SeaWorld announced it would end its controversial orca-breeding program last spring after years of criticism. It also began phasing out theatrical killer whale shows. But after the theme park’s parent company closed 2016 with a net loss of $12.5 million, SeaWorld is seeking to rebound.
The company is introducing new rides, educational programs and innovations like virtual reality technology. SeaWorld wants to change its public perception as an animal entertainment company to get people back into its parks.
“What we want to do is be known for a company where families can have a lot of fun but also do something meaningful at the same time,” SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment CEO Joel Manby said. “Millennials especially. They want to have an experience that matters. And so we want to show them how they can make a difference.”
In San Antonio, for example, he said a new ride called Wave Breaker will allow visitors to go on a rescue experience.
Last year, Manby and Humane Society president and CEO Wayne Pacelle announced a partnership on “CBS This Morning” to help animals in the wild.
“In the end of the day, we’ve always been a rescue organization,” Manby said, adding, “There’s no doubt… that society is changing and we need to change with it. We’ve made some difficult decisions, but I think the model of the future is companies, for-profit companies who can spend their resources to make the world a better place. The millennials want it. We want it as human beings.”