SeaWorld attendance, revenue decline in 2016

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017, 3:23 PM EST

SeaWorld's overall revenue and attendance at its parks fell in 2016, with the steepest attendance decline in Orlando, the company said Tuesday during a conference call with investors.

Some of the key takeaways from the call included:

  • Overall revenue dropped in 2016 by $26.7 million, or 2 percent, with a net loss of $12.5 million;
  • Attendance across all its parks declined by about 471,000 guests, or 2.1 percent, in 2016 because of a decline at SeaWorld's Florida and Northeast parks;
  • In Florida, attendance fell by 547,000 visitors compared with 2015;
  • SeaWorld Orlando passholder attendance also declined by 18 percent in the first half of the year.

The company blamed three factors for the decline in attendance in Florida:

  • Bad weather in the fourth quarter of 2016 from Hurricane Matthew, Tropical Storm Colin and Hurricane Hermine;
  • "Softness" in the Orlando market, including "competitive pressures" in early 2016, as evidenced by a reduced hotel occupancy in the Orlando area;
  • And a decline in international attendance, primarily from Latin America.

Season pass sales in Orlando are up early in 2017, along with visitors from Hispanic markets, the company said. The company said fewer season pass discounts early in 2016 hurt sales, and after introducing new promotions later in the year, passholder attendance improved.

"We ended the year exceeding our guidance and generating improved revenue and attendance in California and Texas, in particular, two locations which presented us challenges in 2015," Joel Manby, president and chief executive officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., said in a statement.