For 15 years, a partnership between Universal Studios and SeaWorld/Busch Gardens provided central Florida tourists with a ticket package to rival Disney’s park-hopper pass. Within the next year and a half, the theme park executives at Universal Studios and Sea World Orlando must reach a decision on whether or not they’ll extend the joint agreement on the ticket package known as the “Flex ticket” package.
Currently, the flex ticket package offers 14 days of unlimited admission to both Universal’s and SeaWorld’s collection of theme parks, and the agreement is intact until December of 2011. Park executives are expected to renew and extend the deal, but the negotiations may go smoother than originally expected, thanks to the recent change in ownership of SeaWorld. In 2009, 25% of Sea World was purchased by the investment firm Blackstone Group, which co-owns Universal Orlando with GE’s NBC Universal, from Anheuser-Busch InBev purchased 25%. Blackstone already co-owns Universal Orlando with General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal.
One transaction that may complicate matters is Comcast’s ongoing negotiations to purchase NBC Universal.
According to reports by universal regulatory filings., Sea World and Universal sold an estimated 300,000 FlexTickets in 2009 for $60.9 million. Universal, SeaWorld and Wet ‘n Wild split the revenue according to a contract that was negotiated according to each respective park’s attendance figures. Last year’s attendance at Universal was down 10 percent, yet it claimed the largest amount of sales, with $28 million, roughly 6% of Universal’s total revenue. The $28 million for 2009 was 52% lower than the Universal’s total in 2008, and experts blame the global economic recession to the slumping figures. at the beginning of every year, that is based on the attendance share of each park included in the ticket.
SeaWorld earned $25.6 million through Flex Ticket sales last year, followed by Wet ‘n Wild,with $7.3 million.
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