SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment raised prices Friday at its Florida theme parks, though it stopped just short of matching recent increases at rival parks Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando.
The company, which has battled falling attendance this year, also introduced several promotions and ticket options in hopes of luring more repeat visits in 2011 — including offering an extra three months of admission with any annual passes purchased before Jan. 2.
"We survey our guests constantly, and the overwhelming majority are telling us the parks continue to be a great, great value," said SeaWorld spokesman Nick Gollattscheck. The changes, he said, are also designed to provide "additional value" to the company's annual passes and its Florida- and Georgia-resident "Fun Cards," which offer a year's worth of admission for the price of a single-day ticket.
The adult price of a basic single-day admission to SeaWorld Orlando inches up $1 to $79.99, before tax. That is about $2 less than base-ticket prices at Disney World and Universal, which each raised prices in August.
The cost of the popular Fun Cards climbs more steeply, rising $10 to $79.99, as SeaWorld eliminates a 2010 promotion in which guests who purchased the cards online or at AAA travel offices could get them for $69.95. But SeaWorld said current Fun Card holders can renew at the discounted 2010 rate through the end of this year. And effective immediately, new or renewed cards are good for unlimited admission through Dec. 31, 2011.
Single-day and Fun Card prices for Busch Gardens Tampa Bay climb to $77.99.
Annual-pass prices rise by $10 for one-year passes and $20 for two-year passes. But SeaWorld said the increases are accompanied by several new promotions and discount options. The most notable: SeaWorld includes an extra three months of admission for free on any new annual passes sold before Jan. 2. Disney World used a similar promotion last year, as it tried to keep its annual-pass-holder base from eroding during the global recession.
SeaWorld also said current pass holders get a bigger renewal discount than last year — $20 less than the price of a new pass. Or they can elect to renew their passes at the full price and receive the extra three months, instead.
SeaWorld also said any pass holders currently using its "EZPay" program can renew at the same monthly rate they are currently paying, a renewal lure the company has used in the past.