So we all know Sea World Orlando has been struggling bigtime over the past decade, and although Blackfish certainly hasn't helped, I would make the argument that competition has more to do with it than anything. The expansions of Disney and Universal with extremely popular IP that is getting great reviews is killing Sea World, and now that both properties have waterparks that is taking a big segment of their business away as well.
The really scary thing for Sea World is that this trend is accelerating, not reversing.
As much as I like SWO I cannot see how it's going to get any better. Avatar at DAK is getting stellar reviews and drawing big crowds, Star Wars at DHS, Guardians of the Galaxy at Epcot, and Tron at MK. Obviously this was done on purpose to make people have to visit all four parks.
Harry Potter, which is by far Universal's biggest draw, is probably going to have lands in three different parks. Plus just think about the fact that they are going to have three theme parks and a water park.
So when you take into account a lot of people haven't seen Avatar yet (or love it and its a "must" revisit) and all three other Disney parks are getting new IP e-tickets, and Universal is getting a whole new park...do the math, that's SEVEN must visit theme parks between two properties. I think that because this is all popular IP these are going to be much more of "must visits" then attractions that have been built in the past because people are familiar with them and they have huge fan bases.
People only have so much money and time to use on vacation. I don't know what kind of tricks Sea World has up their sleeve but if the last 10 years are an indicator they are in big trouble. They have been aggressively trying to cut operating costs, doing annual layoffs, playing games with the prices, and (other than Christmas week) it still seems like the park is always totally dead. Nobody is going to see a new rapids ride, which both Disney and Universal have had for decades, and be like "we've got to go there!" If a B&M hyper coaster didn't bring people to the park a rapids ride won't. They put some spin on their last earnings report to make it look positive although they still lost tons of money. I think the Busch Gardens parks are carrying this chain. Look at the rides they have been adding recently: S&S skyloops and a crummy fake submarine thing that closed after only a few months. Screamscape is reporting SWSD is likely going to be getting another cheap fake-coaster thing next year. This tells me they are out of money to build real new rides like they used to. Honestly i'm starting to think that in 10 years or so SWO will be condo's.Tweet
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