Attendance ticked up slightly at the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks in the third quarter of 2022, the company reported this morning. Combined attendance at SeaWorld's 12 gates rose by about 100,000 guests to 7.3 million during the three months ending September 30, 2022.
The small increase helped fuel a big increase in revenue. Total revenue per capita rose 6.8% to $77.05, driven by a 10.4% increase in in-park spending by theme park visitors. That helped SeaWorld post total revenues of $565.2 million for the quarter, up 8.4% from the same period in 2021.
With costs not rising as fast as the company's revenue, SeaWorld posted a 31.8% increase in net income for the quarter, to $134.6 million. Adjusted EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization] was up 3.4%, to $274.2 million.
"I am happy to report our sixth consecutive quarter of record financial results," SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. CEO Marc Swanson said. "While we achieved records for revenue, net income and Adjusted EBITDA in the quarter, these results still do not reflect a normalized operating environment and we still have significant scope to improve our execution and our financial results. We had a meaningful impact from adverse weather in the quarter, including Hurricane Ian, that we estimate led to 90,000 less guest visits during the quarter; international and group visitation are still not back to pre-Covid levels; our staffing is still not at optimized levels; and inflationary pressures continue to impact our costs. We are pleased with the growth in total revenue and total revenue per capita during the quarter which continued to demonstrate our pricing power and the strength of consumer spending in our parks."
"Looking ahead, we are very excited about our plans for 2023 and the investments that we have made and will be making that we expect will drive meaningful growth and new records in revenue and Adjusted EBITDA," Swanson said. For 2023, SeaWorld has announced the following new attractions:
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From the Orlando Sentinel article:
"But changes to labor and staffing are on the table as the company plans to cut costs. Cost efficiency initiatives introduced in a financial presentation Wednesday included cutting overtime, coordinating labor staffing with attendance volumes and plans to “design and deploy [a] company-wide workforce management program and labor strategy."
This reminds me of the last year I worked at Six Flags they did this thing called "real time operation"
AKA "when the park is slow everyone freak out, close a bunch of rides for budget, and cut as much staff as possible as quickly as possible." It's pretty sad the people running these parks constantly hound their front line managers to cut, cut, cut...right now...do it faster.
and then go to Wall Street complaining there is a labor shortage and they can't keep staff lol. The guy currently running BGT is the former GM of both SFGADV and SFMM, the two worst run "big parks" in the country, now that is a winning combination right there.
A 1.4% attendance increase year over year when 2021 still featured depressed travel from the pandemic and limited operations is a pretty disappointing number. Sure, Sea World can tout record revenues all they want, but those earnings are coming through aggressive pricing tactics and taking advantage of captive audiences with predatory surcharges (even on items listed on easily changed digital signage). For as aggressive as Disney and Universal have gotten with their policies and pricing strategies, what Sea World has been doing has been downright despicable.
The fact that they're patting themselves on the back while they're attendance is essentially flat (in a quarter when other parks are growing between 5-10%) further shows how clueless their management is and how little they understand their target audience.
Perspective: SeaWorld did $565.2 million revenue for the quarter, while Cedar Fair parks did $843 million, Universal's theme parks did $2.064 billion, and Disney's parks (not including Tokyo) did $7.4 billion for the quarter.
SeaWorld is becoming a smaller and smaller fish in this ocean. Cutting *anything* is only going to accelerate the company's decline relative to its competition. Sure, SeaWorld can make the bottom line look good for now with cuts, but if the top line keeps lagging further behind the rest of the industry, that's not good for SeaWorld's long-term future.
@ Russell - What has Sea World been doing? When I lived in Orlando, I went to SWO all the time. Now, our trips back are usually focused on Universal, although we are doing Disney for 5 days this winter. We had thought about adding on SWO, but may have to rethink it. Thanks!
@MLB - The biggest slap in the face that SW has been doing (Manny notes this) is the 5% surcharge they are applying to ALL in-park charges. I can understand the need to raise prices on items as the cost of goods and services increase due to inflation, but Sea World is the only place I'm aware of (not limited to just theme parks) that has chosen to raise prices in this way. Sure, it's a pain and sometimes costly to go around changing price tags on items, especially in a theme park where there are dozens of different stores across acres and acres of property, but Sea World is not just applying the 5% surcharge to tagged items, they're doing it to food, beverages, tours, and everything else in the park even if prices can be changed on a digital display with a couple taps of a finger - and in some cases they are raising prices at the same time as they are applying this 5% surcharge.
The other changes the chain has made over the past few years haven't been nearly as grating, but are nonetheless steps in the wrong direction for a company that has been steadily losing traction in the market.
The 5% thing is totally ridiculous and should be illegal, and if things like this keep happening someday probably will be. The Biden admin is cracking down on banking/airline/hotel/auto industries doing things like this, I don't see why they wouldn't do to the same across the board.
Sea World, IMO, shouldn't be a public company. They have no real potential for growth and the constant need to make more and more profit to appease Wall Street is leading their management to puzzling management decisions that will most definitely hurt them in the long term. It would make more sense if they went private and operated like Publix where they sell shares to their employees.
I'll be honest...the primary reason I keep visiting SeaWorld parks these days is because they're the most aggressive in the industry right now when it comes to new attractions. As a coaster fan, it's hard to turn down the company installing B&Ms, Intamins, and RMCs when most other parks seem to be taking a few years off from such. However, in most other aspects, the chain has seriously declined. Theming pretty much isn't even in the discussion with new attractions, operations have been very spotty, prices are higher than the parks are probably worth, and they're the only company that's worse for nickel and diming than Disney right now (especially that scummy 5% surcharge, which definitely inflated the revenue boost). SeaWorld seems to be trying a strategy of "if you build it, they will come" right now, but it seems they aren't really coming. Unless things change in a significant way, I don't foresee a strong future for SeaWorld.
To put in prospective, I passed on renewing my membership with them, considering I'm about 2 hours away from BGW (thats not a typo), and opted to get a platinum pass at USO. I would normally make the jump to BGW, even for just a few night hours, to ride or walk the park and take in some of it's beloved theming. Now, just my personal opinion, it seems like the more they add, the more they take away. Who the hell asked for tangerine orange painted buildings in Germany? Why is there more theming in the parking lot than your newest coaster attraction?
With every revenue increase and/or attendance increase, the guest experience at SW/BG crashes to a previously unimaginable new low
Good numbers but how many staff reduction and cost initiatives is that in the last 5 years? I guess if your only metric is shareholder return you’ll eventually cut off your nose and the falling numbers will be irreversible.
@ Russell, Thank you for the information. Out of principle, I think I will avoid SWO.
I'm at SeaWorld today ... no surcharge paying cash .... :) LOL !!
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It's always good to see theme park companies do well and I'm a fan of Sea World, visiting both the San Diego and Orlando parks within the last three months. For those complaining about Disney's predatory business practices these parks offer alternatives to the Mouse. But! They also have their sketchy business ideas. At Orlando they charge a 5% increase on stuff... just because! They announce it with some small subtle signs but still that's not cool. Regardless, their admission prices are noticeably lower usually than Universal and Disney, and they don't seem as crowded while still offering some neat things to see and do. It's a give and take I suppose.
But still that 5% "just because" is insulting.