SeaWorld opened a third park in Orlando, Florida in 1973. Just a few years later in 1976, publisher Harcourt Brace Jovanovich purchased SeaWorld. This may seem like an odd fit, since theme parks are an active form of entertainment and books are (perhaps) the opposite. However, HBJ was headquartered in Orlando, close enough to see the growing impact of theme parks on the local economy. The picture above from Google Maps shows the company’s old offices near International Drive. Company history on the decision is scant, but HBJ paid for $46 million for SeaWorld and its three parks.
George Becker was general manager of SeaWorld of Ohio in the early 1970s. A native of Ohio, he started with SeaWorld in San Diego. He moved on to Florida in the mid-1970s and grew the company during the HBJ years. This included large scale expansion of the Orlando park. He became CEO and in the late-1980s he would lead the company in construction of its fourth park in San Antonio.