Sea World, Busch Gardens to raise ticket prices

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The Sun-Sentinel is reporting that Sea World Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay are raising their ticket prices today, Wednesday, January 23, 2002. The article notes that if history is an indicatory, other Orlando theme parks will follow suit. The rumors about Disney increasing their ticket prices may just be true.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/southflorida/sfl-122themeparks.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

SeaWorld, Busch Gardens to raise entrance fees
By MIKE SCHNEIDER

A recession and an overall weak theme park market won’t stop some of Florida’s theme parks from raising their prices.

Sea World Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay plan to raise the prices of their single-day tickets by $2 starting Wednesday.

If history is any indicator, central Florida’s other large theme park operators _ Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando _ will follow suit.

The new prices at SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay will be $52.95 for an adult and $43.40 for a child. Both prices include taxes.

Admission to both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando currently costs $50.88 for an adult and $40.28 for a child. Both prices include taxes.

Universal spokesman Jim Canfield said the resort’s two parks haven’t increased entrance fees, and ``we don’t speculate on future ticket prices.’’

A Disney spokesman didn’t immediately return a phone call.

Busch Gardens officials said they don’t believe the price increase will decrease attendance.

Attendance in the industry has been softer, but our domestic attendance has recovered in Florida,'' said Vic Abbey, chairman of Busch Entertainment Corp., a division of St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch.It’s true our international attendance is down, but we expect it to go up by summertime.’’

Abbey wouldn’t say what percentage of visitors are domestic or international.

Sea World Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, however, are giving Internet users a break. People who purchase a ticket in advance online will get $5 off the price of admission.

We like for people to make their decisions in advance,'' Abbey said.Internet transactions are essentially free for us, and when they purchase it at the gate, it costs more money.’’

In addition, the Busch-owned theme parks are continuing their Florida Fun Card program, which allows Florida residents to purchase a single-day ticket and return as many times as they want during the year.

The majority of local residents who visit the Florida parks have the Fun Card, said Abbey, who won’t specify which percentage of visitors are local.

The price increases come at a precarious time for Orlando’s theme parks, which last year experienced their worst year in at least a decade due to the recession and the tourism slowdown after the Sept. 11 attacks. Attendance at Walt Disney World, for instance, dropped 25 percent in the weeks after the attacks, and recovery has been slow but steady.

Orlando is home to seven of the nation’s 10 largest theme parks.