2010 Best Theme Park Attraction nominee: SeaWorld Orlando's Believe
Published: December 23, 2009 at 1:39 PM
Believe debuted in 2006, the latest version of SeaWorld's killer whale show. The show blends video footage and audio narration with the in-pool performance by SeaWorld's killer whales and their trainers... and, yes, everyone sitting down close usually gets soaked. (The show also runs at the SeaWorld theme parks in San Diego and San Antonio.) Here are some highlights, courtesy SeaWorld:
I got to spend some time with the killer whale trainers in San Diego a year ago, and watched some of the backstage preparation with the whales (none of which actually are named "Shamu," by the way.) Personally, I've always gotten a kick out of TH Creative's description of what I also consider the most impressive moment in the show:
There's that point in the show where a trainer goes under water and and one of the [killer whales] 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 [first] 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?
The big knock on the current version of the show, which might explain its position in the bottom half of the draw, is that it doesn't offer the same percentage of whale tricks as previous shows. The narrative overlay about pursuing one's dreams, some readers claim, distracts from the spectacle of watching killer whales spin and flip like a cocker spaniel, drenching the audience in turn.
Recent SeaWorld shows seem to have followed a similar path, scaling back animal tricks in favor of trainers delivering messages about the importance of conservation and animal care. Some see that as a knock, others as a step forward. Either way, we'll find out if "Shamu" can swamp his competition when voting begins in the tournament, in March.
Please share your thoughts about Believe, in the comments.