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SeaWorld Post InBev first trip back

Sea World Orlando: Some interesting changes in the wake of BEC's sale to Blackstone

From tilikum shamu
Posted December 24, 2009 at 10:10 AM
We got back to SWO for the first time in a couple of months, since the sale to Blackstone.
It's interesting, because everything I've been reading is saying that AB will continue to "sponsor" the SWO, SWT and BGE and BGA parks (not sure if Aquatica is included in that list.)
Other than selling $6 beers, I don't even see much of an association between the two;

• All AB logos have been removed. The topiaries outside the park at the entrance have been filled in, and the one that used to sit across from the Hospitality House has been filled in with pink flowers in the shape of a whale tale (I have a photo if I can figure out how to upload).

• The lovely AB benches that had been moved from the Hospitality House over to the Clydedale Hamlet are all gone.

• The Clydesdale Hamlet (as of Dec. 17th) has been stripped of all logos, tack. the Budweiser wagon AND Clydesdales. The area is now referred to (although they haven't changed the map yet) as "The Hamlet."

What they have done, interestingly, in a somewhat lame stopgap measure, is introduce new horses, the black and white Percherons. You can go have your photo taken with one, just like you could the Clydesdales. I am sure that many more people walk around the park saying to themselves "I've always wanted a picture with a Percheron" rather than "I've always wanted a picture with the Budweiser Clydesdales."

When I asked the manager of the area what the association with SeaWorld (clearly a marine park) and Percherons was, his answer was ridiculous (even by SeaWorld hide-the-truth, obfuscation speak): They're black-and-white, just like Shamu. And he WAS a supervisor... and he WAS serious.

• The de-education mission seems to continue... when you go to an aquarium and visit a grand display, it would be nice to know what some of the inhabitants are... that's true at just about every aquatic display in the park not involving bottlenosed dolphin or manatees.

I've been going to SWO since it opened (and BG even longer.) My girlfriend and I have been platinum passport holders since the program started.

The best years of that park seemed to be when AB purchased them and continually reinvested in them, and even the smallest details had to be vetted by August Busch III.

If this recent visit is any indication of the Blackstone/SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment era, we're likely not going to renew when our passes expire next year.

The parks just don't seem to be the same in this new context, and its not just about the free beer (or lack there of).

Pretty much everything I predicted that most shot down as rumor or unsubstantiated innuendo at SW and BEC has happened. Now, it just kind of seems like a hollow shell of itself.

Very sad.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From tilikum shamu
Posted December 24, 2009 at 6:53 PM
Percherons?... Percherons?... Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

From steve lee
Posted December 24, 2009 at 8:21 PM
They should really just close the park down and burn all the animals. There's no point in keeping this horrific park open any longer.

From James Rao
Posted December 24, 2009 at 9:49 PM
I concur, Steve. At least my family can always visit Disney & Universal as a fallback when we travel to Orlando - especially now that SeaWorld has become the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the Prophet.

Seriously, I am sure if you look close enough at ANY park you will find flaws. Heck, go read some of Kevin Yee's articles on MiceAge about DisneyWorld and you would think the place is a complete disaster (btw, I do like Kevin Yee - I just think he might be a bit too picky sometimes). There will be changes to SeaWorld, of course, but lets give the new park owners more than a couple of off season months and a better economy to really show what they can do.

From Jason Jackson
Posted December 24, 2009 at 11:19 PM
The sale closed on December 1st so Blackstone has owned them for 25 days...I think what you are seeing is what is left over from In-Bev. Give the parks time to recover from the In-Bev control and budgets. My home park is Busch Gardens Williamsburg and they have put on a spectacular Christmas celebration that my friends who have visited the Disney resorts at Christmas say is even better. Let the parks get back to par before bashing them.

From Gareth H
Posted December 24, 2009 at 11:21 PM
All Seaworld is doing is losing the association of InBev and taking ownership, its what every self respecting company will do. There's a saying, "Out with the old, in with the new"/

Once the old is out, the new will arrive, once an identity has been firmly planted in the parks. And this identity is Seaworld.

They will take the aspects of Seaworld that people live, like Shamu and horses, but remove the Budweiser/Inbev influence, like Clydesdales.

What they end up with is Black and White horses.

25 days isn't long enough to give a company before negative comments can be justifed.

From steve lee
Posted December 25, 2009 at 8:24 PM
Especially when it's 25 days in the midst of one of the busiest times of the year. Are the horses a poor replacement for the Clydesdales? I dunno, would you have just preferred that entire area be roped off? I'm going to let you in on a secret - I never gave a crap about the stupid clydesdales in the first place. I never went to Sea World because I was aching to see a beer mascot.

From Brian Emery
Posted December 26, 2009 at 9:34 PM
Did you Ride Manta?

From James Koehl
Posted December 27, 2009 at 9:39 AM
Mr. Lee, did you actually say "burn the animals."?You're entitled to your opinion about the condition of the parks, but that comment was completely out-of-line.

From Nick Markham
Posted December 27, 2009 at 3:17 PM
^ It was sarcasm.

From James Koehl
Posted December 27, 2009 at 5:24 PM
Calling something sarcasm does not make it appropriate. Saying that you don't like how the park is run is one thing, saying that it should be closed is a bit extreme but is still a legitimate opinion, but saying that the animals should be burned is in no way acceptable, sarcastic or not.

From James Rao
Posted December 27, 2009 at 6:05 PM
I love animals, zoos, and aquariums, but I thought Steve's comment was very funny. Am I a bad person for laughing, Judge James?

From steve lee
Posted December 27, 2009 at 7:37 PM
I apologize profusely if my "burn the animals" comment was misinterpreted. In retrospect, it does seem like a wildly inappropriate idea. Besides, all the animals are in water so it would be a real pain to get them to properly ignite.

A far more sensible suggestion would be to just kill them and open up some new eateries. Most of the food options at Sea World are pretty weak compared to the rest of the Orlando parks, so this could be a great way to improve upon that. I hear the penguins are kinda gummy, but them puffins are good eats! And imagine what they could charge for some delicious manatee burgers!!! It's like the plot of the old Brando/Broderick movie "The Freshman" all over again.

Oh, did that go too far?

From James Rao
Posted December 27, 2009 at 7:52 PM
Great, now PETA is going to get involved. Nice work, Steve, and to think I defended you. Arrrgh!

From steve lee
Posted December 27, 2009 at 9:09 PM
As much as I hate hate hate hate HATE Peta, I was thrilled when they started poking around at Santa's Land theme park in Cherokee, NC. I felt guilty just being there.

(and $20 to get in is way too much for the Rudicoaster credit)

From James Koehl
Posted December 28, 2009 at 3:36 AM
I was seven years old when I saw my cousin's neighbor get rid of some unwanted kittens by throwing them into a burn barrel. I'm now 53, and I can still hear the screaming. Perhaps that's why I responded as I did. James, I'm glad you thought it was funny. Try to understand why I don't.

From James Rao
Posted December 28, 2009 at 8:44 AM
Look, I understand. Sick humor is not for everyone, but in this case, I think it is very clear that Steve is joking to make a point about the original post and has no intention of doing the awful things about which he has written.

Personal sentiments aside, the point is SeaWorld is a great park, and the original poster is jumping the gun (no pun intended) in his/her criticism of the new owners.

I am done tossing jabs. Have a Happy New Year's everyone...

From David Graham
Posted December 28, 2009 at 11:42 AM
J.K, I completely understand where you are coming from, and how Stven's comment could offend, but as already pointed out, I myself took it as complete sarcasm. I will ask though for the kittens, did anyone try to save them? Tell anyone or just watch it happen?

Steven, I was dying laughing at the penguin, puffers and manatee burgers, but remember in the Freshman, it was a mixture I think of chicken and fish they served.

And remember P.E.T.A stands for People Enjoying Tasty Animals :o)

From Sam Wortman
Posted December 28, 2009 at 3:25 PM
The horses are only there until Jan 3rd. The park didn't want to have an empty area while the busy holiday season is happening. They are on loan from a farm in Ocala.
All of the AB CLydesdale employees have been let go.

From James Koehl
Posted December 28, 2009 at 7:34 PM
David, thanks for your concern about the kittens. The incident happened in the early 60's, and I don't know if the laws then would have done anything. I don't think my uncle did anything about it- he was stuck living next to this jerk, and had as little to do with him as possible. It was a different time, and I don't think many people took animal rights into account.
And for what it's worth, I am not an animal rights activist. I also dislike PETA. This discussion went in a direction that hit a very raw nerve, so I think I will leave this discussion now.

From Bruce Lane
Posted December 28, 2009 at 10:02 PM
From an earlier post...

"Personal sentiments aside, the point is SeaWorld is a great park, and the original poster is jumping the gun (no pun intended) in his/her criticism of the new owners."

I'm not so sure of that.

SeaWorld is certainly 'great' at marketing, and at taking good physical care of the animals. However, they've always twisted the education side to their own ends, and thus fallen short in terms of honesty and quality.

Use of the term 'De-education' in this context is not far off the mark. I'm actually pleased someone else has seen it for themselves, and felt strongly enough to mention it.

I will reserve final judgment until I've seen the results of Blackstone being in charge for a year or two.

Happy travels.

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