SeaWorld Entertainment confirmed that the four roller coasters it had planned on opening in 2020 will instead be pushed back to 2021.
This includes Iron Gwazi, the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay hybrid coaster that Theme Park Tribune had named as the biggest attraction coming to Central Florida this year. The 206-foot-tall coaster had begun testing just before theme parks shut down in mid-March. The recent addition of the ride’s wait time sign had sparked speculation of an impending opening.
Other SeaWorld coasters that will be delayed to 2020 include Ice Breaker at SeaWorld Orlando, Pantheon at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Emperor at SeaWorld San Diego.
“If you recall, we felt this was going to be our best lineup of new attractions in our history,” interim SeaWorld CEO Marc Swanson said of the 2020 coasters during the company’s second quarter earnings call Monday.
Interim chief financial officer Elizabeth Castro Gulacsy said the company has “about $15 million or so left to finish those rides” and another “$40 to $50 million” in invoices for construction that has already been completed.
Theme Park Tribune has previously reported that liens have been filed against SeaWorld for unpaid work on Iron Gwazi and Emperor; in the case of the latter, the contractor has filed a lawsuit claiming SeaWorld refused to pay for $3.3 million in completed work until the park reopens.
Revenue and attendance for the April to June period were way down — not a surprise considering SeaWorld’s parks were largely shuttered during the quarter. Total revenue was only $18 million (down from $388 million in the second quarter of 2019) and attendance was only 300,000 guests (down from 6.2 million). The company saw a net loss of $131 million.
Swanson said its attendance at its open parks increased 15 percent from the last week of June, though he didn’t give an exact figure. Overall, however, he said attendance has ranged from 10 to 15 percent of the prior year’s attendance up to nearly 50 percent on certain days.
“As far as capacity, those are limitations that we have in place so that we can do social distancing within the parks,” he said. “There’s been a handful of days where we would have liked to have more capacity at a park or two, but I think we’ve been able to manage and will be able to continue managing going forward.”
In a notable difference from its local competitors in Central Florida, SeaWorld will run Halloween and Christmas events in a modified form.
“We’re going to do our events, we’re going to do Halloween, we’re going to do Christmas,” Swanson said. “Whether we run every single day like last year remains to be seen, and then, we’ll have to see as we get into the fall here, the dynamics with schools and whatnot.”
Swanson did not specifically mention if Busch Gardens will move forward with a modified Howl-O-Scream, which features up-close scare encounters similar to Universal’s cancelled Halloween Horror Nights.
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