Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA welcomes back Kevin Lembke as park president. Lembke left the company in August 2019 in order to “pursue other career opportunities.” Interim Park President Jeff Thomas will resume his role as vice president of operations at Water Country USA and corporate vice president of operations. The changes will become effective on November 4, 2019.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Kevin back to the Busch Gardens Williamsburg family as he brings a rare mix of historical knowledge with a forward-looking vision that is sure to have a positive impact for our team and guests,” said SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. Interim CEO Marc Swanson. “We are grateful for Jeff’s willingness to serve in the interim role and thank him for his contributions.”
Lembke brings 19 years of company experience to the role of park president. He began his career in 2000 at SeaWorld Orlando in the merchandise department. After holding additional leadership positions on the park’s operations team, Lembke was named vice president of merchandise at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in 2013. He was named vice president of merchandise and culinary at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in 2016. He then became the Busch Gardens Williamsburg park president in 2018.
“I’m thrilled to reunite with the talented and dedicated team at Busch Gardens and Water Country USA,” said Lembke. “We have the right strategies in place to execute on the tremendous potential of our parks, as we continue to increase the value of the business while delivering an exceptional guest experience. I look forward to being back in the parks interacting with our guests and team.”
This move is markedly different from the trend in the last few months, which saw many high-level executives leave the company, including former interim CEO John Reilly, former CEO Gus Antorcha, SeaWorld San Antonio Park President Carl Lum, and SeaWorld Orlando Park President Mark Pauls. This encouraging new development makes us wonder if the company has instituted changes in order to retain the experienced people that are familiar with SeaWorld’s unique business model.
This past spring, Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA opened two major new attractions – Finnegan’s Flyer™ and Cutback Water Coaster™, and recently announced a spring 2020 debut of Pantheon, the world’s fastest multi-launch thrill coaster.