SeaWorld Says Attendance Rose, But Competition Remains Tough

Attendance at SeaWorld parks rose 5.6 percent in the first three months of this year, a turnaround for a company that’s business has been sinking since the release of “Blackfish.”

Attendance was 3.2 million visitors and SeaWorld Entertainment’s revenue was $214.6 million, an increase of $2.3 million over the same period last year.

Still, the company, which has parks in Orlando and San Antonio in addition to San Diego, reported a net loss of $43.6 million, compared to $49.2 million in the first quarter of last year.

SeaWorld, which has been battling negative publicity, said Thursday that more people visited its theme parks in the first three months of the year because of the earlier Easter holiday, but warned that competition remains tough.

Its shares fell more than 2 percent in morning trading Thursday.

The theme park operator, best known for its water shows featuring killer whales and dolphins, has launched marketing campaigns to combat the 2013 documentary "Blackfish," which suggested its treatment of the mammals can provoke them and has led to the death of trainers. SeaWorld has denied this.

“The timing of Easter, our consumer event programs, strong passholder visitation and increased promotional offerings helped drive attendance growth in the first quarter of 2014,” SeaWorld President and CEO Joel Manby said in an earnings report. “Looking ahead to the remainder of the year, we remain cautious as the first quarter accounts for a relatively small portion of full year attendance.”

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