SeaWorld Banks On Rides To Boost Attendance
The ribbon cutting for SeaWorld’s latest attraction “Tidal Twister” marks more than just the addition of a new ride.
“SeaWorld’s made a turnaround. Their attendance is up double digits this year,” said San Diego State marketing professor George Belch.
Those numbers are a far cry from several years ago when the documentary "Blackfish" premiered. The 2013 movie pushed the park’s attendance numbers even further down.
But, Belch said SeaWorld addressed the bad news in a number of ways.
“They stopped breeding the orcas in captivity. They got rid of the Shamu shows. They made it a more environmentally friendly and conscious place to come… they had a campaign, SeaWorld Cares. They showed the great things they do with animal rescue and marine conservation. They didn’t just walk away from it. They tried to address it head-on.”
Belch said in addition to the bad publicity surrounding "Blackfish," SeaWorld simply wasn’t competing in a serious way with other theme parks.
“You can’t just sit there and say okay, I’ll try to give people the same old thing and hope that they’ll come and give them some discounts. No, you have to give a reason to come and give them good experiences,” he said.
SeaWorld opened its Manta ride in 2013, followed by Electric Eel last year and now Tidal Twister.
Though animal activists still say visitors should shun the park because it keeps animals in captivity, Belch said the investments position SeaWorld for a bright future.
“They’ve addressed the controversies. They’ve recognized that they’re going to have to change their marine shows and they’ve done that.”
Another ride called Mako is slated to open next year.