Written by Joe Lane
Published: July 28, 2005 at 3:23 PM
With the raging success of Busch Gardens Tampa's KaTonga, it's no surprise that Anheuser-Busch's SeaWorld Orlando is attempting to duplicate the sensation with their latest show Blue Horizons.
Merging Broadway-style elements with a live animal cast is a trick that has been done by other entertainment venues, but Blue Horizons is a unique example. Using Cirque-like acrobatics that have become insanely popular over the past couple years and well-trained dolphins and false whales, SWO has unleashed a show designed to compete with the growing entertainment venues at rival theme parks.
The old Key West design of the Whale and Dolphin Theater has been completely overhauled, replaced by a fanciful set: a blue-painted structure that grows up from the center back of the tank and overhead, angling down towards the sides. Fake waves and large bubbles decorate the facade.
The fairytale story is nothing too remarkable, communicated better in the extensive narration at the beginning of the show than in the show itself: a young girl aspires to swim and fly with the spirits of the sea and the sky. It almost feels like the Blue Horizons plot draws heavily from the Mistify story.
Accompanied by a musical score, trainers perform alongside their aquatic counterparts. The highlights of the show are often the dolphin tricks including the usual fair of midair summersaults. Some of the underwater spirals are fairly impressive as well, requiring concentration on both the part of trainer and animal.
Examples of some of the better tricks during the performance:
underwater dolphin spirals, flying birds, surfing false killer whales, oh my!
But often, Blue Horizons is best described as... awkward. It's not that the cast and crew haven't practiced well, they have and they do a great job setting up for each portion of the show, but there are quiet periods in the show where the action seems to suddenly cease and the show almost becomes boring.
The traditional dolphin show formula allowed the trainers to fill in dead space with oration, explaining about dolphins and their habits. Here, no one speaks in the show, so at some portions, it feels clumsy.
When the acrobats are doing their performance onstage, however, the action is constant: whether it's the high divers or the trapeze artists.
Blue Horizons is not a bad show, it just suffers from pacing issues. Expect to be entertained, but don't expect to be thinking about it afterwards.