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SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

P. 276: Penguin Trek construction update!

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Southwest Airlines and SeaWorld Entertainment are ending their 25-year-old marketing partnership, officials with both companies said Thursday, as the airline has been urged by animal rights activists to terminate the relationship.


The partnership won't be renewed at the end of the year when the current contract expires. As part of the partnership, three Southwest airplanes had various SeaWorld animals painted on their bodies. Those planes will be painted over to Southwest's traditional look. SeaWorld also had Southwest signs in its parks, and Southwest offered vacation packages to SeaWorld, as it does to other tourist destinations. The vacation packages will continue.


SeaWorld officials said the decision was mutual.


SeaWorld wants to concentrate on growing markets in Latin America and Asia, the marine park company said in a statement.


"Southwest and SeaWorld have enjoyed their long relationship, and wish each other continued success," the statement said.


SeaWorld has parks in Orlando, Florida; San Antonio and San Diego.


Southwest spokeswoman Marilee McInnis said it was a business decision as the airline intends to focus on international service.


Earlier this year, animal rights activist held a rally and dropped off a petition at Southwest, urging the airline to end the relationship. The activists cited the documentary "Blackfish," which explores what may have caused the killer whale Tilikum to kill SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010.


The documentary argues that killer whales, when in captivity, become more aggressive to humans and each other. Since the documentary, several entertainers have pulled out of planned performances at SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. parks.


Regarding the pressure from the activists, McInnis said Southwest has been in "listening and education mode."


"We ... have engaged and heard from conservationists, SeaWorld supporters, and others on all sides of this issue," McInnis said.


The president of the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said in a statement that workers in her office were delighted to hear the partnership was ending.


"Champagne corks were popping at PETA today when we heard that Southwest will no longer support SeaWorld and will repaint its planes," said Ingrid Newkirk. "The second I heard the good news, I knew that I'd be booking my next trip on Southwest."

Edited by jedimaster1227
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  • 2 weeks later...

Second Quarter results may look scary, but SeaWorld announcement to come in the following days! (Fingers crossed)


Also, SeaWorld has plans for international expansion (as well all know), but Pan-Asia, Russia, and India seem to be the ideal locations; which seem pretty odd...


Any thoughts?

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I'm in the opposite camp actually, I'm actually enthused that there was any rise in attendance(in the second quarter). This whole movement should pass over in the coming years. Shares may be down by a lot, but they will definitely rise as long as there isn't as much negative press and good announcements to follow.


As a big SW fan, I'm ecstatic to hear about all these announcements that we've got coming. I'm not quite sure exactly what these big plans are that the SeaWorld podcast is referring to, as I don't know exactly what it could be. I know for a fact that they will announce their new Sea Lion show. I suspect a potential refurbishment of Wild Arctic, which is long needed. A suspended theater would work perfectly. Kinda like Soarin at Epcot. It definately is a possible refurbishment plan given Europe in the Air at BGW and SeaWorld's close ties with Falcon Treehouse. However, it would probably be hard to market considering the two attractions would be pretty similar and within such close proximity. The only possible things I could think of are refurbishing Journey to Atlantis. Blue Horizons is getting pretty old too(9 years strong!), I heard one of the employees say that it is the best rated show in the park so that means it probably be around for as long as the Clyde and Seamore show that just left had been.


Aquatica definitely has some potential for expansion. I would like to see something like Stingray falls at Aquatica SA in that park, especially considering the two current family tube rides are kinda eh and tucked away in the back. Some completely unique water attraction that combines animals and thrills would be awesome since Ihu's Breakaway Falls doesn't feature any animals as far as I could tell. Lastly, Discovery Cove will probably not get anything because they got a few expansions just a couple years ago even though in my opinion, the park does just need one more attraction.

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New York Mag - SeaWorld: Remember When We Said That Blackfish Movie Didn’t Hurt Us? Well, Never Mind.


For months, people have wondered if Blackfish — the amazing, award-winning, depressing-as-hell documentary about chronic mistreatment of orca whales at SeaWorld's amusement parks — would have an effect on SeaWorld's bottom line. At first, SeaWorld's PR machine adopted the say-nothing strategy, figuring the controversy would blow over. Then it began an aggressive campaign to discredit the film, with slogans like "The Truth About Blackfish," while insisting to investors — the people who really matter, that is — that all was fine. "We can see no noticeable impact on our business,” CEO Jim Atchison said in March. Incredibly, Atchison even hinted that Blackfish had been good for SeaWorld: “The movie in some ways has actually made perhaps more interest in marine mammal parks and actually even about us."


Today, SeaWorld changed course, and admitted, finally, that the backlash is taking a toll after all.


SeaWorld's stock is plummeting more than 20 percent today, after quarterly earnings that showed shrinking revenue and lowered guidance for next quarter. In today's press release, SeaWorld admitted for the first time that Blackfish may be hurting attendance, blaming people skipping their parks owing to "recent media attention surrounding proposed legislation in the state of California."


That legislation, the "Orca Welfare Safety Act," has been tabled while further studies are conducted. So SeaWorld isn't in immediate danger of losing its money-minting orca shows just yet. But the backlash shows no signs of subsiding. And if SeaWorld refuses to reform its practices and end orca shows, it could find itself in the shoes once occupied by industries like Big Tobacco — which remained enormously profitable even as its public image was being attacked, then woke up years later to find that, actually, all those anti-smoking ad campaigns had made a mark.


SeaWorld has shown it can play defense in the face of a PR crisis. Now the question is whether it's taking seriously the long-term threat of a generation of kids thinking it's more concerned about its profits than the welfare of its whales.


Here's a link to the press release mentioned in the article

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Very disappointed with the results. But I expected it. Let's hope this is their rock bottom.

I hope so, too. Having watched Blackfish a couple of times now, it amazes me how people cannot see that it's so obvious propaganda for pro-animal rights groups. I mean, look, if you dig deep enough, you can find faults with ANY company and with a good editor you can exploit them and paint a bad picture on anyone. It's just a shame that they are doing it to a company that has actually done more good in the recent decades, and just because they don't particularly agree with something, they are making it appear that their "opinions" are "facts" and getting a whole lot of ignorant people to buy into it.


But like you said, let's hope this is their rock bottom and they can bounce back from it.

Edited by robbalvey
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Sad to hear. Can't say I didn't see this coming, however. I've been visiting SWSD at least 3 times a year for the past 25 years. I know what they stand for and support them 100% as well as the rest of the SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment family. I have a feeling it might get worse before it gets better. I sincerely hope I'm wrong......

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I have a feeling it might get worse before it gets better. I sincerely hope I'm wrong......

I'm hoping that the "worse" part is right now. If there is one thing I've seen at the Orlando park over the last few months of going there is that this summer has been PACKED. I also know that the Shamu show was closed for a few months while they did some renovations, and I have no idea if that had anything to do with the decline in revenue (doubtful as it was not a busy time when it was closed), but there is that factor.


I know that I certainly hear about Blackfish a lot less now than I did six months ago, so maybe people are on to being weekend activists for other things? Who knows. I guess we'll just have to wait until the next report and see how they are doing...

Edited by robbalvey
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^ Yup. It's disturbing to read. Like I said, it's Idiocracy happening right in front of us. They all want the parks to release the animals into the wild but have ZERO intelligence on the subject matter to know that they would all die if they did that. And if you try to explain it to any of them using logic or science, you get pages and pages of abusive, vulgar hate comments.


You can't fix stupid...

Edited by robbalvey
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WOW! That project came out of the blue (pun intended). It looks spectacular. Hmmm. I wonder if that is the reason why BGW is getting a small foot print roller coaster. I think that in the coming years they may not invest a lot in other attractions due to the size and scope of these projects at all of the SW parks. But wow...I am impressed

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SAN DIEGO (Aug. 15, 2014) – SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. announced today that it plans to build new, first-of-its-kind killer whale environments and that it will fund new programs to protect ocean health and killer whales in the wild. The new projects will build on SeaWorld’s legacy of providing state-of-the-art, innovative homes for its animals, and will offer park guests unique and inspiring killer whale encounters for generations to come. As part of its vision for the future, the company also pledged $10 million in matching funds for killer whale research and is embarking on a multi-million dollar partnership focused on ocean health, the leading concern for all killer whales and marine mammals.


“For 50 years, SeaWorld has transformed how the world views marine life. The unprecedented access to marine mammals that our parks provide has increased our knowledge of the ocean and inspired generations,” said Jim Atchison, Chief Executive Officer and President of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. “Our new killer whale homes and research initiatives have just as bold a vision: to advance global understanding of these animals, to educate, and to inspire conservation efforts to protect killer whales in the wild.”


Transformational New Environments

The first of the new environments will be built at SeaWorld San Diego where the killer whale environment is planned to have a total water volume of 10 million gallons, nearly double that of the existing facility. With a planned maximum depth of 50 feet, surface area of nearly 1.5 acres and spanning more than 350 feet in length, the new environment will also have views exceeding 40 feet in height, providing guests with the world’s largest underwater viewing experience of killer whales.


Named the Blue World Project because of its size and scope, the new environment will allow for increased engagement with SeaWorld experts through new enriching experiences and other interactive programs. The environment will enhance the educational experience for guests, foster deeper knowledge of killer whales and their ocean environment and inspire them to celebrate and conserve the natural world.


“Through up-close and personal encounters, the new environment will transform how visitors experience killer whales,” said Atchison. “Our guests will be able to walk alongside the whales as if they were at the shore, watch them interact at the depths found in the ocean, or a birds-eye view from above.”


Expanding on SeaWorld’s legacy of leading-edge animal environment design, the enlarged environment will provide killer whales with even more dynamic opportunities. It will support the whales’ broad range of behaviors and provide choices that can challenge the whales both physically and mentally. Among other things, it is planned to include a “fast water current” that allows whales to swim against moving water, thus functionally increasing speed and diversity. Innovative features focused on husbandry and animal care will offer SeaWorld’s animal health professionals and independent scientists unique access to the whales that can lead to a better understanding and care of the animals both in the parks and in the wild.


The San Diego environment is expected to open to the public in 2018 with new killer whale homes to follow at SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Antonio.


Killer Whale Research

As part of the Blue World Project, SeaWorld has committed $10 million in matching funds focused on threats to killer whales in the wild, especially those identified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration related to the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale. That includes new projects already funded this year: one that will help to understand the hearing ranges of killer whales and the other that will provide insight into nutritional status and reproduction of the Southern Resident Killer Whale. The matching funds will be in addition to killer whale research conducted by SeaWorld’s scientists, which includes nearly 50 studies to date.


Recognizing that ocean health is a leading concern for killer whales and all marine mammals in the wild, the company also announced it will be embarking on a major multi-million dollar partnership focused on protecting the ocean. More details of the partnership will be announced in the coming weeks.


Advisory Panel

SeaWorld will also engage an Independent Advisory Panel to bring new perspectives and ideas to the project. The panel will focus on the creation of an environment that maximizes the health and wellbeing of the animals. Given the particular expertise of current panelists and those expected to join, the panel will further advise on integrated research projects that can be conducted within the new environment and foster partnerships within the science and academic communities working in the wild.


Current Advisory Panel members include:


• Dr. Paul Boyle, Senior Vice President for Conservation and Education, Association of Zoos & Aquariums

• Dr. Heidi Harley, Professor of Psychology, New College of Florida

• Dr. Dorian Houser, Director of Conservation and Biological Research, National Marine Mammal Foundation

• Dr. Linda Lowenstein, Professor Emeritus Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

• Dr. Shawn Noren, Associate Research Scientist, Institute of Marine Science, University of California Santa Cruz

• Mr. Tom Otten, Chief Executive Officer, Reef Experience

• Dr. James F. Peddie, DVM, Distinguished Faculty Chair, Exotic Animal Training and Management Program, Moorpark College

• Dr. Paul Ponganis, Research Physiologist, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

• Dr. Kwane Stewart, Chief Veterinary Officer and National Director, Film and Television Unit, American Humane Association

• Dr. Pam Yochem, Senior Research Scientist and Executive Vice President, Research, Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute



"SeaWorld's capital investment will create a significant number of new jobs in our community and help drive the economy when construction begins at the Orlando park. Beyond that, it will enhance tourism by providing a state-of-the-art experience for visitors while providing valuable new research and educational opportunities in animal health and behavior," said Representative Daniel Webster (FL-10).


“Like so many others in science and industry, we are constantly learning more about how we can evolve our knowledge and continue to learn more about these amazing animals and stewardship of those in the wild,” Atchison said. “We look forward to working with these experts to build on these learnings and achieve our vision of increased knowledge of killer whales and global efforts to protect those in the wild.”


For more information on the Blue World Project, please visit http://www.seaworld.com/blueworld







Site plan for Sea World San Diego's new habitat. Others should be similar.

Edited by robbalvey
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This is seriously a great response for SeaWorld in my opinion.


Not only are they doubling the habitat for the animals, but they are also matching donations to help with the Southern Resident Orcas. I would like to see PETA donate the same amount of money, but I am dreaming.


I actually am just coming off a merchandise internship at SeaWorld (my last day was yesterday), and guests are always in such awe of the orcas, so it is awesome seeing that SeaWorld is doing their best to keep them around for the long term, and provide them with a great place to live.


On a side note: first post on the forum, but long time fan on Facebook. Hi everyone!

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This is seriously a great response for SeaWorld in my opinion.


Not only are they doubling the habitat for the animals, but they are also matching donations to help with the Southern Resident Orcas. I would like to see PETA donate the same amount of money, but I am dreaming.


I actually am just coming off a merchandise internship at SeaWorld (my last day was yesterday), and guests are always in such awe of the orcas, so it is awesome seeing that SeaWorld is doing their best to keep them around for the long term, and provide them with a great place to live.


On a side note: first post on the forum, but long time fan on Facebook. Hi everyone!


I agree! This is awesome! I am fortunate enough to work at SWSD and I was at the underwater viewing area last week and kept thinking to myself I would love to see them do something different with that area and now it's happening. Exciting!

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Were they forced into this as a response due to Blackfish? Or has this been in the works for a while now?


Seaworld's poor second-quarter earnings report caused stocks to drop by 33% on Wednesday, I'm assuming that would have something to do with this.


I'm inclined to think that while the movie-related fallout might've moved up the timetable of the announcement, the project itself has probably been in the works for some time.

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