Under Crashing Attendance Numbers and SEC Investigation, SeaWorld Opens Up New Thrill Ride in San Diego

by on April 16, 2018 · 15 comments

in Ocean Beach

The upside down view of Mission Bay that only SeaWorld can provide in its new thrill ride. Screen capture from San Diego Union-Tribune video.

Can things get much worse for SeaWorld?

SeaWorld San Diego is experiencing crashing attendance numbers, the parent company is under a criminal SEC investigation, the top leadership was recently removed for failing to stop the slide, revenues are down, shares are falling, there’s an investors’ lawsuit, and 350 workers were recently fired – a bunch here in San Diego.

But don’t mind all that – get ready for SeaWorld San Diego’s latest thrill ride, the “Electric Eel” coaster!

Ignore the fact San Diego SeaWorld marine park suffered an astounding 14 per cent drop in attendance in 2017 – that’s more than half a million less people than the year before.

Just forget what Lori Weisberg reported from the San Diego Union-Tribune:

While the Orlando-based company does not break out attendance or revenue information for each of its parks, SeaWorld San Diego’s lease agreement with the city of San Diego for its Mission Bay site requires an annual report on park visitation.

SeaWorld reported to the city last month that overall attendance for 2017 was 3.1 million. A year earlier, attendance totaled a little more than 3.6 million, down just slightly from visitation in 2015.

Don’t think about, that overall – counting all the 12 parks SeaWorld Entertainment runs – attendance was down 5.5 percent. The year before the drop was 3.1 percent. Overall attendance last year – 20.8 million – was the lowest since 2010.

And ignore that in Fiscal year 2017, SeaWorld lost about $200 million, and $215 million the year before. Revenue was $1.26 billion, down from $1.34 billion the year before. Lately its shares have fallen, for some reason, who knows – maybe related to the SEC action.

Don’t even think about that to cut costs, SeaWorld laid off 350 workers last year, primarily affecting the San Diego and Orlando parks and the corporate office. Just recently, the CEO, the Chief Marketing Officer and the chief creative officer all got booted.

And this is just part of it.

Artist rendering of the Electric Eel coaster.

SeaWorld continues to be plagued by the “Ghost of ‘Blackfish’ ” – and not just in plunging attendance and revenues. Because of “Blackfish”, SeaWorld is mired down in both a criminal Department of Justice investigation and in an investor lawsuit.

Investors are angry because management lied to them about the impact of “Blackfish” – and so they sued. And the SEC and DOJ investigation are also based on false – fraudulent claims and disclosures – made by management and by former executives about the affects of the film critical of SeaWorld’s treatment of its Orcas.

Ignore all of this and just focus on SeaWorld San Diego May’s debut of the Electric Eel coaster, please.

It’s going to be the tallest, the most speediest roller coaster ever. It’s opening May 12th and it will be a wonderful, thrilling combination of loops, twists hitting a top speed of 62 mph. It will include a nearly 150-foot-high ascent followed by an inverted roll giving riders a totally unique and totally only something that SeaWorld can provide and that’s the only upside-down view of Mission Bay.

The ride will take all of one-minute.

The Electric Eel is one of the 15 new park rides SeaWorld is opening up across its dozen parks.

And get this – SeaWorld’s new annual pass is only $109.99, and that’s only $10.00 more than it was last year.

News sources:

San Diego Union-Tribune

CNN

CNN

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

John April 16, 2018 at 6:06 pm

That’s a pretty harsh and taunting tone… does the author have some sort of personal vendetta against SeaWorld? It sounds like he’s bragging about their misfortunes, as if he’s personally responsible for the drop in attendance and disinformation campaign that has now convinced millions of nonintellectuals, without evidence or credible sources, that SeaWorld abuses its animals or gives them less than the best care money can buy.

Anyway, the figures cited here are cherry-picked to paint a much darker picture than the reality of the situation; the other parks have been picking up much of the slack in attendance, and the increasing popularity of their special events has led to an increase in attendance during those months. Which, of course, still wouldn’t mean much, except that they’ve been adding more and more of those events to the point that now they cover almost the entire year. And I keep track of SEAS stock; it’s been virtually unchanged for months.

The lawsuit against SeaWorld is unfortunate, first because the people who should’ve been held accountable left the company a long time ago and second because the public just instantly assumes it’s directly related to that fake documentary. It doesn’t help that the media does its best to reinforce that false assumption by just lumping the lawsuit together with Blackfish, to try to confuse people into thinking it’s some sort of investigation of SeaWorld’s treatment of animals.

It’s also unfortunate that SeaWorld has become the victim of PETA, since the former is a legitimate, well-respected organization with more accreditations and partnerships with conservation/animal rights groups than any other entity, is one of the world’s largest contributors to animal conservation and research and is the very thing that inspires people to become veterinarians, animal rescuers, marine biologists, etc. By contrast, the latter is a disreputable organization with no accreditations, partnerships, or recognitions from any official conservation or animal rights group, and has a documented and ongoing history of extreme corruption, ethical and legal violations, and flat out killing tens of thousands of animals.

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie April 16, 2018 at 7:41 pm

The OB Rag is proud of our work in raising the public’s awareness of SeaWorld’s shenanigans. We were the site where Orca activists used to promote the names and identifies of the 10 imprisoned Orcas.

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Jennofur April 17, 2018 at 8:42 am

Oh my, John, surely you know what libel is? If not, better look it up quick and edit your post.

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Jan Michael Sauer April 16, 2018 at 8:39 pm

The Orcas at SeaWorld are in fact SLAVES . They have made more money for their captors than any other slaves in history. The people that have imprisoned these intelligent creatures are the lowest form of scum on the face of the Earth.

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Jennofur April 17, 2018 at 8:40 am

Great, that’s all the captive animals need … more pounding, more vibrations, more noise. But this COULD be the SeaWorld of the future – a genuine amusement park with rides and games and such. Retire the orcas, dolphins and other animals to coastal sanctuaries and people will start buying tickets again. Until then, they will continue to condemn SeaWorld.

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Lucy Post April 17, 2018 at 8:44 am

If SeaWorld wants to survive, it should release the orcas and other animals it imprisons to sanctuaries where they can enjoy something of a real life, and become an animal-free amusement park. The public has made it abundantly clear that it doesn’t want to see depressed animals trapped in tiny tanks.

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KimMarie April 17, 2018 at 8:46 am

I’m glad that SW’s latest attraction doesn’t exploit more animals, but this ride doesn’t help the marine animals who are languishing in SW’s barren concrete tanks. If SW really wants to win the public back and salvage its business, it will retire all of its animals to reputable coastal sanctuaries or build them.

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Craig Shapiro April 17, 2018 at 8:53 am

Anyone surprised? It’s the SeaWorld game plan: build a new roller coaster and hope no one notices that animals are still being exploited. Makes you wonder how long the powers that be will ignore the obvious before they do the right thing and transition their captives to coastal sanctuaries.

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Heather April 17, 2018 at 9:48 am

Coasters are better than circus-y style orca shows, but SeaWorld should spend its time and money on a sea sanctuary, so the marine mammals can finally have a taste of freedom and a better life

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AMD April 17, 2018 at 10:13 am

The Electric Eel is just another SeaWorld distraction to keep people from looking into the tanks and seeing the desperate, ailing animals SeaWorld keeps imprisoned there. Please, I urge everyone: do not fall for this trick! SeaWorld should admit its defeat and free the imprisoned animals to sanctuaries. Then it can build all the theme park roller coasters it pleases.

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Eric April 17, 2018 at 10:49 am

On the other hand I sure do like good rollercoaster.

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jmventre April 17, 2018 at 2:43 pm

Thx Frank & OB Rag, for reporting the truth and on behalf of some of the #Blackfish cast – Same ole SeaCircus running the same misinformation/distraction campaign for the past 54 years, at the expense of the marine mammals in their “care” – jv

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Frank Gormlie Frank Gormlie April 17, 2018 at 3:46 pm

Here is stunning drone video of Orcas in their natural environment off San Diego. http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/news/nation-world/national/article209110514.html

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retired botanist April 18, 2018 at 7:39 am

Well, John, I didn’t realize that in your world one has to be a “nonintellectual” to have compassion and a worldly understanding of species other than humans. There is really only one question needed, to if not outright refute, at least rebut your statements:

WHY?

Why does SW continue to incarcerate these species? Conservation and breeding? Please, that old chestnut holds no credence anymore. Education? What is educational about watching artificial, forced, and neurotic behavior of large animals performing for fish? There’s absolutely nothing natural or informative about it. Opportunity for the “under priviledged” or “non coastal” dwellers ? That might have worked in the Victorian era, when people lived whole lifetimes without seeing even a drawing of an elephant or a whale, but today anyone has the opportunity to watch these species in situ, behaving as they should, or watch documentaries and educational programs that (again) provide a view and far more accurate accounting of them in their natural habitats.
Why the concrete tanks? Why the performance training? An the “best care money can buy”? What the hell is that?! Antibiotics and a higher quality of dead fish?
And finally, if any of what you posit was even remotely valid, then Why the rides? Do you actually believe that the Electric Eel is educational?! What does that add to the quality of life of these trapped species?

As a marine biologist, I don’t know which category you’d throw me into, intellectual or nonintellectual, but I can tell you scientifically that the horror show at SW is the result of what are called container effects. Whether its a petri dish, a cage, or a tank, when organisms are spatially artificially confined, even single-celled algae, they do no exhibit natural behaviors.

Honestly? Simply grateful for the 12 comments preceding mine- heartening to know there are 12 ‘convinced nonintellectuals’ who care enough to comment.

And, btw, its the same answer to all the Whys- human profit and greed.

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Geoff Page April 19, 2018 at 9:25 am

Retired botanist, add me to the list of nonintellectuals. I guess I’m one of the stupidest because I was convinced a long time ago. Any nonintellectuals out there who want to read a very informative book on the treatment of these animals, I’d recommend Susan Casey’s Voices in the Ocean. It is very depressing but if it doesn’t convince even the most closed minds, nothing will. short of putting them in a small tank for the rest of their lives.

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