As SeaWorld’s spring and summer 2021 season continues, the Company’s parks are welcoming an increasing number of guests. In addition, the SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. first-quarter 2021 financial report points to signs of growth.
To build on this momentum, SeaWorld is actively pursuing park expansion plans. In mid-May 2021, SeaWorld CEO Marc Swanson shared his views on several planned park enhancements.
CDC’s Loosened Mask Restrictions
On May 13, 2021, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced relaxed mask-wearing guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals. As a result, many SeaWorld parks’ guests can now enjoy unrestricted access to indoor and outdoor park attractions.
SeaWorld CEO Marc Swanson noted that the Company’s Florida and Texas parks have recently been hosting larger numbers of guests. In fact, Swanson noted, “We’re pretty much at full capacity now.” With each park featuring several hundred acres of outdoor space, he is confident that guests have plenty of room to enjoy each park while remaining safe.
Several SeaWorld Parks May Add Hotels
With SeaWorld parks consistently drawing more guests, Marc Swanson said the Company has identified a need for additional lodging space to accommodate them. Some prospective hotels would be located onsite, while other facilities would be adjacent to the park.
Swanson explained that the hotel concept has been under discussion for some time and has now come to the forefront. “This is a strategy now that we’ve become more recently focused on executing. We have some land parcels and some other things that could make for some exciting hotel locations either on our park property or adjacent to our parks.”
Steady Flow of New Attractions
SeaWorld’s plans also include the addition of new attractions to the Company’s parks. Bringing in new rides (including thrill rides) is a priority, and the parks will also host an expanded schedule of events. “Our goal is to have something new in every park every year,” Swanson said.
While guests enjoy their park visits, Swanson references a mobile app that would streamline communication with them. The app could also transmit targeted deals that cater to guests’ personal interests.
SeaWorld’s Successful Pandemic Strategy Builds a Stronger Company
The pandemic’s unprecedented challenges have presented many opportunities for collaboration. Scott Ross, Founder and Managing Partner of Hill Path Capital and SeaWorld’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, worked closely with CEO Marc Swanson and the Management Team. Together, the key Executives implemented strategies to navigate evolving pandemic-related challenges.
Swanson emphasized that cooperation was the key to successful issue resolution. “Our partnership with our Chairman and our other Board members allowed our company to adjust and move forward with more creativity and nimbleness than we had before.”
He added, “having a large investor on the Board allows us to align our goals and move even more confidently and decisively. We were all in this together, and having our leadership team and board in constant communication certainly allowed us to address this crisis head-on.”
“That collaboration allowed us to address our operational costs and maximize our financial flexibility, giving us some breathing room to make the difficult decisions with some degree of confidence,’’ Swanson concluded.
Two Positive Developments in 2021 Season
With Marc Swanson’s steady leadership, SeaWorld weathered the pandemic’s unusual challenges. Swanson, who began his tenure as Interim Chief Executive Officer in April 2020, was officially announced as CEO on May 5, 2021. The appointment is the capstone of Swanson’s 20-year SeaWorld career, and he feels honored to serve in the CEO role.
Favorable First-Quarter 2021 Operations Report
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.’s first-quarter 2021 operations report contained several signs of forward progress. During 2021 Q1, SeaWorld parks realized $171.9 million in total revenues, a 12.0% higher figure than the same period in 2020. The Company’s total admission per capita number experienced a 10.8% increase compared to 2020 Q1 figures.
The parks’ guests collectively spent 26.4% more during their 2021 visits compared to the 2020 Q1 period. Marc Swanson believes that new or refreshed venues, along with added or expanded events, contributed to the higher guest in-park per capita spending levels.
The Company’s adjusted 2021 Q1 EBITDA provides evidence of the contributing factors’ collective impact. During the 2021 Q1 period, the Company achieved an adjusted EBITDA of $25.2 million. This figure represents a $56.0 million increase over the same period in 2020.
The higher adjusted EBITDA partially results from SeaWorld’s increased total revenue per capita. The Company’s notably lower expenses also contributed to the EBITDA growth.
IAAPA Virtual Conference Participation
The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (or IAAPA) hosted an industry-wide Virtual Conference in spring 2021. Held on April 7-8, 2021, the event included prominent attractions industry speakers who reported on how their companies handled many pandemic-era challenges.
SeaWorld was well represented at the IAAPA Virtual Conference, as CEO Marc Swanson delivered one of the event’s keynote speeches. He noted that SeaWorld employed various operational and financial strategies to address each obstacle and ultimately strengthen the Company.
Swanson emphasized that Board Chairman Scott Ross provided superb leadership at every juncture. The Chairman was open to constructive collaborations with CEO Swanson, other Board members, and the Management Team. The group defined each multifaceted problem and devised a creative way to resolve it.
As 2021 continues, SeaWorld is moving forward with its ambitious expansion plans. The Company’s proven ability to navigate emerging operations and financial concerns has given it a solid foundation for future growth.
SeaWorld’s expansion plans may include adding hotels to several parks. A positive 2021 Q1 operations report also helps to provide a firm footing for the future.