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SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

p. 276: Penguin Trek family coaster announced!

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Looks like these clowns are at it again.


I would love to drive by them with a carton of eggs.


I was a bit disappointed I didn't get to see these insane people when I visited recently. Did any one else notice the woman on the left is almost as wide as the sign? They must have already freed Shamu!

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Looks like these clowns are at it again.


I would love to drive by them with a carton of eggs.


Did any one else notice the woman on the left is almost as wide as the sign? They must have already freed Shamu!


You beat me to it Craig!

Edited by larrygator
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I was just at Sea World about a month ago and posted my thoughts in my home park's thread, SFGA. Universal really underwhelmed me and riding simulator after simulator got old real fast. The physical length of the queues are unbearably long, followed by dull 10 minute speeches reminding us not to take pics and videos before some of the rides. At least the lines moved continuously. Hulk was a real letdown. For me it was just somewhat uncomfortable G forces the whole time, for others it was that plus headbanging. The ice side of the duelling dragons was good, but not something I'd consider up to par with Batman, Montu, or Raptor. Almost though. Fire was kinda dull. Harry Potter's theming was awesome, much more appealing to me than the rides themselves. Spiderman was the only simulator I'd ride again. T-2 was our fav thing there. Universal seems more juvenile and aimed at kids under 10, Sea World has a lot more of a mature vibe.


So I'm surprised Kracken does not get more hype. After going to SFGA, Cedar Point, Busch Gardens Tampa, and Universal I'd really say this was the best coaster out of everything I've gone on. Pretty much as close to whatever notions of a dream coaster I had before riding it. Other people have different tastes, of course, but I really thought every element meant something, speed was ideal, nothing uncomfortable, creative use of elements, great air, awesome transitions between elements, epic feel as opposed to a typical short SFGA ride, can't say there was anything I didn't like. For me, Kumba really pales in comparison. Manta is great too. If Superman typically has two hour waits here, I bet Manta would double that.


The environment at Sea World is really relaxing. If I had to guess why their attendance is down I would chalk it up to Disney and Universal with their huge advertising budget. The shark encounter was cutting edge for its time, but it's really, really dated compared to places I've been like Ripley's in Myrtle Beach or even Mandalay Bay or the Interactive Aquarium in Cancun. Blue Horizons was amazing and I rarely think that of anything.


I've seen Blackfish and haven't done my own research to see what validity their claims have. PETA is definitely an organization that does some very questionable things. At this point, I don't even know that keeping Orcas is worth the hassle. The Shamu show at 4:30 drew worse than Blue Horizons at 11:30. BH was pretty much at capacity. Shamu was kinda repetitive and paled in comparison to BH. If they can't come up with a better show that doesn't put the trainers at risk while also keeping the Orcas in ideal conditions, it might be time to switch to something else.


But why pick on Sea World? How many activist dollars go to supporting horrible politicians and corporations that do far worse things than Sea World could ever dream of?


Is it just me or do Florida residents not go to the parks during the offseason on weekdays? In September everyone at BG was from the UK. This time it was the whole country of Brazil everywhere in Orlando and Tampa. I wish IL residents were more like that. Last year SFGA had absolutely horrible crowds every day it was open after mid-July aside from Halloween. Horrible meaning every major ride had a 90 min+ wait time. I have little doubt people would have stopped attending in those numbers in the winter unless there was a blizzard. Whatever SF does in their marketing enables them to attract Walmart shoppers of all types in agonizingly huge numbers. Sea World probably seems too family friendly for a majority of the Yolo SF crowd.


Was Sea World ever considered much of a theme park? When I went there in 88 and 92, I felt like the sharks and Shamu were the big draws. Nowadays there are shark infested aquariums everywhere so the competition is fierce. If they could build some mammoth shark exhibit, I think that would re-establish Sea World as the top aquarium brand. This is an area Disney and Universal can't/won't compete in. As for the other exhibits, Turtle Trek was really cool. The penguins were a lot like we have at Brookfield Zoo. I would say that it's mainly standard zoo and aquarium fare.


A new cutting edge shark exhibit would generate tons of hype. If they were to do another coaster, it would have to be very cutting edge. At SFGA, Goliath eventually drew insane crowds bc of all the marketing hype. RMC generates lots of hype in the coaster enthusiast community. Goliath wasn't really too appealing to me. Guess it was cool for what it is, but at about 29 seconds long after reaching the top of the lift, it felt like half a ride to me. X-Flight was the first new coaster SFGA had received in over a decade but bc it wasn't hyped to death in advertising, it didn't seem to generate much of a buzz despite it being about as good as any other coaster in the park.


Coasters are really the Six Flags and Cedar Fair brands. Disney and Universal are family friendly parks with beloved movie and tv characters. Sea World's brand is now viewed as home of mistreated orcas or exciting Shamu shows, depending on who you ask. Unless SF builds a park in Central FL and Sea World wants to catch all the inevitable guests SF disappoints with bad service, unruly guests, and long lines, I would say to stick with building their aquatic brand and not build more coasters. BG has plenty of top-rated coasters and it doesn't draw the type of people in Central FL who would be visiting SFGA if they lived here.


Discovery Cove looks awesome, but it was closed when I went. I didn't even know what it was and I've seen many theme park shows on Destination America and Travel Channel.

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Advertising is not the cure-all for all problems, but the PR power of PETA was mightier than the power of SeaWorld PR in convincing people in the middle (the undecideds) whether to avoid SeaWorld. There will always be supporters of the park and haters of the park practices on the fringes, SeaWorld needs to get their story out to the others.




SeaWorld plans to launch brand-repairing campaign

Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 8:00 am | Updated: 2:09 pm, Fri Feb 27, 2015.

By Sandra Pedicini Orlando Sentinel


ORLANDO, Fla. — SeaWorld Entertainment, still experiencing declining theme-park attendance amid controversy over killer whales, will soon debut a brand-repairing campaign and is holding off on ticket price increases.


Orlando-based SeaWorld told analysts its plans Thursday as it released a fourth-quarter earnings report showing a bigger profit loss and lower revenue than the previous year. SeaWorld reported an adjusted net loss of $25.4 million versus $13 million a year ago. Year-over-year revenue declined to $264 million from $272 million. The net loss was larger than analysts’ expectations, and the stock was down more than 4 percent Thursday morning.


The company’s attendance and stock value have declined, in part because of negative publicity over its killer whales. The issue went mainstream after the 2013 documentary “Blackfish,” which suggested stresses of captivity could have caused the orca Tilikum to kill Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.


Interim Chief Executive Officer David D’Alessandro told analysts the company a targeted marketing campaign starting by April 1 will focus on consumers who feel ambivalent about SeaWorld.


Some people vehemently oppose keeping animals in captivity, while others support SeaWorld enthusiastically. The campaign will focus on those in the middle —a group that D’Alessandro said “wants to know our side of the story.”


D’Alessandro said SeaWorld has “some of the best people in the country working with us” and the campaign will be a long-term one.


“This is not a hit-and-run as we say in the marketing world, where you can just advertise for a month and hope it goes away,” D’Alessandro said. “This is changing mindsets and making sure mindsets stay changed, recognizing that the opposition is not going to stand still as we do this.”


Just minutes after SeaWorld’s conference call with analysts ended, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals issued a statement saying “it has never been clearer that the tide has turned against the amusement park following the critically acclaimed film Blackfish.”


It will likely take some time for the marketing campaign to have some effect, said S&P Capital IQ analyst Tuna Amobi.


“Usually things like this in our experience take from two to three years,” he said.


The campaign is expected to increase marketing costs. Much of that will be offset by a previously announced $50 million cost-cutting plan that included layoffs of more than 300 people.


SeaWorld also indicated it has no immediate plans to raise ticket prices. Both Disney World and Universal Orlando have broken the $100 threshold for one-day tickets during the last few days. SeaWorld will hold the line at $95 for now.


“We’re not interested in necessarily following to follow just yet,” D’Alessandro said. “But we think there may be some room there. ... I think we’d like to wait until we see how the quarter goes.”


Right now, he said, “our strategy is let’s get people into the parks, let’s re-establish our pass base and then let’s market more aggressively on the domestic side with additional marketing programs.”


Amobi said that is a wise strategy.


“I think they’ve got to tackle the attendance question first,” he said.


The company said it plans to hold off on giving financial guidance for 2015 as well. It wants to wait until its first quarter finishes and it can analyze Spring Break and Easter performance.


The company pointed to what it sees as a positive sign: Attendance, while down year over year, declined less than in the previous quarter. While year-over-year attendance dove 5.2 percent in the third quarter, this time it declined 2.2 percent.


Visitors paid less for admission but about 2 percent more on food, merchandise and other in-park spending. Next week SeaWorld Orlando starts another initiative that could generate more money — charging $15 per person to touch and have photos taken with dolphins. At the same time, SeaWorld has stopped allowing people to buy $7 trays of fish to feed the dolphins.


In Orlando, SeaWorld also acknowledged it has stiff competition from Disney World and Universal Orlando. Without a major new attraction coming online any time soon, D’Alessandro said, “you don’t have a choice but to market, promote, build your past business and do a better job in pricing. That’s how you at a minimum maintain share.”

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Last night we were invited to see a sneak peek at their new "Sea Lion High" Clyde & Seamore Sea Lion & Otter show. What we saw was VERY cute! This has always been my favorite show in the park (sorry, Shamu) and it was nice to see the show get updated. The full show is due to open in April.


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Makes me wonder if Blackstone was the right company to buy out these parks? Then going public seems to have not helped the matter either. I really want to see them bounce back and get stronger, they just need strong guidance and a real direction by it's management. Maybe better owners are part of the solution too. Everyone thought Concast taking over Universal was going to hurt them badly but look how they have really gone gangbusters with it and aren't slowing down. Hey Comcast think you could turn Sea World around too? Would be an interesting scenerio.

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One of my last potential job interviews in the Advertising industry was to be on the Blackstone account. Every person I respected in the industry told me to avoid the position and decline the interview. I was informed the client was all about efficiency over proactive solutions based thinking.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Makes me wonder if Blackstone was the right company to buy out these parks?


No. There's a lot that went horribly wrong though, and you can't blame them entirely for taking advantage of a situation beyond the park's control. You can, however, blame them for how things have been managed since.

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With Ringling Bros. getting rid of their elephants in increments over the next few years, I notice a lot of the news programs used it to shame Sea World. (Surprise, surprise.) I'm sure Sea World could survive without Orcas, but I don't think that'd be enough for these rabblerousers. They'd then go after the dolphins. Then the performing walrus and sea lions. Then the notion of keeping any animal in captivity. There's never an end for these busybodies. Even if Sea World did all of that, got rid of all the animals, these people would say "You shouldn't visit because of what they did in the past. They support animal slavery." Oy, the world today.

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Seaworld Entertainment, Inc. Names Joel Manby as President and CEO


ORLANDO, Fla., March 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (SEAS), a leading theme park and entertainment company, today announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Joel Manby as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective April 7, 2015. At that time, Manby, 55, will also join the Company's Board of Directors. David F. D'Alessandro, who has served as interim CEO, will continue to serve as the Company's Chairman.


"The Board of Directors has completed an extensive search process and we are extremely pleased to welcome Joel Manby to SeaWorld Entertainment. Joel has nearly 20 years' experience and a proven track record with business models very similar to ours – multiple brands and multiple properties in the entertainment and theme park industries," said D'Alessandro. "Even in the most challenging business environments, Joel has consistently enhanced the performance of the companies he has led for customers, investors and employees alike. He has the experience and qualifications to lead our Company into the future."


Most recently, Manby has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Herschend Enterprises, the largest family-owned theme park and entertainment company in the United States. While at Herschend, he has consistently driven profitable growth, expanding the company from six to 26 properties while more than doubling annual EBITDA and net cash flow. Herschend reports annual attendance of more than 14 million across its companies.


"I am honored to be selected as SeaWorld Entertainment's new CEO. This Company has tremendous brands, and for more than 50 years, families have come to our parks to learn about animals, have fun and be entertained," Manby said. "We are known for our exceptional operations and world-class animal care. My job is to build on that foundation while consistently improving and innovating in a competitive environment. I look forward to working with our more than 23,000 team members through the challenges ahead."


Before joining Herschend, Mr. Manby spent 20 years in the auto industry. From 1996-2000, he served as CEO of Saab Automobile USA, where he increased the company's sales by over 60 percent and improved its J.D. Power Quality Rating from 30th to fifth in the industry. Prior to joining Saab, Mr. Manby held various roles at GM, and was a member of the start-up team for Saturn Corporation, where he was instrumental in launching Saturn's innovative marketing and distribution strategy.


Mr. Manby was the valedictorian of Albion College, where he was a Rhodes scholarship finalist, and he earned an MBA from Harvard Business School. He serves on the boards of several companies and organizations, including Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. and the National Advisory Board of the Salvation Army. Mr. Manby is married and has four daughters.

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That is a shock... Joel spent a great deal of time learning the "heart" of HFEC operations from Jack and Pete. A lot of prayer and preparation went into him becoming the CEO of HFEC and it will be difficult to replace him. Not that I expected him to stay forever, and I wish him the best, but after all I've been told about him it is very surprising that we would make this move.

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SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is in great hands with Joel Manby at the helm. He has a known history for continual, balanced investment in the parks under his watch. I'd imagine the Blue World project for al three SeaWorld parks will be heavily reviewed once he starts... It will be interesting to see what happens from that point on.

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