Personally if I was Merlin I would hold off a few years as I think in 5-10 years they'd get a better price for the group. With all the developments at Disney and Universal I think Busch and SeaWorld might see a bit of a hit in terms of visitor numbers which could impact on the financial performance.
2018 - Toy Story
2019 - Harry Potter
2020 - Star Wars
2021 - Nintendo
2022 - Magic Kingdom 50th anniversary
Plus Universal will be looking to open their new park at some point around that timeline which might change plans of families to Universal and Disney only.
Their latest earnings report has been quite disappointing leading to shares falling a further 7%
"In the latest earnings report, SeaWorld generated $373.8 million in revenue, falling short of analysts’ expectations of about $394 million, according to Reuters. The company also warned its debt rating or outlook could be downgraded by credit rating agencies.
The company reported a net loss of $175.9 million for the second quarter as admission revenue fell $340 million for the first half this year compared to $361 million — a nearly 6 percent decline— from the same period last year."
Plus the CEO has said that costs will be further cut, so maybe it's not just Merlin.....
"We are increasing our investment in national advertising to generate sufficient awareness of our brand attributes and strong new rides and attractions, developing a new national marketing campaign emphasising our distinct experiences, and reinvesting in our reputation messaging to target perceptions in key markets, particularly California. We will offset this increased advertising with additional cost reductions.”
The company says it is still on target to achieve its US$40m (€33.8m, £30.6m) net saving goal by the end of next year, with the operator “identifying additional areas for cost reduction”.
“We are committed to our capital investment strategy and will continue to invest in new rides, attractions, and festivals across our parks,” said Manby.
“At the same time, we are maintaining our rigorous cost discipline, and while we are on schedule to achieve our targeted savings by the end of 2018, we are identifying an additional US$25m (€21.2m, £19.2m) in potential savings, which we believe could be saved outright or reinvested in our marketing efforts.