SeaWorld theme parks may be for sale: Parks rumored to be worth an estimated $4 billion

Blackstone Group bought SeaWorld in 2009 for $2.3B

SAN DIEGO - 10News has learned one of the biggest attractions in San Diego could be getting a new owner. SeaWorld may be up for sale and there are plenty of interested buyers.

SeaWorld changed ownership in 2009 and since then, some significant attractions have been added. The new additions turned around a slump in attendance and apparently made the theme park a lot more valuable.

Just seven months after launching its newest attraction Manta, popular theme park Sea World San Diego may be up for sale.

The Manta was the largest capital investment in the local theme park's history and was designed to bring in the money. After a two-year slump in visitors, the park's owner said it would continue to roll out new attractions.

Then, last month, SeaWorld filed for a public stock offering. 10News called the park's media representative to get more information about a possible sale and was told he cannot comment because the Securities and Exchange Commission requires them to go through a "quiet period," which limits what a company can say publicly.

10News looked more into the companies reportedly interested in buying SeaWorld. Among them were Apollo Global Management and Six Flags Entertainment. Apollo currently owns several companies including AMC Entertainment, American Idol, Coldwell Banker and Norwegian Cruise Line.

Six Flags Entertainment owns 19 properties in North America, including several theme parks.

In 2009, Blackstone Group bought SeaWorld for $2.3 billion. Now, four years later, the rumored asking price is $4 billion.

A company that tracks attendance figures for theme parks shows that from 2010 to 2011, SeaWorld San Diego saw a healthy 13 percent increase in attendance.

The figures are not out yet for 2012 but new attractions, like the Manta, usually bring a spike in visitors, making SeaWorld very attractive for prospective buyers. 

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