The rumor a few years ago was that Anheuser-Busch was shopping around their theme park properties known collectively known as “Worlds of Discovery”. Only problem was NBC/Universal was doing the same thing and no one was looking seriously at either. As it turns out, both sets of theme parks were profitable, and with a little more investment, they’ve become even more profitable. So the sales were off the table for a bit.
Now Anheuser-Busch, the parent company of Busch Entertainment’s Worlds of Discovery is preparing itself for a possible sale. I think they’d prefer private equity (think Chrysler) but there’s a chance they’ll be sold to international beverage mega-corp, InBev. As part of this, they’re looking at shedding side business lines that aren’t related to the core beverage products. That, despite their incredible promotional appeal, would include theme parks.
I am very worried that SeaWorld and Busch’s animal conservation programs would suffer under any new owner. AB did a ton of great work in this area over the years that went above and beyond even what the themeparks could provide. Also any new owner would need to be able to make the sort of capital investments that are required to stay competitive in the tough tourist markets where World’s of Discovery are located.
The Orlando Sentinel has more on the possible deal.