History of the Company
This report is centered on SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, a private company owned by The Blackstone Group, LP. It’s flagship park, SeaWorld, was opened in San Diego, California in 1964. The second park, SeaWorld Orlando, was opened in 1973 after the success that the Walt Disney World Resort had experienced in the Central Florida region. The third and final SeaWorld Park was opened in San Antonio, Texas in 1988. All three of these parks still exist today under the umbrella of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment.
SeaWorld is a unique attraction because they showcase rare animals not normally found in the climates the parks are located in. Tourists that visit are allowed to see these animals up close without having to travel to remote locations around the world. In addition to housing exotic marine life, SeaWorld has also branched out by incorporating thrill rides into the parks. Currently, all of the parks offer animal exhibits, shows and roller coasters as attractions for the visitors. The unique dimension of SeaWorld’s appeal made the parks very successful in a short period of time. Shortly after the opening of SeaWorld San Antonio, Anhueser-Busch bought all three of the theme parks in 1989. The company merged them with Busch Gardens and the parent company became Busch Entertainment Corp.; which managed all of the parks from 1989-2009. After Anheuser-Busch was purchased from InBev in 2008, it was widely assumed that some “non-core assets” would be sold off to lift some of the debt InBev took on to purchase Anheuser-Busch. (Leonhard, 2008) Sure enough, in October 2009, The Blackstone Group, LP purchased Busch Entertainment Corp. from Anheuser-Busch InBev for $2.7 Billion. Subsequently, Blackstone changed the name of Busch Entertainment Corp. to SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, reflecting the flagship theme park.
Blackstone’s creation of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment as a private company encompasses a total of 11 separate theme parks. They are: SeaWorld Parks
* SeaWorld Orlando
* SeaWorld San Diego
* SeaWorld San Antonio
Busch Gardens Parks
* Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
* Busch Gardens Williamsburg - Virginia
* Adventure Island – Tampa, Florida
* Aquatica Florida – Orlando, Florida
* Aquatica Texas – San Antonio, Texas (opening 2012)
* Discovery Cove – Orlando, Florida
* Sesame Place – Langhorne, Pennsylvania
* Water Country USA – Williamsburg, Virginia
The overall scope of these parks is not that diverse. Most of them are centered on marine life; with slight adjustments between them – Discovery Cove is an interactive, educational type of experience while Aquatica is a water park designed for a more thrill-seeking experience. The only deviations from marine life are the Busch Gardens and Sesame Place parks, which offer similar experiences to other competitors, like Six Flags. This report is on SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment as a whole; however most specific examples will be focused more around the operations of the SeaWorld Parks, and SeaWorld Orlando even more specifically, rather than the Busch Gardens Parks. This was due to a combination of available information and overall importance to the parent company.
Present and Historic Position within the Industry
It should be noted that The Blackstone Group has not publicly released SeaWorld’s financial information since the end of the third quarter of 2008, due to its acquisition. Any published revenues past fiscal year 2007 are purely estimations. Based on those estimations, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment currently has a market share of about 12% of the total U.S. market for amusement parks. IBISWorld provided a table for SeaWorld’s recent financial performance (Table 1), keeping into account that numbers from 2008-2011 are estimations. Table 1