SeaWorld has been making it more affordable for people to visit its parks and sweetening the deal at some locations with free beer. Those tactics seem to be working, according to preliminary figures for the summer.
Free beer might turn out to be just the ticket for SeaWorld’s success.
Nearly two months after an executive told analysts that a summertime beer promotion at Florida parks had been “popular with our guests,” SeaWorld Entertainment revealed that attendance for the third quarter soared 10 percent year-over-year.
The company provided a preliminary look at some financial results late Monday afternoon in connection with what it described as a potential debt refinancing transaction. In addition to SeaWorld locations in Orlando, San Antonio, and San Diego, the company’s portfolio includes Busch Gardens and Sesame Place parks.
The 10 percent increase in attendance represented about 700,000 guests, SeaWorld said in a statement. Revenue for the quarter is expected to increase by about $41 million compared to last year, or 9 percent.
For the first nine months of the year, the company expects attendance to be up 1.4 million visitors, or 9 percent, while revenue is expected to increase by $90 million, or 9 percent.
Leading into the summer, the theme park operator had reported positive trends: Attendance increased nearly 5 percent to 6.4 million visitors in the second quarter, and revenue was up nearly 5 percent to about $392 million. The company reported a profit of nearly $23 million, up from a loss of nearly $176 million in the second quarter of last year.
Executives said “strategic pricing strategies” were driving home the company’s value proposition, though the effort led to lower per capita admission.
But any increase in attendance is good news for the company, which has struggled to move past harsh criticism over its handling of captive orcas. Last month, SeaWorld agreed to pay a $4 million settlement to the Securities and Exchange Commission over fraud charges related to public statements made in the aftermath of the Blackfish documentary.
Photo credit: A killer whale is shown under water from a viewing area at SeaWorld Orlando in this photo from 2016. The company is reporting an attendance spike. Jeremy Polanski / Flickr