As the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions continue to evolve, Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. is gradually resuming pre-pandemic business operations. The Company recently released its largely favorable first-quarter 2021 financial report.
With those developments as a backdrop, SeaWorld is turning its attention to the future. In mid-May 2021, CEO Marc Swanson spoke about his vision for the attractions industry leader’s upcoming expansion.
CDC’s Relaxation of Mask-Wearing Guidelines
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (or CDC) recently relaxed its mask-wearing guidelines for fully vaccinated people. In cooperation with the CDC’s most recent recommendation, many SeaWorld parks’ guests can now enjoy indoor and outdoor attractions without mask-wearing mandates.
Referring specifically to SeaWorld’s Florida and Texas theme parks, CEO Marc Swanson noted, “We’re pretty much at full capacity now.” With each park containing several hundred acres outdoors, Swanson feels confident that guests can safely enjoy their park visits.
Hotels Planned for Several Park Properties
With more guests returning to SeaWorld parks, Marc Swanson noted that the Company is strongly considering the addition of hotels to several venues. Some lodgings would be located on the park’s acreage, while others would be immediately adjacent to the proposed property.
Swanson further explained, “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.”
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. is still evaluating potential hotel locations. However, it appears that the Orlando and Tampa Bay parks are among the candidates for this type of expansion.
Additional Attractions are in the Works
Along with adding hotels to SeaWorld parks, Marc Swanson plans to bring in new rides (including thrill rides) and events. “Our goal is to have something new in every park every year.”
While guests are onsite, Swanson foresees a mobile app that would enable evolved communication with them. In addition, the app could deliver targeted deals based on guests’ specific interests.
SeaWorld’s Effective Pandemic Management Strategy
SeaWorld’s ability to successfully navigate the pandemic’s complex challenges was directly tied to seamless collaboration between the Company’s key Executives. Scott Ross, Founder and Managing Partner of Hill Path Capital and SeaWorld’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, CEO Marc Swanson, and the Management Team worked closely together to resolve operational challenges.
“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,” Swanson emphasized. “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,’’ he added.
SeaWorld Builds Momentum During 2021 Season
Marc Swanson’s effective pandemic-era leadership proved that he could meet the SeaWorld CEO role’s evolving challenges. Swanson, who has served as Interim Chief Executive Officer since April 2020, was officially named to the position on May 5, 2021.
IAAPA Virtual Conference
Swanson played a key role in the recent International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (or IAAPA) Virtual Conference. Held on April 7-8, 2021, the event featured attractions industry speakers who detailed how their respective companies dealt with pandemic-related challenges.
SeaWorld CEO Marc Swanson served as one of the virtual conference’s keynote speakers. He noted that SeaWorld used a combination of operational and financial strategies to emerge from the pandemic as a stronger company. Swanson emphasized Board Chairman Scott Ross’ exceptional leadership and openness to collaboration with him, other Board members, and the Management Team.
SeaWorld 2021 Q1 Operations Report
The SeaWorld 2021 Q1 operations report contained several positive developments. During the first quarter of 2021, SeaWorld parks generated $171.9 million in total revenues, which was 12.0% higher than the same period in 2020. The Company’s aggregate admission per capita number increased 10.8% compared to 2020 Q1 figures.
While park guests were onsite, they collectively spent 26.4% more than in the first quarter of 2020. Marc Swanson attributes this increase in guests’ in-park per capita spending to new or revamped venues along with added or expanded events.
SeaWorld’s adjusted 2021 Q1 EBITDA illustrates the other factors’ collective impact. During the first quarter of 2021, the Company reported an adjusted EBITDA of $25.2 million. For perspective, this figure is $56.0 million higher than the same period in 2020. This higher adjusted EBITDA results from the increase in total revenue per capita plus considerably lower expenses.
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. continues to lay the groundwork for upcoming expansion plans. As unexpected operations and financial challenges arise, the Company has demonstrated that it has the resources to address them and move forward.