Shares of SeaWorld saw a jump of 18% on Monday after reporting better than expected earnings for the second quarter.
According to experts, the company moving towards a Six Flags experience is causing attendance growth to the once struggling theme park operator.
It was a 2013 documentary called “Blackfish,” directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite that sparked controversy over captive killer whales Sea World had.
For the second quarter, the company reported revenue of $391.9 million. This is up from $373.8 million in the year ago quarter and was better than the $371 million that analysts had expected. Attendance also saw a growth of 5% to hit 6.4 million guests.
Sea World’s Interim CEO John Reilly remarked on the earnings call, “For the second consecutive quarter, we saw solid growth in attendance, in-park per capita spending, revenue and adjusted EBITDA. We believe that these results were driven primarily by our new strategic pricing strategies, new marketing and communications initiatives and the positive reception of our new rides, attractions and events.”
He also said, “In addition, we continued to experience a double-digit increase in season pass sales revenue and an increase in total revenue per capita driven by a 6.5% increase in in-park per capita spending.”
He continued, “We are particularly pleased with our second quarter attendance growth, which withstood the negative impacts from unfavorable weather across several of our markets and the earlier timing of the Easter holiday in 2018 compared to 2017, which benefited the first quarter at the expense of the second quarter. While our year-to-date 2018 results have been strong, we believe we have significant opportunity for further improvement. We continue to see growth in season pass sales, which has been an important strategic focus for us. We believe our season pass offerings provide some of the best value in the industry as we have created even better incentives for our guests with increased benefits, access to more exciting, one-of-a-kind and award-winning events and more attractive pricing. We believe we are doing a much better job of communicating the highly compelling value our pass offerings provide to our guests. Through the second quarter, we have grown revenue from season pass sales at a double-digit growth rate.”
Reilly was confident that the company could attract customers it lost and said, “[W]ith regard to attendance, we believe we can do better than the assumed 1% [industry growth] and recapture that 20% to 25% of what we’ve lost over the past few years.”
Reilly also discussed new rides that have launched so far this year, which include the Electric Eel at SeaWorld San Diego.
Mintel analyst, John Poelking remarked, “The cloud of bad PR still looms, but it’s starting to break as the park continues to invest in assets outside the whales. New rides and educational experiences have repositioned SeaWorld as a fun place to go to again, and people appear to be responding to the sustained efforts of the brand to try something new.