ORLANDO, Fla. — After more than a year as SeaWorld's interim CEO, Marc Swanson has been tapped to remain in the position, the company announced Thursday during a first-quarter earnings call.

What You Need To Know

  • Marc Swanson has been named the next CEO of SeaWorld

  • Swanson has been interim CEO of the company since April 2020

  • SeaWorld made the announcement during a first-quarter earnings call

  • Revenue was up and attendance was down slightly at the parks

SeaWorld also appointed interim CFO and treasurer Elizabeth Castro Gulacsy as its next CFO and treasurer. Gulacsy, who has been with the company for eight years, also previously served as chief accounting officer.

Both appointments were approved unanimously by SeaWorld's board of directors, according to an SEC filing.

Swanson, who has more than 20 years' experience with the company, has been interim CEO since April 2020, when then-CEO Serge Rivera abruptly resigned after five months on the job. Since then, Swanson has helped SeaWorld navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Swanson had a brief previous stint as interim CEO in early 2019 when Gus Antorcha left the company.

Now that Swanson is officially the CEO, his base salary will increase from $400,000 to $450,000 a year. 

"The past year has been a unique and extraordinary period for our Company, our industry, and the world," Swanson said in a news release. "The capabilities of our management team combined with the complementary expertise of our Board allowed us to make the innovative and necessary decision to address unthinkable and unprecedented reality."

Swanson added he expects SeaWorld's parks to "return to a more normalized" operating environment as the year goes on.

SeaWorld's first quarter earnings show that the company is rebounding from the downturn the pandemic has had on its business. Revenue was $171.9 million, a 12% increase from the same quarter in 2020. Meanwhile, attendance for the quarter was 2.2 million guests, a 4.5% decrease from the same period in 2020.

As of March 31, 10 of the company's 12 parks were open and operating. The company hopes to have all 12 parks open in time for an anticipated busy summer season. SeaWorld is adding more staff as quickly as it can in response, but during the earnings call Swanson said the company is struggling to hire workers, including seasonal staff. 

The company implemented a number of health and safety measures at its parks when they reopened last year. On Thursday, SeaWorld followed other major theme parks by removing the temperature screening requirement at its Florida parks.

"At SeaWorld, we are committed to the health & safety of our employees, guests and the animals in our care," SeaWorld spokeswoman Lori Cherry said in a statment to Spectrum News. "We have continued to review and evolve our health and safety procedures in order to promote a safe environment for our guests and employees, while still providing them with fun and memorable experiences."

SeaWorld also reduced the physical distancing rule from 6 to 3 feet in certain areas of its Florida parks, which follows Orange County's relaxing of its physical distancing guidelines last week in a phased plan to ease COVID-19 safety orders.

"Our expansive outdoor, open-air grounds create natural physical distancing," Cherry said in the statement. "The additional space will allow more access to venues, while giving guests the opportunity to maintain appropriate physical distancing."

SeaWorld has new attractions on the horizon, although no updates were provided about Ice Breaker at SeaWorld Orlando or Iron Gwazi at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Both coasters were originally set to debut in 2020, but the pandemic disrupted those plans.


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