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The InBev/Busch Discussion Thread

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They could pull a fairly hefty licensing fee, I think. This would be as close to "free" advertising as they could get--all Busch/InBev would have to do is provide the beer and cash the checks.


Yeah, but if InBev is anxious to unload the parks, they might be trying to have as few strings/liabilities attached to the deal as possible. Wouldn't a potential buyer question the wisdom of having to pay for a promotion that mostly benefits InBev?


It seems that InBev is quite serious about getting rid of the AB parks post haste, which might be the best thing as I doubt they'll do much in the way of capital improvements so long as they're stuck under the umbrella of a severely cash-strapped and notoriously stingy parent company.


Still sucks about the free beer though.

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The saga continues, and gets a little more depressing.





Sale expected soon on Busch theme parks


January 15, 2009


WILLIAMSBURG - The Financial Times of London reported Thursday that bidders are lining up for the anticipated sale of $7 billion in assets that brewing giant InBev wants to unload as part of its $52 billion takeover of Anheuser-Busch.


Chief among those assets is Busch Entertainment, which operates 10 theme parks including Busch Gardens Europe and Water Country USA. The sale is expected to reap up to $4 billion.


The Times listed likely bidders as Merlin Entertainment and Candover, both based in the United Kingdom. Strategic bidders may include Walt Disney and Universal Studios. Even Six Flags, which owns 20 theme parks and was long been rumored as a suitor for at least some of the 1,200 acres owned by the Williamsburg Pottery, is expected to ask for the sales memorandum.


Merlin owns Madame Tussauds and Legoland. Candover is a buyout group that owns Madrid-based Parques Reunidos, which operates 50 parks in a dozen countries. No longer mentioned is Dubai World, for which Busch Entertainment is building four parks.


Possible strategic bidders include media group Walt Disney, the world's biggest operator of theme parks, and Universal Studios, which is majority-owned by the US television and film business, NBC Universal.


Six Flags, which owns 20 theme parks in the US, Mexico and Canada, is also expected to ask for the sales memorandum.


The Financial Times quoted a person "familiar with the planned sale" as saying the initiative would test loan markets to see whether private equity groups could raise enough debt to launch bids for the company. A private equity bid would likely need to borrow about $2 billion to fund the deal.


If no bidder is willing to pay what Anheuser-Busch InBev wants for Busch Entertainment, the company could spin off Busch Entertainment through a "demerger."

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^ Forgive my lack of Wall Street knowledge, but wouldn't a "demerger" be a good thing? The parks are spun off as their own company, and still run by the people who run them now, just without a parent company...? What am I missing?

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^I agree that a demerger would be good, provided that the parks are currently turning a profit. However, capital expeditures (new rides) would probably suffer for a couple of years.


I'm seriously okay with that. The Busch parks tend to be fairly careful with new attractions anyway, which has never hampered my respect for them.


In any case, it would have to be better than "Six Flags Virginia."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello everyone! As the day when the Hospitality Center will no longer offer free beer (or exist in its current form) approaches (that day is February 2nd, 2009), my family and I felt compelled to make a return trip to take in the experience one more time. My father and my brother enjoyed the beer while I took in the atmosphere of the location, noticing how much of a presence Busch really has in the parks. The more I look at the eventual sale of the parks, the more I realize how different the parks would be without the Busch presence. I am saddened by the thought, but realizing that change happens, I walked the park looking at the little traces of their influence, to catalog them while they are still there. The photos below are the result of what I saw today.


The park has stated that they plan to continue selling their beers in the park, regardless of the closure of the Hospitality Center itself.


Not for long...


A nice shot from the Hospitality Center's entrance plaza.


Seaworld Orlando's Hospitality Center

March 1, 1992-February 1, 2009





An American icon.


I applaud the cast members for their ability to maintain their focus and dedication as their place of work prepares for closure.


Closed doors foreshadow the eventual closure of the entire Center.


Here's hoping that BEC is granted the almighty spinoff option...


Years of history...


The Hospitality Center was extremely busy, regardless of the notice of impending closure. All was as it normally is.


This may be outdated soon.


The classic brewing equipment of the Hospitality Center are sure to be removed when repurposing the location to be a simple restaurant.



And so, the end of an era begins.


Seaworld and Busch Gardens were the parks I grew up with (even though I visited Disney frequently as a child). So many memories came flooding back as I walked through the Clydesdale Hamlet and the Hospitality Center.


Its the little things like this that remind me of how much I'll miss Busch.


Today, the park had one of the signature Clydesdales out for photos near the Seafire Inn quick service location at Seaworld's Waterfront.

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In 2006 I took pleasure in this option. It was a really nice gesture in the park to just let me chill even though Bud is not my preferred brand. It was a pressure free environment to sample their product. The landscaping and vibe was just great. My brother at least went to the Brewmaster club in Tampa as I got a few extra cycles on Sheikra.

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Glad to see Amber Bock and Mich are cheaper than Bud!!!


Seriously, it is sad to see this come to an end. It is the little things like this that make a park visit a bit more special. I am sure that someone 6S'ed this and figured that they could save a million a year (or more) by not offering free samples of beer.


Unfortunately, everything today is now all about maximizing profits and cutting unnecessary costs in the industry, tourism, and entertainment businesses. This world seems to be reducing or eliminating a lot of core values such as going the extra mile to satisfy a customer. A shame.

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You know, the whole "free beer" was never a big deal to me. But it was a unique attraction/attribute of the Busch parks. And in that sense, at least, I hate to see it go.


/Still hoping the family will end up with them.

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Saturday was insane at SW, mainly in the beer house. People sprinted to the beer house when the park opens (like they do at CP for Dragster) to make reservations for the Brew Master's Club. They booked the entire day in about ten minutes. The lines for beer were out the door for most of the day.


Sunday, the place was dead.


The Hospitality House will be turned into a BBQ restaurant with a "micro brew" feel. They're doing this so they don't have to move much of the "brew" stuff from the building. Once complete and in full form, it will be a full service restaurant that is not as high end as Sharks.


The back area where Beer School and the Brew Master's Club was will be a conference area for park people/training classes/or meetings. They are still deciding what to do with the front area of the BMC, as it might become the "bar" for the restaurant or a secondary bar if they keep the one out front as it is.


They are planning to keep the current food service line open for Bud BBQ Fest on the weekends along with the restrooms. The building is scheduled to be blocked off, but the patio will be open for people to sit and remember the good times of free brew.

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The Hospitality House will be turned into a BBQ restaurant with a "micro brew" feel. They're doing this so they don't have to move much of the "brew" stuff from the building. Once complete and in full form, it will be a full service restaurant that is not as high end as Sharks.


That actually sounds pretty okay. I'm a big fan of full service restaurants at parks.


Perhaps this is less a case of greed on the part of the new owners, and more a case of them being more cautious. The whole idea of free beer always seemed a bit risky to me, liability-wise.

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The SeaWorld Orlando Hospitality House has reopened (kind of) as you can now buy beer and have a buffet. This isn't the final look that it will have, it's just a way to keep cash flowing into the park and at the same time, keep people getting hours for their checks. Some of the bartenders and old Brew Master's Club personnel are working the bar.


This will stay this way during Bud BBQ Fest this month.


They pretty much have the same beers as they did, with some new ones, but they're not good beers, they're ABI beers.


Food... Not beer.


The old waiting area for the BrewMaster's Club is now a buffet line.


They are now selling the same beer we used to get for free in Orlando's Hospitality House. $2 beer at a theme park isn't bad... But it's AB beer, so it isn't good either!

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  • 1 month later...

Sorry for digging up a dead thread, but in the process of looking for some Manta train videos I stumbled across this video. The video, though not a video from Sea World, is a video produced by local station Channel 9 in Orlando.


The video mentions a couple interesting bits of information-

-Profits for parent company, InBev, are down 95% in the 4th quarter.

-InBev now has to sell $7 billion worth in assets to make up for the losses

-Correct me if I am wrong, but in the merger agreement between the two companies, InBev spoke of closing/selling all assets not central to the business which pretty much hinted the parks.

-Profits dropped significantly due to the merger between the companies.


I expect we see significant changes in the company in the coming days and months as stocks continue to do poorly, profits are diminishing and consumer confidence continues to tank.


I hope PETA doesn't get their hands on any of the parks, that would ruin everything! But I really can't think of many companies or lenders that would be willing to ship that much money out to buy assets as long distance vacations are being replaced with shorter, cheaper ones. I guess we'll see!


The video from Channel 9 news can be found here.

And the news article from a business journal can be found here.



EDIT: I looked into the current situation a little further...watched another video...and found out that InBev operations told park employees this week that the park(s) will not be sold this year partly because they cannot find a buyer for them. Now don't get me wrong, the official sale of the parks has not been announced, but it has been hinted by many experts. The disappointing part is that the billions in debt that InBev has accumulated over the previous months is largely in part because of the merger. Lets just hope it doesn't change the atmosphere and spectacular work of art these parks are!


This new video can be found at this link.

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  • 1 month later...

Today, I've got an update from my visit to Seaworld, showing some additional changes to the park under the influence of InBev. I was definitely surprised to see some of the more minor things I did, but it is certainly clear that slowly, the Busch influence is being (at least in terms of visuals) removed from the park.


Camo-Ducks make a day at Seaworld even better!


Much like Aquatica's Banana Beach Cook-out, Seaworld Orlando is now offering an all-you-can-eat meal deal.


As a result of the Easter crowds, Shamu Rocks (the seasonal evening variation of the Shamu Show) has been temporarily added to the daily show schedule.


The park had a bird handler out today, though I don't remember what kind of bird this is.


The old Clydesdale photo op is also missing from the front of The Terrace, even though the Clydesdale Hamlet remains open and fully stocked in giant horses.


The old AB logo benches have been removed in favor of brandless benches to match The Terrace.


I couldn't remember if this was or wasn't something new...


The old history displays are gone in favor of a repeated picture of Shamu to the tune of an Emerson quote.


Not much is different here, in terms of purpose... The Terrace still serves Busch beers--they now sell them for $3 a cup instead of giving them away for free.


The Label Stable still sells Busch products, making it one of the last locations at Seaworld Orlando to by Bud memorabilia.


The old Beer School's waiting room is empty and purposeless.


That temporary buffet setup that was open during the initial weeks after the Hospitality Center closed seems to be gone.


The old Hospitality Center has been transformed into The Terrace, though I don't really know what its purpose is anymore...


Oddly enough, the former Mama's Kitchen has been revamped into the Antarctic Market. This location serves a combination of hot foods and pre-made sandwiches.

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The reason why Mama's Kitchen was changed was because of Manta. Being in a location close to Manta, it would become a high traffic area and with more people being around and wanting to eat, they needed a restaurant that appeals to a wider audience (Mama's Kitchen sold only healthy alternatives) and would allow people to move in and out quickly to keep the place from overflowing which is the reason for pre-made sandwiches.


Label Stable and the Bud Shop in the Waterfront are the only two places that sells Busch products. If you pay close attention, Bud Shop has recently went from a larger store to a smaller one. There are not the same amount of Busch products as before as most of the items are now on sale.

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^Same is true for Label Stable at BGW, the amount of stuff on sale has decreased. There was a much greater variety of actual AB-branded merchandise in there last year, now it's strictly Bud and Bud Light, and once all of it's gone, it's gone.


I also heard that the red AB benches and AB logos around the Clydesdales are to be removed over the course of the season.

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I find it interesting that some of the Busch entertainment parks removed their photo op near the Clydesdales, yet Busch Gardens Tampa moved their Clydesdale statue from next the "garden gate cafe" into the Clydesdale track area, making a creative photo op.


I guess it is up to each park how they wish to remove, or move the Anheuser Busch references.


It is sad walking into the Anhsuer Busch store at Busch Gardens Tampa, and only seeing Bud, and Bud light merchandise.

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