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New water park leads improvements at SeaWorld Orlando

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Published: June 1, 2006 at 12:42 PM

[Editor's note: Since the name of the site is Theme Park Insider, we welcome park employees to converse with our online community. Here is a post from a SeaWorld employee (confirmed, by the way), which I've rerouted here from the discussion board. Welcome, Sandra.]

I work at Seaworld in Orlando, Florida as a Scenic artist and would like to share some new and exciting news. In 2008, we will have a brand new water park located across the street from the main park. Also, the Shamu show was just revamped and with a brand new look and new name, it is now called, Believe. Also, Happy Harbor just re-opened and it now has a roller coaster (mostly for kids) and two other really cute rides.

If you haven't visited our park in awhile you will be pleasantly surprised to see what we have done. Seaworld is constantly improving the park for our guests and we are the only park in Orlando where our guests can just walk in and see a show without standing in long lines. Our park is a hands-on animal park and Seaworld strives to be the very best.

My areas to maintain are Journey To Atlantis and Kraken and I love re-painting the murals and graphics at these two areas. I hope you all get a chance to visit our park soon!

Readers' Opinions

From Rob P on June 2, 2006 at 2:12 AM
Just got back from visiting Seaworld Orlando and the new Believe show is excellent.

Having seen Shamu a number of times over the past years it was refreshing to get a new show and let's not forget the revamped dolphin show too.

We hadn't been since 2002 and the Waterfront area was also a welcome addition.

Full marks to Seaworld.

From Mark Hollamon on June 2, 2006 at 5:07 AM
As a local resident, we often go to Sea World just to stroll through the park. It is perfectly landscaped and honestly one of, if not the most well kept theme park in Orlando.

The real area of improvement from my point of view is the need for a new thrill ride or two to make the park a full day attraction. Right now it's a half day at best.

Another area of opportunity for Sea World is to improve the quality of their food service. Sharks Underwater Grill is pretty good fair (it's only pretty good and very pricey) and Smokey Creek is decent, but the rest are pretty bad and I have purchased food from every eatery they have more than once to give them a fair shot. Once again, just my opinion, but I think Sea World has the worst theme park food in Orlando.

I am looking forward to the opening of the new water park. It is getting tagged (at least scuttlebutt from the local prospective) as an upscale water park. I like that idea if that is really the case and would spend the extra money on a season pass. We are already Platinum Passholders and wonder if they are going to offer the premium pass like Disney does for the total package. That would be something of interest to me.

From Robert Niles on June 2, 2006 at 8:23 AM
Mark,

I found your comment interesting because, in my experience, I've found Busch parks to have above-average food. SeaWorld San Diego is quite strong in this area, and I have good memories of the food at Busch Gardens in Tampa and Williamsburg. (In fact, Williamsburg's Trappers Smokehouse places near the top of the TPI rankings.)

That said, I can't even remember what I had last time I was at SWO. Which, I suppose, isn't much of an endorsement.

From Gareth H on June 2, 2006 at 8:26 AM
A lot of locals think that the new Water Park at SeaWorld will kill business at Wet'n'Wild.

Personally I can't see this happening as Wet'N'Wild's location is perfect and the SeaWorld location just doesn't have the walk past attraction that Wet'n'wild has (We've all seen the customers in T-Shirt and shorts who have blatently not intended on going)

It will be interesting to see the new SeaWorld water park though as I've heard a its a cross between Discovery Code & Wet'n'wild

From Chris P. on June 2, 2006 at 4:56 PM
The food at Busch parks is very good. I loved my meatball sub at Busch Gardens Tampa! It was great! I don't get why anyone would say the food is bad.
From Bruce Lane on June 2, 2006 at 10:22 PM
Welcome! I'm pleased to see any Sea World employee participate here, and I wish you good fortune in doing so.

One sentence in particular, as quoted from your post, leaped out at me in two ways.

"...Our park is a hands-on animal park and Seaworld strives to be the very best."

First point: Pardon what may seem an obvious question, but... the best what?

Let me expand on that a bit. I've visited all four of the Sea World parks, including Ohio from well before it was sold to Six Flags, and Discovery Cove as well. I was also a regular visitor and annual passholder at the San Diego park for over three years. While I've spent many pleasant hours between all of the parks, I have also been deeply disturbed by many things I've seen and heard, few of which I believe would be apparent to the eyes and ears of a typical tourist.

Based on the posts I've read from a couple of Theme Park Insider members, both 'Believe' and 'Blue Horizons' are 100% "entertainment," with no educational content whatsoever. Worse, it is my understanding that the entire training staff in 'Blue Horizons' is dressed in some very silly-sounding costumes (parrot outfits?) for the duration of each show.

If the above, and what I've read, is true, then it is my opinion that both shows would be far more at home in Las Vegas than in a marine park.

Second point: There is some truth, at least, to the statement of Sea World being a "hands-on animal park." I have very fond memories of getting to meet and pet one of your raptors -- an eagle named 'Sequoia,' if I recall correctly -- in 2002. Also, as mentioned, my time as a regular at the San Diego park, during the late 1980's, was (for the most part) pleasantly memorable in terms of having a variety of species in the dolphin petting pool.

HOWEVER -- With that said, I can add, with absolute confidence, that I've been to parks which are "hands-on" enough to make Sea World look downright paranoid by comparison.

I know that the number of comments on the blog side of things is limited, and that they will be locked out after a time, so I would like to invite you back over to the 'Discussion' area to respond to these questions.

(1) Is it true that 'Blue Horizons' has no dialogue during a normal show?

(2) If Sea World is truly "hands-on," as you claim, why do your attendant staff at the dolphin petting pool ask visitors who are doing well in terms of interacting with the dolphins, WITHOUT the use of fish, to back off?

(I'm aware that you may have to ask around to get an answer on that one, considering that you're not in Training or Animal Care).

There are other questions I can think of, but those are the two key ones that come immediately to mind given your post's content.

I look forward to reading your responses, and to seeing further posts from you. Should we engage in future discussion, I promise to do my level best to keep a civil and diplomatic tongue in my head. ;-)

From Erik Yates on June 3, 2006 at 5:17 AM
I believe that I can answer your questions, though I am not an employee at Sea World or any other park.
1. No there is no dialogue during a normal showing of Blue Horizons. There is a brief bit of narration, but it is mostly dance and acrobatics.
2. The reason they tell you to back off at the dolphin tank if you do not have any fish is that the dolphins tend to become agressive when they are feeding, and while it has not happened that I know of, there is a chance that a dolphin can snap your fingers. They do have teeth, and are not as nice as Flipper is made out to be. Also, there are certain set times that they feed the dolphins, they want everyone to abide by those times and want folks who have fish to feed them as quick as possible.
Again, I dont work at the park, but thats what I've been told by people who do.
As far as the food at SWO, Sharks underwater Grill has some of the best food in the park. The Hopsitality House is unbelievable in the food you get is really good for the price. For about $7.00 you get this huge bread bowl of beef stew. We go as a family of four and usually eat only one meal in the park, that is usually it, and it feeds all four of us. Not to mention the wood fired pizza, and the smokehouse. I dont really care too much for Mango Joes as it is normal theme park fare.
As for new rides, I think if anything the park needs more kids rides. It started off with Shamu Express, and the spinny ride, and the samba tower, but it really needs more for the little ones. There are other rumors that three more flat rides are coming for other areas of the park, but I think this will help out a bit. I'd like to see another original ride like Atlantis, but considering the lack of upkeep and the changes they've made, I think three big rides is all you're going to get. As for Wet N Wild, tale is that the lease will expire on that in a few years which leaves room for new deals on the monthly rent. Some speculate that it could go as high as $1,000,000 a month, just for the rent. Universal, who now owns Wet N Wild, has been overheard saying that when this happens they will move it on property and make it their elusive third park. If you think about it, thats why all the rides look somewhat temporary, easily moved. And why they havent really ventured into the bigger badder water rides that some of the other water parks have.
From Gareth H on June 3, 2006 at 8:08 AM
Ah, Eric, that could explain the big plot of land next to IOA, it would be perfect for a wet'n'wild type park, made park of the Universal Resort, it could incorporate the current transportation system and location isn't too far from its current location.

As far as the rent goes, landlords are so damn greedy in Orlando, rent on I-Drive is getting so pathetically high and is forcing smaller busniess's out business completely. I dount it will be long before I-Drive is full of time share condo's , upper class Hotels and malls. Its getting that way already.. But $1 million a month, thats $12 a year, I hope Universal Orlando owns the property its built on otherwise thats gonna be some crazy rent there!

From Mark Hollamon on June 4, 2006 at 5:16 AM
Let me elaborate on my comment about Sea World food. I don't think the quality is indicative of all AB parks. I visit Busch Gardens Tampa several times a year and the food there is night and day better than SWO. The Zambia Smokehouse, for example, is excellent!

Maybe I am measuring SWO against all the outstanding eateries at Disney and IOA's Mythos. Compared to what they have to offer (and yes, I know there is a price difference) SWO just isn't in the same league and that includes counter food.

This is a reason SWO is a half day park for me. We always go someplace else to eat at dinner time.

From Erik Yates on June 4, 2006 at 8:24 AM
We do too, either the KFC or the Publix that is right outside of the park gates. Why? Cheaper. SWO has a lot of great food, and great rides. Does it need more? Absolutely. Is it as good as disney? Absolutely. Though they dont have as much to offer as disney. Some of the selections at disney's parks I question also. Sure its nice to have curry chicken, but do you really want to scarf that down and go on the rest of the day? It didnt sit well with me.
From Bruce Lane on June 4, 2006 at 9:43 PM
Erik,

In reference to my question #2, above: If everything Sea World has told you is true (and I have some serious doubts about that), then it brings one glaring question to the front of my mind:

Why bother to run an interactive exhibit at all, if the animals in it are so incredibly dangerous?

As for the 'Flipper' illusion, yes... I'm well aware of what it can do to people's perceptions. I lost mine years ago, thanks, though Sea World seems determined to perpetuate their own version of it.

I've already sent my detailed views to you via private message, and I don't want to drag this thread too far off-topic. Suffice to say, for the sake of public forum, that I appreciate your passing on what you've been told.

HOWEVER - I also think whoever told you what they did was merely parroting what they've been told to say by an upper management that will say ANYthing, no matter how questionable the accuracy or context, if they think it will serve Sea World's business model.

I would be happy to continue this in public or private forum, if you wish.

Keep the peace(es).

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