuses and crocodiles. That would get me to visit!
From Eric G on June 17, 2011 at 3:17 PM
SeaWorld has a well established, valuable franchise called Shamu.

Busch Entertainment also has the Sesame Street license and they've put that creative to use in all of their Busch Gardens and SeaWorld parks except Orlando.

SeaWorld San Diego is getting a major new ride in 2012. SeaWorld Orlando, despite the decline in attendance, remains a very successful theme park. The attendance decline this past year is largely due to Harry Potter and negative publicity. They don't need to reinvent the SeaWorld brand to drum up interest.

Also, the last thing Busch Entertainment should start doing is discounting their gate. Discounting your gate ends up being a disaster. Just look at Six Flags.

From Tony Duda on June 17, 2011 at 3:46 PM
None of those options would tempt me. What would is a return to 2 free beers a day along with free parking for annual pass holders. I would so be there with my new annual (actually 2-year) gold pass.
From Robert Niles on June 17, 2011 at 4:42 PM
TH, SeaWorld licenses Sesame Workshop, including the Sesame Street characters.
From Tom Tatsey on June 17, 2011 at 5:41 PM
What ever it takes get the rights to Aquaman I don,t remember any one else useing him he,d make a great dark ride.
From 96.60.123.223 on June 17, 2011 at 7:37 PM
An Orca Interaction Program similar to the Beluga one would be incredible for them to have. I'd definitely go to SeaWorld just to do that!
From Cristian Alvarez on June 17, 2011 at 8:32 PM
Build a family dark ride. Use the lisences they do have, like Sesame Street. Just look at what Disney and Universal do, storytelling attractions!
From Tony Perkins on June 17, 2011 at 10:08 PM
SeaWorld needs to stop trying to be a thrill park, and go after the family market again. The park has an educational mission, and a good family dark ride could underscore this much better than another coaster. The thrill rides muddy their edutainment message to the degree that I have not bothered to take my kids to the park yet.
From steve lee on June 17, 2011 at 11:01 PM
Sea World quit giving passholders free parking? When did that happen? I haven't been to the park since Manta opened, but back then they gave passholders premium spaces for free.
From Steph Ramos on June 17, 2011 at 11:41 PM
Ok...the timing for this could not be more perfect for me. Just last week my Mom and I were debating taking a trip down to San Diego (We live 20 minutes outside the downtown L.A area...which makes a San Diego visit a 2 hour drive) to visit Sea World since we had out-of-town guests at our place. After a quick research session on the net however, we quickly backed out of the idea when we realized that a one-day ticket was $70 bucks....gas not included...-_-;

So...to answer the question...for starters, if you REALLY want to increase attendance....start by jacking your prices down!! Sea World San Diego barely has anything to offer in my age-set, which totally defeats the purpose of charging $69.99 to begin with. I mean, at least Disneyland offers some novelty and amusement before they screw you in the butt with their prices.

Second....if you want to attract a larger audience...appeal to their likes! Add some rides to the place that reflect the type of audience you want to attract...you want to bring in more families, then add a dark family ride. If you want to cater to the rest of the population, then go for some thrill rides. Personally, I'd go with the thrill ride option, since that's the only way I'd hand over $70 for a one-day ticket to the lame place.

From 71.52.16.94 on June 17, 2011 at 11:42 PM
Sorry for my ignorance, but what is a "Family Dark Ride"?
From Manny Barron on June 17, 2011 at 11:59 PM
Sea World rocks. I did my part I visited all three in the past year and had a blast. I was surprised SWO had higher attendance than IOA and USF in 2009, but then Harry Potter happened. As for what they can do to increase attendance? Making the Sky Tower free would raise their attendance a few percentage points.
From 72.189.125.220 on June 18, 2011 at 4:31 AM
I agree with an earlier poster who mentioned adding a new animal exhibit. Personally I think it would be incredible for the park to build a large new exhibit space (2-4 million gallon) and enable it as a temporary display of large animals. For example they could display a young Humpback whale for 6-8 months, then release it back into the ocean. When SWC rescued J.J the grey whale their attendance soared-- or think of Monterary Bay AQ with their Great Whites. The temporary aspect could allow for some incredible species to be displayed, and enable significant new research!

I know activist groups would harp on this, but honestly they would harp on anything SeaWorld does. Plus the temporary aspect of the display would ease some of that controversy.

From Blake Bickerstaff on June 18, 2011 at 6:27 AM
They need story & characters. The park is a zoo with a few good rides, not a theme park. And we all know how often you visit your local zoo.
From 77.194.225.112 on June 18, 2011 at 6:56 AM
Yes, I'm biased, I was born in Australia. I have been to SeaWorld once and that was enough for me. I think it needs to be more interactive. It should not compete with Disney/Universal but enhance it. I think an Australian area would be perfect at SeaWorld. Free range and FREE admission. Like the Australian Reptile Park near Sydney. You can hand feed, pat and cuddle Kangaroos, Wallabies, Koalas, Emus, Echidnas, Snakes, Dingoes and see shows with deadly Australian spiders and snakes, milking their venom for the public. Educational AND used to create anti-venom. You can hold a baby crocodile and see the show with the HUGE saltwater crocs, walk through the bat cave with free-range Australian flying foxes. All of this is educational, amazing photo opportunities and something different for the US. Have you ever heard a Tasmanian Devil squeal? or do you know what to do if bitten by a snake or spider? had an emu fall in love with you? seen a platypus? Most of all. Out of the top 10 deadliest snakes in the world, how many are Australian? :P I really think this would be the ticket for SeaWorld for now, especially after the Oprah specials on Australia.
From Daniel Smith on June 18, 2011 at 6:58 AM
Sorry, that last post about Australia was from me. I forgot to log in! Daniel.
From 74.9.193.82 on June 18, 2011 at 7:10 AM
Find the portion of the market you want to attract considering the competition and the profit levels - Families with small kids (25-35 age group), teenagers (Six Flags, Cedar Fair), More mature families with older children (35-49 group), seniors... Consider the competition; Disney (Mass Market, families with children, and adults), Universal (Adults with older kids)...

Then build the rides to support that market. You won't make money as a zoo. You don't have near enough thrill rides for teenagers which isn't that profitable anyway - especially in this market. Zoos tie nicely with families with small kids and adults. So start building one then a series of sea based family attractions with more entertainment story telling value than educational value (they have education covered already).

Builds on their strengths. But they cannot win over Disney so learn to supplement Disney effectively for the specific part of the market that is different than what Universal brings. Learn the story-telling trade that resonates currently and license the characters to do so effectively. Oh, and get an owners group that wants to be in the business.

From Tom Rigg on June 18, 2011 at 7:45 AM
I wonder if the reason that SeaWorld Orlando hasn't utilized the Sesame Street Franchise is because it is owned by Jim Henson productions which is owned by Disney.
From 99.38.249.157 on June 18, 2011 at 8:17 AM
I have only been to Sea World San Diego but it is seriously lacking in rides for the ticket price it charges. Either add more thrill rides and a family dark ride (over several years) if your going to charge $65+ on park admission or lower your park admission to $40-$50. The Sea Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park are a much better value than Sea World SD as they have as many things to do (or more in the Zoo's case) and charge $30-$40. The SD Zoo may not have rides except the skyride but I don't expect it to have rides because it doesn't charge $65+ on admission. If Sea World SD had Orlando's rides its ticket price would be a little more justifiable. Right now if someone is visiting San Diego and only can do one paid attraction, I tell them to go for the Zoo.

For San Diego I would add another thrill ride next (after the family coaster Manta). San Diego could work around its height limit by having rides going underground (like what Alton Towers does in the UK). For the Orlando Sea World I would add a family dark ride next. Also don't charge extra for the high capacity tower ride or skyride when you are already charging $65+ on a ticket, that is just tacky! I personally wish San Diego had a Busch Gardens park instead, they seem a lot more fun/worthy of a visit for the ticket price than Sea World.

From Robert Niles on June 18, 2011 at 8:18 AM
A family dark ride is an indoor ride (thus the "dark" part) that does not have a height restriction to ride (thus the "family" part). Think of It's a Small World or Pirates of the Caribbean at Disney World or Cat in the Hat at Universal.
From Bruce Lane on June 18, 2011 at 8:38 AM
I'm in the 6% at the bottom, of course. I will say I'd be very interested to know specifics on why attendance has been declining for three years running.

Perhaps a different type of survey needs to be run for those who chose not to visit the SeaWorld parks, and try to get some specific answers. There would certainly be practical reasons cited (high-priced admission and parking fees), but I would be curious to hear what else might be going on.

For the record: The young gray whale the San Diego park rehabilitated was named 'Gigi,' not 'J.J.'

As for the idea of capturing young whales just for the sake of a few months display, well... Whoever suggested such silliness (I see the commenter responsible left behind only an IP address) knows less than nothing about whales in general, and whale behavior in particular, including how tightly-knit their families are in the wild. 'Nuff said.

Happy travels.

From Albino Pygmy on June 18, 2011 at 8:42 AM
I'd love to see a rapids ride at Sea World themed to either the Arctic or jellyfish.

Sea World should team up with Discovery Channel and promote the heck out of Shark Week (hoo ha ha!)

As for a family themed dark ride, they could have something similar to what the sea cabs were in The Living Seas, but then who would get in a ride vehicle to see the same stuff you can walk around throughout the rest of the park? Sesame Street doesn't seem to fit with the Sea World theme, however I'm sure they're present somewhere, probably as a little show or walk around characters.

I'd love for them to come up with an edutainment dark ride that uses similar technology as the pooh ride at MK. Picture the scene where tigger has you bounce around with him, but instead of bouncy bouncy trouncy trouncy, you're jumping out of the water doing tricks with Shamu, and then see what he does on his breaks as he's chilling in the backstage tank playing Old Maid with some card sharks.

From 98.21.205.107 on June 18, 2011 at 9:10 AM
It would be great to see a rapids ride at the Orlando Park.

What about the Texas park? I noticed it was hardly mentioned in this story.....

From 98.21.205.107 on June 18, 2011 at 9:17 AM
I chose Family Dark Ride because Family friendly ride was not an option. I don't think it has to be a "dark ride", but I do think they lack family friendly rides in the Orlando Park (which is odd since the Aqua zoo theme is something that would attract families to me). Maybe they think the families will come in for the zoo, but we have to put rides in for the thrill seekers. It just seems somewhat disconnected though.... like you have this park that would be great for families.... but they are paying extra to get in for rides they can not ride together or have little desire to.

Don't get me wrong, Manta is an awesome addition.... but families (especially those with children) can't ride it together. They are paying extra to get in to accomadate these big rides like Manta (and the other giant coaster who's name escapes me right now). The thrill seekers most likely don't think there are enough rides to be worth going that often, so there is a loss there I think. I think they need to fill in the middle ground some with family rides (the space between kids rides and thrill seeker rides).

From Daniel Etcheberry on June 18, 2011 at 9:39 AM
I got the solution! Change the name of the park to Disney Sea.
From Tony Duda on June 18, 2011 at 12:30 PM
To steve lee...I guess your comment was based on what I suggested. I wrote it to say the free beers should be added to the other perks annual passholders get. But I can see the misinterpretation you got.
From 75.19.72.162 on June 18, 2011 at 2:07 PM
I don't understand why people think Sea World needs more rides -- but then, I'm a sea-life nut who is perfectly happy looking at dolphins and fish all day and could care less about rides. When I'm at Sea World I never go on them and I hardly know they exist. If people complain that Sea World doesn't have enough rides, then why are they going there to begin with? That's what places like Disney, Six Flags and Universal Studios are for. The name of the park is SEA WORLD, not ROLLER COASTER WORLD.
From 65.34.135.54 on June 18, 2011 at 3:20 PM
How about changing from a captive entertainment machine to becoming a rescue, rehabilitation and release marine park instead? *THAT* is something I would pay to see. I will NEVER pay to see intelligent sentient beings to perform circus tricks for human beings in the name of "education". It is a very bad education. You can say that people wouldn't otherwise see them to appreciate them...wrong....I will never see the pyramids in Egypt, but it does not mean I cannot appreciate their awe and beauty. Put them all in sea pens, stop the cruel breeding programs and let them go. Tilikum remains defiant...good for him. He has a mind of his own and he is trying to tell you something. Please listen.
From TH Creative on June 18, 2011 at 3:45 PM
Erig G writes: "SeaWorld has a well established, valuable franchise called Shamu."

I Respond: According to TEA's attendance report the "value" of the big fish was not enough to prevent a 12 point drop in attendance.

From 174.108.6.75 on June 18, 2011 at 8:21 PM
Add a wooden coaster themed to pirates this theme goes well with Sea World like atomsphere. Build it and they will come! Have great steel coasters but need wooden coasters for coaster buffs who only like old wooden style thrill scream machines.
From 69.92.217.17 on June 18, 2011 at 9:10 PM
The waters of the world are one....
The cycle of water .....goes on .....and onnnnn...
Seas yield vapor to the skies.....
The sky returns it as rain....
And it all begins again...
And it all begins againnn...

A song from the Wonders of Water? fountain show set to music inside a theatre in Sea World California. Twenty-five years later I still remember it.
I grew up every summer going to Sea World.
I loved this show. It gave me goosebumps.
It used strobe lights to create snow as Sleigh Ride played.
Most enjoyable fountains ever.

I miss it. Bring it back.

From Victoria Jurkowski on June 19, 2011 at 7:42 AM
I agree with the comment about rehabilitation, it goes along with my idea of adding more animals instead of a new ride. They need to get back to their original idea of helping the animals, with education as a second and entertainment as a third. I visit zoos and aquariums all the time and if I'm not expecting big rides and thrills then I'm perfectly content without them.
From 173.227.205.1 on June 19, 2011 at 10:31 AM
Sea World acutually does rescue and rehab of animals every year. Manatees, sea turtles, sea lions, seals... During whale or dolphin beachings their marine animal rescue team goes out to the locations and are trained to help the animals capable of recovering by administering fluids,antibiotics, and other medical care.
Now as to the ride, I think a well put together dark ride would be needed short term and a new thril ride about 4 or 5 years down the road.
From 72.189.125.220 on June 19, 2011 at 1:09 PM
Bruce

I was the poster who suggested the temporary display of whales, my name is Nick, I live in Orlando, and I stand behind my idea.

Typically I do not respond to snarky posts like yours (calling my idea silliness), but in this case I HAVE to point out how WRONG you are.

1). First off Bruce you are showing your age, and your ignorance. Yes SWC had a grey whale named GiGi... in 1972. That whale however was NOT rescued, just collected temporarily for research then released. J.J. was an orphaned grey whale rehabilitated by SWC in 1997-- it made national headlines as J.J. spent Numerous months in the 'Shamu close up' pool and was visited by millions of people before her release.

2). YOU, Bruce, are the one who clearly has little actual knowledge on whales and whale behavior. Baleen whales, like the Humpback I mention in my earlier post, are largely solitary. Any real whale expect would tell you that long term relationships in baleen whales are rare. Therefore they are a perfect candidate for temporary display. Check out this fact -among others- in National Audubon Society's definitive book on whales 'Guide to Marine Mammals of the World'.

Next time Bruce you could just respectfully say that you don't think someone else's idea is a good one (I stress respectfully). And check your facts before you stick your foot in your mouth.

From Sylvain Comeau on June 19, 2011 at 10:56 PM
One problem is that a day at Sea World costs $70, whereas an extra day at Disney costs around $30 with a multi-day pass. And then you hear from others that it's really more of a half day park...

It's pretty clear that the owners have to develop their park more, to make sure it is a full day experience. Otherwise, I see them increasingly losing out to Disney and Universal.

From 72.204.135.201 on June 20, 2011 at 7:00 AM
Nothing. I mean yes new things are great, but the average SeaWorld customer I presume is one whom visits every decade or so. For us, it was a great recent vacation. How could you spend only 6 hours there is beyond my understanding. We took 3 days at SeaWorld, 2 at Aquatica, and 1 at Busch Gardens. And it not being the same ol ride, turnstile wait, crowds, etc and being shows, entertainment and plain ol fun. More shows and a family ride would be great, but there not going to ever compete against WDW or Potter. So they just be who they are. The reason for there decline is Potter the economy, and the negative publicity last year. But overall there attendance, in the Orlando market, is slow and steady. Discovery Cove still sells out often. Don't dare lower the price. Will not raise attendance and the park future would suffer. The price is a great value for the experience. And a bargain with the online package pricing. The Shamu name is worth alot. If cokes sales drop cause Pepsi comes out with a new product does it decrease its trademark name value. Doubt it. Mention Shamu and people have heard of it.
From 72.204.135.201 on June 20, 2011 at 7:07 AM
Sylvian says "One problem is that a day at Sea World costs $70, whereas an extra day at Disney costs around $30 with a multi-day pass. " If you use that math then SeaWorld and Aquatica cost around $3. per extra day with there multi-day pass. ($111. for both parks, upto 14 days. )
From 72.204.135.201 on June 20, 2011 at 7:45 AM
Look at the numbers. IOA with Harry Potter, with it likely being the largest amount, over the length of the contract, paid for any ride and it brought in 5.95 million, yet SeaWorld with only a simple new rollercoaster brought in 5.10 million. Potter was a draw that brought up attendance, but SeaWorld, in my opinion, is just the same business based upon its brand and following. Decline will likely continue until Potter levels off and most of all the economy improves and people can afford to stay a little longer or more regularly visit Orlando.
From Adam Dodds on June 20, 2011 at 10:16 AM
For the record, Sesame Street is not owned by Jim Henson Studios anymore, so Disney doesn't own Sesame Street (don't you think Disney would utilize those characters if the did?) As for Sea World, both in Orlando and San Antonio, it is the price combined with the lack of interesting educational experiences. Have some Epcotian rides that are educational and a dark ride.
From Tyler Bell on June 20, 2011 at 10:50 AM
SeaWorld simply needs rides, with SWO four rides of course it would be hard to compete with other parks. They need atleast 2 more coasters to satisfy thrill seekers, and a couple of dark rides to satisfy families.
From 86.176.216.100 on June 20, 2011 at 11:11 AM
Although the gate price is quite expensive, when compared to Disney, it was the overpriced food and drink prices that annoyed me on my last visit. Maybe they should rethink these as it backfires - you end up spending less and leaving to go elsewhere sooner
From 94.142.68.254 on June 21, 2011 at 4:02 AM
I find the concept of watching captive mammals performing tricks for human amusement extremely distasteful. Parks like Sea World have no place in the modern world now that we know how much these sentient beings suffer in captivity.
From Robert Viands on June 21, 2011 at 5:36 AM
Bring back the free beer samples. When In-Bev took over they ruined everything. I didn't renew my season pass which included SWF/BGT. I used to visit 4-5 times a year, drink beers, and eat food. Basically hang out. Now I don't go at all.
From 68.202.236.2 on June 21, 2011 at 7:54 AM
The chance was very simple for Sea world and to a lesser extent Universal to compete with Disney on a "level" playing field. But it was lost when the decision was to save money on intitial construction cost and not long term success via Legoland being built in Winter Haven over Universal's remaining property near the convention center or on their traditional area and connecting it via the canals to City Walk. This would have given the I-Drive corridor IOA to compete with MK (closer than many think), Hollywood Studios to Universal Studios (easily Universal), Sea World to Animal Kingdom (Sea World) and Epcot would overwhelm Legoland (but at least a fourth park). Furthermore Aquatica & Wet'n Wild would compete with Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon pretty fairly. Toss is some arrangements with some of I-Drive's secondary attractions (Ripley's, Wonderworks & Mini Golf) and the vacations would be quite comparable. Universal could also when vacationers with only boys or create a rotation via legoland versus the Disney Princess faction.

But alas short money beat long term success

From Anon Mouse on June 21, 2011 at 9:17 AM
SeaWorld needs two things to distinguish itself. They need a water park that shares the ocean theme. They need an swimable snorkeling tank. I went to Hawaii many times. The snorkeling is remarkable. SeaWorld should have this experience in a outdoor artificial coral reef environment. I think many people would love to enjoy this for a few hours.

I also think SeaWorld should lower its prices. Why try to match Disney's prices? It makes no sense. Disney's theme park prices have nothing to do with reality. It is just a number. SeaWorld should price itself according to what the market will allow.

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Previous article: Universal Orlando closes the gap with Disney in 2010 theme park attendance report



Enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Harry Potter

Insider's Pick: There's only one place in America to where you can enter the world of Harry Potter: the Universal Orlando Resort. With Universal Orlando 2014: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure, you'll learn everything you need to know to save money and time while enjoying Harry Potter and all the other world-class attractions at Universal Orlando.

Get it! In paperback | For Kindle | For iBooks