Attendance at SeaWorld Is Down But It's Totally Not Blackfish's Fault

Illustration for article titled Attendance at SeaWorld Is Down But Its Totally Not emBlackfish/ems Fault

In a call with investors Thursday, SeaWorld Chief Executive Officer Jim Atchison celebrated the company's earnings increase for 2013, but downplayed the decrease in attendance that occurred during that same time period.


Atchison said that there has been "no noticeable impact on our business" because of the movie, going as far to claim that it has actually boosted interest in the parks. Via BuzzFeed:

"The movie in some ways has actually made perhaps more interest in marine mammal parks and actually even about us, so we've seen that reflected through certain visitor profiles and certain guest comments and things we get."


In a release about their yearly profits, SeaWorld noted that their revenue for 2013 has risen 3%. But attendance in the parks was down 4.1% percent. How does that work? SeaWorld admits that they've made more money with less people by raising ticket prices. They've also found people at the parks are spending more on food and merchandise, which could indicate a raise in prices there as well. Furthermore, the company has explained away the drop in attendance by saying it's due to "unexpected adverse weather conditions" and "the impact of an early Easter in 2013." The resurrection of Jesus, always fucking shit up.

Atchison admitted that when CNN airs Blackfish "from time to time" attendance at the parks falls, but argued that SeaWorld surveys "don't reflect any shift in sentiment about intent to visit our parks." And even more importantly, that movie isn't even worth considering because it didn't get the opportunity to sweep the Academy Awards! "The movie did not get an Oscar nomination in January and we continue to take proactive efforts communicating with our guests and partners," he said. Those communication efforts he's referring to occur on Twitter and Facebook, where the people who run social media for the company spend their days trying to convince people Blackfish is propaganda by publishing propaganda.

Last week, California state Assembly member David Bloom introduced the Orca Welfare and Safety Act which would make it illegal for killer whales to be bred in captivity and perform at parks like SeaWorld. Richard Branson has also continued his involvement with the cause, writing this week that Disney and Delta have promised they will not aid in the capture of cetaceans from the wild. Branson also wrote that Virgin has been having "productive discussions" with Atchison, "who has as a first step assured me that they will not capture wild cetaceans."


Image via Mike Aguilera/SeaWorld San Diego via Getty

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I finally saw Blackfish last week, and if you haven't please do! Honestly, it wasn't revelatory (I feel like anyone who has thought about the concept of SeaWorld for more than five seconds will realize "This is sort of awful to do to whales..."), but it was nevertheless really well done and sad, but in a way that makes you feel as though you can effect positive change. It's not a movie that leaves you feeling hopeless, it leaves you feeling angry in a constructive way, I think.