Time for another round of musical chairs among theme park CEOs

March 19, 2019, 6:03 PM · Things are changing at the top of two of America's leading theme and amusement park chains.

Six Flags has declared in an SEC filing that Chairman, President and CEO Jim Reid-Anderson will retire by next February. The company also has announced that it has begun a search process to find his replacement.

Meanwhile, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has wrapped its CEO search by hiring former Carnival Cruise Lines Chief Operating Officer Gustavo (Gus) Antorcha as its new head. Longtime SeaWorld executive John T. Reilly had been serving as interim CEO, after former chief Joel Manby left the company last year. When it hired Antorcha, SeaWorld announced that Reilly would continue with the company as COO, however, Reilly announced today that he will leave the company at the end of the month, after 34 years.

"We thank John for his contributions during his 34-year tenure at SeaWorld and wish him the best going forward," Antorcha said in a statement released by the company. "We are encouraged by the new energy at the company and the results we are delivering by executing on our strategy of optimizing pricing, improving marketing and communications, introducing new guest experiences and driving capital and cost efficiencies."

SeaWorld's attendance and revenue surged under Reilly's brief leadership, helped in large part by a pivot back toward the features that made SeaWorld and corporate sibling Busch Gardens successful under previous owner Anheuser-Busch, including free beer giveaways.

The opening at Six Flags coupled with the sudden availability of a proven executive practically begs fans to put two and two together and slot Reilly in as the new chief at Six Flags. But Six Flags might look within its ranks for a new leader, and opportunities abound throughout the industry right now for someone with Reilly's track record.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on the business side of the industry, the Disney/Fox merger closes just after midnight Eastern Time tonight, and Warner Bros. is looking for a new studio chairman after it dumped CEO Kevin Tsujihara.

Replies (1)

March 19, 2019 at 11:44 PM

Can't blame John Reilly for opting out since his reward for being the most successful interim CEO SeaWorld Entertainment could hope for was to be replaced by an industry outsider. Unlike organized crime families, when you depart SeaWorkd you don't sleep with the fishes...

By the way, Darth Iger's 20th Century Fox takeover is scheduled for precisely 12:02 AM Eastern Daylight Time. Monty Burns swears him in to the Stonecutters and no one turns into a pumpkin at midnight...;)

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