SeaWorld Orlando opened December 15, 1973, the third theme park in the SeaWorld chain of marine parks.
The third park? That's right — after opening the original SeaWorld in San Diego in 1964, the company opened its second park in Aurora, Ohio in 1970. Hampered by midwestern weather that kept the park closed many months during the year, as well as local restrictions that prohibited building amusement rides, the Ohio SeaWorld park lagged the chain's others in annual attendance until the company decided to close the park in 2001.
SeaWorld found a much more lucrative site for its next park, when it decided to open just up the road from the new Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom, two years after that park's successful debut. SeaWorld helped establish Orlando as a multi-park vacation destination – not just a city with one theme park — nearly 10 years before Disney would open its second park and nearly 20 years before Universal would debut in the market.