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P. 272: New Howl-O-Scream 2022 details released!

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SeaWorld's Pilot Whales get a new home at Shamu Stadium


SeaWorld Orlando’s four pilot whales have a new home in Shamu Stadium, where guests should soon be able to see them.


SeaWorld moved the whales Friday from the dolphin stadium, where they had performed in the Blue Horizons show that recently ended. Shamu Stadium will provide them with more room, SeaWorld spokeswoman Aimee Jeansonne-Becka said.


Three of the whales — Ava, Ace and Piper — were part of a mass stranding in South Florida in 2012. Fredi was rescued after being stranded in the Florida Keys in 2011. NOAA has deemed the whales unreleasable.


Since they’ve been at SeaWorld, they’ve gained a lot of weight — 1,000 pounds apiece. They tip the scales at between 1,400 and 2,000 pounds each.


The pilot whales are separated from the orcas at Shamu Stadium but can see them, Jeansonne-Becka said.


Once the pilot whales become acclimated to their new surroundings, guests should be able to see them from the underwater viewing area. An education ambassador will share their story with visitors. There are no immediate plans to make them part of the killer whale show.


Jeansonne-Becka said the water at Shamu Stadium was temporarily gradually adjusted over several days to a safe water temperature for both species to help with their acclimation. Both orcas and pilot whales are found in overlapping habitat areas in the wild, with similar temperature ranges, she said.


Pilot whales, like orcas, are members of the dolphin family. They are second only to killer whales in size. They have the same level of intelligence as bottlenose dolphins and are easily trained, according to the American Cetacean Society.

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  • 2 weeks later...

A lot of this is already known, but for those catching up....

SeaWorld: Kraken losing its head, gaining new entrance, queue

The makeover of the Kraken roller coaster at SeaWorld Orlando goes beyond the addition of virtual-reality headsets. Look for real-life physical changes as well for the area around the attraction when it reopens in June.


Among the changes: The enormous eel-like kraken creature – big enough for people to walk under and for the coaster to speed through -- near the ride’s entrance has been dismantled. There’s a new kraken in town, explains Brian Morrow, vice president of theme-park experience for SeaWorld Parks & Resorts.


The mythical beast that will be seen via virtual-reality headset on the ride is a different species of kraken than the slithery one that originally inspired the thrill ride, which debuted in 2000, Morrow said. So, for consistency’s sake, the old big blue figure had to go before the new Kraken Unleashed name kicks in.


“We had to make sure that the creature that’s represented in physical form at the entry of the ride matched” the VR version, he said.


“All you see of the new kraken are her tentacles, because she’s based off a squid and not an eel,” Morrow said. “Now, we’ve made it a little more interesting with suction cups and teeth inside the suction cups.“


Those pinkish tentacles at the entrance are to the scale of the sea monster passengers will view in the VR experience.


She’s kind of a big deal.


“She’s very big and upset that we’re there,” Morrow said of the ride’s future story line.


Retheming of the queue will help set the scene of the onboard visuals. Park visitors will walk through scenes that represent a sea base off the shore of the Greek island of Mykonos that was established by an adventure capitalist, Morrow said. It’s designed to look like a repurposed fishing village, essentially rented out for an eco-tourism enterprise.


Also new to the queue will be media for storytelling and for explaining, via digital animation, how the VR equipment is used. The new Kraken story takes place in a (virtual) submarine, where passenger will explore an underwater geological formation.


“It’s very easy to understand. It really helps the virtual world that we’re going to put the guests inside of make more sense because the practical world is matching,” Morrow said. “That way it’s not so jarring when you put the headset on. This is what theme parks do. We’re place-makers.”


What you won’t see at the ride’s re-opening: Educational moments in the “Save the Kraken” vein. SeaWorld emphasizes real-life animals and their associated wonders, but the entire park doesn’t have to be all-nature, all the time, Morrow said.


“Kraken and [Journey to] Atlantis fill that gap of imagination and legend and wonder without feeling the need to do too much education,” he said. “It’s like recess in the school day. You get a break and then you go back into the learning world.”

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^I've been taking them for 10 years.....I will miss the ol "papier-mâché" Kraken at the entrance. While I don't care for the VR coming, I am interested in seeing how the new entrance will look once completed.

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A federal judge has ruled in favor of a Pinellas County man who sued SeaWorld Entertainment over automatic renewal of passes purchased through its monthly EZPay program.


Jason Herman sued SeaWorld in 2014 over the automatic renewal, claiming a breach of contract. The contract does not remind visitors of the automatic renewal toward the end of their first annual passes.


The contract says the passes would renew automatically except for any “paid in less than 12 months.” Herman’s lawsuit points out that customers such as him actually do pay for the annual passes in less than a full year. Herman, for example, made his first payment on March 18, 2013, and his 12th one on Feb. 18, 2014.


“Plaintiffs bargained for a one-year pass, not a pass of indefinite duration,” Judge Mary Scriven said in her ruling last month granting Herman’s motion for summary judgment as to liability against SeaWorld. Scriven also granted the plaintiff’s motion to make the lawsuit a class-action case.


Neither SeaWorld nor Herman’s attorney would comment.


SeaWorld has filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. SeaWorld disclosed the legal action in a quarterly report it filed Tuesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.


On one hand I think that Sea World was giving passholders a good deal. If you kept auto pay the monthly fee would be the same and you didn't need to worry about increased prices every year. On the other hand it was NOT well advertised that the passes would automatically renew. It took me a few months to realize that my pass was still active not because I had forgotten when I originally picked it up the previous year but because it was renewing each month. I consider myself pretty savvy about theme park things and even I got caught by this.


Plus if the claims about the wording of the contract is true (no renewal if paid in less than 12 months and everyone pays in 11 months) then it is a pretty clear contract case against the park. Probably why the judge granted summary judgement so easily.


In other news the Kraken is getting tentacles added...



New paint on the old eel body makes it a tentacle!

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^Hmmm...I know when I signed up with EZPay, I knew it was understood that it would continue to charge until I cancelled it after the first 2 years. I guess people just don't look at the fine print when they sign up for things.

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I've got to be honest, I didn't know mine would auto-renew and I was kind of wondering why I was still being charged. I just assumed maybe the payments were spread out over a longer time than I thought and it was such a small amount of money I haven't bothered to check yet.


Oh well, no complaints here. Now I don't need to process a new pass. I wouldn't think to sue the park though, the fact that I wasn't paying attention is totally on me.

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SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS), a leading theme park and entertainment company, and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street®, today announced the extension of their 37-year partnership to include the development of an additional Sesame Place® theme park in the United States.


The current Sesame Place theme park, located in Langhorne, Pa. between Philadelphia and New York City, is the nation’s only theme park based entirely on the award-winning educational program Sesame Street. The new license agreement between Sesame Workshop and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment extends SeaWorld’s status as Sesame Workshop’s exclusive theme park partner in the United States, with the second Sesame Place theme park scheduled to open no later than mid-2021 in a U.S. location to be determined. After the opening of the second Sesame Place, SeaWorld will have the option to build additional Sesame Place theme parks in the U.S. The agreement also makes it possible for Sesame Street characters to continue to appear at the existing distinct Sesame Street lands inside the company’s two Busch Gardens theme parks and SeaWorld theme parks in San Diego and San Antonio, as well as a new Sesame Street land to be built in SeaWorld Orlando by fall 2022.


“We know that the magic of theme parks gives families a unique and powerful way to experience and delight in the Sesame Street characters,” said Jeffrey D. Dunn, Chief Executive Officer of Sesame Workshop. “Building more Sesame Place theme parks will enable us to connect with even more families and provide funding that supports our nonprofit mission.”


The Sesame Place theme park features a variety of exciting family rides, water slides, live character shows, a daily parade, and seasonal events that help bring the educational world of Sesame Street to life beyond the show. Sesame Place also extends Sesame Workshop’s commitment to social impact work with its Sesame Place Cares annual series of events both in and outside the park, including a 30-year partnership with Variety–The Children’s Charity, focused on providing events with a safe and fun atmosphere specifically for children with disabilities and their families.


“We share Sesame’s goal of educating and entertaining generations of children, and the extension of our partnership furthers SeaWorld’s mission to provide guests with experiences that matter,” said Joel Manby, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. “We are thrilled to be able to grow the presence of Sesame Place theme parks in the U.S. and help our company diversify its brand portfolio and expand into new areas.”


“Expanding our Sesame Place theme park footprint will both deepen our relationship with longstanding fans and help us to connect with new families,” said Steve Youngwood, Chief Operating Officer of Sesame Workshop. “This partnership will also enable the Workshop to continue producing high-quality educational programming for the next generation.”


Under the terms of the new license agreement, the companies have agreed to extend their collaborative relationship through December 2031.






1. Why is Sesame Workshop expanding the number of its theme parks?


We are very excited that we are going to be expanding the number of Sesame Place theme parks in the United States. Currently, we have one very successful theme park in Langhorne, PA, and we think there is the opportunity to have more. Theme parks allow Sesame Street’s legions of fans to directly connect with their favorite characters, and by growing the number of Sesame Place theme parks, Sesame Workshop can engage many more preschoolers and their families. This will also help to provide additional funding for Sesame’s nonprofit mission and activities around the world, which would not otherwise be possible.


2. How did you choose your partner?


Sesame Workshop and SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. have been partners together in the Sesame Place theme park for 37 years. The SeaWorld Entertainment management team that operates Sesame Place understands the Sesame Street brand very well and does a great job at running the park. They are an ideal team to expand and build new Sesame Place theme parks with.


3. What diligence did you do regarding animal welfare practices?


We believe that animal welfare is very important. Before extending our partnership, we discussed the SeaWorld theme parks’ animal welfare practices and policies with their new management team. We also spoke with the Humane Society of the United States, which is working closely with SeaWorld and told us that they are very supportive of the steps and direction that the SeaWorld theme parks are taking regarding animal welfare. The SeaWorld theme parks are also accredited by the American Zoological Association.

Edited by jedimaster1227
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Isn't Sesame Street at risk for getting cancelled under Donald Trump's plans? Since PBS is supposed to be getting defunded. If so, it seems feasible that the next generation of children won't know these characters at all.

I wouldn't be too worried about that having any impact on the Seaworld parks. By 2022 we should know what kind of effect defunding PBS may have on Seasame Street and I'm sure Seaworld will reconsider if something happens.

Edited by RollerManic
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I would weigh in on this one, but I honestly have no idea if this is a smart business move or simply a diversion from greater issues at hand with the core animal parks. I do trust Joel Manby and hope that this turns out well for them as they certainly deserve some success for all of the effort they have been putting into trying to turn the company around.

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My cousin is overweight with a size 40 waist. He could not fit on nitro or el toro at GA due to his large thighs. I plan on going to sea world orlando and universal with him sometime during the summer, are there any coasters that he will have complications with?

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^It's hard to tell, I'm a size 40 waist and have never had any trouble fitting on anything at either park, or anywhere for that matter. Seems like with most B&M's with OTSR's it has more to do with your chest/gut than your thighs but Mako and Rockit might be a squeeze.

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^^Mako's restraints are basically like Nitro's. I know some people can fit in some of the B&M hypers, but not others. It's weird. It's really body shape and not waist size that determines whether someone will fit or not. Kraken has "big boy" seats on certain rows and Manta should be fine.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Passholder preview was today. I've never done a VR coaster before (or any VR really) so I wasn't sure what to expect.


The entry area has been rethemed to the tentacle style and the queue has a more modern "science-y" paint job but very little else was changed. There are now monitors throughout the queue instructing on how to do the VR.


As for the ride itself I thought the VR was well done. It flowed with the ride pretty well and there were no issues with syncing that I could tell. On the other hand it all went by very quick while there was too much to see. You are bombarded by encounters with 5 or 6 different sea monsters but you only really catch a few glimpses of them before you hit the loop or cobra roll. For the finale you meet the Kraken but he too is only seen for a little bit as you whip around.


Overall I think it was a well produced VR experience but doesn't make Kraken a better ride (it was already great as a normal floorless).


The main problem is operations. They were only running one train for the preview but I don't see how they could ever get up to 3. It took about 10 minutes to unload and load. They had one team member for each row. When the train came in they would keep the restraints locked and the team member would make sure everyone's headset was off, then clean it with wipes, then put it back in the box attached to the harness. Only when that was finished would your row be released so you could leave. Then they would get the next riders on and help get the harnesses down, seatbelts fastened and then headsets adjusted. I don't see how they can really speed this up without really rushing the guests.


My rating: 5/10... wouldn't wait more than 30 minutes for it... and that's just 3 cycles now.



New sign


New TV


New paint




VR instructions (don't ride with open head wounds... ewwww)


More new paint and TVs


The setup


No more eel

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Nice little report. It's a shame to hear about 10-minute dispatches. I would expect something like that from Six Flags (who has consistently proven themselves), but when this was announced, I was hoping SeaWorld would have a different take on it that would allow better operations. I guess not, for now. Of course, they could improve as employees and operators get used to the cycle.

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