SeaWorld earnings, attendance plunge as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on tourism industry

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January, February saw record earnings

ORLANDO, Fla.– As the state wraps up its first week under phase one of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reopening plan, theme parks are still feeling the pain of massive and unprecedented shutdowns at the hands of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday morning, SeaWorld gave its quarterly results report, and statistics show that, just like Disney and Universal, the park took a major blow to both attendance and earnings in its first quarter from January 1 to March 31.

SeaWorld reported a loss in attendance of a million guests over the period, comparing numbers to 2.3 million guests from the first quarter of 2019.

The park’s total revenue decreased by $67 million, to $153.6 million, from the first quarter of 2019, according to park officials.

Officials reported the theme park’s net loss increased by $19.5 million, to $56.5 million, from the first quarter of 2019.

January and February 2020, the months leading up to the advent of COVID-19 in Florida, saw gains in attendance with an increase of 0.2 million guests, or 9%, to a record 1.9 million guests from the first two months of 2019.

Park officials also reported a total revenue increase by $13 million in the first two months of 2020, or 12%, to a record $120.6 million from the first two months of 2019.

“Prior to the closure of our parks, we had a strong start to 2020, with record-setting results through February,” park officials said. “This performance was a continuation of the strong financial results we have delivered over the last two years, which we believe demonstrates the successful execution of our strategic initiatives related to marketing and communications, pricing, cost and capital efficiencies and new rides, attractions and events.”

SeaWorld closed its doors to guests March 16, but said animal care experts would continue to look after the health and well being of the animals inside.

On March 27 SeaWorld Entertainment Co. announced that it will furlough 90% of its workers without compensation.

Workers were temporarily furloughed without pay beginning April 1. Those employees were eligible for unemployment benefits.

SeaWorld officials did not say how long it expects parks to stay closed or when workers would be able to return.

“We have a dedicated team focused on finalizing plans to reopen our parks, including enhanced health and safety protocols that will meet and / or exceed government guidelines and provide the safe and clean environment our guests and ambassadors expect,” park officials said. “While we don’t have any park opening dates to announce today, we are in regular contact with local, state and federal authorities and we look forward to opening our parks and welcoming back our guests as soon as it’s safe and permitted to do so.”

Erin Dobrzyn (News 6)

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