Just a few months after CEO Joel Manby took over for Jim Atchison at SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, the Chief Financial Officer has stepped down. CFO John Heaney has resigned the position with SeaWorld to take another position with a cruise line. SeaWorld has named chief accounting officer Marc G. Swanson as interim chief financial officer, effective June 1. The company has recently posted positive attendance figures for the first quarter of this year, and it seems as if the positive change is continuing, with two of the company’s parks announcing big additions in the next few days.
Heaney was at Disney before joining SeaWorld in 2012. He had been with that company for 17 years. He left for an undisclosed company, but SeaWorld did say this in a statement:
“During his time at SeaWorld Entertainment, Jim contributed significantly in solidifying our finance capabilities and building a great finance team,” said Joel Manby, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. “We understand his desire to accept what he views as an extraordinary professional opportunity to return to his former industry and we wish him well.”
“Marc has served as our Chief Accounting Officer for several years now and has established his own role as a leader of our talented and capable team,” continued Manby. “He is a highly experienced finance professional who knows our Company well and whose interim leadership assures continuity and stability across all of our finance functions.”
The move comes as the company is in the midst of a huge restructuring campaign, after attendance and profits have fallen over the past year. The attendance fall is due in large part to the anti-SeaWorld film, Blackfish, and the backlash behind it. However, the parks are building on a future that will not only keep the focus on the animals, but also share the focus on more family entertainment that helped to put the parks on the map over 50 years ago.
SeaWorld Orlando is set to announce an all new coaster, Mako, which will open in 2016. On Thursday, sister park Busch Gardens Tampa will announce “Cobra’s Curse”, also for 2016, which will give the park chain two huge entries in the Central Florida theme park war that will erupt in 2016. Next year also marks a huge year for Disney and Universal, as both parks are also launching huge new projects for the year as well.