Another top SeaWorld executive steps down

By Ashley Carter, Attractions Insider
Last Updated: Friday, March 02, 2018, 4:44 PM EST

SeaWorld Entertainment has lost another top executive, days after CEO Joel Manby stepped down.

The theme park operator’s Chief Creative Officer Anthony Esparza has resigned, according to a regulatory filing released Thursday.

Esparza joined the company in September 2015. He previously held a position with Herschend Family Entertainment, the theme park operator behind Dollywood.

Brian Morrow, SeaWorld's vice president of theme park experience design, has also left the company, according to published reports. Morrow has launched a website for B Morrow Productions.

Interim CEO John Reilly issued a memo to employees announcing Esparza’s resignation.

In his place, Mike Denninger has been promoted to the new position of senior vice president of attractions. Denninger has been with the company for 28 years, Reilly wrote in a memo to employees.

“Mike knows our company well and understands what brings audiences to our parks. He helped to create some of our most popular attractions, including Cheetah Hunt, Manta and Mako, and he is ideally suited to ensure that we continue to efficiently deliver compelling creative attractions.”

On Tuesday, SeaWorld announced Manby was stepping down from his role as CEO. The company also reported a 2.7-percent decrease in attendance in its fourth-quarter earnings report. SeaWorld also reported a net loss of $20.4 million.

The leadership changes come as SeaWorld continues to struggle with public backlash from the 2013 documentary “Blackfish.”

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