SeaWorld parks across the United States are counting down the days to the debut of the all-new killer whale show "One Ocean." The show connects guests to the sea with a new level of energy, excitement and vibrancy as it educates and inspires them to make a difference in this world. "One Ocean" opens at SeaWorld Orlando on Earth Day, Friday, April 22; at SeaWorld San Diego on Memorial Day weekend and SeaWorld San Antonio in June.
“One Ocean” features SeaWorld’s majestic killer whales as ambassadors of the sea, and the ocean as the center of our natural world. The message of caring and respect for the world we share is woven throughout the show, encouraging guests to make a difference through everyday actions.
We will post a series of video vignettes now through the grand opening that take you behind the scenes with trainers, producers, designers and educators as they collaborate on every aspect of the new show - from set design, lighting and special effects to costumes and an original symphonic score.
First up is where every creative project starts: the inspiration.
Change the scheme, Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you would be so kind!
Freed from the constraints of owners more interested in brewing beer than building theme parks, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is accelerating plans to expand into new businesses, including movies, television and hotels.
After flirting with the idea for years, the Orlando-based theme-park operator will release a feature film this month through SeaWorld Pictures, the company's new film division. The sea-turtle documentary, expected to reach as many as 400 theaters this summer, is the first of what executives hope will be a long line of SeaWorld-produced nature films that capitalize on the company's reputation for marine-life expertise and buttress it against criticism from anti-captivity activists.
SeaWorld wants to make more than movies eventually. Company executives say they are exploring new projects in television, publishing and consumer products.
At the same time, SeaWorld is working on plans to build its first hotel. And it says it is making progress toward its first international theme park, with the most likely location somewhere in Southeast Asia.
With such projects, SeaWorld is borrowing a page from the playbooks of other large theme-park operators such as the Walt Disney Co., all of whom are searching out new sources of growth to confront what experts say is a nearly maxed-out American theme-park market. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has devoted much of its capital spending in recent years to building up "flanker" businesses, such as cruises and time shares, and to international expansion, including the $4.4 billion Shanghai Disneyland resort scheduled to open in about five years.
SeaWorld's expansion plans come even as it pumps nearly $200 million this year into new rides and shows for its 10 existing U.S. amusement parks, which collectively draw more than 20 million visitors annually.
"There are really a few things that we're focused on as a company. One is looking forward to grow the parks we have," said Jim Atchison, SeaWorld Parks' president and chief executive officer. "But we'll also look for ways to expand the business internationally or into new geographic markets. We'll also look for ways to grow the business from a tangential standpoint, into other lines of business."
Bolstered by an internationally recognized brand, SeaWorld executives have longed for years to branch beyond theme parks. But their plans proved difficult to sell to higher-ups within longtime owner Anheuser-Busch Cos., for whom theme parks were a one-off business that lacked a direct tie to the company's core business of making and selling beer.
But that's no longer an obstacle for SeaWorld, which in 2009 was sold by Anheuser-Busch InBev to the Blackstone Group in a deal worth about $2.5 billion.
Now, a key corporate goal is to "take such a wonderful, established brand and really expand it beyond the borders of our parks," said Scott Helmstedter, a former entertainment producer who in April was hired as SeaWorld Parks' new chief creative officer.
June 21 film premiere
The first glimpse of SeaWorld's plans will come June 21, when "Turtle: The Incredible Journey" premieres in a 3-D theater at SeaWorld San Diego. The documentary follows aloggerhead sea turtle on a 9,000-mile journey from hatching to maturity to a return to its Florida nesting grounds.
Developed by Hannover House, a small production studio, the film was initially released in Europe. SeaWorld purchased the film's North American distribution rights and made it the launch film for its new SeaWorld Pictures banner.
The movie will begin with a limited release in New York and Los Angeles, as well as Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio — the three cities with SeaWorld marine parks. But it will spread to about 40 markets and 300 to 400 theaters by the end of the summer, and will be followed by a DVD release in November.
SeaWorld says it has patterned the release schedule after "March of the Penguins," the surprise 2005 hit that did $127 million in worldwide ticket sales.
Helmstedter said other film projects are already in the works. SeaWorld Pictures intends to produce original movies and acquire more films for distribution.
SeaWorld wants to move into related businesses as well, including television and publishing. And Helmstedter said SeaWorld also wants to build a consumer-products business, potentially licensing merchandise to sell through retail chains.
Putting hotels at parks
Big-ticket construction projects are also on the horizon. Atchison said SeaWorld is "actively pursuing" plans to build one or more hotels at some of its existing U.S. parks.
"It's a good fit with our business," Atchison said. "I don't know that it makes sense in every market where we have a park. But certainly there are some markets where I think we could get in the hotel business in an on-property format that helps better the guest experience."
Atchison would notdeclined to identify the locations SeaWorld is considering for a hotel. But the company has five parks — SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Diego, Sea World San Antonio, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia — that each draw at least 2million visitors a year, according to industry estimates. SeaWorld Orlando is the biggest park in the chain, with annual attendance about 5.5million.
"Our analysis suggests that, if you could generate 2 million or more attendance on an annual basis, there may be an economic argument for building a hotel, particularly if those 2 million people are derived from the tourist market," said John Robinett, a senior vice president with the market-research company AECOM in Los Angeles.
Farther afield, Atchison said SeaWorld is developing plans to expand internationally. SeaWorld, like other big theme-park chains, is particularly interested in China and neighboring countries. Though not certain, Atchison said it is "probable" that the company's first overseas park will be built in Southeast Asia.
"There's a few opportunities that we're putting a lot of effort into right now," he said.
Atchison said he thinks there is still room for SeaWorld to grow in North America, particularly with some of its niche brands. He singled out the limited-admission park Discovery Cove and the water park Aquatica, both in Orlando, and the children's park Sesame Place, in Pennsylvania, as likely targets for expansion.
"Do I think that in the U.S. marketplace there's a place for 10 more SeaWorlds? Probably not," Atchison said. "But there's probably other locations that could support other concepts that we have and, I think, do very well."
SeaWorld has also sent us a press release about the latest of a rehabilitated manatee.
This afternoon, SeaWorld Orlando’s animal care team released 1515-pound Lil Joe the manatee into Lake Dexter in Astor, Fla. The SeaWorld team fitted him with a tracking device before the release so that his health can be monitored. Lil Joe was released into Lake Dexter where several other manatees already live, and will help him get acclimated to his new environment. After the release, Lil Joe was seen nibbling on nearby vegetation, which is a good sign.
I would totally stay at a Sea World or Busch Hotel! It's always a bummer that more US parks don't have awesome resorts attached to them like so many European and Asian parks do, this is a step in the right direction for sure!
This is a positive step forward for the SW chain- and for the BG parks as well. Yes, there are tons of hotels around the parks, and for the most part are decent- but the idea of having a resort-hotel on or near property would be amazing to me, and something I'd gladly shell out the sheckels for.
I love Seaworld Orlando, just went yesterday and had a great time. The park is always delivered very well. After the new Shamu show the whales all hung out at the glass for a long time and it was really cool to see them hang out in a group like that. The coasters at Seaworld are a couple of my favorites. Kraken is a great ride, i don't know what the third element is called but it's one of my favorite elements on any ride. Finally getting used to the loop on Manta, can't imagine the pretzel loop getting any more intense than this one and Tatsu. I am getting a little addicted to it where in the beginning it just felt like my head would explode. I am a back of the train coaster rider and Manta delivers a phenomenal ride in the back, the front really yanks you through the course. Saw the dolphin show for the first time in a long time and it was mostly great. I don't really love the acrobat part of the show but the part where all the birds fly around makes up for it big time. I was only in the park for 4 hours and did quite a lot, 2 shows, 6 coaster rides, fed dolphins, fed self, fed self ice cream, hung out at the shark pool for a while, Manta's aquarium side and more. The beauty of having these places so close is you can just drop in after the heat of the day and spend a few casual hours in the park...and summer nights are coming.
SeaWorld Orlando has sent us a press packet including photos and video from the grand opening of Discovery Cove's The Grand Reef.
Discovery Cove - the ultimate, all-inclusive tropical retreat where guests swim with dolphins - has taken immersion to new depths with the opening of The Grand Reef.
The new reef – an all-new area of Discovery Cove – features multiple levels of exploration, from shallow waters to deeper swimming adventures and white sandy beaches, to snorkeling among canyons inspired by reefs from around the world.
“The Grand Reef takes Discovery Cove’s world-class animal encounters to an all new level -- several, actually,” said Stewart Clark, the park’s vice president. “It’s what our guests expect from us, unforgettable connections with the sea and making memories that will last forever. This could only be created by Discovery Cove.”
Visitors just need to get their feet wet to enjoy The Grand Reef, or they can choose to go deep. They can step into tranquil, shallow waters to discover a below-the-surface world teeming with sea life, or they can snorkel in deeper waters as thousands of exotic fish and graceful rays swim around them.
Surprises abound. Families can seek discoveries along the water’s edge or cross a bridge to see sharks swimming below. They’ll play hide-and-seek with thousands of beautiful fish, from small colorful wrasses to large spotted eagle rays. Further out in the reef, stunning habitats create the feeling of swimming right alongside venomous lionfish and sharp-toothed reef sharks, each safely behind glass. Guests can take paths and bridges to the reef’s islands and hidden grottos as they delve into the reef from above, around and below.
Those looking for an even more exhilarating adventure can take part in The Grand Reef’s innovative experience, SeaVenture, an underwater walking tour. Wearing dive helmets, guests find up-close excitement around every corner, each step yielding a new discovery. They’ll come across lionfish and sharks (safely behind massive panoramic windows), one-on-one touches with unique animals and schools of fish and gentle rays swimming by. SeaVenture is a once-in-a-lifetime, undersea experience available for a nominal fee.
The Grand Reef is the perfect balance between adventure and relaxation, a fully immersive tropical escape, new to discover in Orlando this summer and beyond.
Discovery Cove is a full-day experience where guests can swim with dolphins, hand-feed exotic birds, snorkel through beautiful fresh and salt water lagoons and relax on pristine, white-sand beaches. In addition to the park’s one-of-a-kind animal interactions and lush natural beauty, Discovery Cove delivers superlative, personalized service, and unlimited access to an unparalleled array of first-class amenities.
Discovery Cove amenities include meals, snacks and beverages throughout the day’s adventures, towels, wet suits and swim gear, plus a pass for unlimited admission* to either SeaWorld or Aquatica in Orlando or Busch Gardens in Tampa to be used surrounding a Discovery Cove visit. Guests can upgrade to the Ultimate package which includes admission to all three sister parks for an additional fee. Advanced reservations are required.
Seasonal rates for Discovery Cove’s Dolphin Swim Day Resort Package start at $199 (rates for Day Resort Package without dolphin swim experience and guests ages 3-5 start at $129). Prices vary seasonally. For reservations or more information, visit DiscoveryCove.com or call 1-877-434-7268.
The all-new Grand Reef at Discovery Cove in Orlando features multiple levels of exploration, from shallow waters to deeper swimming adventures and white sandy beaches, to snorkeling among canyons inspired by reefs from around the world.
The Grand Reef footprint: 2.5 acre area, with close to a million gallons of water Water temperature: A comfortable 77 degrees Animals: Approximately 10,000 animals, representing 125 different species of fish, rays and sharks
Fish Thousands of tropical fish dart through crystal-clear waters, creating a whirlpool of color inside the reef’s grottos and crevices. Discovery Cove’s experts chose only colorful species whose natural populations are healthy and sustained. The fish include angelfish, butterflyfish, wrasses and tangs as well as larger, unusual-looking hogfish and filefish.
Fishy highlights A showcase moment happens when snorkelers get up-close to venomous lionfish – all safely behind panoramic windows. Thousands and thousands of schooling sardines, shining in the sun, will swim freely throughout the main reef. Combined, the animals in The Grand Reef eat almost 150 lbs of food each day.
Rays Dozens of rays, gliding through the water, are a beautiful sight. Four species of rays will fly among swimmers, including spotted eagle, cownose, southern, and bluntnose rays.
Ray highlights Spotted eagle rays are found in Caribbean and Pacific waters. Unique animals with white spots and greater than 5-foot wingspans, eagle rays are a protected species. Discovery Cove has one of the few – and most successful – eagle ray breeding programs in the world.
Eels Long and slinky, a variety of exotic eels swim among The Grand Reef’s canyons. Good news – they’re safely behind glass. Other interesting species -- grouper and triggerfish -- make their home with the eels.
Eel highlights Eels are really just elongated fishes, ranging in length from two inches up to 12 feet for the giant moray. There are approximately 800 species of eels, a predatory, toothy fish.
Sharks Exciting new views of sharks allow non-swimmers to gaze down from above while snorkelers and SeaVenture participants can gaze through 10-foot-tall panoramic windows into a habitat filled with zebra, nurse and blacktip and whitetip reef sharks.
Shark highlights A species new to Discovery Cove, zebra sharks are found in Southeast Asia, Southern Africa and Western and Northern Australia. Cream-colored with spots, they’re born with stripes – suggesting a sharky zebra. They’re also known as Australian leopard sharks.
SeaVenture The Grand Reef’s innovative experience, SeaVenture, is an underwater walking tour where guests -- wearing dive helmets -- will feel right at home under the sea. Easily climbing down a ladder and setting foot on the reef floor, guests immediately come eye-to-eye with sharks through a full, 8-foot-tall, 21-foot long panoramic window. During their journey, guests encounter velvety rays, exotic-looking lionfish hiding under a dock – and even touch a star fish or sea urchins found along the way. The adventure ends with schools of fish feeding around the divers with the massive open reef as the backdrop.
SeaVenture highlights Some say it’s like walking on the moon – but surrounded by fish. SCUBA certification is not required. The program is about an hour long for groups of up to six people per excursion. The cost is $59 per participant.
Removable Coral Discovery Cove is using a unique technology to ensure The Grand Reef’s man-made coral maintains its vibrant colors. Each piece of coral – most weighing a ton – is inflatable. When filled with air, the coral sections float to the surface for easy maintenance and cleaning. Overall, The Grand Reef will have 90 pieces of the colorful coral in four different sizes.
Salt Water It takes about 140 tons of salt to make The Grand Reef’s crystal clear water. The recipe is a closely guarded secret.
Beach Sand Discovery Cove has found the perfect beach sand for The Grand Reef and it’s used throughout all of the resort. Mined at nearby Davenport, Fla., the sand is from Florida’s ancient beach dunes. More than 5 million pounds will be used at The Grand Reef, and every pound is sifted and grated. This makes the sand just right – not too coarse and not too fine.
Cabanas Eight new cabanas will be found at The Grand Reef. These private, shaded areas are available for rental at an additional fee and are located at the water’s edge. Complete with table and chairs, chaise lounges and rolled towels, the cabanas provide a special place for guests to relax when they’re not in the water, swimming among thousands of tropical fish.
I noticed a shark in the outer pool at Shark Encounter yesterday that I had never noticed before. It was about 6 feet long and more cheetah spot looking than anything It had long ridges down it's body. I was just wondering if they were holding it there for use at Discovery Cove.
I looked it up and it is another of the zebra sharks mentioned in the press release. The shark itself is a very impressive looking critter but seems to lay low like a nurse shark.
Its interesting that SeaWorld want to expand their brand and are looking at China, because VRTP (Village Roadshow Theme parks) the ones that own Wet'n'Wild Water World Gold Coast-Hawaii-Phoenix and potential Sydney, Warner Bros. Movie World Gold Coast and of course Sea World on the Gold Coast and they have said their interested in expanding their brands to China. Interestingly a couple of years ago VRTP actually put forward plans to build a park in Melbourne very similar to Busch Gardens Africa and their Sea World already has a resort attached to it!! And to top it off SeaWorld Entertainment Parks & Entertainment parent company Blackstone just bought Sydney Attractions like Wildlife World, Sydney Tower and Sydney/Melbourne/Manly Aquariums from VRTP and they say they would like to see Lego and Madam Tussaud's here!!
Turtle: The Incredible Journey, a family documentary directed by National Geographic Explorer’s Nick Stringer and distributed by SeaWorld Pictures, debuts Friday, June 24th in Orlando.
Turtle: The Incredible Journey is an award-winning film that follows the life and migration of a loggerhead turtle from hatching to maturity and a return to its original Florida nesting grounds. The loggerhead turtle, a threatened species, has one of the longest and most difficult migratory patterns of any marine animal: Sea turtles newly hatched on the East Coast of the United States (usually in Florida) make their way from the sand into the ocean, and then begin a voyage that can span the entire Atlantic Ocean, only to return decades later to that same beach.
The movie is playing at Pointe Orlando and Oviedo Marketplace. Check listings for show times.
“This is a remarkable story crafted by one of the world’s most gifted documentary filmmakers,” said Scott Helmstedter, Chief Creative Officer for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. “Turtle: The Incredible Journey does what our parks have been doing for more than five decades: inspire, enrich and entertain. Helping bring this film and its powerful message of the fragility and beauty of our oceans to the public is what SeaWorld is and what we have always been about.”
Stringer’s documentary team follows the loggerhead turtle on an adventure of more than 9,000 miles guided only by instinct. Stringer and his camera crew spent two years following loggerhead turtles on their trips across the ocean, and have captured on film the remarkable life cycle of a beautiful creature that struggles to survive in an increasingly unforgiving environment.
The film is narrated by Academy Award nominee Miranda Richardson, and will be released to theaters in both standard theatrical formats as well as 3D in selected locations.
These pages are in no way affiliated with nor endorsed by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Cedar Fair, Legoland, Merlin Entertainment, Blackstone, Tussaud's Group, Six Flags, Universal Theme Parks, the Walt Disney Company or any other theme park company.
photos and videos on this website were taken with the permission of the park by
a professional ride photographer.
For yours and others safety, please do not attempt to take photos or videos at
parks without proper permission.
You need a sense of humor to view our site,
if you don't have a sense of humor, or are easily offended, please turn back
Most of the content on this forum is suitable for all ages. HOWEVER! There may be some content that would be considered rated "PG-13." Theme Park Review is NOT recommended for ages under 13 years of age.