SeaWorld Deny They Listened, But I Hope They Did!

SEA_Beach-View-960x555

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!

Advertisements

Will Frozen Damage Epcot’s World Showcase?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

UPDATE: Disney have confirmed that a Frozen attraction will replace Norway’s Maelstrom.  The ride will close from oct 5th 2014.  No opening date has been provided.

I never did set out to be a grumpy troll of a blogger.
After all, what could possibly be bad about writing about the theme parks in Orlando?

Well for one, I kind of get a little over protective about our most precious vacation retreat.
Just like every other theme park fan out there, I’m all for change you see, so long as I don’t lose anything that I decide is special to me.

Of course, I rarely take the time to Disney, especially to to let them know about what I may, or may not, allow them to meddle with.

The reason being of course, is that I change my mind daily!

One day I might think that Epcot needs a bit of a family friendly ride,
The next;
I’m quite happy to leave it exactly how it is, so long as I can wander through France with my plastic glass of Champagne in the glorious mid morning sunshine!
Epcot is a chameleon and it does a great job of adapting just to suit your frame of mind!

Over the winter months of 2014 though, huge line waits to ‘meet and greet’ Anna & Elsa snaked right back from the Norway Pavilion to the front of the Mexico Pavilion.
Epcot was going to change forever and this caused many emotions for me;

My first thoughts were; Wow!
Second were; Great to see so many kids at Epcot actually looking engaged!
Third were; Can I bustle my way through those moms and their daughters to get my frozen Margarita fix at that Mexico stall?
But finally; Oh no, Disney are going to do something big with Frozen some time real soon.

To be truthful, Epcot needs a kick up the A**.
Disney’s Tom Fitzgerald is in the process of moving his desk from Disneyland Paris to Epcot to do just that it seems.
Sadly though, the kick up the A** might be the sort that Epcot fans are dreading the most; ‘a fundamental change’.
If rumours about Epcot’s Maelstrom being turned into a Frozen attraction are true, the World Showcase’s ‘essential fabric’ could potentially collapse in a puff of pixie dust as soon as 2015.
But the good news is;

The most likely scenario for a Norway Frozen project won’t be as bad as you think!
As I recently read through news articles and watched how Disney masterfully developed the fabulous Frozen movie (yes I’m a fan!), one thing really did strike me.
Disney had adopted an unprecedented level of research into the Walt Disney Frozen animation.  They spent months in Norway gathering sights sounds and facts to provide an incredibly detailed and authentic feature film.
As a result, lead animator Mike Giaimo probably discovered much more for Disney than anyone could have imagined.

Not only did his team trap the very essence of the classic Disney ‘troubles of life; good over evil, ability and challenge‘, they more interestingly revealed to the world an insight into one of the most magical and deeply mysterious places on earth.
Norway has long been recognised for exploration and conquest, but very few of the Earth’s 7 billion people have ever considered setting foot on this stunning and culturally rich nation’s soil.  Until very recently!
Norwegian hotel bookings are are up 37% this year!

If Frozen does eventually take over Maelstrom over the next 12 months, I predict we will see an even better,  picturesque, yet informative version of Maelstrom.
Still think tasteful, but this time we will be joined by some familiar characters from the movie, for a lighter exploration of beautiful Norway!

Perhaps we could imagine Ellen’s Energy Adventure (without the boredom), hosted by Olaf, Sven, Anna, Elsa and what’s his name.
This is going to be a fabulous adaption of Maelstrom, narrated by Disney’s most successful siblings ever!

Disney aren’t going to mess up Epcot, and Frozen will make it even better!

Can a Rat Impress at Epcot?

Remy has been at Epcot for many years over in the Chefs de France restaurant, until the big meat cleaver came down, to send him on his way back to France we guess!
Picking up on one of my favoirte theme park rumour blogs there’s a remote possibility that a soon to open Disneyland Paris attraction might also head to Orlando at some point.

Sure, as the blog post suggests, it is as vague as can be right now, but the one thing that Epcot really does need is a big bunch of family fun, and fast.
Right now, Epcot appeals to ‘certain types’ of Disney guest, so if you are an Epcot fan, which of these are you?

  • Middle aged
  • Middle Class
  • Determined to travel the world but don’t have a passport
  • Your kids eat trail mix but not Skittles
  • You are from one of the countries that are represented in the World Showcase

Haha! I bet you were getting mad up until the last qualifier!

No, but seriously, do your kids really bounce around the hotel room at the prospect of going to Epcot?  Happy yes, excited, no.
Somehow, Disney really do need to add some more appeal to Epcot for the whole family and create some exciting new attractions and fast.
Ratatouille, Frozen, Soarin upgrade and a rethink of Innoventions would be a great place to start!

 

 

$50 Weekday Ticket Deal – Good News?

Just over a month ago, SeaWorld announced a lift in their regular admission prices for a single day.
Lifting their prices from $82 to $89 to $92 then back down to $50 (for 2013 only) scares me a little if I were to be totally honest!

With Disney and Universal investing like crazy, SeaWorld have slipped a fair bit if you were to work on construction projects over the last few years.
Sure Antarctica is cool, in every sense of the word, but it hasn’t really blown people’s minds if you took a look at feedback on forums and facebook pages.

No doubt SeaWorld have been playing their cards very safely, thanks to the rather unpleasant ‘Blackfish’ documentary, but to be honest, the world hasn’t exactly gone crazy with resentment towards SeaWorld.  Why?  Because subconsciously, we all knew that getting a 2 ton marine animal to do tricks wasn’t exactly ideal, and, we all knew it was dangerous too!

The current show, much changed since the tragedy of a couple of years ago, is quite bland.  The show isn’t exactly enthralling anymore, and that is of course down to the improved safety requirements that SeaWorld now follow.  We’ve been without the feisty Believe version now for some years, and no doubt some guests have slipped away as a result.

It would be hard to tell how many guests it would take to stop going to SeaWorld to make a big difference to their future in the Orlando theme park scene.
In 2012, SeaWorld took 5,358,000 through their gates, that was 4.2% up on 2011!
While the public will have to wait until June of 2014 to find out what the 2013 figures are, SeaWorld will of course know already thanks to their turnstile counters weather they are likely to do better or worse this year.
With the new Antarctica attraction in place since May of 2013, my money is that those gate figures have increased again.

So what gives SeaWorld?  We are confused but happy that we can buy $50 for a great theme park!

Animal Kingdom’s Avatar Land is delayed!

The official  Disney Parks Blog today announced the open date for the new Festival of the Lion King theater to open in Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 2014.
This is indeed good news!

At long last, the hopelessly spare land that we had to trudge through (Camp Minnie Mickey), will be levelled for a new project.

Avatar Land is coming to Disney World and it needs a space!
Right now there’s a bunch of trees, toilets, mediocre food kiosks, the amazing Guitar Dan and the Festival of the Lion King theater in the spot that will some day (not so soon) be occupied by Blue People of a long nasal nature!

The Disney announcement has slipped back, form a 2013 opening to a 2014 debut for Simba’s new home over near the Tusker House in Africa.
While the new location is nicer from a geographical point of view, it will make for a much busier intersection at the junction that links Africa to Asia and Discovery Island.
What a big mistake that will turn out to be!

Thankfully, we will have to wait until 2014 to find out!

In the meantime, assuming that the Lion King will only close for a few weeks while the Cast train in their new environment, (Lions , Hogs and Meerkats are very territorial), we can all assume that the Camp Minnie Mickey soil will remain untouched for longer than expected.

As Donald Duck would say; “Aw Phooey”

So, there we have it.  Animal Kingdom slows down a little.
Possible reasons?
Who knows, but Disney might be keeping a very close eye on the fortunes of another animal based theme park just a few miles up the I-4.

Related articles

Hollywood Studios set to double in size?

I’ve always had to summon a lot of courage each time the wife tells me we’re off to Hollywood Studios.

I don’t mind it, I don’t love it.

Sure, the Tower of Terror and the Rockin Roller Coaster is fantastic but after half a dozen times, do I really want to watch Indiana again?
The show remains unchanged since its launch in 1989.  Can you imagine how many times I’ve had to watch that?
Dare I even mention my favorite Lights Motors Action to her?  No, of course not!
It completely does her crazy!

Star Tours did well in our family after the revamp, but hey, I’m just about done with that.
Taking HS seriously as a big theme park is getting harder and harder.
Surprisingly, that complaint doesn’t surface for the other three Disney Parks.
Animal Kingdom is the closest, but the sweet charm, constantly changing Safari and beautiful landscaping always make it a pleasure.

Reading some new rumours about a huge parking lot change at Hollywood Studios is getting my interest though!  Could it really be that as long last the park will finally grow up?
The rumoured project is huge, very costly and obviously there for a BIG reason!

If it comes off, I will definitely be renewing my annual pass!
(Ha as if I ever wouldn’t!)

Osbourne Family Christmas Lights to Finally ‘Pop a Fuse’?

Osborne Famiiy Lights

With all of the gossip floating around over Cars Land, Star Wars Land and just about every other possibly conceivable rumor that’s about to happen at Disney’s ‘weakest’ park, Hollywood Studios are now rumoured to be showing the Osbourne Family Christmas for the very last time this December.

If it’s all true, Hollywood Studios might as well become just be a parking lot, tram and building site with the Hollywood Tower of Terror poking out of the ground!

Sure, we all know that it’s time for change at HS, but really?  Can all of these rumours be true?

  1. Backlot Tours to make way for Cars Land
  2. Lights, Motors, Action to make way for Cars Land
  3. Great Movie Ride to make way for a new thrill ride
  4. Backlot Express to make way for a Star Wars attraction
  5. Sounds Dangerous Theater to make way for Jedi Training
  6. Muppet theatre to make way for Cars Land
  7. A Monsters Inc Monstroplis somehwere
  8. Fantasmic to make way for a Star Wars show

If some of it is true, then great, but if all of it is on the cards, where on earth are we all going to go to get our $100 worth of fun each day?
When you see the crazy rumors laid out bare, it spells out one of two things

  1. The internet is hugely inaccurate
  2. Disney are in a blind spin over Universal’s progress

Sadly, I think that the answer to the question is quite frankly both!
The moment those construction walls at Islands of Adventure went up all of those years ago was the cue that Disney simply missed.  Of course Harry Potter was going to be a huge success, rather like Star Wars, it always was and always will be thanks to the huge franchise that has been built just to keep books and merchandise selling.

Why were Disney caught napping I wonder?
From where I’m sat, they aren’t in a bad position at all, but, that’s not where their shareholders want them to be.  2% attendance growth just isn’t enough.
I admit that the corporate world of entertainment leaves me a little out of my depth, but I know one thing for sure, Disney need to make some announcements soon and commit to sorting out their ‘fourth park’ before it ends up looking like a rather burst balloon at the end of a party!