SeaWorld

SeaWorld is a United States chain of marine mammal parks owned by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. The parks feature captive orca, sea lion, and dolphin shows and zoological displays featuring various other marine animals. The parks' icon is Shamu, the Orca.

There are operations in Orlando, Florida; San Diego, California; San Antonio, Texas; and previously Aurora, Ohio. On March 5, 2007, SeaWorld Orlando announced addition of the Aquatica water park to its adventure park family, which already includes SeaWorld and Discovery Cove. On February 28, 2008, Busch Entertainment announced plans to open a fourth SeaWorld park in Dubai, UAE, but these plans have been shelved for now due to the international credit freeze.

SeaWorld parks also feature a variety of thrill rides, including roller coasters like Kraken and Manta at SeaWorld Orlando and Steel Eel and The Great White at SeaWorld San Antonio. Journey to Atlantis, a combination roller coaster and splashdown ride, can be found at all three US parks. The parks were owned by Busch Entertainment Corp., the family entertainment division of Anheuser-Busch, which is best known for brewing beer. In November, 2009, Busch Entertainment was sold to the Blackstone Group and subsequently renamed SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. Some of the Budweiser Clydesdales are also kept at each park as an additional non-marine-oriented attraction.

One of the biggest attractions is the Shark Encounter, in which guests are carried through a submerged acrylic tube into the sharks' tank. Another famous ride is Wild Arctic, simulating a helicopter ride to the Arctic. After the ride, the guests arrive at a simulated base station, where they can observe polar bears, Pacific walruses, and beluga whales. During the Christmas holiday season, Wild Arctic is transformed into the Polar Express Experience which offers the park's guests the opportunity to ride the Polar Express to the North Pole and meet Santa Claus in addition to the polar bears, Pacific walruses, and beluga whales that are at the Wild Arctic exhibit year round. Another attraction is the Penguin Encounter, showcasing a variety of penguins. In addition, an attraction features endangered Florida manatees. The park has an extensive playground for children, named Shamu’s Happy Harbor. It used to have a different playground named Cap'n Kids World.

SeaWorld has made many contributions to wildlife conservation. SeaWorld scientists, zoologists, trainers and rescue teams participate in research and wildlife preservation. SeaWorld teams have helped save stranded whales, dolphins, seals, and sea lions and helped raise the awareness of endangered manatees. SeaWorld's commitment to conservation, research and animal rescue was recently formalized with the creation of the non-profit SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. Sea World is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, meaning they have met and exceeded the standards in Education, Conservation and Research. , one of SeaWorld San Diego's seven Orcas, performs during a routine Shamu Adventure show.]]

Southwest Airlines is the "Official Airline of SeaWorld" and has three Boeing 737 aircraft painted to look like Shamu as an advertisement for SeaWorld.

History

Milton C. Shedd, Ken Norris, David Demott, and George Millay brought SeaWorld to life, yet that was not the initial idea. The four graduates of UCLA originally set out to build an underwater restaurant and marine life show. When the underwater restaurant concept was deemed unfeasible, they scrapped those plans and decided to build a park instead, and SeaWorld San Diego was opened on March 21, 1964. With only a few dolphins, sea lions, 6 attractions and 22 acres, the park proved to be a success and more than 400,000 guests visited there in just the first 12 months.

After considering other locations in the midwest, including the Lake Milton/Newton Falls area west of Youngstown, Ohio, it was decided that Aurora, Ohio would be the new home of a SeaWorld. The Aurora site was approximately 15 miles northwest of the Lake Milton site, and 30 miles southeast of Cleveland. By this time the founders of the company had captured a few more species of animals including an Orca that would call the new facility home. The Ohio site would prove to be difficult to maintain. The harsh winter climate permitted the park to be open only from mid-May until mid-September. However, the vast population of the Midwest and Northeastern states lived within a day's drive of the park, which would eventually add to the success of SeaWorld of Ohio.

The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida opened near the end of the second operating season of SeaWorld of Ohio. The success of Disney in Orlando provided another ideal spot to capitalize on the mass number of tourists that would make their way to central Florida for vacations. Since opening day in 1973, SeaWorld Orlando has thrived in a place known as 'the theme park mecca of the world'.

Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. (HBJ) purchased the company in 1976 and 12 years later they ventured deep into the heart of Texas. In 1988, SeaWorld San Antonio opened just a few miles outside of San Antonio. Growth has pushed the city outwards, and now SeaWorld San Antonio lies in the Westover Hills community in West San Antonio. The park was open year-round like its sister parks in California and Florida in 1988 and 1989, then went to a seasonal schedule. The stress and financial resources it took to build and maintain a state-of-the-art marine mammal facility in the late '80s eventually took its toll on the company. HBJ, whose primary focus was producing school books, needed to reduce its assets in order to avoid a bankruptcy.

The Anheuser-Busch Company made an offer to purchase the SeaWorld parks. However, HBJ also owned and operated two other parks, Cypress Gardens and Boardwalk and Baseball, and out of fear of not being able to find a buyer for the two other parks, HBJ refused to sell the parks individually. Despite a long negotiation, Anheuser-Busch bought all six parks in 1989: SeaWorld in San Diego, Aurora, Orlando and San Antonio as well as Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven and Boardwalk and Baseball in Haines City. Soon after the sale was final, Busch sold Cypress Gardens to the park's management and closed Boardwalk and Baseball. Anheuser-Busch put millions of dollars back into the parks to revive and to prolong their longevity.

Locations

SeaWorld San Diego

Main article: SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego opened on March 21, 1964 with much success. It was the first SeaWorld park to ever open. The park features shows such as Believe, the current Shamu show and Clyde and Seamore's Risky Rescue, a comedic show with sea lions and otters. Rides include Journey to Atlantis, a splashdown ride that also has characteristics of a roller coaster. The Summer Nights program changes some shows and adds others. Two shows featuring Shamu are available during the night--Shamu Rocks, a rock concert choreographed to Shamu, and the fireworks show Shamu's Skysplash.

SeaWorld Orlando

Main article: SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando opened on December 15, 1973, and had crowds topping 5,300 on its opening day. Believe, a Shamu show, is hosted here, along with Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island, an adventure with two sea lions, and Blue Horizons, the park's dolphin show. The park contains three rollercoasters: Kraken, a floorless coaster based on the mythical sea creature, Manta, a coaster designed to simulate how manta rays move, and the Shamu Express, a coaster oriented to kids located in Shamu's Happy Harbor. It is also home to the original Journey to Atlantis watercoaster. SeaWorld After Dark is SeaWorld Orlando's night program, featuring the fireworks show Reflections,a sea lions show Sea Lions Tonite and Shamu show Shamu Rocks.

SeaWorld San Antonio

Main article: SeaWorld San Antonio

SeaWorld San Antonio opened on May 27, 1988. Its formal opening over Memorial Day Weekend 1988 held about 75,000 people. 3.3 million people visited SeaWorld San Antonio during its first year, 10% more than what was originally projected. The park shows Believe, a Shamu show; Viva!, a one-of-a-kind show combining diving, syncronized swimming, dolphins and beluga whales; and The Cannery Row Caper, a sea lion show following the sea lions Clyde and Seamore solving a mystery. Parks rides include The Great White, an inverted roller coaster, Steel Eel, a roller coaster reaching a height of 150 feet, and Journey to Atlantis, a water roller coaster into the mythical land of Atlantis.

SeaWorld Ohio sale, re-birth, and eventual transition

In February 2001, Anheuser-Busch sold the Ohio park to Six Flags, Inc., operators of neighboring Six Flags Ohio (Geauga Lake until the end of 1999, reverting to the Geauga Lake Name in 2004). Upon completion of the sale, the two parks were combined in spring 2001 as the so-called "mega-park" "Six Flags Worlds Of Adventure", which boasted its "Three parks in one" uniqueness: a waterpark, an amusement park, and a wildlife animal park - all included in one price of admission. Sea World executives replied that their park had been sold because of the short season of the animal park, because of Northeastern Ohio's cold winter months, and also because they were not able to get the rights to build roller coasters like the other Sea World properties had been able to.

In March 2004, Six Flags, Inc., announced that it had sold "Six Flags Worlds of Adventure" to the Cedar Fair company, the operators of the Cedar Point theme park in Sandusky, Ohio. Cedar Fair took the park back to its original "Geauga Lake" name, which had a history dating back to 1888. Since the Six Flags company retained ownership of the animals, the majority of the animal portion of the park, including all of the exhibits and animal stadiums, was either emptied or fenced off for the 2004 season.

After a nearly season-long wait, the Cedar Fair company announced its plans for the non-operational side of the former Sea World Ohio/Six Flags Worlds of Adventure-Wildlife Side. That entire portion of the land would become an immense waterpark, named "Wildwater Kingdom", opening in two phases, with the first phase in 2005, followed by the second phase in 2006. This decision marked the end of the marine-life park permanently.

All of the animal stadiums and buildings were next torn down or converted into other venues. Some of the SeaWorld property remained intact, albeit hidden or modified. What remained included the former seal and sea lion area, the Ski Stadium (to be used in a Lumberjack show in 2006), and the Aquarium (to be used for unknown purposes) and two movie theater houses/simulators, once housing 3D/4D movies. The Ski Stadium was removed in off-season 2008 to make way for "Coconut Cove", a refreshment station/ observation area.

All of these except for the "Wildwater Kingdom" closed permanently in 2007.

Stunt show accident

On August 17, 1996, 22 people were injured during a Baywatch-themed water ski stunt show at the now closed SeaWorld of Ohio. Andrew R. Schleis, who was driving a boat in the show, lost control after the boat allegedly experienced mechanical failure. The boat crashed five rows deep into the show's stadium resulting in 17 people being taken to area hospitals and five more treated on the scene.

During the accident investigation, the owner of the boat, World Entertainment Services, Inc., of Winter Park, Florida, was charged with three marine regulation violations unrelated to the accident.

SeaWorld Dubai

Busch and UAE-based developer Nakheel had planned to together build a SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Discovery Cove and Aquatica water park on a man-made island in Dubai. The parks would be built on The Palm Jebel Ali, part of Dubai's ambitious "Palm Islands" complex. The first phase of the project was projected to open in 2012. The Worlds of Discovery resort on the Palm Jebel Ali would include hotels, spas, shops and restaurants. The project was put on hold in February 2009 however due to the global economic downturn, but may be resumed once the economic situation improves.

Animals at SeaWorld

SeaWorld's main attraction is its Orcas, several of which are housed in 7-million-gallon habitats that are each known as Shamu Stadium. Shamu was the name of the first Orca brought to SeaWorld San Diego in the 1960s. 'Shamu' is now used as a stage name for adult Orcas in performances at SeaWorld parks. The Orcas all have real names. Currently, Sea World houses 20 Orcas in its three parks.

  • Seven Orcas live at Seaworld San Diego: Corky, Kasatka, Ulises, Orkid, Sumar, Nakai, and Kalia.
  • Eight live at SeaWorld Orlando: Katina, Kalina, Tilikum, Taima, Kayla, Trua, Nalani, and Malia.
  • SeaWorld San Antonio used to hold six, but now has only five Orcas: Kyuquot, Keet, Unna, Takara, who was moved to San Antonio Early February, 2009, and Tuar; Taku unexpectedly died on October 17, 2007 and Halyn died unexpectedly on June 15, 2008.

Lists of other animals that can be found at each SeaWorld park can be found on each park's individual pages (SeaWorld San Diego, SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Antonio).

Criticism

Organizations such as the World Society for the Protection of Animals and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society campaign against the captivity of dolphins and Orca; SeaWorld, which owns 20 of the world's 42 captive Orca, is cited for its role. Orca are known to have a shorter lifespan in captivity than in the wild, though for bottlenose dolphins this does not appear to be the case. Small pools have caused sensory deprivation, in which dolphins cannot make much use of echolocation whilst living in captivity.

Aggression in captivity is also not uncommon. In August 1989, a dominant female Orca, Kandu V, struck a newcomer Orca, Corky II, with her mouth during a live show. Corky II had been imported from Marineland California just months prior to the incident. According to reports, a loud smack was heard across the stadium. Although trainers tried to keep the show rolling, the blow severed an artery near Kandu V's jaw, and she began spouting blood. The crowd was quickly ushered out, and after a 45-minute hemorrhage, Kandu V died. Various SeaWorld trainers have also sustained serious injuries from working with the animals. The most recent incident happened in November 2006 and involved Orca Kasatka at SeaWorld San Diego, who held 39-year-old trainer Ken Peters below the surface by his foot, though the trainer eventually managed to safely exit the pool.

SeaWorld's attempt to capture several Orca in Puget Sound in the early 1970s using powerboats, airplanes and explosives to drive the animals resulted in the capture permit being revoked. The animals are now obtained through breeding including artificial insemination, loans, and purchases from other marine parks around the world.

Free beer

SeaWorld and Busch Gardens owner Anheuser-Busch InBev announced that the long tradition of offering free beer samples in their hospitality centers and brewmaster clubs came to an end in the parks on February 1, 2009. Some hospitality centers are being converted into restaurants whereas others are being converted into cafe-style menus. However, beer will continue to be sold within the parks. Reports speculate that the change was made to make the parks more attractive to buyers.

References

External links

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Richard Revilla
18 May 2015
A great theme park that let's you be up close with marine life. The shows are great for all ages and the park is truly beautiful. Come off season to have the park all to yourself. Craft Beer on site.
Aleso
6 June 2016
You can see shamu's show, and some other live animal shows as well, has some rides and mechanical games, it has restaurants, food court, souvenir store, a place excellent for children and adults too
Jay Miya
31 December 2016
Overall a great place to take your family. If you go in December like we did, bring an umbrella and jackets. Also, change of clothes/towels for the kids, you get soaked from certain rides/shows.
Barry Froisland
5 April 2019
I love my Gold Pass, I don't pull my wallet out, even to enter. If I don't see everything, there is always time to come back another day. The Local Brewery garden is really great this month.
Yener Ünsal
25 August 2014
If you are in san diego CA. You must visit there. You can not see such a unique place around the world. You would see a lot of fish together from different family.
Hastin Zylstra
20 September 2015
The best deal is the Preferred Seating upgrade. Not well advertised, but it's only $10 - and makes it so you can basically get last minute great seats at any of the shows. A real time saver!
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500 Sea World Dr, San Diego, CA 92109, USA Get directions
Mon-Thu 11:00 AM–6:00 PM
Fri 11:00 AM–10:00 PM
Sat-Sun 11:00 AM–7:30 PM

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