Written by Joe Lane
Published: July 27, 2004 at 7:39 AM
When I first saw the logo art for Mistify, I felt a genuine intrigue for the new nighttime show at SeaWorld Orlando. I expected something along the lines of SWO's Cirque-like show Odyssea, but Mistify is actually far more simpler in execution and after viewing the show for myself this past Friday, I find it rather appropriate for the young and young-at-heart, but somehow incomplete in some fashion.
Mistify generally begins at 10 pm, closing time for SWOs summer hours, and takes place on the giant lake near the center of the park. The new Mediterranean-themed Waterfront section of the park has been designated as official viewing for the event. The ideal viewing areas are pointed out on the guide map along the shore of the Waterfront, divided by the Sky Tower and the Oyster's Secret gift shop. Two separate water screens are set up, but the fireworks appear from the same location.
These areas start filling up around 8:30 pm. The best seating can be found in the new Waterfront restaurant the Spice Mill, just across from the Sea Lion & Otter Stadium. Tables on the deck outside give an downright perfect view to go with dinner, but they're high competition--some folks arrive as early as 5:00! If you arrive early enough, however, you can still find good spots further down the Waterfront, across from the Under The Sun gift shop.
Have you been to SWO before? The massive lake in the park is NOT designed to feature such a nighttime event. I found myself scratching my head before show time as to how the park planned on pulling it off. They manage well enough, but don't be surprised if you find yourself watching the screens from one direction and then watching the fireworks finale from another.
Promptly at 10:00, I heard the music swell and prepared for the show to start, but the Mistify theme song is merely an interlude, and things don't really begin until the song ends and begins to fade and the lights around the Waterfront area dim along with the music for better viewing (nice touch, but I had to wonder through those first couple minutes if the show was missing something). Through narration, we are introduced to a story about a young child who has a dream of swimming under the sea, searching for Shamu. Giant screens of water show projected images of the child's journey through their POV. Lights, fountains and fireworks all combine to help tell the tale.
In my eyes, the show appears divided into two parts--the story and the fireworks finale. The narration is well done. Perhaps TOO well done. The sugar-coated conversation between child and parent was almost too sweet for even myself to swallow. The adventure underwater features encounters with dolphins and some goofy-looking fish. There's also a thunderstorm scene when our lead character breaks the surface of the ocean (compete with blinding flash-bang fireworks timed to the sound of thunder).
Then there's the shark scene. I just can't get over the shark scene.
Computer generated sharks are projected onto the screen--swimming in circles and taking snaps at our lead character--and we see it from the child's point of view. Near the end, watching the video on the water screen and hearing the audio over the speakers, it appeared that our main character was being attacked. Granted, it was done in the name of drama, because Shamu does show up and save the day with a flash of fireworks and music, but I have to wonder if young children watching will be able to comprehend the last minute rescue from sharks.
Yes, sharks are dangerous. Yes, I know, I don't like sharks myself. I don't go to the beach and JAWS scarred me for life, but it's not like sharks are inherently evil creatures, they're simply predators living by instinct... course, you'd never think that, would you?
But I'm not here to make a pro-shark argument, I'm just concerned for the young folks in the audience ("Won't somebody PLEASE think of the children?!").
The story wraps up with more sugary narration as the child wakes up, which is followed by a commendable and enjoyable fireworks finale. While some pyrotechnic effects were used to some extent during the video, the real meat comes from the finale, which explodes over the water near the Atlantis Bayside Stadium. They're not all massive in size, but they make up for it in sheer number.
When it's all said and done, the show leaves a variant impression among the audience. I asked some guests their thoughts on the show afterwards and comments ranged from "lacking" to "brilliant". These were large families, small families and groups of friends. In terms of demographics, it's really a hit-or-miss scenario. All agreed the fireworks were fantastic. At least one person mentioned the shark scene (I know I'm not crazy).
I can't pick a suitable TPI rating for this show. My choice falls somewhere in between an 8-Commendable and a 4-Mediocre. In all legitimacy, it's an honest effort from SeaWorld and I give them the nod for their hard work, but there are some stumbles here and there that should be and might very well WILL be addressed in the coming year. It is a rather large experiment for the park, which hasn't had a nighttime spectacular such as this for quite some time.
Mistify is running now and will continue until Labor Day. And if guest response is any indication, we'll likely see it return next summer.
Speaking of the Busch parks, I also stopped by Busch Gardens Tampa to take advantage of the current Summer Nights event which started in late June and ends August 1st. The park is open until 10:30 pm and features special nightly entertainment, food and most importantly, roller coasters at night. Montu and Kumba are an absolute blast to ride in the dark, the lines are short, and there's no scorching sun or Florida heat to contend with.
I took a walk through Stanleyville to see if I could gather any information on the new dive coaster set for 2005, but no such luck. Construction has greatly altered the pathways in that section of the park. Giant walls obscure guests view of the ongoing process. These walls are decorated with colorful tribal masks. Once in a while, the masks have a word balloon next to them, with riddles such as the following:
"What is red and blue and makes you green all over?"
"I am a bird with no feathers, a beast with no equal, a fall that never hits the ground, who am I?"
"What's taller than ten giraffes and faster than a charging Rhino?"
"What has 48 feet but seldom (or never?) walks?"
Don't quote me word for word on those, folks, I left my reporter's notepad at home. I'm pretty certain that these riddles are obviously referring to the new coaster--and in a clever manner, at that.. No word on what the name or theme will be yet, but I'll be sure to keep you all posted. Until next time, keep on ridin'!
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