Record Revenue, Rising Attendance Boost SeaWorld in 2022

February 28, 2023, 12:48 PM · Attendance rose nearly 9% at SeaWorld Entertainment's theme parks in 2022, the company reported today. Coupled with higher guest spending, both on admission and inside the parks, the company enjoyed a record $1.7 billion in revenue last year.

SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and other associated brands welcomed 21.9 million in guests in 2022, up 8.6% from 2021, though annual attendance still lagged the 22.6 million visitors that SeaWorld Entertainment parks admitted in 2019, before the pandemic lockdowns. (The company posted its highest-ever attendance back in 2008.)

But even as attendance has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels, price increases and surcharges at the parks have helped SeaWorld push the average guest's spending to record levels. That number was up to $78.91 - up 5.7% from $74.87 in 2021, and up a big 27.7% from 2019's per capita revenue of $61.79.

As a result, the company reported record earnings last year, with Adjusted EBITDA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization] of $728.2 million, up 10% from 2021 and 59.4% from 2019.

SeaWorld spent much of its cash buying back its stock last year, with $693.6 million going to repurchase 12.4 million shares of common stock, which works out to approximately 16% of total shares outstanding.

For the fourth quarter of the year, SeaWorld Entertainment's attendance was down slightly - 0.3% - from the same period in 2021, driven largely by the effects of Hurricanes Ian and Nicole hitting Florida - the home of SeaWorld's two most-visited theme parks: SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Nevertheless, the company continues to invest in new roller coasters and thrill rides at its parks, with its Serengeti Flyer swing ride opening at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay this week, and Pipeline: The Surf Coaster nearing its debut at SeaWorld Orlando. Other new attractions set for 2023 include DarKoaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Arctic Rescue at SeaWorld San Diego, and Catapult Falls at SeaWorld San Antonio, plus new slides and play areas at many of the company's water parks. (For more details, please see our What's New or Next at Top Theme Parks page.

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Replies (3)

March 1, 2023 at 5:48 AM

And with every subsequent visit we make to their parks, it becomes ever more apparent that these record revenues are achieved by cutting EVERYWHERE

March 1, 2023 at 8:53 AM

/\ Quick semantic note, you don't get more revenue by cutting. You certainly can have higher profit by cuts, however. And I don't disagree with you Sea World has been my whipping boy on these forums for 10 years with the massive amount of cuts.

In regards to the earnings call as Charlie Munger would say: "whenever you hear an executive talk about EBITDA substitute that with 'bullsh*t earnings.'" I have a huge problem with EBITDA being a thing, how can you accurately assess how a business is doing if you don't count interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization? Its basically just a CEO saying "we know our company isn't a great investment but these numbers make us look better, so..." you would think by now people would have caught onto this.

March 1, 2023 at 10:06 AM

@the_man2 - So true, but sadly the Wall Street types love those numbers because they are constant and generally good indicators of the overall performance of a business. There are tons of "phony accounting" metrics that companies use to promote the success of their businesses, so EBITDA isn't alone - though I do think that number is a bit more useful these days with companies carrying underused (or completely unused) real estate portfolios that would otherwise drag down true earnings.

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