SeaWorld San Diego could get a new hotel and a major new attraction in addition to a revamped killer whale display.
Those improvements were announced Monday, but overshadowed by news that the iconic killer whale shows would be phased out in 2016.
Joel Manby, president and CEO of SeaWorld Entertainment, told security analysts in Orlando the company has signed a letter of agreement with Evans Hotels to build a new hotel at the park, though he declined to give a time frame.
“We love the Evans hotel group. They have three excellent hotels in San Diego,” Manby said, adding that Evans had experience getting development approval in San Diego.
Evans operates such landmarks as the Lodge at Torrey Pines, and the Bahia and Catamaran near SeaWorld.
Manby said some of the capital funds earmarked for the Blue World killer whale display would instead be allocated to a major new attraction.
“We have already been looking at new attraction options for 2018,” Manby said. “I don’t think we’ve had a good attraction there in awhile and we need to give John Reilly, the park president, some ammunition.”
He said the revamped killer whale exhibit will be focused on the “natural behaviors of the whales” combined with a strong conservation message and could be built for less than the $100 million originally planned.