Busch Entertainment Corp. is no more.
The Orlando-based theme-park operator on Tuesday was renamed SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, shortly after the closing of its $2.7 billion sale to private-equity giant The Blackstone Group.
The sale and name change formally ends Busch Entertainment's 50-year association with beer giant Anheuser-Busch, a period in which the company grew from a single beer garden in Tampa into the nation's second-largest theme-park chain with approximately 24 million visitors a year.
Anheuser-Busch was acquired last year by Belgian brewer InBev. The combined company announced in October that it would sell Busch Entertainment to Blackstone for $2.3 billion in cash and up to $400 million more in future returns.
Jim Atchison, president of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, said the new name "reflects our independence and autonomy."
"We realized that the name Busch Entertainment Corp. was not going to fit with us moving forward," Athcison said. "It wasn't really as much to disassociate from Busch as it was a desire to create a name that more fairly represented who we are."
In their search for a new corporate moniker, executives turned to SeaWorld, the namesake of parks in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio and the best-known of its brands. SeaWorld Orlando is the company's single busiest park, drawing an estimated 6 million visitors last year.
"SeaWorld is our flagship brand," Atchison said.
The Anheuser-Busch presence won't be erased entirely. The company's Busch Gardens theme parks in Tampa and Williamsburg, Va., will retain their names through a long-term licensing contract with AB InBev, which was negotiated as part of the sale to Blackstone.
Though Blackstone is now formally in charge, Atchison said he expects few visible changes to his company beyond the new name.
"If there's changes to see, I think it will be over a longer period of time," he said.