SeaWorld Entertainment made it official on Thursday, naming Marc Swanson CEO and Elizabeth Gulacsy CFO and treasurer, after both served in those positions on an interim basis for more than one year.
Swanson, who has been with the company for more than 20 years, was named interim CEO in April 2020. Before that, he was CFO and treasurer of the company since 2017, minus a stint as interim CEO in September and November 2019. He held a number of roles in the company before that.
Gulacsy has been SeaWorld's interim CFO and treasure since April 2020, also serving in the same roles in September and November 2019. Before that, she was the company's corporate vice president of financial reporting and director of financial reporting. Before joining SeaWorld in 2011, she held a number of corporate accounting roles.
"We are thrilled to be taking on these new roles on a permanent basis," Swanson said on SeaWorld's financial earnings call Thursday morning, adding that he was excited for the future of the company.
The first quarter brought "continued improvement" in attendance and revenue trends for SeaWorld and its parks, Swanson said. He attributed that to strategic pricing, marketing efforts and capital expenditure initiatives.
Spring break brought "robust" attendance across SeaWorld's parks, several of which reached capacity limitations. Guests want to visit and spend at the parks, Swanson said, which bodes well for the summer season.
Monthly attendance figures were improving significantly by the end of the quarter, relative to 2019 figures. Excluding SeaWorld's parks in Virginia, California and Pennsylvania, which were subject to significant capacity and operations restrictions, attendance was down 37% in January compared with 2019 and down 39% in February but was down just 18% in March. That improvement continued into the second quarter, when attendance was down 15% in April compared with 2019.
Swanson said he is encouraged about the summer season and believes parks will return to a more normalized operating environment as 2021 progresses.
Overall, SeaWorld reported first quarter attendance of 2.2 million guests across its parks, a decline of only 4.5% from the first quarter of 2020. It was down 33.7% when compared with the first quarter of 2019.
Revenue increased 12% from the first quarter of 2020, up to $171.9 million. Compared with the first quarter of 2019, revenue was down 22.1%, to $48.7 million.
The company operated at a loss of $44.9 million, which was a 20.6% improvement from the first quarter of 2020. Compared with the first quarter of 2019, net loss increased by 21.2%, or $7.9 million.