Changes In The Parks... Disneyland, Sea World, Universal plus much more
by, 10-09-2009 at 05:27 AM
A very busy week in the news, Three major Theme Park chains have major changes, and of course some prices going up. Plus some news, and lots of photos from Knott's Halloween Haunt, Gay Days and of course, DCA construction. So let's get started.
Will Shamu learn to use Lego's?
For those who follow the Business side of Theme Parks, this isn't a big surprise, as InBev and Blackstone have been in talks for awhile. But the sale was made official yesterday. Blackstone already owns Legoland, Merlin Entertainment, Madame Tussuads Wax Museum, and a number of family entertainment parks nation wide and around the world. Here is the Press Release from InBev.
There will not much impact on the day to day operations of the parks. The Clysedales will be removed from the parks in the near future, but the division will remain called "Busch Entertainment".
Anheuser-Busch InBev Reaches Agreement to Sell Busch Entertainment Corporation to Blackstone
BRUSSELS (Oct. 7, 2009) – Anheuser-Busch InBev (Euronext: ABI) (NYSE: BUD) and The Blackstone Group (NYSE: BX) announced today that a definitive agreement has been reached whereby Anheuser-Busch InBev will sell its entertainment business to Blackstone Capital Partners V L.P. (Blackstone) for up to USD 2.7 billion. The purchase price will be comprised of a cash payment on closing of USD 2.3 billion and a right to participate in Blackstone’s return on its initial investment capped at USD 400 million.
Under the terms of the agreement, Blackstone will acquire Anheuser-Busch InBev’s wholly owned subsidiary, Busch Entertainment Corporation (BEC), the second largest entertainment park operator in the United States with approximately 25 million annual visitors. BEC operates 10 entertainment parks throughout the United States including three SeaWorld parks in Orlando, Florida, San Antonio, Texas, and San Diego, California, two Busch Gardens parks in Tampa, Florida and Williamsburg, Virginia, and other family entertainment attractions in Orlando, Florida, Tampa, Florida, Williamsburg, Virginia, and Langhorne, Pennsylvania.
Carlos Brito, Chief Executive Officer of Anheuser-Busch InBev, said: “Busch Entertainment Corporation is a high performing asset with a world-class management team, but not a core business for Anheuser-Busch InBev. We are pleased to have reached an agreement with a buyer who understands the industry and has a strategic vision for the business. The sale of BEC represents another important milestone in our commitment to de-leverage the company and will also allow us to continue to focus on our core brewing business.
“The Blackstone Group is a preeminent private equity firm and we are very happy to have reached an agreement with Blackstone. We have great respect for BEC’s management and employees and know they will continue to prosper under Blackstone’s ownership.”
Joseph Baratta, Senior Managing Director of The Blackstone Group, said: “We have long admired the Busch Entertainment Corporation parks. They are the premier collection of entertainment parks in the United States and offer a unique family experience. We are pleased to have the opportunity to acquire this business. We have deep sector experience and look forward to working with the excellent BEC management team to continue to invest in and grow the company.”
Michael Chae, Senior Managing Director of The Blackstone Group, said: “Blackstone sees tremendous opportunity for investing in leading businesses within the media and entertainment industries, where we have significant expertise. We are delighted to be investing in a company with such iconic brands, irreplaceable assets and strong growth prospects. We look forward to working with BEC management in continuing a legacy of delivering world-class family entertainment to our customers.”
Jim Atchison, President of Busch Entertainment Corporation, said: “This transaction represents an exciting new chapter for BEC and the thousands of dedicated employees of our team. Blackstone understands our parks are built on an unwavering commitment to quality and a focus on the guest experience. Blackstone is uniquely experienced to help us take the company to new heights, and I look forward to working together to grow this great business.”
Closing of the transaction is subject to customary conditions, including regulatory clearance. BofA Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital, Blackstone Advisory & Restructuring Partners, Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. and Goldman Sachs & Co. acted as financial advisors to Blackstone.
Debt financing in support of the acquisition will be comprised of senior secured credit facilities and mezzanine debt. The senior credit facilities will be provided by BofA Merrill Lynch, Barclays Capital, Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., Goldman Sachs Loan Partners and Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd. The mezzanine financing is being provided by Goldman Sachs Mezzanine Partners and funds managed by GSO Capital Partners LP.
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP acted as legal counsel to Blackstone.
J.P. Morgan and Lazard acted as financial advisors to Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP acted as legal counsel to Anheuser-Busch InBev.
More can be found at the Los Angeles Times
Universal Studios has new bosses
Once again, no immediate impact on the parks, but could possible have long term effects.
A year ago, Marc Shmuger and David Linde were riding high as the heads of Universal Pictures, in the middle of what was to become the most profitable year in the studio's history, presiding over a two-year string of hits that included "Mamma Mia!," "The Bourne Ultimatum," "Wanted" and "Knocked Up." Today they're licking their wounds, having been ousted after months of bad buzz about studio infighting and weak, inconsistent leadership.
Even though they had a lot of early success, the duo never built a loyal following, either inside or outside the company. So they're out, replaced by Adam Fogelson, who is now studio chairman, and Donna Langley, who will be the studio co-chairman, while still retaining her old job as head of production.
Ed Grier's last day is today
No replacement has been named yet.
The Disneyland Resort job concludes a 28-career with the company, where he started as a senior auditor at Walt Disney World and ended up working in nearly every Disney theme park.
Grier, 54, stated that he has been considering the move for about a year in the memo. Haines said Grier has been discussing the possibility over the last few months with his superiors.
And as Al Lutz mentioned in his Editor's note, seems like you get to be President of the Disneyland Resort for three years, then retire. (You are reading those notes at the top of the main MiceAge day, aren't you?).
Changes in Disneyland Prices, guess which way they went?
Last week, I mentioned the new Stroller prices in this column. On Sunday, Disneyland also raised parking, cars are now $14 per day, and an Parking Annual Pass add-on is now $79. The Premium AP still gets free parking, but it is interesting that now the difference between a Deluxe with Parking and a Premium is once again $61. Did Disney already figure out the Parking price increase when they announced the new AP prices in early August?
More on the price increases, and some great maps of the different parking lots at the OC Register link below.
By the way, the Orange County Register always does great graphics.
Disneyland to give away Free Child Admission Tickets to "The Princess and the Frog"
When an Adult goes to select Merchandise Locations at the Disneyland Resort and present their paid Admission Ticket or Annual Pass, they will get a certificate for a free Child Ticket (up to $8) when an Adult purchase an Adult Ticket to see the movie from December 11th through the 31st.
Some of the main locations are The Emporium, Greeting from California and the World of Disney Store.
Of course, rules and regulations apply.
New Downtown Disney Stores to open today
Ridemakerz, a place where folks can build and design their own car opens today next to Wetzel's Pretzels. This store is planned to only be open until the end of the year, and is affiliated with the Build-A-Bear Workshop.
The other store opening today is actually a Re-Opening. Little Miss Matched was closed the last few days as they moved over one space closer to Build-A-Bear Workshop.
Main Street Magic Shop closed, but will reopen
The Disneyland Main Street Magic Shop closed last Sunday, to allow a remodeling of the store, which will reopen as an Outside Operator location.
Houdini's Magic Shop will run the store. And yes, the same folks that have the cart in front of the World of Disney Store.
Pink's Hot Dogs now open at Knott's Berry Farm
The newest location for Pink's is now serving Hot Dogs near the Main Entrance. The Stand is located outside the park, so you can take advantage of the free short term parking and grab a Hot Dog.
The location is temporary for the season. Plans call for it to close early next year to allow a larger and nicer stand to be built and be ready for next sunner.
CHOC Walk looking for volunteers to work its Check-in Location in Irvine.
While the Children's Hospital of Orange County has enough volunteers for the actual walk on October 18th, they need volunteers on Wednesday, October 14th, Thursday, October 15th and Friday, October 16th.
You will be asked to help check in folks at the CHOC Walk offices at the KIA Motors at the intersection of Interstate 5 and Jamboree in Irvine. Two shifts are available each day, 11:30 AM to 4:30 PM and 4 PM to 8 PM. If you would like to help out, just go to the link below and click on "Volunteer Registration" on the left side of the screen.
Note, you can ignore the comment about an October 1st deadline to volunteer.
Also, if you would like to participate in the event, you can still sign up for the actual walk. (You must raise at least $50 in donations to register).
Selected Photos from Darkbeer.Smugmug.com
Insert World of Color Digital Video Projector here (1 of 5)
And attach the Projector to this side panel.
No, they are not digging all the way to the sea, but the hole is getting deeper for The Little Mermaid Attraction
And also time to dig in the new Cars Land area.
Since they had to close the DVC booth next to Jumpin' Jellyfish due to the WOC construction, the booth has been moved next to the GRR Lockers
The Castle Moat is looking like the Paradise Pier Lagoon
Work continues on the Storybookland Canal
Gadget's Go Coaster is scheduled to reopen by the end of the month.
The Enchanted Cottage Food loction at Princess Fantasy Faire is getting a brand new building
The vast majority of the Tomorrowland re-pavement project has been completed, just a couple of small areas are being worked on currently.
A look behind the Main Entrance Plaza refurb walls - West side
And the East Side (And Yes, the Kennel Club remains open)
Work continues on the new Tortilla Jo's Margarita Bar
Work has started on the new parking lot on the former Strawberry Field
Better to keep the Monorail in service until Maintenance shows up than have to take it back stage.
And just a few minutes later, the trim piece had been reattached.
The Gay Day at Disneyland Photo had to be taken in two sections last Saturday
And of course, not everyone opted to show up for the photo
I got to become a "Guest Monster" for Haunt last Sunday
And here are some REAL Monsters from Haunt
And a few shots from the Hanging, which for some reason had these three guys from the Future show up....
Hey, Murphy decided to show up
If you are headed to Disneyland this weekend, be prepared for large crowds, as many students from Utah are in town, since they get a few days off of school. Plus the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are hosting the Boston Red Sox in the first round of the playoffs this weekend. (And yes, some of the Red Sox players and their families went to Disneyland on Wednesday, since they had the day off).
Whatever you do, hope you have a great weekend. We'll see you in the parks.