SeaWorld Entertainment appoints former Six Flags exec to COO post, terminates previous officer

Posted Monday, June 28, 2021 11:26 AM | Contributed by Jeff

From the press release:

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS), a leading theme park and entertainment company, today announced the appointment of Tom Iven to the position of Chief Operating Officer ("COO") effective June 28, 2021. SeaWorld's Board of Directors unanimously approved the appointment.

"We are excited to have Tom join the SeaWorld team as we continue to drive the business forward and emerge an even stronger company post COVID-19," said Marc Swanson, Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. "Tom brings significant theme park operating experience and a long, successful operating track record. I am confident he will make immediate contributions as we continue to execute on our strategic plans to realize the full, long-term potential of the company," continued Swanson.

Prior to joining the Company, Mr. Iven, 62, served as Senior Vice President of Park Operations for Six Flags Entertainment Corp. He was responsible for the operations management of all of Six Flags' parks and properties. Mr. Iven began his career at Six Flags as a seasonal employee and had a successful career spanning several decades. Mr. Iven served in key operating and leadership roles both at the park and corporate level. In addition, Mr. Iven led the development and acquisition of numerous parks and other special projects that contributed to multiple years of consecutive record-breaking results for Six Flags. Mr. Iven holds a B.S. degree from Missouri State University.

Walter Bogumil's employment as COO has been terminated effective June 27, 2021.

Read the press release on PR Newswire.

Monday, June 28, 2021 11:34 AM
Jeff's avatar

The revolving door continues. Admittedly, the new guy appears to have the correct specific experience, but I wonder how long he'll last if he ends up being micromanaged by the board.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, June 28, 2021 11:53 AM

He recently retired from Six Flags and probably doesn't need the work. He was the food and retail director at SFOT when I worked there almost 25 years ago and he seemed like an old, grizzled veteran of the park back then.


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Monday, June 28, 2021 11:59 AM
Jeff's avatar

That's good context. If he is coming out of retirement, that will make for a good test about how sincere they are in letting him do his thing. There isn't really anything at stake for him to bail.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, June 28, 2021 12:08 PM

Palace Entertainment (operator of Kennywood and others) is where it's at. Many of the execs who have left Sea World during the recent turmoil are ending up there. Just a few examples:

Mark Pauls, GM of Kennywood, formerly GM of Sea World & Aquatica in Orlando

John Reilly, COO of Palace, formerly COO of Sea World corporate

Suzanne Pfordresher, VP of Marketing of Palace, formerly same position at SW corporate

In addition, the new heads of food & retail at Kennywood and corporate HR are from Sea World as well.

Last edited by PhantomTails, Monday, June 28, 2021 12:19 PM
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Monday, June 28, 2021 2:47 PM

That explains the almost intentional focus on inefficient coaster operations at Kennywood in the past 5-8 years ;)

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Monday, June 28, 2021 2:57 PM
Jeff's avatar

I don't know any of those SeaWorld people. I think most of them came and went since I was there. That they left (or were asked to leave) is probably a positive.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, June 28, 2021 4:00 PM

The best place to be in position like that is to have "F-U" money as my predecessor said. He had the luxury of being able to say exactly what was on him mind without fear. If they didn't like what he said and they fired him...he would snicker on the way out the door.

I don't have "F-U" money.

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Monday, June 28, 2021 4:02 PM

John Reilly was only at corporate for a short time, but both of them have a lot of experience at the park level.

Pauls was VP of operations at BGW for 9 years (2008-2016), ran Water Country USA for 3 years before that, and was director of operations at BGW for 3 years before that.

Reilly started at BGW in 1998 and worked his way up to park president, first for 3 years at BGW and for another 5 years at Sea World San Diego.

I know that BrettV is joking, but Reilly and Pauls have only been at Palace and Kennywood, respectively, for about a year which was marred by a pandemic. The removal of 4 classic rides is of serious concern (there are rumors one or two might return after the park updates them to conform to newer safety standards) but there are also some good signs -- efficiency is up, particularly at the coasters, they instituted a new food festival which seemed to be successful, and they have already done a lot of paint and long-needed sprucing up of their parks.

I don't personally know any of these people, but they seem to have the right qualifications and I'm hoping they're able to turn the ship around. The Palace era has general been a disaster for Kennywood and its sister parks.

Last edited by PhantomTails, Monday, June 28, 2021 4:04 PM
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Monday, June 28, 2021 8:36 PM
99er's avatar

wahoo skipper said:

I don't have "F-U" money.

I don't either but still carry the attitude as if I do because as long as you make good contacts in the industry, didn't burn any bridges, you'll have a job at the end of the week. That is until Covid happened...lol. I'll be back to that attitude soon.


-Chris

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Monday, June 28, 2021 9:49 PM
Jeff's avatar

I think that's the lesson with all of these wage and job stories. Stop accepting that you have to put up with being treated poorly regardless of where you are on the ladder.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Monday, June 28, 2021 10:17 PM
99er's avatar

Exactly! Although I am not treated poorly at work thankfully. Just your standard bullish!t but even then I don't put up with it because I am not afraid of being fired. I tell new people that as soon as you get over the fear of being fired, you can do anything you want:)


-Chris

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Tuesday, July 6, 2021 11:12 PM

This company is so mismanaged. They are dragging what we’re top tier parks down to a lower level. What a shame.

Last edited by super7*, Saturday, July 10, 2021 1:01 AM
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Wednesday, July 7, 2021 4:57 PM
Jeff's avatar

That's pretty much how they were hiring when I was there too. All B-players at best, lots of people who left Disney. And Disney fails to get top shelf talent in certain areas too, especially IT and software (because they pay isn't great).


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Thursday, July 8, 2021 12:22 AM
99er's avatar

Jeff said:

... lots of people who left Disney.

Left or were fired? In the time I have been there it seems that when someone is fired from Disney they almost immediately go to Universal so I wouldn't be shocked if Sea World gets some too. Usually within a few months we get word they didn't cut it at Universal either.


-Chris

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Thursday, July 8, 2021 9:51 AM
Jeff's avatar

Speaking only on the IT side, I think left. Most had "better" positions. But as I said, Disney itself is not good in that area. They rely heavily on contractors and consultants, and they're even worse at project managing it all. I think they get the outcomes they want, but at many multiples the time and cost. NGE didn't have to cost what it did.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Thursday, July 8, 2021 10:16 AM

99er said:

Usually within a few months we get word they didn't cut it at Universal either.

It was that way in attractions leadership as well. The difference being they did cut it at Universal circa 2008-2009, but not current Universal.

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Monday, July 12, 2021 9:00 AM

As far as Kennywood goes, while I was there on July 5th, they were dispatching Steel Curtain and Phantom's Revenge trains faster than most other parks dispatch. They were actually saying how many seconds before the PR train was going to return to the station so the ops knew how soon they had to dispatch. SC only seemed to have troubles when lap bars weren't able to go down.

I was totally impressed by Kennywood that day especially considering the heat and the crowd size. Maybe it has something to do with the former SW guy. Maybe not.

Now, if only the former 6 Flags guy could get those lawn ornaments opened up.

Last edited by zoug68, Monday, July 12, 2021 9:17 AM
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