SeaWorld San Antonio hopes to hook big crowds with largest investment ever

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SeaWorld San Antonio has set a date for the opening of its new Discovery Point development. Park guests will get their first look at the interactive dolphin habitat on May 21.

Discovery Point will be twice the size of SeaWorld San Antonio’s existing dolphin habitat. And while company officials have not disclosed the price tag for the new venue, they have confirmed this is the largest capital investment in the Alamo City theme park’s 27-year history.

Chris Bellows, vice president of zoological operations for SeaWorld San Antonio, said Discovery Point will help create a “deeper understanding of the importance of protecting these amazing animals and their ocean habitat.”

Discovery Point has been modeled after SeaWorld Orlando’s Discovery Cove park in Florida. It will have a tropical setting that connects the venue with a newly renovated Explorer Reef aquarium.

Last spring, SeaWorld San Antonio closed the northern part of the park to make way for construction of Discovery Point. Company officials said the new venue will become a hub for sea lion and beluga whale interaction programs. It will also feature the San Antonio park’s first underwater viewing area.

The San Antonio theme park’s parent company, SeaWorld Entertainment Inc.(NYSE: SEAS), has plenty riding on Discovery Point and its other investments. It’s trying to regain some momentum after years of turbulence from the release of “Blackfish,” a controversial film that focused on SeaWorld’s alleged treatment of marine life and the death of one of its trainers.

In February, SeaWorld Entertainment reported that 22.47 million guests passed through the gates at its theme parks in 2015, compared to 22.40 million the previous year.

The company reported a net income of $49.1 million last year, compared to $49.9 million in net income for 2014.

SeaWorld is not entirely out of the stormy waters that have rocked the company. On April 29, 2013 — before the release of “Blackfish,” SeaWorld stock was trading at more than $33 per share. When the markets opened on Tuesday, SeaWorld stock was trading at $19.82 per share.

In March, SeaWorld Entertainment announced that the company has ended breeding of killer whales — or orcas — and that the whales currently in its care will be the last generation at its parks.

New SeaWorld San Antonio President Carl Lum said the company is evolving, working to create experiences through investments such as Discovery Point that can “inspire guests and change minds, hearts and lives forever.”

Shared news courtesy of http://www.bizjournals.com/sanantonio/news/2016/04/26/seaworld-san-antonio-hopes-to-hook-big-crowds-with.html

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