Joel Manby, who three years ago swore to turn things around at Sea World (SEAS), is leaving the company amid continuing public image and park attendance issues.
Manby, who came on board when the park was seeing continuing image problems from the documentary Blackfish. The company, in a press release, said he and directors “agreed that this is the right time to identify a new CEO as the Company enters its next phase of intensified focus on execution and growth.”
John T. Reilly, who had served as chief parks operation officer, has taken over as interim CEO.
The decision, announced Tuesday, came amid news that park attendance fell nearly 3% in the fourth quarter compared to the same time in 2016.
Manby was the well-liked chief of Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE)—a theme park company that owns properties such as Dollywood and Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo.—before joining Sea World. He quickly made changes at the park, including ending the park’s theatrical orca shows, and proposed making SeaWorld a purpose- driven company.
It didn’t help. The company’s stock is down 16% over the past 12 months and is still below the trough it hit at the height of the Blackfish scandal.
“I really felt the company was getting a bad rap,” Manby told Fortune in 2016. “I wanted to help them get through this. … I thought if we got the truth out and talked about it, people would give us a fair shot”