Vote of the week: What does SeaWorld need to do to increase attendance?
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 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.
Hmm, I was deciding between new family dark ride and refurbishing the current ones like Journey to Atlantis and Wild Arctic.
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!
IMAX 4D / animatronic experience featuring great white sharks.
TH Creative said:
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
Add an underwater show with mermaids. Also, a family indoor ride would help.
Install a giant wizard's hat somewhere in the park.
Add an adults-only show with mermaids. Errr... I mean, a new whole family dark ride.
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.
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.
Another idea: Swim with the Orcas!
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.
The Sopranos-themed family overnight, "Sleep with the Fishes," was, alas, rejected.
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.
Boy, that anonymous post above was a chore to read! Wondered if it might be an ex-employee.
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
Mr. Niles' snark about the Sopranos raises an interesting point: Does SeaWorld have any licensed entities associated with their attractions?
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!
SeaWorld has a well established, valuable franchise called Shamu.
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.
TH, SeaWorld licenses Sesame Workshop, including the Sesame Street characters.
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.
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!
Build a family dark ride. Use the lisences they do have, like Sesame Street. Just look at what Disney and Universal do, storytelling attractions!
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.
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.
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...-_-;
Sorry for my ignorance, but what is a "Family Dark Ride"?
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.
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!
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.
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.
Sorry, that last post about Australia was from me. I forgot to log in! Daniel.
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)...
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.
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.
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.
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.
I'd love to see a rapids ride at Sea World themed to either the Arctic or jellyfish.
It would be great to see a rapids ride at the Orlando Park.
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.
I got the solution! Change the name of the park to Disney Sea.
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.
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.
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.
Erig G writes: "SeaWorld has a well established, valuable franchise called Shamu."
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.
The waters of the world are one....
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.
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.
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...
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.
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. )
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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