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SeaWorld Sold

San Diego Scene 10.09

San Diego Metropolitan Magazine

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

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“We know that the theme park business requires the continual — about once every three years — opening of a new major attraction just to keep attendance up and convince people who have been to the park that they need to go back and see what is new,” says Bruvold. “That’s a challenge for a private equity firm.”

Irrespective of whether it is Blackstone or some other possible buyer, says Bruvold, “What San Diego wants is a buyer who is committed to continue investing in the park, one who is able to make major capital investments every few years. Those (who aren’t committed to that) will see attendance dropping off.”

With 4.15 million visitors counted in 2008, SeaWorld San Diego ranked fourth in attendance among California amusement/theme parks, 12th in the nation and 21st in the world, according to Themed Entertainment Association/Economics Research Associates’ Attraction Attendance Report 2008. And SeaWorld was the second most cited attraction that overnight visitors to San Diego attended or intended to visit according to the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau. Only beaches were cited more often.

A report on The indicates the joining of Universal and SeaWorld “would create a destination that could compete much stronger against their chief competition for tourist dollars in Central Florida — Walt Disney World… In California Legoland and SeaWorld can now work closer together to attract visitors and save on supply orders and management costs. That seems like a potential plus too.”