Park of the Week: SeaWorld San Diego

Blue Horizons @ SeaWorld Orlando

Cirque-like acrobatics combined with well-trained dolphins, SWO has unleashed a show designed to compete with the growing entertainment venues at rival theme parks.

Written by Joe Lane
Published: July 28, 2005 at 3:23 PM

Blue Horizons @ SeaWorld Orlando
Thursday, July 28, 2005

With the raging success of Busch Gardens Tampa's KaTonga, it's no surprise that Anheuser-Busch's SeaWorld Orlando is attempting to duplicate the sensation with their latest show Blue Horizons.

Merging Broadway-style elements with a live animal cast is a trick that has been done by other entertainment venues, but Blue Horizons is a unique example. Using Cirque-like acrobatics that have become insanely popular over the past couple years and well-trained dolphins and false whales, SWO has unleashed a show designed to compete with the growing entertainment venues at rival theme parks.

Blue Horizons
Blue Horizons stage at the Whale and Dolphin Theater

The old Key West design of the Whale and Dolphin Theater has been completely overhauled, replaced by a fanciful set: a blue-painted structure that grows up from the center back of the tank and overhead, angling down towards the sides. Fake waves and large bubbles decorate the facade.

The fairytale story is nothing too remarkable, communicated better in the extensive narration at the beginning of the show than in the show itself: a young girl aspires to swim and fly with the spirits of the sea and the sky. It almost feels like the Blue Horizons plot draws heavily from the Mistify story.

Accompanied by a musical score, trainers perform alongside their aquatic counterparts. The highlights of the show are often the dolphin tricks including the usual fair of midair summersaults. Some of the underwater spirals are fairly impressive as well, requiring concentration on both the part of trainer and animal.

Underwater Spiral

Blue Horizons Blue Horizons
Examples of some of the better tricks during the performance:
underwater dolphin spirals, flying birds, surfing false killer whales, oh my!

But often, Blue Horizons is best described as... awkward. It's not that the cast and crew haven't practiced well, they have and they do a great job setting up for each portion of the show, but there are quiet periods in the show where the action seems to suddenly cease and the show almost becomes boring.

The traditional dolphin show formula allowed the trainers to fill in dead space with oration, explaining about dolphins and their habits. Here, no one speaks in the show, so at some portions, it feels clumsy.

When the acrobats are doing their performance onstage, however, the action is constant: whether it's the high divers or the trapeze artists.

Blue Horizons is not a bad show, it just suffers from pacing issues. Expect to be entertained, but don't expect to be thinking about it afterwards.

Blue Horizons
This bird is totally NOT part of the show

Readers' Opinions

From Cameron Rust on July 29, 2005 at 9:04 PM
Was this show created by Neil Goldberg (BGW's Imaginique) or another company?
From Joe Lane on July 30, 2005 at 4:43 PM
There was no mention of Goldberg in the official Press Release, but the piece does mention Stanley Meyer as set designer and show consultant, better known for working on "Beauty and the Beast."
From Kevin Baxter on July 30, 2005 at 5:56 PM
Well, that would explain the boring parts!

What is it with the cranes that visit all these shows? Clearly they are always there because one visited last time I was at the Shamu show and when one of the trainers was giving signals to Shamu, he swam away from her to spit water on the crane. The highlight of the show!

From Joe Lane on July 30, 2005 at 7:31 PM
The same could be said for ducks and other native waterfowl that make their homes at Busch Gardens or DAK. At least BGT has a sense of humor about the ducks on Rhino Rally, but I think DAK Safari drivers give the accurate name of the waterfowl, regardless of whether they're indigenous to Africa or not.
From Cameron Rust on July 30, 2005 at 8:56 PM
That's kind of edgy for a Disney on Broadway show designer to team up with Busch...
From Kevin Baxter on July 31, 2005 at 12:14 AM
I'm thinking he meant the Disney/MGM stage show. I think a Broadway vet would be too expensive for this.
From Joe Lane on July 31, 2005 at 12:37 PM
No no no: Stanley Meyer is credited for Scenic Design on the Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast, not the theme park show.

They also hired Tracy Christensen, who was associate costume designer for Beauty and the Beast to design the Blue Horizons outfits.

Those are the only directly dropped names related to the production, however.

Speaking of rival companies hiring individuals from each other, what's blowing my mind is that Disney is doing it's best to promote Valiant through the success of Shrek by using John H. Williams, who, incidently, is only one of eleven other producers and really the only Shrek connection.

From Kevin Baxter on August 1, 2005 at 1:16 AM
Well from what Ben says, the movie needs all the help it can get. If mentioning the ogre can create big box office for two mediocre DreamWorks films, then why not try it here?

Weird about getting an actual Broadway person for this. But Disney got Broadway peeps for Aladdin, so I guess it shouldn't be that weird. I just wouldn't think it would be necessary for a dolphin show.

Anyhow, it's not like Busch stole a Disney employee. If you work on Broadway, you work for directors, not for the company fronting the cash. Julie Taymor, who directed Broadway's Lion King, and Elton John, who wrote the music for Aida certainly aren't "Disney employees" and neither is this guy.

From Ashleigh :) on December 9, 2005 at 4:37 PM
Blue Horizons Was A Bit BLEh..
Good in some areas and a bit Snoozy In others.

Buy Tickets

Plan a Trip

Weekly Newsletter