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Robert Niles

Vote of the week: Whom would you like to meet at SeaWorld?

Published: May 22, 2009 at 10:18 AM

Last summer, I spent the day at SeaWorld San Diego and had the chance to get in the tank with the park's Beluga Whales.

As part of this year's Theme Park Insider roadtrip, I'm mulling what other behind-the-scenes things I can bring to you this year. But the cool thing about SeaWorld's animal interaction programs is that they're open to anyone. (Anyone in decent health, doesn't mind hanging around large marine mammals, and can pay the fee, of course.)

You can find which programs are now available by visiting, clicking to your park, then looking for the "Animal Interactions" link.

Which brings me to this week's vote. Assuming the fee were no object, which animal would you most like to get in the water with? Note that Shamu is not an option. SeaWorld might let you shake Shamu's hand fin, but no one but the pros gets in the tank with the killer whales.

Robert Niles with Shamu at SeaWorld San Diego

(The poll options are based on current interaction options, listed at the three SeaWorld parks.)

Let's talk about behind-the-scenes tours and events at theme parks, in the comments. Have a great weekend!

Replies (9)

Amanda Jenkins

Published: May 22, 2009 at 11:29 AM

I did the dolphin thing at WDW and enjoyed it. I would love to be with the sea lions. Sharks and Whales....not so much though my husband would love to be with them.
TH Creative

Published: May 22, 2009 at 3:09 PM

Robert writes: but no one but the pros gets in the tank with the killer whales.

I Respond: I have MAXIMUM respect for Shamu's trainers. I would go so far as to say they have the most EXTRAORDINARY jobs in any theme park.

There's that point in the show where a trainer goes under water and and one of the KWs comes up behind him and they burst through the surface with the trainer perched on the animal's nose. The trainer goes into the air and dives back into the water.

Okay, to complete that manuever the trainer goes underwater and at one point has to look back over his shoulder and see this creature the size of a bus coming right up behind him.

How exactly does Sea World reprogram that trainer's most primal DNA to make certain that when he is flying through the air he is not screaming like an eight-year old girl?

Robert Niles

Published: May 22, 2009 at 6:57 PM

How do you know they aren't? That soundtrack's pretty loud... ;-)

Published: May 23, 2009 at 5:49 AM

At the SeaWorld in Japan, you can interact with the orcas still. Just thought I'd let ya'll know. Not sure if it's owned by the Busch Corp. though.
Gareth H

Published: May 23, 2009 at 9:37 AM

At this moment in time, I want to meet "@realshamu" The guy, or guys, are very very funny!!

Published: May 23, 2009 at 7:08 PM

I have not had the opportunity to meet any of these great creature personalities. So any chance to interact would be great...even the sharks.
Joshua Counsil

Published: May 24, 2009 at 2:27 PM

Sharks, baby. Dolphins are overrated. Sharks are the only creatures listed that were amazing enough to have a John Williams theme written for them.

Published: May 28, 2009 at 9:12 AM

A few years back I did the killer whale trainer for a day program at SeaWorld Orlando. We had a lot of close interaction. We did get in the pool with them, but on the other side of a gate - we fed them fish through the gate. (They told us to make sure we tossed the fish rather than try to hold it for the orca to take; they said this was to ensure we didn't lose a limb.)

BTW, the water for the killer whales is kept at 52-55 degrees. We had full wetsuits, but it sure was cold when water spilled in at the neck.

Published: May 29, 2009 at 12:54 AM

I have to vote for sharks, I am equally terrified, amazed and intrigued by them and will be doing the shark deep dive on my visit in November. I probably do actually prefer all the other animals, but I do have a strange fascination with sharks.

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