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There ate a few tidbits in here, but there's one I wan't to point out now.

Attendance for the first nine months of 2013 declined by 4.7% compared to the same period in 2012 from 19.9 million to 18.9 million guests. Attendance was impacted by new pricing and yield management strategies implemented at the beginning of 2013 that increased revenue but reduced low yielding and free attendance, adverse weather conditions in the Company's second quarter and in July, and the negative impact of an early Easter in 2013. - See more at:

A 4.7% chain wide drop is pretty huge.
There's also this...

"Our performance was driven by strong results at our SeaWorld branded parks"

This is actually pretty bad news if only a few parks out of the chain are making any real money.
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Pretzel Kaiser said:
There's also this...

"Our performance was driven by strong results at our SeaWorld branded parks"

This is actually pretty bad news if only a few parks out of the chain are making any real money.

I feel like that was just put in there to show the public that Blackfish hasn't been affecting them as bad as everyone thought it would. I'm Sure though BGT was a contributor, but I don't think I can say the same for BGW.
A few things I picked up through the call.

- Revenue up, attendance down on the whole. While they won't talk specifics at individual parks, it was stated that SeaWorld Orlando was having a "record year" so far. To me, this means there has to be one or more parks that are dragging down the attendance numbers. Imagine the revenue that could be generated if attendance was up overall.

- They talked about having fewer promotions overall, but the promotions they will have will be targeted and unique. If they go to dynamic ticket pricing like there have been talks about, then this makes sense - there won't need to be promotions because the shoulder/off season daily gate price will simply be less than the summer/holiday prices. Otherwise, it sounds just like what they said over at Disney - right before they continued with all sorts of discounts and promotions.

- Serious discussions are talking place about a new park/property as either a SEAS only or a joint venture project, either domestically or internationally. An announcement within the next 12 to 24 months would not be unreasonable, they said.

- Atchison refused to say that Antarctica had a positive impact on SeaWorld Orlando attendance when directly asked. He dodged it by saying they don't talk specific attraction numbers (which wasn't being asked) and that they were "delighted" with the attractions performance. Sounds to me like Antarctica at best is under-performing.

- When asked why SEAS is blaming weather for lower attendance while other parks and entertainment companies are not, Atchison explained when comparing to Disney/Universal, they are somewhat protected because of lodging. People there have reservations pre-booked and are more likely to follow through despite poor weather, as opposed to SEAS parks which are often a one day ticket with no lodging built in. He didn't answer as to why other stand alone parks are seeing increases but SEAS isn't, so while I'm sure his answer is at least partially true for Disney/Uni, I don't think it really gives the whole story. Weather can't be blamed for everything each quarter.

- In regards to the above, it was said that BGT has "a much larger percentage" of pass member attendance, and that weather directly effects those pass holders coming out. Since last quarter it was stated that 40% chain wide attendance is pass members, that to me means BGT is looking at over 40% pass member attendance annually. That's a pretty big number, and makes their decisions to cut back attractions, park hours, dining options (especially Crown Colony) etc all the more surprising, since they directly impact the returning pass holders the most.

- Attendance at BGT and SeaWorld Orlando on Monday through Fridays with the $50 ticket promotion saw a roughly same daily attendance each day of the week (M-F), which they were surprised at. I guess they expected that some days would be higher and others would be lower. I am a little surprised too - I would have expected overall higher attendance on Fridays and Mondays (people making long weekends) and less in the middle of the week.

- Online sales now account for 36% of sales, and there has been a 9% increase in the last year. This is good news; it means money up front from ticket sales, and better "weather-proofing" since people are more likely to still come if they have already pre-purchased their tickets.
A new park?

Busch Gardens Dubai hopefully. :) If not, then SeaWorld China is okay too. :) Sorry for getting off topic, but this sounds awesome!

(Can I make a new thread about this?)
But also, not to put BGW on the spotlight, but judging from what I've heard and seen in many posts is that BGW is the anchor dragging this ship very slowly along. Just my thoughts.
CoasterDude3000 said:
But also, not to put BGW on the spotlight, but judging from what I've heard and seen in many posts is that BGW is the anchor dragging this ship very slowly along. Just my thoughts.

There's no doubt in my mind that it's BGW's fault. It's definitely not BGT, and we already know it's not the SeaWorld parks, so I believe it truly is BGW's fault. And the thing that drives me nuts is that they wonder why.:dodgy:
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At least we have the capacity to hold more knowledge and understanding towards our beloved parks... Unlike the uncaring, occupied employees and management. And if they're still not getting it by now, then they need to smell the coffee fast before BGW makes the SEAS ship sink.
They've been losing loyal pass members steadily over the past couple of years, and they make up probably 60%(probably even more then this) of our attendance numbers. And next year I'm afraid with the Banbury Cross re-theme, it is going to send a wave of complaints and protests throughout the BGW community which is going to really hit the company hard. I can just hope that eventually SEAS gets fed up with BGW and decides to replace all the executives that are bringing the park down. Otherwise, I don't know if BGW will make it. Trust me though, SEAS would rather shut down BGW before it drags the whole company down.

Okay sorry for dragging us off topic. However, in terms of the conference call, it's good news, but also bad news in terms of attendance. I guess we can look forward to next quarter.
It's a mix of good and bad news. The fact that attendance is only down 4.something percent as opposed to the 9 to 10 percent earlier in the year shows that they are making up some ground. And the fact they are generating more revenue with less attendance is a positive thing (from a numbers/business standpoint).

But I'd argue there is a point (and perhaps we're already seeing it) where it turns into a cannibalization problem - prices go up, generating more revenue, and cuts are made, decreasing expenses... but then you have less attendance and fewer repeat customers (i.e. pass members). So the following year you need to increase prices and cut costs further. Eventually you hit a point where you've hit the price ceiling, hit the cuts basement floor, and have driven away your quality repeat customers.

Edited to add: On the cutting costs side, it also means driving away quality employees, which likely means decreased guest experience.
Unfortunately the low attendance and Blackfish are forcing SeaWorld's prices up. And as for the decreased guest experience, it shows; at BGT that some of the rides are closed, restaurants barely holding on, etc.

And it's partly because of people's stupidity...
I think we've seen in the last few weeks that even with mass audience availability of Blackfish airing on CNN, and some social media backlash, effects in park have been minimal at best.

And while I would argue that the low attendance is forcing cuts to expenses to be made, I think it's the higher prices that have caused lower attendance, not the other way around.
BGW is charging $73 for a single day admission, while the park up the street is charging $40, for what is starting to become a better product.
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