Sunday March 31, 2019 is the last day for COO and former interim CEO John T. Reilly. Mr. Reilly’s departure was announced in a March 19, 2019 SeaWorld press release:
We thank John for his contributions during his 34-year tenure at SeaWorld and wish him the best going forward…
Mr. Reilly is a Busch Gardens lifer, stating with the company as a teenager selling concessions at the park in Williamsburg to pay for college. He eventually began to rise through the ranks becoming President at several parks, then COO and finally interim-CEO after Joel Manby’s resignation last year. It is a Hollywood story, a teenage concession worker rising to CEO!
The video above will give you a flavor of Mr. Reilly’s leadership style. He was known for regularly walking the parks, getting the pulse of the employees and seeing the guest experience firsthand. During his interim CEO tenure one year tenure the stock rose significantly as did park attendance, both outpacing industry rivals. Many expected the interim may eventually be changed to permanent, but with the appointment of former Carnival COO Gustavo Antorcha last month, it wasn’t to be. After being passed over for the permanent position his resignation isn’t surprising from a business perspective, however there’s no doubt his unique experience and vast knowledge will be missed more than most similar departures. At only 49 it’s hard to imagine this is Mr. Reilly’s last dance, so it’ll be exciting to see what the future holds.
I actually had a chance to meet former CEO Joel Manby once as a friend of a friend, being that he used to be based out of the Atlanta area. I love Joel Manby and was sad to see him go, but as I learned more about Mr. Reilly I equally fell in love with his story and obvious passion for the parks. Mr. Antorcha has some big shoes to fill for sure of two great men who sat at the CEO desk before him.
As a fan of Busch Gardens I want to say THANK YOU to Mr. Reilly and best of luck with whatever the future holds!