SeaWorld hopes veteran theme park executive Joel Manby is just the person to lead the company from its troubles and into the future.
Orlando-based SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. on Thursday announced Joel Manby would take over as president and chief executive officer in April.
Manby, 55, has served as president and CEO of Herschend Family Entertainment since 2003. The company owns and operates more than two dozen attractions, theme parks and lodging properties across the United States, including Dollywood, Dollywood’s Splash Country, Dollywood Vacations and Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede in Pigeon Forge.
SeaWorld Entertainment owns eleven theme parks in the U.S. and takes pride in its conservation, wildlife rescue and research programs.
David D’Alessandro has served as interim CEO at SeaWorld since Jim Atchison stepped down in January and will continue to serve as the company’s chairman.
“The Board of Directors has completed an extensive search process and we are extremely pleased to welcome Joel Manby to SeaWorld Entertainment. Joel has nearly 20 years’ experience and a proven track record with business models very similar to ours – multiple brands and multiple properties in the entertainment and theme park industries,” said D’Alessandro. “Even in the most challenging business environments, Joel has consistently enhanced the performance of the companies he has led for customers, investors and employees alike. He has the experience and qualifications to lead our Company into the future.”
SeaWorld parks have struggled in recent years due to declining attendance and public outcry for an end to the company’s Orca program following the release of the documentary “Blackfish” in 2013.
“I am honored to be selected as SeaWorld Entertainment’s new CEO. This Company has tremendous brands, and for more than 50 years, families have come to our parks to learn about animals, have fun and be entertained,” Manby said. “We are known for our exceptional operations and world-class animal care. My job is to build on that foundation while consistently improving and innovating in a competitive environment. I look forward to working with our more than 23,000 team members through the challenges ahead.”
During Manby’s tenure at Herschend, the company’s properties have won numerous awards. Dollywood won four Golden Ticket Awards in 2014.