Busch Gardens and SeaWorld Orlando announced a ticket price increase today of $2, pushing the single day admission to the parks to $99 — but they also announced deals on annual passes that could soften the blow.
At Busch Gardens, the 2016 Fun Card is available now, meaning a visitor can buy the $99 Fun Card and use it to visit the Tampa theme park for the remainder of 2015 for no additional cost.
At SeaWorld, the park is knocking $30 off the price of its annual pass available through Jan. 5 for $126, which includes free parking and discounts in the park.
"We continue to offer our guests ways to enjoy extra values, including a new low price offer for annual passes, and discounts on advance purchases through the website," the company said in a news release.
The parent company of SeaWorld has struggled with a drop in attendance and profits since 2014 in the wake of Blackfish, a documentary that offered a grim look at life in captivity for orca whales. The company has said in earnings reports that its Orlando theme park is still getting visitors and has been able to offset some of the decreased demand in other locations. Busch Gardens had an estimated increase in attendance last year of 1 percent, or 4.12 million visitors, according to a Themed Entertainment Association report released in June.
The company is anticipating interest in new rides coming to its Florida parks next year, with Busch Gardens opening Cobra's Curse, a spin coaster with a 70-foot vertical lift. SeaWorld's new roller coaster Mako opens in Orlando next year, which includes plans for a new shark exhibition around what will be the tallest, longest, and fastest coaster in Orlando.
The two parks also announced on Monday the return of Busch Gardens' Food & Wine Festival on weekends starting March 5, and SeaWorld's music series including Christian artists coming for Praise Wave in March and the Latin music and food festival Viva la Musica starting in April.
The lineup of special events next year included with admission:
• Real Music: Jan. 4-March 5, live music that spans six decades, including Herman's Hermits, The Drifters and Chubby Checker.
• Food & Wine Festival: Saturdays and Sundays March 5-April 24
• Summer Nights: Select dates June through August, featuring extended hours and an end-of-night show with live musicians, singers, dancers and artists with modern music and fire effects
• Jack Hanna Weekend: Sept. 10- 11, with wild animal shows, autograph signings and special meet-and-greets when "Jungle Jack" visits Busch Gardens.
• Wild Days: Saturdays and Sundays, Jan. 16-31, with educational and interactive shows with leaders in the world of animal rescue, rehabilitation and preservation.
• Bands, Brew & BBQ: Saturdays and Sundays, Feb. 13-March 6, live concerts and special favorites from SeaWorld's restaurants. In partnership with the USO of Central Florida,.
• Praise Wave: Saturdays, March 12-26, with Christian music artists on the stage at Nautilus Theater.
• Viva la Música: Saturdays, April 16 and 23 and May 7 and 14, a Latin music and food festival.
• Summer Nights: June 11-Aug. 14, nightly extended hours and a special Shamu show.
• Halloween Spooktacular: Saturdays and Sundays, Oct. 1-30, with trick-or-treating, sea-themed activities and animal encounters.
• Christmas Celebration: Select Dates in November and December of special live shows, shopping and food.
Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at email@example.com. Follow@SharonKWn