Actors, penguins, and Lego fans: It's time to get to work

November 9, 2023, 6:44 PM · The big entertainment news here in Southern California this week is the end of the Hollywood actors' strike. SAG-AFTRA (the actors) and the AMPTP (the major studios, including Disney and Universal) have a tentative deal that now goes to the union membership for approval. But the strike is over, and that means that everyone can get back to work - including actors walking red carpets and doing interviews to promote their new releases.

In the parks, SeaWorld San Diego has announced the name for its new emperor penguin chick. It's Pearl, and she is now the star of a couple of upsell tours that the park is now making available to guests. Tickets to see Pearl start at $94 and are available via the SeaWorld website. Park admission also is required, and our ticket partner has some offers available on its website for that.

Pearl, the penguin chick
Pearl and her plushie buddy. Photo courtesy SeaWorld

Pearl hatched on September 12, and was the first chick hatched at SeaWorld San Diego since 2010. She is expected to be ready to join the park's penguin colony in early 2024, at which point she will be visible to the general public.

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Legoland Florida has announced a couple of additions for 2024. The Winter Haven park will add an installation of Lego Ferrari Build and Race this spring. This experience allows guests to build their own Lego Ferrari car and test it on a simulated track. You can read about the California installation of in our review: Legoland California opens Lego Ferrari Build & Race.

And next fall, Legoland Florida will open a Sea Life aquarium attraction. There's currently a Sea Life at ICON Park on Orlando's International Drive, so it seems a bit much to have another just down the road at Legoland, but perhaps the Central Florida market is big enough to support two?

California's Thea Classic award-winning Pageant of the Masters has announced its 2024 theme: "À la Mode: The Art of Fashion." Performances of this "tableaux vivant" production that recreates famous artworks via actors and stagecraft will run nightly July 6 through August 30, 2024. I reviewed this year's production in July, Finding the life in art, and the art of life, at Pageant of the Masters.

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Finally, let's note some personnel moves in advance of what should be a bunch of news coming out of the IAAPA Expo in Orlando next week. The Themed Entertainment Association (which gives out the Thea Awards) has named Chloe Hausfeld as Global Director of Strategic Partnerships. The former vice president at JRA most recently worked on client and vendor relationships for Baynum Amusement Solutions.

"I am eager to join the amazingly creative team at TEA and look forward to providing guidance to further revenue goals, and to brokering partnerships that will take TEA to the next level," Hausfeld said.

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Replies (3)

November 10, 2023 at 8:40 AM

Pearl’s cute and all, but $94 or $199 plus park admission to see her a few months early? I’ll pass.

Robert, I’ve seen articles in the Southern California newspapers about a past-due rent dispute between SeaWorld and the city of San Diego. Assuming SeaWorld is forced to pay up, what kind of impact could that have on the park? I can’t imagine the city would shut the park down if SeaWorld doesn’t pay, but anything seems possible these days.

November 10, 2023 at 8:32 AM

The new Sea Life Aquarium seems to indicate Merlin's desire to create a more complete resort experience at their Legoland property that keeps guests in Winter Garden for 2-3 days. They've already added the Peppa Pig park, and continue to add to Legoland, so including a Sea Life Aquarium will give guests a good reason to not only buy multi-day admissions, but also stay at the Legoland Resort hotels. Instead of staying in Orlando and taking a day-trip to Legoland, Merlin is doing what they can to draw more guests to stay in Winter Garden, which may or may not work.

I do think they would need to close the ICON Park location (Merlin operates Sea Life and The Wheel, but nothing else) to get non-Legoland guests to visit the new Sea Life location. I do find this announcement a bit peculiar from a big picture perspective, but it does make some sense in terms of securing the future of the Legoland Resort.

November 10, 2023 at 8:54 AM

I used to be a fairly frequent visitor to Central Florida a while back, and I’d go long enough that I’d spend a couple of days off the WDW property going to places like Cypress Gardens and Bok Tower Gardens. It was rare I’d run into other WDW guests out visiting those attractions like I was.

Legoland is far enough out from Orlando that I can’t see a new aquarium out there hurting the Icon Park aquarium’s attendance. Admittedly, Merlin could do a SeaWorld Ohio and close the Icon location so they could move the animals and save some money, so we’ll see what happens.

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