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SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

P. 276: Penguin Trek construction update!

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^Yes, but you're a Manta fanboy!!!


I guess you could say that.


I thought Manta was a lot better than most reviews of it. Nice ride, weird pacing, gorgeous area and queue.




I actually didn't have very high expectations for the ride considering it was a flyer, but in context, I was blown away. Everyone I've ridden it with for their first time felt the same way...Doesn't hurt that it's also (IMHO) the most beautifully-executed Busch coaster/attraction.

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SeaWorld Orlando has sent us a press release about their new offer towards stranded guests visiting Orlando.


SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is offering free one-day admission to any United Kingdom, Irish or Continental European tourists stranded in Florida due to the interruption in international air travel caused by Icelandic volcanic ash.


The offer is valid starting Saturday, April 17, 2010 at SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica in Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.


Stranded tourists must present to the parks' front gate Guest Services window a valid return airline ticket from Wednesday, April 14, 2010 through Wednesday, April 21, 2010 or until normal flight schedules resume.


One ticket will be offered at each park for each return flight ticket presented. Children under age 3 are free.


Further information is available by calling 1-888-800-5447.

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SeaWorld Orlando has sent us a press release regarding their Environmental Excellence Award winners.


This Earth Day, a select group of students will be awarded for being the best in the country in regard to their stellar environmental efforts. SeaWorld and Busch Gardens will award the 2010 winners of its annual Environmental Excellence Awards awards Thursday evening during a Serengeti Night Safari at Busch Gardens. Jack Hanna will present the awards.


The inventive entries included creations such as:


-- A robot who collects garbage from the ocean, engineered by a high school science club

-- A system that turns waste cooking oil from restaurants into biofuel to heat homes for needy families, developed by a middle school group

-- A K-12 campus that processes paper and plastic, all according to industry standards, and runs a profitable business in doing so.


The award program recognizes the outstanding efforts of K-12 students and teachers across the country working at the grassroots level to protect and preserve the environment. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment awards each winning group $10,000 to further their environmental efforts -- plus a fun and educational trip to Busch Gardens Tampa, where they will feed giraffes by hand, meet rhinos up close, and learn about conservation initiatives supported by SeaWorld and Busch Gardens.


SeaWorld and Busch Gardens have awarded nearly 160 winning schools and/or organizations and almost $1.8 million dollars as part of this program since its inception 17 years ago.


An award for Educator of the Year and $5,000 was also presented to Cindy Suchanek of Mira Loma High School in Sacramento, Ca. for her tireless efforts to teach environmental responsibility to her students.


The 2010 winners are:

The Carlton J. Kell High School Robotics Team, Marietta, Ga.

Project Name: Applied Robotics for Marine Sustainability

Students developed a robotic watercraft designed to pick up marine debris and garbage in lakes and oceans.


Westerly Middle School Innovations Network, Westerly, R.I.

Project Name: Turn Grease into Fuel

This team created a sustainable project where waste cooking oil is collected from restaurants, refined into biofuel, then distributed to families in need to heat their homes.


Pacifica 4-H Club, Pacifica, Ca.

Project Name 4-H Million Trees Project

This group participated in an international service project inspiring up to 6 million 4-H youth to plant trees in their communities in order to help slow global climate change.


Mira Loma High School, Sacramento, Ca.

Project Name: Arcade Creek Project

This group conducts a research project, now in its eighth year, on the Arcade Creek with the purpose of removing invasive species and keep watershed clean and natural.


Learning Without Limits Science Club, Iowa City, Ia.

Project Name: Lead Wheel Weights: Unregulated Hazardous Waste

This group raised awareness about the dangers of toxic lead wheel weights in vehicles, presenting data that could help phase out hazardous material in the tire industry.


Purdy High School Spanish Club, Purdy, Mo.

Project Name: The Purdy Recycling Project

For the past four years, students on this K-12 campus have processed paper, metals, cardboard, plastic and Styrofoam, all according to industry standards, allowing them to run a profitable business.


Niceville High School, Niceville, Fla.

Project Name: NaGISA N.W. Florida High School Initiative

This group conducts extensive studies on marine life in their area, from the beach to twenty meters off the shore, with the goal of keeping the ocean eco-system pure.


Fayette Academy Ecology Club, Somerville, Tenn.

Project Name: Think Globally, Act Locally

This group takes part in hands-on environmental studies, calculating the health of three water systems, with the goal of energy conservation and a “greener tomorrow.”

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Jan Topoleski saw a wave push Dawn Brancheau's long ponytail into the mouth of a 12,000-pound orca, and then he watched as the veteran killer-whale trainer tried to pull her hair out of the mammal's jaws. Topoleski, a trainer for SeaWorld Orlando, turned to push an alarm. When he turned back, his colleague was gone.


Topoleski was one of 44 witnesses who talked with Orange County Sheriff's Office investigators who looked into how and why the orca, Tilikum, killed Brancheau after she was yanked into the water Feb. 24 shortly after a Dine With Shamu show. She died of drowning and blunt-force trauma, according to the medical examiner, who ruled the death an accident.


When the alarm sounded, one of SeaWorld's surveillance videos focused on the pool captured Brancheau, 40, as she briefly broke free from the killer whale. She tried to swim to the surface, but the killer whale repeatedly struck her. The trainer struggled for 21 seconds before the orca held her in his mouth and swam underwater. Outside the pool, paramedic Thomas Tobin watched and waited for three or four minutes but didn't see anyone surface. He waited at least 30 minutes before Brancheau was freed from Tilikum's jaws.


The 43-page report, released Wednesday, represents that final investigative document related to the SeaWorld accident, one that drew international attention and prompted a congressional subcommittee hearing this week about oversight of businesses that feature wildlife acts.


The one-day debate between animal-rights activists and theme-park operators in Washington centered on the educational value of parks such as SeaWorld.


Much about Brancheau's last moments was known. Transcripts of witness statements and a preliminary report of the death were released previously.


New in the final report was:

•A synopsis of a 24-minute surveillance video, which began at 1:37 p.m., about one minute before the orca grabbed Brancheau. It is the first minute-by-minute account of the accident.

•That Topoleski told investigators trainers moved Tilikum into three different pools in their attempt to free Brancheau, but the orca would not release her. They eventually coaxed Tilikum to release her by raising the bottom of one of the pools.

•That park visitor Jessica Wilder of Vermont told investigators she saw Brancheau lying on a platform, hugging Tilikum and feeding him fish. After the attack began, Wilder said, she saw Brancheau "scrambling to get out of the water." She saw the orca, and he "impacted her squarely in the chest." Wilder watched as the whale looped around and came back toward Brancheau with his mouth open.


SeaWorld has removed Tilikum from its shows and prohibited trainers from swimming with any of its orcas while it conducts a safety review. Tilikum remains at SeaWorld Orlando. Brancheau's death was the third linked to the orca, the largest at SeaWorld, and detectives noted that at least two SeaWorld employees talked about Tilikum's "possessive" nature.


Trainer Lynne Schaber told investigators she knew Brancheau was in trouble when Tilikum pulled her into the water because the killer whale "normally keeps things that he has and will not release them."


Laura Surovik, assistant curator of animal training at SeaWorld and Brancheau's best friend, told a detective she thought Tilikum was holding Brancheau "as if she was his possession." On Wednesday, a SeaWorld official said Tilikum had often displayed possessive behavior in the past, at times refusing to relinquish his toys. Chuck Tompkins, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment's corporate curator of zoological operations, said possessiveness wasn't considered a safety risk for SeaWorld's killer-whale trainers, noting that trainers were only permitted to work with Tilikum from the edge of pools because of the orca's massive size and his involvement in the drowning of a trainer at a Canadian marine park in 1991. "He never showed any indication that he looked at you as a play toy that he wanted to own," Tompkins said. But Tompkins said he thinks that is how Tilikum came to view Brancheau after the animal pulled her into the water. "I truly believe he looked at Dawn as an object, a toy," he said.


Also among Wednesday's revelations was a brief account of how much SeaWorld treasured Brancheau. Detectives made a note that after a crime-scene investigator arrived, an unidentified SeaWorld employee dove back into one of the pools. Why? To retrieve the dead trainer's whistle from the bottom.

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  • 3 weeks later...

SeaWorld Orlando has sent us a press release about their returning annual SeaWorld AfterDark offerings...


This summer at SeaWorld, the nights are cooler and the atmosphere is hotter! SeaWorld AfterDark transforms daytime favorites into nighttime spectacles.


SeaWorld AfterDark showcases the park in a whole new light, with a nighttime rock n' roll extravaganza, a high-energy Shamu show, a hilarious sea lion show and a mystifying fireworks finale. That's in addition to being able to experience all that's awesome day and night, like Manta, up-close animal encounters and spectacular shows. SeaWorld AfterDark begins May 29 and continues through August 15.


Whether day or night, SeaWorld is the place to be this summer for a one-of-a-kind experience, including:



Experience what it’s like to spin, glide, skim and fly with the largest of rays when riding Manta – by moonlight, an even more extraordinary sensation. A seamless blend of up-close animal encounters with a head-first, face-down flying roller coaster thrill ride, Manta is an adventure only SeaWorld could create.


Shamu Rocks

Shamu Rocks is a spectacular rock ’n roll killer whale show that wows audiences of all ages. This show is a high-energy concert of unprecedented proportions, combining awe-inspiring killer whales with a stunning light show and music from some of the hottest rock stars in the industry.



SeaWorld’s popular sea lion comedic duo takes the laughs into the night. Hilarious hijinks ensue in this evening show as the park’s talented sea lions, otters and walrus parody other favorite SeaWorld shows and attractions.




SeaWorld comes to life in a spectacular celebration of soaring fountains and dazzling fireworks. Through the thrilling and inspirational music of SeaWorld’s most popular shows, families and friends will experience a wondrous connection that lights the night like never before.



Experience the highlights of SeaWorld AfterDark VIP-style. This seven-hour, guided tour includes dinner and an opportunity to feed dolphins, front-of-line access to Manta and reserved seating at exhilarating night shows.


Staying closer to home this summer? The best way to experience SeaWorld again and again, and for the rest of the year, is with a Fun Card. Adult and child Fun Cards are only $69.95 each, when purchased online at SeaWorldOrlando.com. This special resident offer is also available at participating AAA offices throughout Florida. For more information, visit SeaWorldOrlando.com.


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I'm kind of excited about this, as I've never seen any of the "after dark" stuff before. However....


and a mystifying fireworks finale


"Mystifying"? They're calling their own fireworks show odd and perplexing??

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SeaWorld is gradually phasing out ads that depict trainers swimming with whales. The park also expects to have most of the images of Dawn Brancheau, the whale trainer who was killed, out of circulation in the next several weeks. SeaWorld revealed the planned changes to its advertising after WESH 2 News inquired about an ad at the Orlando International Airport featuring Brancheau emerging from the water on the back of a killer whale.The ad is prominently displayed over the escalators that lead down to the baggage claim.


SeaWorld spokesman Fred Jacobs said, "We discussed those images internally and with Dawn's family. They asked us specifically to keep the images of Dawn up as a way of honoring her memory." However, after further discussions with the family, the theme park said it is slowly phasing out the photos of Dawn, but it won't be an easy task. Brancheau was the most photographed trainer in SeaWorld history and there are many images out there which SeaWorld has no control over.


The park said its new ads will feature trainers interacting with whales but not swimming with them, which is a truer depiction of the current guest experience at the park.


Trainers have not entered the water with the whales since Brancheau's death back in late February. The killer whale shows are still held in Shamu stadium, but the trainers cue the whales from the ledges around the pool. As for the future of whale-trainer interaction, the theme park said its internal investigation of Brancheau's death is now complete.


"Over the next two weeks we'll begin to convene the external panel and after that we will craft the final plan for altering the ways we interact with and present killer whales," Jacobs said.

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I'm kind of excited about this, as I've never seen any of the "after dark" stuff before. However....


and a mystifying fireworks finale


"Mystifying"? They're calling their own fireworks show odd and perplexing??


It uses two large water screens to project images on the lake. So I guess somebody at SeaWorld's naming department likes puns.

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SeaWorld Orlando has sent us a press release about their latest accomplishment in the field of rescue and rehabilitation of marine animals.


Caring for SeaWorld’s 303rd endangered turtle patient this year is no small task for park aquarists. The recently rescued reptile is a three-foot, 270-pound loggerhead, found in the waters of San Carlos Bay near Ft. Meyers, Fla. on May 6.


The large male was seen floating to one side for several days. Emaciated and covered in barnacles, his condition was most likely caused by ingesting a foreign object.


Immediately upon his arrival at SeaWorld’s Animal Rehabilitation Center, aquarists began removing the barnacles and treating him with antibiotics. Veterinarians performed x-rays in search of internal injuries. The animal has begun to eat on his own as the Animal Rescue Team hopes to eventually return him back to San Carlos Bay.


SeaWorld is a global leader in the rescue and rehabilitation of endangered se turtles. This year the park has rescued 304 turtles and released 245. Now through August is loggerhead sea turtle nesting period, a critical time period for the preservation of this species.


SeaWorld aquarists Kate Grimaldi, left, and Lateesha Hektner measure an endangered loggerhead sea turtle at the park’s Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Center.

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  • 2 weeks later...



We are saddened to share that Taima, a 20-year-old killer whale at SeaWorld Orlando, died today from complications associated with the birthing process.


"We are very saddened by this loss,” said Dr. Chris Dold, senior veterinarian for SeaWorld. "Although we understand that complications with pregnancy can occur here, just as they do in the wild, the loss of any animal affects all of us at SeaWorld.”


Taima had successfully given birth to three calves previously. Preliminary indications suggest that her death was caused by placenta previa, a condition in which the placenta is delivered before the calf. She was not able to deliver the stillborn calf naturally; SeaWorld’s veterinarians attempted to assist, bur her complications were too severe.


A definitive cause of death will not be known until a necropsy is completed. The comprehensive medical process will be carried out by SeaWorld veterinarians and independent pathologists, and may take up to six weeks to complete.

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It is sad. While working for SeaWorld, I had the pleasure to see two whales born. What really sucks is that the Orlando media is already playing up that captivity, Tilly being the father, and other things are to blame. In the past when a whale has passed, it was a quick mention on the news, tonight, it beat out the oil on the Florida beaches as the top story on half the stations here in Otown!


I guess if you can look on the bright side, another baby whale should be born this fall.

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^^Funny you mention that. I was thinking as I was posting that I wonder with how similar whales are to us if the stillborn nature of the calf could be blamed on stress from the Tilly accident, or the fact that the trainers no longer get in the water with the animals, etc.

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  • 2 weeks later...

SeaWorld Orlando has sent us the link to a new video in honor of Manta's first birthday.


In honor of Manta's first birthday, lead designer Brian Morrow showcases some really cool facts about the attraction. Manta is an all-new flying roller coaster at SeaWorld Orlando that seamlessly blends up-close animal encounters with a head-first, face-down thrill ride that's sure to top the must-see lists again this summer.


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