Swimming with the fishes takes on a whole new meaning at these parks. SeaWorld Entertainment is one of the US's largest theme park operators. The company markets its parks as family-friendly, offering learning opportunities (SeaWorld and Discovery Cove, where visitors can swim with dolphins and other marine life), all-ages entertainment (the Sesame Street-themed park Sesame Place), and traditional amusement parks (Busch Gardens). Previously a subsidiary of brewer Anheuser-Busch, the company was sold to Blackstone for about $2.3 billion in late 2009 and in late 2012 it filed to go public.
SeaWorld hopes to raise at least $100 million through its initial public offering. That figure could rise to as high as $600 million depending on investor interest and the exact number of shares it offers. SeaWorld will use the bulk of the proceeds to pay down part of its $1.8 billion in debt.
The company operates 11 properties in five states (California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia).
Host to some 24 million visitors every year, SeaWorld Entertainment is the second largest theme park operator in the world behind Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
In addition to its three SeaWorld parks, the company's eight other properties include three Aquatica water parks, the Discovery Cove resort in Orlando, two Busch Gardens parks, and Sesame Place.
Sales and Marketing
SeaWorld has been leveraging its brands into media, entertainment, and consumer products. The company uses advertising, promotions, retail and corporate partners, digital platforms, public relations, and sales initiatives to drive visitors to its theme parks.
SeaWorld generates revenue through charging admission to its parks, purchases of food, and merchandise sales. Theme park admissions account for about two-thirds of the company's revenue while food, merchandise, and other spending account for the other third.
In fiscal 2011 the company reported about $1.3 billion in revenue, up from the $1.19 billion SeaWorld claimed the previous year. Admissions were responsible for about $825 million in revenue during fiscal 2011, up from around $730 million in 2010. Food, merchandise, and other spending accounted for a little more than $505 million in revenue during fiscal 2011, up from about $465 million in 2010.
The revenue growth was mainly attributable to increased attendance, higher admission prices, an increased focus on food and merchandise promotion, and price hikes in both food and merchandise.
About 30% of the company's admission ticket purchases are made online.
Overseas, SeaWorld is evaluating sites in China and Southeast Asia to develop its first international parks. These locations replace Dubai as possible sites for global expansion. The company had a previous agreement with property developer Nakheel PJSC to create a park on The Palm Jebel Ali, a man-made island in Dubai. The first phase of the project was expected to open in 2012. However, such plans were eventually shelved due to economic conditions.
Blackstone will get part of the proceeds of the offering and the private equity firm will still control the majority of SeaWorld's common shares following the IPO. – less