I always seem to say it. Poor SeaWorld. The park can’t seem to catch a break lately. It’s been a very hard uphill battle for the company. Even when there are huge decisions that seem like the right ones, like ending Orca breeding and theatrical shows, it backfires in a huge way. When they try to mend bridges by partnering with a huge animal activist group, it backfires even more. It’s honestly not an easy rope for SeaWorld to walk. They have to try and get back in the good graces of the public, but at the same time they have to not anger their core fanbase who has supported them. With all that on the plate, it didn’t really come as a surprise when news surfaced about the company hiring on a firm that specialized in rebuilding, acquisitions and mergers.
Of course that brought about all kinds of rumors, but the biggest one is that SeaWorld will sell off part of their company in order to get enough cash to pay off investors and rebuild.
More specifically, would they sell off Busch Gardens.
The question has come up numerous times, with several rumors suggesting that the parks are indeed very wanted by other companies. Herschend and Six Flags have been the strong front runners for the parks. However, there has been another company that recently threw their name in the ring.
Merlin, the company that owns Legoland, Madame Tussauds, Sea Life and several other attractions around the world has blatantly said that they would be interested in buying Busch Gardens.
The news came from the second quarter interim results conference call (click here for the link to the conference call).
Around the 32 minute mark, the question comes up about buying SeaWorld. The response is that Merlin would definitely be interested in buying Busch Gardens, but it’s not even being discussed at this moment. However, Merlin reps did point out that purchasing parks like Busch Gardens is in line with their five point plan, which includes acquiring more parks and attractions worldwide. Busch Gardens Tampa would definitely give them a line on the thrill aspect, as well as a huge venture into the animal care avenue. Busch Gardens Williamsburg would be a feather in the company’s cap, as it’s a park that is very rich in culture and attractions.
While SeaWorld could sell off the Busch Gardens chain, the big question is will they? In the most recent earnings reports, both Busch Gardens parks have been positive in regards to attendance, which has helped with declining attendance at SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Diego. With both Busch Gardens parks offering up positive attendance numbers (and we assume a large chunk of profits as well), would SeaWorld really want to give up these parks which perform well? It’s possible, but not very likely, unless the company gets a very large offer. We’re talking in the billions.
We’ll just have to wait and see exactly what happens, which we guess will happen within the next two years. Honestly, it would be more logical to sell off or just close under performing parks like SeaWorld San Diego, and let it become someone else’s headache, but that’s just us.
What do you think? Will Busch Gardens or any part of SeaWorld be sold off?
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