SeaWorld Entertainment’s CEO is out as the company hopes a shift in leadership can help reverse a slide in attendance sparked by the controversial “Blackfish” documentary that was released a few years ago.
SeaWorld and other public aquariums have come under attack for housing killer whales, but it was SeaWorld that bore the brunt of the controversy especially in park attendance.
Departing CEO Joel Manby stepped down effective immediately, the company said Tuesday. Manby was an “outsider” from the SeaWorld family that was hired in May 2015 to help navigate the company through the rough patch.
The main problem is, even though Manby orchestrated the move for parks to end orca breeding and their signature theatrical shows, they just haven’t been able to change that public image. Attendance has waned to its lowest point since 2010 while other parks like Disney and Universal Studios continue to grow.
The company appointed John T. Reilly, SeaWorld’s chief parks operation officer, as interim CEO.
As fans of all things salt water, we are a bit saddened to see SeaWorld take this hit and hope they can continue to move past this and create a welcoming niche in family entertainment with an emphasis on the oceans.
It doesn’t help that Disney has the PIXAR studio under its umbrella with the success of “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory” helping it “own” the ocean category a bit over SeaWorld. But as these parks compete for the vacation dollar, they’ll need a solid gameplan and some creativity and ingenuity.
[via USA Today]