Could SeaWorld’s Fortunes Change The Florida Theme Park Map?

SeaWorld definitely seems to be feeling the effects of the Blackfish saga.  Even their CEO; Jim Atchison stepped down amid a raft of cost savings that even saw the demise of the Seamore and Clyde Mime.

What will become of the fabulous but beleaguered ocean park remains a mystery, but it might be fair to assume that some huge changes could be heading to the SeaWorld Entertainment Inc theme parks.

Busch Gardens Tampa – Tampa, Florida
Busch Gardens Williamsburg – Williamsburg, Virginia
SeaWorld Orlando – Orlando, Florida
SeaWorld San Antonio – San Antonio, Texas
SeaWorld San Diego – San Diego, California
Adventure Island – Tampa, Florida
Aquatica Orlando – Orlando, Florida
Aquatica San Antonio – San Antonio, Texas
Aquatica San Diego – Chula Vista, California
Water Country USA – Williamsburg, Virginia
Sesame Place – Langhorne, Pennsylvania
Discovery Cove – Orlando, Florida

It does kind of make you wonder whether a bunch of those parks could get merged or closed if any new owners came in to trim costs and move the theme away from animal entertainment.
Let’s hope that the Orlando sites survive in a form that can endure another 20 years of politics, public acceptance and booming interest that Central Florida always seems to attract!


SeaWorld Deny They Listened, But I Hope They Did!


Blue World Project was announced this week across SeaWorld’s global parks.

I breathed a sigh of relief for three big reasons!

  1. It really hasn’t been a great year for my favorite marine themed park. Finances and attendances sank badly!
  2. We all know that SeaWorld needs to move with the times, and irrespective of pressure groups and debatably biased movies such as Blackfish.
    My young family knows not to ask for a pet rabbit, and the SeaWorld execs are now beginning to appreciate why.
  3. Back in Dec 2013, I’d anticipated that SeaWorld would begin a transition away from live animal performance.  I chewed my fingers ever since, wondering what took them so long!

As regular readers of my blog will know; I’m both a theme park fan and an animal lover, but I walk my family into SeaWorld under no illusions.
SeaWorld to me, has always been a chance for my family to learn, and that is not an excuse for being ill informed.
Even now, my family continues to learn from SeaWorld as a battle rages over animals in captivity.
Ironically, this week, news broke that African Elephants are now at a ‘tipping point’.  More are dying each year that are being born.  In 100 years time, the species is predicted to be gone.  Probably a few captive specimens will be all that’s left.
Will we criticize the parks then for keeping the gene pool alive?

The Blue World Project (Better Environments For Killer Whales)

The new new developments heading to San Diego and Orlando, claim to provide;

50 feet in depth and 1.5 acres of surface area will enhance dynamic opportunities for play, including a “fast water current” that allows whales to swim across moving water.

Guests can walk alongside our killer whales as if at the shore, interact with them at depths found in the ocean, or see them from a bird’s eye view.

Increased interactions with SeaWorld experts and new programs will expand educational opportunities, fostering deeper knowledge of killer whales and their ocean environment.

A focus on husbandry and care allows our animal health professionals and independent scientists to better understand and care for killer whales here and in the wild.

Sure, that’s not the Ocean, but it’s a whole lot better than what’s there right now.
If anyone thinks that SeaWorld should return these animals to the Ocean, you are crazier than a whale on a bicycle!

SeaWorld Groupon Discounts

One Ocean Shamu Show SeaWorldThere’s a battle of wits going on right now between SeaWorld execs and the various ‘haters’ of the marine life themed parks.  As the Bands Brew and BBQ controversy keeps drumming away, the music industry seems to be drawn into a debate that at times seemed to have passed by in recent months.

The Blackfish movie took a fairly hard swipe at SeaWorld’s practices and the public kind of grimaced, but seemingly carried on their business (in the main).
Sure, SeaWorld would have been much happier without the scathing documentary being aired left right and center, but the SeaWorld Parks do appear to have weathered this sea storm better than they might have hoped.

The news this week that SeaWorld were offering hefty Groupon discounts on tickets to be used over the Winter deserves some thought.  Initially it could be easy to assume that SeaWorld are panicking, but my guess is that they know that this hefty attack on their PR is perhaps winnable, despite the pressure on the Bands Brew and BBQ event due to start in early Feb of 2014.
If they can continue to weather the storm, and appeal to any guests ‘on the fence’ by 40% discounts, they might win the battle and the war over Shamu!

Going forward, SeaWorld might put on a defiant front, but behind the scenes we will expect that SeaWorld might invest their funds in ‘non performance’ animal exhibits and attractions.  A battle won today, does not mean that the future battles will be as easy!


SeaWorld’s Shamu Show Woes Continue


Update: 19th Dec 2013
Only Justin Moore and Scotty McCreery remain on the billing so far, leaving 10 of the 12 original dates cancelled or unfilled.

Update: 11th Dec 2013
Cheap Trick also announce that they will not perform in SeaWorld’s 2014 Bands Brew & BBQ festival.

Original Article

The Music Industry appears to have succeeded where all others have failed.

Towards the end of November, the band ‘Barenaked Ladies’ pulled out of SeaWorld’s annual Bands Brew & BBQ music festival.
This popular music festival that runs from early February through early March has been immensely successful in recent years and adds a much welcome opening to the year’s big events around Orlando.

Depending how you look at things, it sadly looks very unlikely that this music event will be going ahead in 201, or perhaps any future year, so long as SeaWorld continue with the ‘Shamu Show’ more formally known as ‘One Ocean’.

Since the ‘Barenaked Ladies’ fans brought pressure upon their band to pull out of the SeaWorld music festival, Wille Nelson, Heart, and most likely more will turn their backs on SeaWorld as momentum gathers against the publicity gathered by the Blackfish movie.
We don’t see any let up in cancellations, nor do we predict any brave souls stepping in to replace those missing bands.

Joan Jett has formally written to SeaWorld’s CEO Jim Atchison asking for her ‘I Love Rock & Roll’ hit to be removed from the Shamu Rocks show.

“I’m among the millions who saw ‘Blackfish’ and am sickened that my music was blasted without my permission at sound-sensitive marine mammals,” the letter says.
Jett calls for the park to release the animals to coastal sanctuaries.  “This move would show that your company is truly family-friendly,” the letter says.

As I’ve mentioned on a number of occasions, SeaWorld needs to change and fast, and the upcoming Bands Brew & BBQ mights facilitate that change sooner rather than later, however, I can’t help think about some of the artists that have knowingly supported SeaWorld over the years.  Why the sudden change of heart I wonder?

Irrespective of my dislike of animal cruelty, or whether I feel that SeaWorld have been remiss, there’s no doubt about it that some of the fickle music industry players, were all to happy to turn a ‘blind eye’ until their pockets risked being affected.
Is this the first time that Joan Jett had been made aware that SeaWorld used here song each evening?  Of course not.

That, I guess, is the way of the world but now it looks as though SeaWorld are about to feel the pinch as the heat is turned up on its park operations.

The outcome is inevitable that the last ‘One Ocean’ shows towards the end of the Christmas and New Year holidays will be the very last ever.  It is fairly hard to imagine, given the current public sentiment, that it can ever return.  If you love it, make the most of it now.
Beyond the One Ocean show, I’d also recommend planning to catch Blue Horizons and Clyde and Seamour which could almost certainly become gradual notes in the history book as SeaWorld Parks respond to criticism of the animal performances.
It won’t simply stop at the Shamu Show, and it most likely won’t stop with SeaWorld as the spotlight brightens on theme park animal exhibits and performances in general.

It kind of makes you wonder if this is why Disney have been keeping so many new theme park developments ‘in the wings?’

Another small but not insignificant blow for SeaWorld

In November the band ‘Barenaked Ladies’ pulled out of SeaWorld’s annual Bands Brew & BBQ music festival scheduled to launch at SeaWorld Orlando in February of 2014.
The Blackfish movie was revealed as the root of their decision not to play in this popular annual event.

Today, the Orlando sentinel announced that country singer Willie Nelson was pulling out of the same event due to scheduling conflicts.
It would be wrong to tie Nelson’s cancellation to Blackfish, but SeaWorld fans might be just wondering if this is the start of an ongoing trend.

Over the decades, music has proven to be a potent political weapon and the power of millions of very influential young spenders can change the course of major political paths.
Bob Dylan knew only too well the power he wielded over politicians.

As always, we hope that SeaWorld come out of this difficult time, both stronger and better, but for now, it seems clear that Blackfish simply won’t go away.

Trouble in the Sea World? – Possibly, In the name of Blackfish!

Perhaps SeaWorld expected Antarctica to do much better, but some recent developments over at the salty theme park might be a sign of some tough times ahead?
Having spent a lot on the huge new attraction, it hasn’t really been that well received by everyone.
A flick through websites and blogs leaves you with an impression that the ride is a little tame and ‘chilly’ to say the least!

While we ourselves, love the new attraction, even though it doesn’t have the same sort of hype-able power that a new ‘wizard world’ or Fantasyland can have.

A few ‘Blogland’ posts recently focus heavily on SeaWorld’s decision to introduce staggered operating hours for some of the park attractions.
Closing down rides and attractions cuts only a few dollars of wages, but vast sums of energy costs, as lighting, hydraulic systems, water pumps, aircon and more, eases the load on a theme park’s huge electricity bill!

One aspect that SeaWorld will certainly be focussing upon is the upcoming screening of a rather unflattering movie ‘Blackfish’.
Premiering in London today (15th July 2013) and due for general international release later in the week, this documentary about  Seaworld’s Tilikum looks set to divide opinion as it looks critically at Orcas in captivity along with the potential risks for trainers.
From what we’ve seen so far, I can’t help feel that SeaWorld will take a big hit as a result of the new movie.

SeaWorld – A Theme Park in the balance?

Writing about SeaWorld is always very difficult.
Yes, it is becoming increasingly untrendy to keep animals in captivity, but the ability for the public to relate to, and recognise some of the most vulnerable species is without doubt hugely important.
I’m inadequately qualified to professionally comment upon whether SeaWorld is good for Marine conservation or not, but I have a deep hunch that despite the captivity of these amazing creatures, the park does play an important role in drawing awareness to a world that 99.999% of us will never visit.

I personally fear that this year might just reveal the demise of SeaWorld’s Shamu Stadium.  Such an event would redefine the character of the park, leaving many other animal interaction areas under jeopardy.
With the Blackfish movie yet to screen, the trainer tragedy of a few years ago and unfavourable OSHA fines over the recent months, SeaWorld might possibly be facing a year of unbearable pressure.
For me, I miss the old Shamu Stadium shows, the recent offerings, pruned back for safety reasons, just don’t seem to have the same value.  Safety must come first however.

I was never too naive to think that the shows didn’t have issues, but I always felt that SeaWorld raised some important attention to marine life and the balance of nature though its efforts.
In my mind, that was a chance worth taking if we each looked after our environment that little more carefully!