SeaWorld reports record revenue despite ‘Blackfish’ backlash

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SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., which has been under attack over its treatment of killer whales, reported a slight drop in attendance in 2013 but collected record revenue from higher ticket prices and in-park spending.

For the year, the Orlando, Fla.-based company reported record revenue of $1.4 billion, an increase of 3% compared to 2012. The company also reported net income of $50.5 million, down from $77 million in 2012.

The net income dropped primarily due to higher operating expenses and a onetime fee to end a consulting contract, according to financial records.


Attendance at the company’s 11 parks dropped by 4.1% for the year to 24.4 million but the decline was offset by higher admission prices and greater in-park spending. Company executives attribute the drop in attendance to a ticket price increase and bad weather last spring and in July.

Meanwhile, per capita admission grew by 8.6% while per capita in-park spending grew by 4.3%, the company reported.

SeaWorld was the target of harsh criticism from animal rights groups after the theatrical debut in July of the documentary “Blackfish,” which accuses the theme parks of mistreating orcas in captivity. Several bands that were scheduled to play at SeaWorld parks canceled because of the allegations made in the film.

But Jim Atchison, president and chief executive of SeaWorld Entertainment, said during the company’s latest earnings report that the documentary “mischaracterized” how the theme parks treat animals.

He said surveys of park visitors show that the film has had “no impact on the business.”

“We are very proud of the work we do and the way we do it,” he said.


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