SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment ($SEAS), which owns SeaWorld and Busch Gardens parks around the country, including those in Central Florida, released their 3rd quarter 2016 results and held an earnings conference call for investors this morning. While much of the information and questions revolve around the financial aspects of the company, there were also several details released and hinted at which will affect the parks in the coming months.
You can see the full report and listen to a replay of the conference all on SeaWorld’s investor relations website.
A few of the highlights discussed on the conference call:
- Attendance numbers were up 1.3% Florida, despite the impact felt from the economic issues in Brazil, which is a huge market for Florida parks in the summer season. If that market is taken out of the mix, the parks actually saw an overall attendance increase of 4%. This is a positive sign for the company, as declining and lagging attendance growth has been an issue for most of the preceding quarters.
- Season long Quick Queue and Dining Plan options are expected to be rolled out at all SEAS parks. SeaWorld Orlando recently began selling a 2017 Season Dining Plan which includes one entree, side or dessert, and fountain drink per day for $79. No specifics for the other parks or pricing for the plans were given on the call.
- CEO Joel Manby stated the company intends to focus on adding more attractions for less money, which likely means less comprehensive theming for new attractions. This is a change from just two years ago, when Falcon’s Fury and accompanying Pantopia renovation at Busch Gardens Tampa were being touted as a new direction in highly detailed theming for attractions and areas in SEAS parks moving forward.
- 2017 Season Pass early sales in October were up considerably versus last year. While these are generally discounted products (for example, receiving admission for the rest of 2016 for free with purchase), the hope would be pass holders will visit more often and spend more in the parks each visit.
- A large cost cutting measure was announced, which is intended to save tens of millions of dollars in the coming years. While specifics on the plan were not revealed, it’s likely these cuts will have some impact on the guest experience, though exactly how will remain to be seen.
- Manby mentioned possible changes to festivals at Busch Gardens Tampa, including Howl-O-Sceam, Christmas Town and/or a new beer themed event. He also said the company would remain “aggressive” with Howl-O-Scream in Tampa, and continue to adapt to changes in the haunt attraction market.
Overall, Manby and the executive team had a more positive outlook for the coming year than previous earnings calls. Manby said he is “very optimistic” about 2017 in terms of financial success for the company. The presentation also included short summaries on the larger projects slated to open next year.
SEAS stock rose about 5% to around $15.00 per share in the hours after the results were released.
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