Opinion: SEAS Should Integrate More Intellectual Properties

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GrandpaD

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The opening of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.'s (NYSE: SEAS) new Sesame Street land in Orlando is the first step of many it has to do to fully regain its prominence.
The new land, which opened March 27, brings the lovable characters from the long-running show to Orlando with a series of rides and new character meet-n-greets. The property is also one of the most recognizable assets that SeaWorld has to offer for guests, similar to how theme park competitors Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort have the Star Wars and Harry Potter brands, respectively.

But SeaWorld cannot stop at Sesame Street, it needs to continue searching for more characters and stories, said Dennis Speigel, president of Cincinnati-based theme park firm International Theme Park Services Inc.

"New intellectual properties are coming along and SeaWorld has to look at what is available. It's got to be looking to see what's coming down the pike and if it sees something it likes, grab it," he told OBJ, noting the company was dizzied by the 2013 "Blackfish" film that hammered its killer whale program and hampered its ability to grow. "SeaWorld made a lot of bad decisions for a lot of years because of "Blackfish" and couldn't focus. But now it is on the right path and taking the right steps — that's got to continue."

Speigel couldn't name any specific intellectual property characters SeaWorld could tap into, but he said it had to be something more than SeaWorld's typical all-things-nature approach. While nature has been a foundation for SeaWorld, it's not enough to build a new movement in a world where all theme parks want is to acquire and tap into the rabid fanbase of the next major intellectual property.

But SeaWorld may be able to find the best of both worlds if it plays its card right. For example, brands like National Geographic, Discovery Channel and many more are all still widely popular and can fit right into what SeaWorld sells. To be sure, those brands have nowhere near the same draw as Star Wars or Harry Potter, but it's something SeaWorld can build on.

For now it appears that SeaWorld is adapting projects from one park into others as they are proven to succeed. The company has said it plans to invest upwards of $150 million each year in new experiences, rides, shows and more across the company.
Here's what SeaWorld's former COO John Reilly said about future expectations, during its Feb. 28 earnings call:

"One of the things that gives us a lot of confidence and one of the things that’s helped with this revamp capital plan, is we're putting in a lot of proven concepts. We're doing them better than we've ever done with Tigris in Tampa, Turtle Reef in San Antonio, Ihu Falls in San Antonio and KareKare Curl at Aquatica. We have some amazing proven concepts that we’ve executed before. So, we feel really good about that."

That works for now as those are safe investments by SeaWorld since the new attractions are popular. But all theme parks need to step out of their comfort zone and raise the bar on theme park innovation to truly capture new market share. The question is how will SeaWorld make that future change and with what intellectual property attached to it? For it to succeed, it needs to be even more than what SeaWorld has shown us so far.

From Orlando Business Journal.
 
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b.mac

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May 14, 2011
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I'm not sure if I'm missing something but either way the article linked is just a summary of what is already known about SWO 2020, a blurb on what Sea World does, and numbers on the Orlando tourism industry. I see nothing tangible in this article.
 
Oct 7, 2011
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"Subscribe to get the full story."

I'm sure it's great, but no thank you.

I did enjoy the Sesame Street slideshow, though.
 

Zimmy

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Sep 28, 2013
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...Discovery Channel and many more are all still widely popular and can fit right into what SeaWorld sells...
I can see it now.
"New at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in 2022:
Moonshiners - THE RIDE. Experience the thrill of out running the law as you try to transport your run of shine
Street Outlaws - THE RIDE. Experience the thrill of out running the guy in the next lane as you crank your car up to 11!
Naked and Afraid - THE EXPERIENCE Our newest VR experience. Feel the terror as you spend a day naked with complete strangers in the woods!

Oh this could go on all day!
 
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Sep 24, 2018
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He suggests National Geographic but that's owned by Disney now so I don't see that happening.
 
Sep 24, 2018
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I agree on the basic premise. The park could use some IP to add to the park. It just needs to be the right IP.
 
Mar 16, 2016
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Food Network and HGTV!!

Property Brothers Dueling coaster. Barefoot Contessa San Marco Kitchen. Joanna’s Castle.

Maybe BGW would really earn that most beautiful parks award.

Non-joking. A full on PBS partnership would be great for them.
 
Sep 20, 2013
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I’ve actually heard the park is working directly with HGTV to create a fully immersive Flip or Flop dark ride based on the wildly popular show. The rumored location of the new ride will take place in NewKastle, supposedly they’re trying to create a more “open concept” to freshen things up compared to rather intricate labrinyth that was the interior of DarKastle.
 
Mar 16, 2016
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I’ve actually heard the park is working directly with HGTV to create a fully immersive Flip or Flop dark ride based on the wildly popular show. The rumored location of the new ride will take place in NewKastle, supposedly they’re trying to create a more “open concept” to freshen things up compared to rather intricate labrinyth that was the interior of DarKastle.
I heard “Flip or Flop” was going to be Le Catapaults new name to fit all the relocations.
 

lce

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I personally think IPs remove all creativity and individuality from a park. I see IPs as the lazy way to create a successful ride, and eventually lead to the widespread use of corporate advertisements, and begin a slow deterioration of places like BGW.

I'd be highly dissapointed if SEAS begins a large scale use of IPs in their parks.

And yes I know Sesame Street counts, but that is isolated and easily avoidable, doesn't bleed to the rest of the park.
 

belsaas

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I'm inclined to agree with lce, I prefer original theming.

It's part of why I want to visit Europa Park so much—the promise of Disney levels of theming with all original characters seems amazing!
 
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I’ll put my position as firmly on the fence.

For regional parks with a national audience (BGW does fit this...kinda); known IPs can be an easy way to be “familiar” with what the ride is trying to convey. That’s what’s great about SF and the DC partnership. People know about it.

But at the same time original theme elements can give of a better more cohesive feeling that allows you to be unique and stand out. It also gives you the liberty to “skimp” at times if you want to.
 
Sep 24, 2018
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I don't think that SEAS necessarily needs to buy IP. I would be ok with them doing so if the IP made sense thematically with an area or a ride.

I do think that SEAS needs to develop some IP that they can use to sell and market the parks. They used to have Shamu for the SeaWorld parks but for obvious reasons they have moved away from it. I would much more welcome efforts from BGW and SEAS in general to greater attempts to develop IP themselves
 
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I personally think IPs remove all creativity and individuality from a park. I see IPs as the lazy way to create a successful ride, and eventually lead to the widespread use of corporate advertisements, and begin a slow deterioration of places like BGW.
I agree. Then you get rides which have nothing to do with the theming of the area they are in. Plus, down the road the park will decide that they are no longer getting a ROI for the money they are paying. Then the ride isn't kept up and makes even less sense than it once did. (I'm looking at you Flight of Fear and Backlot Stunt Coaster!)
 

GrandpaD

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I think limited ties would be an avenue they should pursue. Look at "Hell Fest" tie in with Six Flags a few years ago. No matter how bad the movie, the park's got exposure thru the movie advertising and some nifty props for mazes.

Co-promotions can be inexpensive (the park drops a logo into the ad they were already going to run) and gets valuable stuff in return.
 
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