For the sixth straight quarter, SeaWorld Orlando’s parent company has positive financial news to report to its shareholders.
SeaWorld Entertainment saw increases in attendance, revenue, and income between April and June, according to its latest quarterly report. Through the first half of the year, 9.8 million guests have passed through the gates at SeaWorld parks, a 1.7 percent jump from the same period last year, while total revenue was up nearly 3 percent.
“While we are pleased with our second quarter and first six months results, we have the opportunity to do a lot better,” SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Gus Antorcha said in a statement. “We will continue to refine our pricing and marketing strategies to drive revenue, improve operating efficiencies and increase operating margins and we are confident we will deliver the significantly improved financial results this Company is capable of achieving.”
The revenue increase was partially driven by higher in-park spending by guests, which went up 6.4 percent in the quarter and 4.8 percent over the last six months. Increasing spending on food and merchandise, Antorcha said, are areas where he sees “significant opportunity.”
“I think food in theme parks generally leaves a lot to be desired,” he said. “Now people don’t come to theme parks for food, but people eat at theme parks. So I think there is both improvement in the offer as well as how we merchandise and what we sell.”
The company also managed to reduce operating expenses year-over-year by $20 million, which SeaWorld attributed in part to cutting labor costs. New attractions were also added across the SeaWorld chain just before or during the second quarter, including Sesame Street Land at SeaWorld Orlando and the Tigris roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
Its Central Florida parks will add more new thrill rides in 2020. Work is underway at Busch Gardens for a 210-foot tall “hybrid coaster” utilizing some existing infrastructure from the shuttered Gwazi wooden coaster. SeaWorld Orlando’s 2020 addition will also be a new roller coaster, but the company has revealed little beyond a short teaser video showing snowy mountains and icebergs.
Like the last earnings call, SeaWorld executives were asked several questions about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which opens at Walt Disney World on August 29. They rebuffed multiple inquiries to talk specifics about SeaWorld’s competitors — and repeated previous statements about the whole market benefiting whenever the other parks in Orlando add attractions.
“We’ve competed here since the 1970s and we know we have a differentiated product,” SeaWorld chief financial officer Marc Swanson said on the earnings call. “We have a good product, and we think we have a good value and a lot of things we can offer to consumers and we’ve competed here for a long time, have seen a lot of parks open. We feel good about continuing to compete in Orlando.”
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