SeaWorld International Expansion Revealed

SeaWorld to partner with Samsung in South Korea

After many hours of exhausting research on theme park blogs, LinkedIn groups, International Business Journals and published articles as well as anonymous sources in the industry, the location of one of two International locations for a SeaWorld branded park has been discovered. Many of the representatives of the companies I spoke with are under a Non-Disclosure Agreement and could not or would not comment on the project until the official announcement.   Therefore I am unable to reveal sources for this announcement.

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Casino and Marine Park Development near Incheon Airport in South Korea

 

While Canadian and Japanese businessmen are treated to VIP service at two new casinos being built in a mass development in the area of Incheon Airport, South Korea, their families can visit a SeaWorld branded theme park operated by Samsung nearby. Samsung Everland already operates the largest theme park in South Korea, “Everland”, which is ranked thirteenth in the world for amusement park attendance.  In 2012 the park clocked attendance at 6.8 million visitors. Everland also includes a zoo and a water park. The park is located in Yongin, South Korea, which is a 2-½ hour drive from the Airport. The closer proximity to the airport of the new theme park in Incheon is similar to the SeaWorld model in San Diego and Orlando, as the parks are only a 10-20 minute drive away.

The appetite for Marine Style theme parks in the area was evidenced at the 2012 Yeosu Expo Worlds Fair when attendance at the Aqua Planet exhibit set a record with attendance through August 7 with crowds of over 2 million visitors!  At times the wait was up to 7 hours to view endangered species including the incredible popularity of 3 Beluga by up to 25k people a day.  The exhibit was so popular in fact that the aquarium was forced to close for a few days to “give the Beluga days off to help it feel happier and less stressed”

Water pipeline established

The site of the development has ample access to the East China Sea. It appears that site construction of this phase is underway and a pipeline has been established to provide water to the area from the coast. The most notable as it pertains to SeaWorld is what is referred to as IBC – II in the plans provided, titled the “Air City Development”. This phase is the development of the south water basin (Water Park), and is described as a core project, that is expected to contribute to new airline demand. Just this month 3 new International connections into the Airport were announced.

Airport access

Closer to the Airport, two international investment groups are moving forward with massive developments which are sure to be a draw. One of the projects is a multi-phase development headed by SEGA SAMMY Co. Ltd., in conjunction with Paradise Group. Sega of course is the video game maker, Paradise Group is a tourism and service business conglomerate that operates casinos, hotels and spas in South Korea. A Casino will anchor the project.

Construction was expected to break ground in October of 2013, and to be completed by June of 2016.

The following notice was given to the Tokyo Stock Exchange:

“Notice is hereby given that SEGA SAMMY Group (the “Group”) won the public bid for the development plan of “Centum City,” a cutting-edge complex city equipped with functions such as information, communication, video, entertainment and international business, held by the Busan Metropolitan City, South Korea”

Second entertainment complex underway – just west of Seoul

The second project underway is a consortium of U.S. based Caesars Entertainment Corporation, along with Korean company Lippo Group and a spin-off of Lippo; OUE Limited. The Lippo, OUE portion of the group is named LOCZ, a Korea Corporation. A Casino anchors this project, similar to the first, and the project highlights for the planned integrated resort include hotels and resort amenities, live entertainment venues, a standalone convention center and a foreigners-only casino around 50 kilometers west of Seoul. The consortium hopes to open the Incheon integrated resort in time to welcome visitors arriving in Korea for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang.

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2018 Olympics

Gary Loveman, Caesars Entertainment Chairman, CEO and President said in a statement that highlights for the planned integrated resort include hotels and resort amenities, live entertainment venues, a standalone convention center and a foreigners-only casino. A preliminary master plan anticipates potential future expansion to accommodate growth in the number of resort visitors.

Exit plan or vertical Market

What remains to be seen is how Animal Advocates will react to this news. Some may see it as an ‘Exit Plan’ from the U.S. for SeaWorld parks that want to focus on Marine Mammal display, and others will brand it a ‘Vertical Market’. South Korea has already been the focus of over 65 petitions from animal activists regarding dog and cat consumption.

Plenty of Orca Inventory

South Korea is a member of CITES and IWC, so any animal imports to and from the country would have to have to be permitted from the government, however the enforcement of both treaties is left up to the member country. With the recent announcement of the 2014 Russian take permits of 14 Orcas; it is clear that there will be “Inventory” available to stock the new park. As SeaWorld will likely sell a licensing agreement to Samsung to operate the park, they will have a built in plausible deniability in any direct acquisition of Marine Mammals, even if in the end it benefits the genetic diversity issue with its U.S. based Orca populations.

Authors Note: The official announcement of 2014 quotas has NOT been released.  Thank You to Erich Hoyt for providing this information “Federal Fisheries have not given any quota yet but a couple days ago TINRO did make an argument that the quota should be 10 orcas again.”

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