Guest Speaker: August 30th, 2016: Marilyn Hannes

Marilyn and BelugaMarilyn Hannes

Park President

SeaWorld San Diego and Aquatica San Diego


As president of SeaWorld® San Diego and AquaticaTM San Diego, Marilyn Hannes leads a team of more than 4,500 employees, oversees a mammal, bird, fish and reptile population of more than 25,000 and is responsible for making sure the millions of guests who visit the parks each year receive the amazing educational, entertaining and exciting experience they expect.  Hannes assumed her role as president in April 2015.

Most recently Hannes served as Vice President of Global Sales for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment where she was responsible for domestic and international sales and international marketing for SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Discovery Cove, Aquatica Waterparks, Adventure Island and Water Country U.S.A. She began her 18-year career with SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment as Director of Travel Industry Sales for SeaWorld San Diego where she also served as Director of Sales and Vice President of Marketing and Sales.

Prior to joining SeaWorld in 1997, Hannes was the General Manager and Director of Sales and Operations for Wild Bill’s Wild West Dinner Extravaganza in Buena Park, California. Previously, she was Vice President of Spectrum Advertising and Promotions, a marketing company responsible for international sales missions for Visit California, major events such as Americafest at the Rose Bowl, and advertising programs for Southern California tourism. Hannes also served during this time as the Director of Marketing for the Buena Park Convention and Visitors Office. From 1979 to 1987, Hannes served as Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Catering for hotels in Anaheim, Calif., and General Manager for Mexico Travel Plans and American Conexion, international receptive and transportation companies.

Hannes is a Past Chair and current Regional Ambassador for the California Travel Industry Association. Additionally, she is a past Chair of the Visit California International Committee and currently a member of the Visit California Marketing Committee and 5-year Strategic Planning Task Force. Hannes was invited to represent California’s tourism leadership on Gubernatorial Trade Missions to China, Canada, and Mexico with Governor Schwarzenegger and Governor Brown. Hannes also served as Chair for the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau Web and Interactive Task Force and served the San Diego Tourism Marketing District via the Marketing Advisory Task Force and the San Diego 20-Year Tourism Master Plan Task Force. Hannes is the Immediate Past Chair and current Member of the Board for the U.S Travel Experience Network, a council of the U.S. Travel Association. In 2014, Hannes was appointed by San Diego’s Mayor Faulconer and the San Diego City Council to serve on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation, where she also chaired the Sales & Marketing Committee and the Audit Committee. 

Hannes received the 1994 Leadership Award for General Manager Excellence from the Southern California Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association. Other accolades include the Busch Entertainment Corporation Marketing Excellence Award in 2000, the TWIN (Tribute to Women in Industry) in 2005, and the California Diversity Council Woman of Power and Influence in 2012. 

Born in Bakersfield, Hannes lives with her husband and has five children and three grandchildren. In her free time, she enjoys soccer, cooking, gardening and studying Indian and Latin cultures and arts.