SeaWorld Entertainment will be permanently laying off some employees who had been temporarily furloughed earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a Friday filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the theme park chain said it committed to a “plan of termination” impacting an unspecified number of workers who had been furloughed earlier in 2020 as the pandemic shut down the theme park industry.
“Due to the sudden and unforeseeable economic impacts of the pandemic on the Company’s business operations, that were not reasonably foreseeable at the time of the temporary furlough, the Company has determined that it will transition certain park and corporate personnel from a furloughed status to a permanent layoff,” the filing said. “As a result, the Company expects to record approximately $2.5 million to $3.0 million of restructuring and related charges in the third quarter of 2020 related to employee severance costs.”
In a statement on the layoffs, SeaWorld said:
“The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant impact on each of our lives, in ways both small and profound. The same is true for the travel, tourism, entertainment, and hospitality industries, and the operations of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc.
“While we were able to bring thousands of furloughed Ambassadors back to work and hoped to bring back everyone, the current environment requires us to setup the company for long term success. SeaWorld has determined that it must transition certain park and corporate personnel from a furloughed status to a permanent layoff.
We deeply appreciate the hard work and dedication of our Ambassadors to our company’s shared mission, values, and goals. Over our 60-year history, our parks have inspired millions of guests to love, protect and care for our planet’s animals and their habitats. We are sorry to have to part ways with any team members in this difficult moment, but their abiding commitment to our guests, fellow Ambassadors and animals is recognized and made a lasting impact.”
Soon after the mid-March shutdown of SeaWorld’s parks, the company placed more than 90 percent of its workforce on furlough and cut executives’ base salaries by 20 percent. Weeks later, the company approved $6.8 million in stock awards for the same executives.
Since reopenings began in June, SeaWorld Orlando has seen demand grow enough to return to a 7-day operating schedule through early October. SeaWorld San Diego has only just begun partially reopening, without any rides, for its “Zoo Days” event and Busch Gardens Williamsburg is running a limited-time event with some rides called “Taste of Busch Gardens.”
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