While the cruise industry and Disney keep their eye on the impacts of coronavirus to their operations in Asia, closer to home, there has been two huge amusement park industry stories with neither looking good for SeaWorld.
By October of last year, it was clear a significant shakeup was coming to America’s amusement park operators. European-based operator Merlin had announced its third U.S.-based Legoland park, and Cedar Fair had just rejected a buyout bid from Six Flags. Then there were rumors that SeaWorld’s largest shareholder was working on a deal that would have seen a merger with Newport Beach, California-based amusement park operator Palace Entertainment.
Palace is one of the smaller, lesser-known amusement park companies in the nation, with most of their parks closer to in scale to Orlando's Fun Spot than to what Floridians typically think of when they hear the term "amusement park." The company has struggled for years in the shadow of America’s much larger park operators, and even today there are rumors that a major announcement may come from them any day.
In 2014, Palace sold off fourteen of its family entertainment centers (FECs) to a new startup in the industry, Apex Parks Group, which was formed by a collective of former Six Flags and Paramount employees and was led by Al Weber Jr., who served as both COO and interim CEO at Six Flags prior to founding the new company.