(KGTV) - In a sign of a possible revival, attendance and profits at SeaWorld parks increased in the first half of 2018, company officials announced Monday.
SeaWorld Entertainment officials said the number of visitors to SeaWorld theme parks rose nearly 5 percent in the second quarter of the year, while revenue between March and June increased by $18.2 million.
SeaWorld’s interim CEO John Reilly attributed the growth to several different strategies and initiatives, including new rides and attractions.
In a statement, Reilly said, "We are pleased with our strong second quarter financial results and the continued momentum we see in the business. The results were driven by our new strategic pricing strategies, new marketing and communications initiatives and the positive reception of our new rides, attractions and events. 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. We are particularly pleased with our second quarter attendance growth, which more than offset the negative impacts from unfavorable weather across several of our markets in the quarter, and the earlier timing of the Easter holiday in 2018, which benefitted the first quarter at the expense of the second quarter."
Reilly added, "As we enter the last few weeks of our peak summer season, we are encouraged that year-to-date results through July for attendance, season pass sales and total revenue have remained strong. We are seeing growth in attendance and revenue as a result of our new pricing strategies, enhanced communications activities and strong operational execution. In addition, our keen focus on cost savings and efficiencies is improving our margins. We are pleased with the positive guest reception of our new rides, attractions and events across our parks. Currently, our award winning Electric Ocean event has been in full swing at each of our SeaWorld parks and our Summer Nights event is operating at each of our Busch Gardens parks. Looking ahead, we have our popular Halloween and Christmas events that we are confident will continue to drive further attendance growth."
CNN reported SeaWorld Entertainment's stock is up more than 80 percent in 2018.
SeaWorld has seen tough times following the release of the 2013 documentary “Blackfish.” The film took aim at SeaWorld’s killer whale training and breeding program, with a focus on the death of a trainer.
SeaWorld announced in 2016 that it would end killer whale breeding and its famed killer whale show.
In 2017, SeaWorld San Diego introduced their Orca Encounter program as a way to educate guests on whale behavior in the wild, including how they obtain food and how they communicate.
Orca Encounter is presented at the same stadium where SeaWorld had held killer whale shows in the past.
In response to SeaWorld's earnings report, PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman issued this statement:
"PETA polls people outside SeaWorld parks every day, and we find that many mistakenly believe that all breeding has now stopped and bought tickets thinking that conditions had somehow improved for the animals there, not realizing that orcas are still being forced to perform the same tricks in the same tiny concrete tanks - and that other dolphins and whales are still being impregnated, sometimes forcibly after being drugged. We find that many families who recently went to SeaWorld say they'll never go back after what they saw. Shareholders should be wary, as the public won't be fooled for long and the company had a disastrous July: Its largest shareholder, Zhonghong, had to sell off an island resort complex that was to be turned into a SeaWorld park -- so that's not happening -- and Thomas Cook, the U.K.'s largest tour operator, decided to stop selling tickets to SeaWorld following a PETA U.K. campaign. This summer's events show that although the marine park may have a few upward blips, it's on a downward trajectory that won't stop until the animals are out of the tanks and in coastal sanctuaries."