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SeaWorld gets the US theme park rights to DreamWorks' Madagascar

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Published: February 12, 2013 at 8:47 AM

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment today announced that it has obtained the U.S. theme park rights to DreamWorks Animation's popular Madagascar characters and will debut a musical show featuring the characters at its Tampa and San Diego theme parks.

Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation
Promotional art, courtesy SeaWorld

"Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation" will debut this summer at Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld San Diego. From SeaWorld's press release:

The 20-minute musical show follows the antics of Alex the Lion, Gloria the Hippo, King Julien, Mort and the Penguins during a vacation adventure. The show will feature rock/pop music performed by a live band and include both classic and original songs. The characters also will conduct meet and greets with park guests. Additionally, special co-branded merchandise exclusive to the parks, will be available.

The show will open in Florida on May 18 and in California on June 15. SeaWorld has the rights to bring the show to its other parks, as well.

"At this point, our relationship is only to bring the Madagascar characters to our parks," a SeaWorld representative told me via email in response to my question about whether the chain had obtained the rights to other DreamWorks properties.

Up until now, Universal has had the rights to use DreamWorks Animation characters in its theme parks, and it continues to feature Shrek in both of its US parks. Universal devoted an entire land to Madagascar in its Singapore theme park, where Universal retains the license for the characters.

Madagascar live shows also play in theme parks in the UK and Australia, so it's a familiar property to theme parks fans outside the US.

Readers' Opinions

From James Trexen on February 12, 2013 at 9:08 AM
I find it a bit surprising that they used the logo from the ill-fated Madagascar Live show that was on tour
From robert morris on February 12, 2013 at 9:27 AM
Interesting that Universal Singapore has the rights to Madgascar and Sesame Street, while in US Sea World/Busch have the rights.

Problem solved if Universal buys Sea World, maybe they didn't bid on it knowing they might on it soon enough.

From Russell Meyer on February 12, 2013 at 11:25 AM
This is a perfect property for the Busch/Sea World Parks. They all really lack modern iconic characters (aside from Sesame Street), and the characters from Madagascar really tie in well to the parks' use of animal exhibits.

Some may argue that the Happy Feet characters would be better for Sea World, but the Madascar penguins did have their own spin off and should work well with the opening of the new Florida Antarctica exhibit, if Sea World chooses to make that connection.

This tie in may seem relatively minor, but one that matches well with the image of Sea World/Busch Gardens.

From Dominick D on February 12, 2013 at 12:20 PM
This will do great things for those parks, and I'm honestly glad Universal didn't get the rights for Madagascar.
From on February 12, 2013 at 5:28 PM
This is definately a good fit. Also I think with it not being at Universal USA, Busch Gardens will really push these characters a lot more than universal would have. This allows more focus to be placed on these characters
From on February 12, 2013 at 6:38 PM
I'm not sure these Parks really need cartoon characters. I think one of the appeals of these parks is that it doesn't feel like Disneyland. Bringing character and movie franchises to the Parks seems to destroy a bit of their uniqueness. They should focus more on the animals and rides imo. I remember as a kid my parents took me to sea world and the zoo all the time. Back then there were 0 rides. I never needed cartoons to make the experience interesting for me. Kids are flooded daily with media and big business movies/cartoons. Recently at SD zoo they had an ice age 4D attraction. Is that necessary? I mean you can stay home and watch ice age all day if you want, why do that in a zoo with real life exotic animals all around you? Isn't it refreshing to go to a park where that doesn't exist, and its more about wildlife education/conservation?
From Phil B. on February 12, 2013 at 8:21 PM
Bravo for SeaWorld....characters like these are certainly something that has been sorely lacking in their parks. Good move!
From Aaron McMahon on February 13, 2013 at 12:10 AM
My hunch is that highly themed Madagascar area could go where Gwazi is after hearing all the bad rumors about that ride's future.

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