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SeaWorld and Universal Studios to be owned by Same Company?

Reports are growing that The Blackstone Group has put the final touches on its acquisition of Busch Entertainment Company (BEC), the division of AB-Bev that owns SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks. The Blackstone Group already owns about half of the Universal Orlando resort and theme parks. And the joining of the two would create a destination that could compete much stronger against their chief competition for tourist dollars in Central Florida – Walt Disney World.

Of course, not all BEC properties are in Orlando where easy synergy can be found. Plus The Blackstone Group owns parts of Six Flags, Legoland, and Madame Tussauds. Which makes some some interesting tie-in possibilities to central Florida. Remember that Legoland rumor that went around last year? And wouldn’t a Madame Tussauds fit in wonderfully at Citywalk?

The complete list of BEC properties is:

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (Tampa, Florida)
Busch Gardens Williamsburg (Williamsburg, Virginia)
SeaWorld Orlando (Orlando, Florida)
SeaWorld San Antonio (San Antonio, Texas)
SeaWorld San Diego (San Diego, California)
Discovery Cove (Orlando, Florida)
Aquatica (Orlando, Florida)
Adventure Island (Tampa, Florida)
Water Country USA (Williamsburg, Virginia)
Sesame Place (Langhorne, Pennsylvania)

And there is a project in Dubai to build three more parks, but it is currently on hold due to the economic crisis.

In California Legoland and SeaWorld can now work closer together to attract visitors and save on supply orders and management costs. That seems like a potential plus too.

Apparently high ranking officials from Blackstone have been seen walking around SeaWorld and rumors really started flying after word went out earlier to BEC employees to expect an announcement later today. I certainly wish my friends at Seaworld and Busch Gardens well and hope that everyone lands on their feet.

So with Harry Potter, Shamu, and Shrek all soon to share one corporate master, what do you see happening first?

5 thoughts on “SeaWorld and Universal Studios to be owned by Same Company?”

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  2. Blackstone is a passive owner in Universal, and their partnership agreement with Universal specifically bars them or any company that they control from owning any amusement or theme park in the state of Florida. I wonder how they would get around this?

    Also, it could trigger the $1.1 billion of debt that Universal Orlando has being called. Since Blackstone would have to pay half of this debt, how would this work out?

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