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SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

P. 268: Inside Look event photo report!

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Wow, that was one of the best trip reports I have seen. I can see why you consider that the best value in Orlando. Unfortunately I will be in Orlando in December, so it will be too cold and I am not really a water person. But that is a much better value than the Six Flags VIP package.

 

Value is the biggest reason I like the Seaworld/Busch parks the best in Florida. Reasonable gate prices with discounts available, good food, quality shows and entertainment, thrilling rides, good landscaping, and a great atmosphere. They are big parks and I'm not doing the same thing over and over the day I am there, unless I want to. There also aren't mobs of strollers and senior citizens 10 wide in the midways bringing foot travel to a crawl. Most importantly, I leave this company's parks happier than when I am at their competition.

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We are heading to Seaworld in july, but have a few questions.....

 

The plan is to be there for two days, but do not see any 2 day tickets anywhere. I thought that I heard there was some kind of ticket deal where once inside the park and they give you the next day free. Any truth to this? If so, where?

 

Also, do you think the all you can eat plan is worth it?

 

Any help with this would be much appreciated.

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^Pretty sure as long as you have a 'real' one day ticket, you get it validated while INSIDE the park and it's good for the next day. I'll check next time we're over there for sure.

 

I could see maybe doing an evening and morning at the park, but I don't see really needing two full days.

 

There are some ticket deals that include the all day meal plan. So for example you can pay about $90 a person and that will get you a two day ticket and one day of all you can eat. I would go for that!

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We are heading to Seaworld in july, but have a few questions.....

 

The plan is to be there for two days, but do not see any 2 day tickets anywhere. I thought that I heard there was some kind of ticket deal where once inside the park and they give you the next day free. Any truth to this? If so, where?

 

Also, do you think the all you can eat plan is worth it?

 

Any help with this would be much appreciated.

 

 

You can buy the fun card, which is the same price as a single day ticket. $89. plus tax per adult. $81 plus tax per child (3-9) and it will give you unlimited admission until Dec 31st. It is listed under FL Residents offers but anyone can buy it, the only real Florida resident restriction is the EzPay program(monthly payment plan on annual passes). You can buy the fun cards online, at the park (kiosk or ticket windows) or over the phone. If you were looking for discounts...well there really is not much for 2 day tickets. Prices online are $10 off but if you want second day included you would have to pay the $10 upgrade, which might as well be better to buy the fun card and avoid all the hassles. If you are a AAA member check with them first they have awesome discounts. Hope that helps

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http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/tourism/os-seaworld-avoids-income-tax-20130425,0,3224007,full.story

 

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. is a hot commodity on Wall Street.

 

The Orlando-based theme-park owner raised $700 million last week in an initial public offering that exceeded even its own expectations. The company's share price then surged even higher, rising more than 20 percent in its first week of trading.

 

One reason investors may be so excited about SeaWorld: The company is paying almost nothing in income taxes and doesn't expect to start doing so anytime soon.

 

"We won't be a taxpayer for several years to come," SeaWorld President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Atchison told prospective investors shortly before the company went public. "That's a great advantage for us."

 

SeaWorld is avoiding income taxes even as business is booming. The company's pre-tax profits more than tripled in 2012 to $117 million. Total sales across its 11 parks climbed 7 percent to more than $1.4 billion.

 

Tax-reform advocates say SeaWorld symbolizes a broken U.S. tax system. The federal government gave away as much money in corporate tax breaks in 2011 — $181 billion — as it raised in corporate-tax revenue, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office in Washington.

 

The losses drain state treasuries, too. Florida and other states lean heavily on the federal tax code when calculating their own corporate-income taxes.

 

SeaWorld says it is acting within "both the letter and spirit" of all tax laws.

 

"SeaWorld has an obligation to act in the best interests of its shareholders," the company said in a written statement. "In claiming deductions specifically added to the tax code by our elected representatives for the purpose of encouraging investment, SeaWorld is doing nothing more than what other businesses and individual taxpayers do in filing their returns each year."

 

In an interview, Atchison defended the company's practices. "I think it's fair that we, as an organization, follow the U.S. tax laws," he said.

 

Beyond that, "I think judgments about fair or unfair are best" left to members of Congress and other policymakers, Atchison added.

 

Senior lawmakers in both political parties have begun discussing a broad corporate-tax overhaul, fueled in part by reports of minimal tax payments by major American businesses, from SeaWorld to General Electric Co. to Apple Inc. But agreeing on changes will be difficult, as individual companies and industries lobby to preserve preferential treatment.

 

While refraining from discussing SeaWorld directly, some members of Florida's congressional delegation say reforms are necessary.

 

A spokeswoman for Rep. Alan Grayson said in an emailed statement that the Orlando Democrat thinks that "all profitable U.S. companies should pay U.S. income taxes."

 

"They should not have two separate set of books (one for shareholders and a different one for the IRS)," spokeswoman Lauren Doney added.

 

The single biggest driver of SeaWorld's tax savings is a break known as "accelerated depreciation."

 

When companies invest in things like equipment and machinery, the value of those assets declines over time as they age. Accelerated depreciation allows companies to write off the value of those investments faster for tax purposes than the value actually declines.

 

For example, SeaWorld and other theme-park owners are allowed to deduct the value of rides in as few as seven years, even though those attractions typically remain in service for far longer. SeaWorld Orlando's "Journey to Atlantis" opened 15 years ago, yet it remains one of the marine park's marquee rides.

 

The result is that companies get to take bigger tax deductions — and therefore pay fewer taxes — in the earlier years of their investments.

 

In theory, companies that use accelerated depreciation will have to pay higher taxes later, once they have completely written off the asset. But tax experts say companies often indefinitely defer those tax payments because they continually buy and build new assets that can be written off.

 

That is easier to do for businesses in capital-intensive industries — such as theme parks, which must constantly build and renovate attractions to continue drawing visitors.

 

SeaWorld has accumulated an extraordinary amount of depreciation, thanks to its 2009 sale to the private-equity firm Blackstone Group. Analysts say that deal was structured in such a way that much of the $2.3 billion purchase price was allocated to tax-depreciable assets.

 

Altogether, SeaWorld has amassed $556 million worth of tax credits based on losses it has reported — for tax purposes — since the sale to Blackstone, which remains SeaWorld's majority shareholder. The cushion should ensure that SeaWorld will not have to pay any significant amount in cash for income taxes over the next few years, though Atchison would not say how long he expected those credits to last.

 

The credits will not begin expiring until 2029, according to SeaWorld's regulatory filings.

 

In those filings, SeaWorld said it paid a tiny amount of income tax in 2012: $767,000, which works out to less than 1 percent of its pre-tax profit. The company did not disclose whether that represented federal or state tax payments.

 

Accelerated depreciation is among the biggest corporate subsidies in the U.S. tax code. The break saved companies a collective $76.1 billion in 2011, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. That accounted for 42 percent of the total savings of all "corporate tax expenditures" that the agency studied.

 

Supporters of accelerated depreciation say it encourages companies to make capital investments, which in turn create jobs. Allowing them to defer their taxes frees up money they can spend on more investments.

 

But critics say it is unnecessary. Rebecca Wilkins, senior counsel for federal tax policy at Citizens for Tax Justice, a nonprofit group that advocates higher corporate taxes, says companies need to make capital investments to grow their businesses and shouldn't need a tax break to encourage that.

 

SeaWorld itself is a case study on the importance of investment. When beer brewer InBev bought SeaWorld's former parent company, Anheuser-Busch, in 2008, it slashed capital spending at the theme-park unit while it searched for a buyer.

 

That slowed SeaWorld's development pipeline and the company opened just two new attractions around the country in 2010. Attendance and income plummeted.

 

SeaWorld has since increased capital spending under Blackstone — $537 million over the last three years — and business has flourished.

 

"Companies don't invest because of tax breaks," Wilkins said. "They invest because they can make money off the investment."

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SeaWorld Orlando has sent us a press advisory regarding the latest update of 'Behind the Freeze' for Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, this time focusing on the ride's lead protagonist, Puck the Penguin.

 

In this latest installment, SeaWorld Creative Director Brian Morrow takes you “Behind the Freeze” of Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin where you’ll see Antarctica through the eyes of our new hero – a penguin named Puck. From the amazing sights to the original score, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin will blend an all-family adventure ride with up-close encounters never before seen.

 

Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin – which opens in 30 days -- will transport you into a rarely seen, icy world. You’ll feel the majestic grandeur of the South Pole and see it through the eyes of Puck on an exhilarating, first-of-its-kind family ride. You’ll explore a massive penguin colony in an expanse that envelops you in cool extremes, both above and below the penguins’ icy world. It’s a must-see, one-of-a-kind theme park experience only at SeaWorld in Orlando.

 

 

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We are heading to Seaworld in july, but have a few questions.....

 

The plan is to be there for two days, but do not see any 2 day tickets anywhere. I thought that I heard there was some kind of ticket deal where once inside the park and they give you the next day free. Any truth to this? If so, where?

 

Also, do you think the all you can eat plan is worth it?

 

Any help with this would be much appreciated.

 

You will have to upgrade your ticket at the park for the second day free. I do agree, that the Fun Card is more valuable.

 

All Day Dining at Sea World or Busch Gardens is also a good value.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Today was the media day for Antarctica Empire of the Penguin at SeaWorld Orlando! For those of you who might not be aware, about 2 years ago, SeaWorld closed the old penguin exhibit, and transformed the entire area into what is now known as "Antarctica."

 

The new dark ride features trackless, motion-base ride vehicles, so think "Pooh's Hunny Hunt" combined with "DarKastle", except this is certainly more for families.

 

One interesting feature about the ride is that it technically has no height restriction! If you are under 42", you can choose to take a "mild" ride, which is simply the same ride you would normally experience, just without a lot of the spinning or ride vehicle jostling around. So younger riders can still experience the ride-through part of the attraction.

 

The ride itself is very interesting, consisting of a main "follow me room" (which is what I heard someone refer to it as), where the vehicles kind of dance around each other with colorful "rainbow" scenery and lightning around you, and then you move into two different "movie" rooms, that tell the story of "Puck", a Gentoo penguin, and his adventures!

 

Let's check out the ride!

 

Here is a complete ride-through of Antarctica Empire of the Penguin including some of the pre-shows and an intro/outro by Brian Morrow, Creative Director of Antarctica.

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It wouldn't be an update without an entrance sign!

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When you see this sign, you know you're in Antarctica!

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Just in case you get lost...

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When you go through the queue, you have to make a choice! Do you want Wild or Mild? (And I'll be honest, the Wild isn't like CRAZY OMG WILD or anything, it just spins and jostles you a bit more...so don't worry!)

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There is Puck and his Gentoo family. Ready to go on an adventure with him?

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Yes, Puck...we see you, too! =)

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Here are the ride vehicles... pretty snazzy, eh?

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Those other vehicles are in the "load" position. It's an interesting set up, it doesn't feel like your traditional ride "load/unload" type of area.

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We're just gonna call this the "purple room." It's the first thing you see, and you'll find some videos of Tuck in this room.

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Rainbow caverns, anyone?

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Here in this "Follow Me" room - the ride vehicles follow each other, spin, and kind of "dance around" - If you watch the video you'll get a pretty good idea of what we mean.

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After the "follow me" room - you encounter two giant movie rooms. During the movies, your ride vehicles move to match the motions on the screen. (again, you can see this in the video)

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Just watchin' da movie!

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After the movie rooms, then you come to the penguin habitat! Yay!

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This is the final room before "unload", so as you're waiting for the vehicles ahead of you, penguins show off what they do best!

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They are just hanging out and having fun!

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Here you can see the line of vehicles watching the penguins, and then unload is right in the next room.

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After unload, there are.... MORE PENGUINS!!! After all, this is the "Empire of the Penguin" duh! =)

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You can stay in this habitat area as long as you'd like!

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And oddly enough... the penguin habitat no longer smells! Yes! They have removed the smell from the penguins! =)

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The new Antarctica area includes new dining facilities such as this new quick-service restaurant.

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Noodles are yummy!

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In Glacial Collections you can get all the penguin swag you need for your penguin fanatic back home!

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I'm sure these will make some penguin fans very happy!

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Probably the coolest thing they sell in the shop is this "Cup that Cares" - It's sort of like the Mr. Potato Head of SeaWorld! You can create and mix/match your cup, and once you do, you can use it all year long to bring it back and get 99 cent refills from the Coke Freestyle machine! And every time you use your cup, it will tell you how many trees, etc you have saved by NOT using a throw-away cup!

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I made my little guy and filled him with Peach Fanta Zero, because that's my Coke Freestyle jam!

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Antarctica Empire of the Penguin opens Friday, May 24th 2013 - Come to SeaWorld Orlando and check it out!

Edited by robbalvey
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The idea of having two ride experiences is a great idea in my opinion and I hope to see more rides take this approach. Last year at WDW I was able to ride Mission Space with my wife who had neck surgery years ago and would not have been able to ride it without the option for a less intense ride.

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