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

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Obviously total speculation, but I would imagine that if trainers were ever going back into the water with the orcas, they'd just keep Believe around.

 

Although, I guess it's possible that trainers could be going back in using equipment or some other safety precaution that would force a total show change.

 

Personally, I'd like to see them back in the water, regardless.

 

/They don't stop auto racing when somebody dies.

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  • 3 weeks later...

SeaWorld Orlando has sent us some B-Roll footage from this year's Christmas Celebration, including the new Sea of Trees experience.

 

SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration Features All-New Holiday Festivities

 

New to this year’s Christmas Celebration is the Sea of Trees. Guests will discover 75 massive trees, each sparkling, lighted and choreographed to classic holiday tunes, making a dramatic display around SeaWorld’s center lake.

 

Also new is The Christmas Market, located on the park’s Bayside Pathway. Here guests can shop for one-of-a-kind gifts and dine on scrumptious holiday delights.

 

Returning Favorites included on the broll:

  • Shamu Stadium once again brightens the night with dazzling lights and glowing candles, while Christmas carols abound and Shamu splashes to celebrate the holiday season. It’s the magnificent holiday show, Shamu Christmas … Miracles. Winter Wonderland on Ice, is a spectacular show where Christmas comes to life with towering water fountains, magnificent fireworks and some of the most talented ice skaters in the world.
  • Clyde and Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas, is a Christmas comedy with everyone’s favorite sea lions Clyde and Seamore and a few mischievous otters and a jolly walrus or two, just for good measure.

 

The best way to experience SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration with family and friends is with an Annual Pass. Now with the purchase of an Annual Pass, guests receive three months free to enjoy all the park’s benefits, such as amazing animal encounters, thrill rides and world-class shows. For more information about SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration or to purchase an annual pass, visit SeaWorldOrlando.com.

 

[coastertube]http://www.themeparkreview.com/coastertube/play.php?vid=NEW_SEA_OF_TREES_SeaWorld_Christmas_Celebration_2010_h264_tffe[/coastertube]

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  • 1 month later...

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/travel/attractions/os-dine-with-shamu-20110113,0,3770148.story

 

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is preparing to restart a killer-whale show that has been suspended since the death of a trainer nearly a year ago.

 

"Dine with Shamu," a limited admission performance in which guests eat a buffet meal while watching trainers work with one of SeaWorld's orcas, will restart Feb. 26 at SeaWorld San Antonio and sometime this spring the company's two other U.S. marine parks, SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Diego.

 

The show had been in limbo since Feb. 24 of last year, when SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau, who had just concluded a 'Dine' session with a six-ton orca named Tilikum, was grabbed by the animal, pulled into the water and killed. Some guests were still in the viewing area when it happened.

 

SeaWorld continues to battle fallout from Brancheau's death, including a court fight with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which fined the company $75,000 and recommended trainers never again be allowed unprotected contact with Tilikum.

 

SeaWorld spokesman Fred Jacobs said the company is in the midst of making changes to its show areas to prepare for new performances. It is installing glass in the guest dining and viewing area and a new surface around the edge of the pool, among other changes.

 

Jacobs said Tilikum will not be used in the show, at least initially.

 

"It is possible that at some point in the future he'll be part of DWS, but not when it opens this spring," Jacobs said.

 

Launched in 2002, Dine with Shamu had become a lucrative venture for SeaWorld. The company charges about $40 per adult for the experience.

 

SeaWorld said it has begun accepting reservations for Dine performances in San Antonio. Bookings have not yet started in Orlando or San Diego.

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  • 3 weeks later...

http://www.seaworldparksblog.com/One_Ocean

 

We love our fans and wanted you to be some of the first to hear about the exciting new killer whale show opening at our three SeaWorld parks this spring and summer.

 

“One Ocean” is scheduled to premiere at SeaWorld Orlando at the end of April, SeaWorld San Diego on Memorial Day weekend and SeaWorld San Antonio in June. The show is exactly what you love about our parks – thrilling entertainment that educates and inspires you to celebrate, connect and care for the one world and one ocean we share. Check out the video below to get the scoop from Julie Scardina, our curator of animal training.

 

[coastertube]http://www.themeparkreview.com/coastertube/play.php?vid=YouTube_-_Julie_Scardina_Announces_New_Shamu_Show_-_One_Ocea_ao32[/coastertube]

 

[coastertube]http://www.themeparkreview.com/coastertube/play.php?vid=Kelly_F_Clark_Soundbite_for_News_3t8p[/coastertube]

 

http://www.seaworldparksblog.com/one-ocean-facebook-qa-animal-ambassador-julie-scardina

 

Today, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Animal Ambassador, Julie Scardina logged onto the SeaWorld Facebook page for a Q&A session with the fans. Check out the questions and answers below:

 

Q: Jo G: Hi Julie will "One Ocean" be set to music? Coming over from the UK in October and can't wait to see the new show And will it just be children that get chosen to interact?

A: Julie Scardina: Hey Jo! You'll love the new inspirational music. We'll have the flexibility to introduce Shamu to all ages.

 

Q. Blake F: I can't tell from the picture, are those the moving screens? Or will they just stay put?

A. Julie Scardina: Just like in Believe we'll have the spectacular screens choreographed to music.

 

Q. Beverly A: When in April will it open in Orlando?

A. Julie Scardina: Late April!

 

Q. Marilyn B: Julie, in what ways will the audience be able to interact with the whales during the show?

A. Julie Scardina: Be careful you might get WET!

 

Q. Paige G: What kinds of new behaviors will be featured in the show? How will the whales interact with the water? And will the show be educational in the sense that guests will learn about the whales like in the original Shamu Show?

A. Julie Scardina: The show will be more fun and whale personality driven, but you'll still see spectacular aerials and multiple whales interacting. These days it's easy to look up facts, but to be inspired is harder. Shamu will inspire people to care for his and our One Ocean.

 

Q. Beverly T: Will it include the trainers in the water interacting with the whales?

A. Julie Scardina: Not at this time but we are hoping and working towards that for the future.

 

Q. Blake F: Also, will any more pictures/models of the set be released?

A. Julie Scardina: Stay tuned!

 

Q. Jeannette G: Hey Julie... (Hoping this is how we ask our questions) Believe was a show that really touched my heart and many others as well. Should we expect the same from this new show? Sea World has always had incredible shows. And as an expecting mom to be i cant wait to bring my new family in time to share the experience of SeaWorld!

A. Julie Scardina: Absolutely! In fact, this show will inspire you to connect with and care for our One Ocean.

 

Q. Lisa G: Hi Julie, this question is from a friend. He wants to know if there is a possibility of waterworks still coming into this show in the future, and also what the new wetsuits look like?

A. Julie Scardina: The wetsuits are cool. Check back later for marketing released photos.

 

Q. Lisa G: I was wondering if Tilikum will be in this new show? Thank You!!

A. Julie Scardina: We are working towards that and hoping to add him when the time is right.

 

Q. Elena J: Hi Julie!! How are you today? My question is how will this new show be different from the other orca show? Thank you for all you have done.

A. Julie Scardina: Thank you! This show will be fun. You'll see more whale personality along with more audience interaction facilitated by the trainers.

 

Q. Stephanie C: Julie, how does some attain a job like yours?

A. Julie Scardina: Love of animals, hard work, long hours and a fishy smell! But boy is it worth it. Seriously, a focus on animal behavior, swimming skills, public speaking and passion will get you far.

 

Q. Jessica C: Hi Julie, it's not a question about the new show (which sounds awesome by the way) but how is little Makaio getting on?

Have an awesome day all the way from the UK xx

A. Julie Scardina: Makaio is doing great. Already showing us some spunky behavior!

 

Q. Marilyn B: Julie, will there be any physical barriers between whale and trainer during the new show?

A. Julie Scardina: We'll still have our protocols as we do now.

 

Q. Joseph G: Will the new show be built around a beautiful musical score like Believe was?

A. Julie Scardina: Great music, beautiful scores and inspiring lyrics.

 

Q. John M: Hi Julie! I was wondering, what will One Ocean have, that the other shows in the past haven't had?

A. Julie Scardina: A focus on whale personality and how they interact and learn from each other.

 

Q. Angela B: Hi Julie!! Such a big fan of yours!! Something which id like to know is is there a set date yet as to when the internal review will be complete. im guessing its not going to be long, so many people ask about trainers getting back in the water, it will get one step closer to that goal. Also, are there plans for a DVD and soundtrack release with the new show?? Oh and it would be great if you could give the SW press people a push into making a Shamu Rocks soundtrack!! Thank u so much for your time, i know your a busy gal hanging out with jay leno all the time hehe xxxxx

A. Julie Scardina: The process is still on going as we implement procedures, facilities and equipment changes. Not sure about the DVD yet, check back later.

 

Q. Marilyn B: One more question...will this show include a "one on one" moment with a female trainer and whale like Believe did during Something Far Greater?

A. Julie Scardina: We are working towards more whales in more segments for a more fun and personality driven segment.

 

Q. Marà a G: We went to see the Holiday show last December, most of the whales in the show were small (babies). Will this be the case in the new show?

A. Julie Scardina: We do have lots of babies in Orlando. And we love it! But our adult females definitely want to get out there as much as the babies do.

 

Q. Emily G: Hi Julie! I was wondering what kind of educational topics will be covered. Will it talk about threats to orcas? Will the show discuss orca social structure? To me, that's the most interesting thing about resident orcas, and I think the public should learn about it so they have a newfound respect for cetaceans!

A. Julie Scardina: We aim to inspire as there are so many ways to look up facts from your computer or hand held device, but until you are moved to care you might not take action. Our goal is to inspire.

 

Q. Rose M: Hello Ms.Scardina, I’m just curious about the show- from what is said, multi sensory. Do you mean Like Blue horizons or something entirely different?

A. Julie Scardina: You'll definitely hear, see, feel and if you get soaked, maybe even taste the experience of the new show, but certainly you will be moved.

 

Q. Heleen W: Hi Julie, I was wandering if you are going to move whales from one park to the other just to have a pod in Orlando with bigger whales. It has been done before so I was wandering if there are any plans. Thank you

A. Julie Scardina: No plans for moves at this time. Right now everyone seems to be in a good place.

 

Q. Joffrey V: Everyone is talking about the new show, so I wanted two questions. Will the trainers return to doing waterworks, and will the new show be something in the style of Believe again?

A. Julie Scardina: Relationships are multi-dimensional. Just like with humans there might be some aspects that are limited and other aspects that are enhanced. Right now we are making sure we are fulfilling all the whales needs through creativity, enrichment, toys, play and tactile.

 

Q. Kelsey H: Just one question...will there be a new "Shamu" whale? Or will it be the same one?

A. Julie Scardina: Shamu is representative of all whales!

 

Q. Misty K: is the reason u all changed the show because the trainers can’t get n the water with the whales???

A. Julie Scardina: Believe has run for 5 years. It was time to change but this show has been specifically designed to show off all of Shamu's amazing characteristics.

 

Q. Jennifer L: Hi Julie, How do you feel about Tilikum not being used in the shows for the past 11 months, as well as no plans to use him yet? Do you think that is fair to keep him in isolation and without purpose there?

A. Julie Scardina: Tilikum is still part of our killer whale family who receives the same amount of time and interaction as he always has. We utilize more brushes, tactile from water sprays and of course he still enjoys his interaction with other whales. He has been learning some new behaviors which we hope to use in the show at some point.

 

Q. Jeni-Trouble B: Julie, how have the whales reacted to being trained with new music, new choreography etc... Are they keen to learn a new routine or is it confusing for them after 5 years of the same show/music??

A. Julie Scardina: All the whales love to learn and look forward to new visuals, new music and new behavior. They watch the screen!

 

Q. Meghan L: Hi Julie what is the one ocean? Is that the name of the new show?

A. Julie Scardina: That's the name of our new show as it focuses on how we are all connected and all need to do our part for a healthy ocean.

 

Q. Callum W: Hi Julie I was just wondering will one ocean be more educational than Believe? A little bit like the Shamu adventure? Thanks

A. Julie Scardina: This show will focus on our connectedness with the ocean and how we can all make a difference, but it will be high energy, fun and inspirational.

 

Q. Alan Turner: ‎"One Ocean", one connection to a world were it once was impossible to believe could happen, in SeaWorld I trust,

A. Julie Scardina: Thanks for the support Alan!

 

Q. Emily Y: Dear Julie! I really hope you can answer my questions! (I'm in school right now just got time to ask my question!) If the trainers will get back in the water with the whales, will the new set be altered to allow trainers in the water with the whales? As well, I know Tili (my favourite whale) won't be returning to shows as of yet, but will he be return in the shows before it hits 2 years of him not performing? Thank you so much!! You are a truly inspiring person! ♥

A. Julie Scardina: Thank you Emily! Good questions. If and when that time comes, which we hope we will, we will make any necessary changes. Tilikum has been working sessions in the show pool to prepare him to return to the show when the time is right.

 

Julie was beyond impressed with the questions and ended her Q & A by asking all her fans to join her on Twitter. “Thanks for all the great questions. You sent WAY MORE than I expected! I've got to go now but find me on Twitter @JulieScardina.”

 

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/tourism/os-seaworld-killer-whale-show-20110203,0,5206150.story

 

A new killer-whale show that SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment will open this spring in its three U.S. marine parks will not include any in-water interaction between trainers and whales.

 

Dubbed "One Ocean," the performance will debut in late April at SeaWorld Orlando, on Memorial Day weekend at SeaWorld San Diego and in June at SeaWorld San Antonio, SeaWorld was to announce today. It will replace the nearly 5-year-old "Believe" show as the showcase attraction in the company's marine parks.

 

Plans for the new show have been deeply influenced by the Feb. 24, 2010, death of SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was battered and drowned by a company killer whale, and by the months-long safety review that has followed the tragedy.

 

The most significant adjustment: The new show has been designed for trainers to work exclusively from the stage, instead of in the water with the killer whales. Instead of "rocket hops" — the iconic maneuver in which a whale propels a trainer out of the water — "One Ocean" will feature highlights such as multiple orcas performing in unison and maneuvering amid giant fountains.

 

SeaWorld hasn't let its trainers swim with the animals since Brancheau's death. It has said it will reinstitute such "water work" only if it can make sufficient safety improvements.

 

"We are now staying out of the water. We don't know when or how that's going to change. So we said, 'Let's design this one to facilitate that and go in that direction,' " said Julie Scardina, SeaWorld Parks' curator of animal training. "This show was designed to create the interconnectedness with the whales without having to be in the water."

 

"One Ocean" will also have a more explicit conservation theme than "Believe" did, with images and messages that "revolve around the ocean, the environment, what people can do to make a difference," Scardina said.

 

She said the new show will emphasize the individual personalities of each of the roughly two-dozen killer whales in SeaWorld's corporate collection. During the show, for instance, trainers will have some guests interact with the animals through the glass surrounding the show pool. Trainers will also have more latitude about what behaviors to use than they did during the tightly choreographed "Believe."

 

"With the last show, we probably focused a little bit more on the fact that these are amazing performers. Now, we want to introduce them to the audience," Scardina said. "We want to bring them [guests] down to the glass and get close, and let people see that the older whales actually do teach the younger whales, that when they interact together they have fun."

 

The new themes have been crafted following months of heavy criticism from animal-rights activists who say marine parks provide no genuine educational benefit and that keeping the world's largest marine predator in captivity is inhumane. Critics contend that Brancheau's death — and a similar death in December 2009 of an orca trainer at a Canary Islands marine park — were the result of killer whales enduring extreme stress in captive environments, a conclusion that SeaWorld vehemently disputes.

 

To prepare for "One Ocean," SeaWorld's three Shamu Stadium orca complexes will undergo significant construction, as crews install fountains, paint new color schemes and, in some of the parks, replace oversized video screens. Scardina said the physical improvements will be comparable to what SeaWorld did to prepare for "Believe," on which the company reportedly spent more than $10 million.

 

Scardina said SeaWorld is also incorporating new safety features developed as part of the internal review launched following the Brancheau tragedy. But she declined to discuss specific measures, citing the ongoing legal fight in which SeaWorld is contesting a citation issued last year by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

 

A hearing before an administrative judge with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Review Commission is scheduled for April 25.

 

The new killer-whale shows are among 10 new attractions SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment will add at its 10 U.S. theme and water parks this year. SeaWorld says the construction spree, which is expected to approach nearly $200 million in 2011, is the largest single-year capital investment in company history.

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Edited by jedimaster1227
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SeaWorld hasn't let its trainers swim with the animals since Brancheau's death. It has said it will reinstitute such "water work" only if it can make sufficient safety improvements.

Like what? Making the whales sign contracts promising they won't do, um, whale things....like occasionally hurting trainers?

 

Anyway, the new show sounds good, and I really like that logo.

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SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Opens 10 New Attractions

This Year from Coast to Coast

 

Orlando, Fla. (February 3, 2011) – SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment – the parent company of 10 parks including SeaWorld and Busch Gardens – will unveil 10 new attractions across the country this year, the largest single-year capital investment in the company’s history.

 

Our guests expect thrilling, educational and inspiring attractions at our parks,” said Jim Atchison, President and Chief Executive Officer. “This year delivers our best and biggest line-up yet, from a new killer whale show that inspires guests to make a difference in our world, to an innovative, state-of-the-art coaster combined with an educational animal habitat. No one connects people to animals, the world – and to one another – like we do.”

 

Orlando, Fla.; San Diego, Calif. and San Antonio, Texas

 

All three SeaWorld parks: “One Ocean”

Opening at all three SeaWorld parks, “One Ocean” features majestic killer whales as ambassadors of the sea, and the ocean as the center of our natural world. The show educates and connects guests with these remarkable animals as it immerses them in the vivid colors and sensations of the underwater world. At the core of the show is the unifying message that both animals and humans are part of one world, with one ocean, and its future is in our hands to cherish and protect.

 

 

 

One Ocean” is scheduled to premiere at SeaWorld Orlando at the end of April, SeaWorld San Diego on Memorial Day weekend and SeaWorld San Antonio in June.

 

 

San Diego, Calif.

 

 

SeaWorld San Diego: Turtle Reef

In addition to the new killer whale show “One Ocean,” SeaWorld San Diego also debuts this summer Turtle Reef – an attraction that will allow guests to get an up-close look at 60 threatened or endangered sea turtles, as well as learn more about the threats sea turtles face in the wild. The attraction also will feature thousands of tropical fish, and a new ride that takes passengers on an exciting rescue mission of their own. The focal point of Turtle Reef is a nearly 300,000-gallon aquarium with a massive underwater viewing gallery.

 

 

San Antonio, Texas

 

 

SeaWorld San Antonio: Sesame Street Bay of Play

In addition to the new killer whale show “One Ocean,” this spring SeaWorld San Antonio will open Sesame Street Bay of Play, an all-new attraction for families featuring Elmo, Big Bird and all their friends. Sesame Street Bay of Play will include three acres of exciting rides, shows and play areas and will be home to a colorful carousel with all the friends of Sesame Street. Other kid-sized rides include Big Bird’s Spinning Reef, a delightfully playful Ferris wheel; Elmo’s Dolphin Dive, a vertical drop ride; and Abby Cadabby’s Rocking Wave, a ride that rocks forwards, backwards and sideways. Kids can also beat the summer heat at Little Bird’s Splash which features 22 water elements such as bubblers, geysers, jets and dumping buckets. At Big Bird’s 1-2-3 Smile with Me, everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends will greet, hug and take photos, and make memories. The Happenings stage area features musical performances with Elmo, Abby Caddaby, Zoe and Cookie Monster.

 

 

 

 

Orlando, Fla.

 

SeaWorld Orlando: “One Ocean,” see description

Discovery Cove: The Grand Reef

In June, Discovery Cove opens The Grand Reef. This all-new area features multiple levels of exploration, from shallow waters to deeper swimming adventures; from white sandy beaches and hammocks swaying in the breeze, to snorkeling among canyons inspired by reefs from oceans around the world. Guests can step into tranquil, shallow water to discover a below-the-surface world teeming with sea life, or they can snorkel in deeper water as thousands of exotic fish and graceful rays swim around them. Guests looking for an even more exhilarating adventure can take part in The Grand Reef’s innovative experience, SeaVenture, an underwater walking tour using dive helmets.

 

Tampa, Fla.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay: Cheetah Hunt and Cheetah Run

Opening this summer, Cheetah Hunt is a one-of-a-kind, multiple launch-point coaster that uses the force of repelling magnets to launch riders from 0 to 60 mph in a matter of seconds – not once, but three times. Cheetah Hunt sets a new distance record for a Busch Gardens’ roller coasters at 4,429 feet of track.

 

Cheetah Run will set a new standard for bringing nature and humans together. This expansive new habitat will give visitors the opportunity to get closer to cheetahs than ever before with elevated, glass-paneled viewing areas. They can also witness the world’s fastest land animal in action during daily sprints conducted by Busch Gardens’ trainers.

 

 

Williamsburg, Va.

 

 

Busch Gardens Williamsburg: Mäch Tower

This spring, guests will see the massive spire known as Mäch Tower. The tallest ride in the park, Mäch Tower lifts up to 30 riders nearly 200 feet into the air.

 

After rotating at the top of the tower and getting a few seconds to take in the view, riders drop at breath-taking speed. State-of-the-art special effects include enhanced audio.

 

 

Water Country USA: Vanish Point

Inspired by the point on a wave where water and gravity form a perfect partnership, Vanish Point supplies two wicked-wet ways to drop out of sight. The crest of this 75-foot tower challenges guests with two wave paths. They can step into a skybox and take a plunge when the floor drops out beneath their feet, or they can get horizontal on a 300-foot speed slide that drops them straight down as soon as they enter. Either way, it’s pure liquid adrenaline.

 

Langhorne, Pa. near Philadelphia

 

Sesame Place: “Neighborhood Street Party” and Elmo’s Cloud Chaser

This spring, the “Neighborhood Street Party” parade will allow guests to experience an energetic neighborhood block party on iconic Sesame Street with all of their favorite friends, including: Elmo, Count Von Count, Bert & Ernie, Abby Cadabby, Zoe, Cookie Monster, Rosita, Big Bird and Telly. The parade will feature familiar contemporary songs, as well as Sesame Street favorites that are sure to get everyone joining in the fun. The park’s newest ride, Elmo’s Cloud Chaser, invites families to join Elmo up into the sky where the clouds are as close as their imagination.

 

To stay current on the latest attraction news, visit the parks’ blogs including: www.seaworldparksblog.com , www.buschgardenstampablog.com , www.buschgardensvablog.com , and www.sesameplaceblog.com .

 

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, a portfolio company of The Blackstone Group (NYSE:BX), operates 10 parks across the U.S. including SeaWorld parks in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio; Busch Gardens parks in Tampa, Fla. and Williamsburg, Va.; Discovery Cove and Aquatica in Orlando; Sesame Place near Philadelphia, Pa.; and water parks Adventure Island in Tampa and Water Country USA in Williamsburg. The 10 parks play host to 23 million guests each year and employ 20,000 people nationwide.

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  • 3 weeks later...

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-seaworld-trainers-water-20110223,0,1956999.story

 

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is preparing to put trainers back in the water with its killer whales for the first time since a trainer was battered and drowned by the company's largest orca one year ago today.

 

SeaWorld told the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday that trainers in its three U.S. marine parks will begin limited "water work" with whales within the next few months, with the interactions initially restricted to small medical pools equipped with false-bottom floors that can be lifted out of the water.

 

The company said it also will spend tens of millions of dollars in coming months on safety upgrades at its killer-whale facilities in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio — from custom-designed, fast-rising pool floors in its larger show venues to underwater vehicles that could be used to distract an out-of-control killer whale with pulsing lights and whale vocalizations.

 

Company officials said they intend to proceed slowly and have not decided when — or even if— trainers might once again go back into the water with killer whales during public shows. SeaWorld trainers have not been permitted in the water with the whales since veteran SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by a 6-ton orca named Tilikum on Feb. 24, 2010.

 

"We've never been in a situation where we've been out of the water a year with our whales. I would like to be able to tell you that I think our whales are going to be very comfortable doing this," Chuck Tompkins, corporate curator of zoological operations for SeaWorld Parks, said Wednesday. "But that's the reason we're taking our time. We're taking nothing for granted."

 

SeaWorld must strike a delicate balance as it moves forward. The company is battling federal regulators who have accused it of recklessly placing trainers in danger, and it faces a potential wrongful-death lawsuit from Brancheau's widowed husband. But it also wants to eventually resume the iconic, in-water performances that have helped build SeaWorld Parks into a $1.2 billion-a-year theme-park giant and are also, officials say, an important part of building relationships between whales and trainers.

 

"We do feel that that's the best way to not only showcase those animals but to care for the animals, as well," said Julie Scardina, also a corporate curator of zoological operations for SeaWorld Parks. "It's something that we've been successful doing throughout our history. We know it inspires people, and we know that it allows us the best access to the whales, as well."

 

Preparations to return to water work are already well under way. Trainers, for instance, have in recent weeks been going through seminars on topics such as whale aggression.

 

The killer whales themselves, meanwhile, are gradually being re-trained through a process SeaWorld calls "water desensitization training." The whales are taught to swim around the perimeters of their pools while ignoring progressively greater distractions — from unusual objects to noises being made in a neighboring tank.

 

That training will soon progress to desensitizing the animals to the presence of a trainer in the water. Tompkins said that will happen "within the next couple of months," though only in the medical pools.

 

"Water 'desense' is a very methodical process," Tompkins said. "You don't immediately jump in the water and go, 'What are you going to do with me?' You literally go to the other side of the pool and you put your foot in the water and you make sure the whale doesn't pay attention to the fact that there's a foot in the water."

 

SeaWorld said it has not decided when training might progress beyond the medical pools. The company says its timetable is not dependent on its ongoing legal battle with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration; hearings before an administrative law judge are scheduled to begin April 25.

 

SeaWorld said it eventually plans to put all of its killer whales through the desensitization training save one — Tilikum, the large whale that killed Brancheau. The adult male is considered especially dangerous because he has been involved in three deaths over 20 years and is by far the biggest orca in SeaWorld's collection.

 

Tilikum, whom Tompkins said had been put through "some very basic sessions of water desense" before Brancheau's death, will undergo some further limited work. But trainers will not get into the water with him at all, even in the medical pool.

 

Trainers have, however, begun working with Tilikum on behaviors to be used in a new killer-whale show that will debut in SeaWorld's marine parks this spring. That show, at least for the foreseeable future, will be conducted entirely by trainers working from the stage. SeaWorld has kept Tilikum out of performances since Brancheau's death.

 

Even as it moves forward with water work, SeaWorld said it is in the midst of making sweeping safety improvements at its orca complexes. The most ambitious project: Rising pool floors that can lift killer whales out of the water in perhaps less than a minute's time.

 

SeaWorld said it has designed the new floors in conjunction with Oceaneering International Inc., a Houston-based deep-sea engineering company that works primarily with offshore oil- and gas-drilling companies. The floors are designed to rise much faster than the cabled lift stations in SeaWorld's medical pools, which take approximately 60 seconds to rise from 8-foot-deep water.

 

"Upon initiation, it would immediately release and rise to the surface, lifting multiple killer whales, and then obviously could support multiple individuals," said John Linn, SeaWorld Parks' senior director of engineering services.

 

Linn said the first floor will be installed by June in the 28-foot-deep "Dine with Shamu" pool in Orlando — the same pool that Brancheau was in when she was killed. Once SeaWorld has tested the mechanism and ironed out any kinks, it intends to install similar floors in all of the company's orca pools, including the largest performance pools, which are nearly 40 foot deep.

 

Although SeaWorld would not discuss specific costs, it said it expects to spend "tens of millions" of dollars installing the floors — putting the project's price tag at least on par with, and potentially more expensive than, a major new theme-park ride.

 

SeaWorld said it has also worked with Oceaneering to develop what is essentially a remote-controlled underwater vehicle that could be deployed to distract a whale in an emergency. The device, which SeaWorld will begin testing in about a month, will be able to swim patterns, float to the surface, flash with a strobe light, vibrate and emit sounds, including, potentially, whale vocalizations.

 

In addition, SeaWorld said it intends to eventually outfit its trainers with emergency air supplies, initially designed for the U.S. military, that will feature automated breathing regulators and provide two-to-five minutes of air for a trainer trapped under water. And the company says designers are researching rapidly expanding mechanisms that trainers could use in an attempt to quickly pry open a whale's jaws in an emergency.

 

SeaWorld said it has also overhauled oversight of its animal-training department by assigning both Tompkins and Scardina to focus solely on training in its 10 theme parks and water parks. The company eliminated a similar corporate-level training position several years ago, opting instead to fold responsibility for animal training in with the rest of its zoological disciplines.

 

Those changes are on top of other safety improvements SeaWorld has made in recent months, including installing removable guardrails around stage ledges and "net boxes" that can more more quickly deploy in an emergency.

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This has to be the most disturbing news I have ever heard come out of a theme park!

 

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41788137/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/

 

ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida authorities say a 26-year-old man raped a 2-year-old girl at SeaWorld Orlando and saved pictures of the crime on his cell phone, local media reported Friday.

 

Michael Grzybowicz of Cocoa Beach, Fla., has been held without bail in the Brevard County Jail since Saturday, Orange County sheriff's deputies said.

 

Grzybowicz is accused of raping the child on Feb. 17 after her mother had asked him to briefly watch the toddler inside the theme park, according to Orlando TV station WESH.

 

Pictures of the alleged rape were found on Grzybowicz’ phone and sent to his e-mail account, the sheriff's office said.

 

Records state that four photographs in the phone's memory chip showed the violation of the youngster wearing a diaper and a yellow sun dress while she rode in a dark blue stroller, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

 

Grzybowicz told investigators that he didn't know how the photos got onto his cell phone, according to media reports.

 

The victim’s mother said the only time she left her daughter with Grzybowicz was when she and her boyfriend went on an amusement ride. The four had spent the day at the amusement park.

 

SeaWorld issued this statement: "Nothing is more important than the safety and welfare of our guests, and our team members are trained to report any kind of suspicious behavior. Illegal behavior of any type is not tolerated at our parks. Our thoughts are with the family at this very difficult time."

 

A warrant indicates Grzybowicz faces charges of sexual battery and lascivious molestation on a child younger than 12, according to the Sentinel.

 

 

Picture of the guy...

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had a chance to briefly visit SeaWorld Orlando today, and despite a busy day, I was able to find a few new changes of note for the park.

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Set design changes are currently underway for Shamu Stadium.

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The trainer at the beginning of Believe now makes note of the eventual introduction of One Ocean, giving guests a little bit of a description of why the current set is unfinished.

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Work on the installation of the emergency lift system has begun in the right whale tank. Once testing of the installed system is complete, similar systems will be put into the other tanks as well.

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The screens were not in motion today, likely because of the set changes in progress.

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These are new...

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In other news, Journey to Atlantis is testing new, individual lap bars on select cars.

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While a little tighter on the body, the individual bars seem to fit well and make the ride seem a little more secure.

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The seats have been modified slightly to accommodate for the new lap bars...

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Definitely a positive change for the ride!

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One last look at the new lap bars on Journey to Atlantis.

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I went there on Thursday and didn't even notice the individual lap bars vs shared lap bars, of course I hadn't been to Sea World in a year...as always, I loved JTA.

 

It is an under-rated ride IMO. Sure, a lot of the effects have stopped working, and the story throughout was something that went a bit zany, but... its got a great first drop, a "surprise soaking," and then a 2nd drop that I never expected the first time through.

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Was there on Monday to check out the new restraints. The line got extremely long so I only rode once and was seated in a boat with the shared bars. From observation though, the new individuals really don't do anything different. Doesn't really slow down boarding any at all. It just means I won't be able to sit in the center of a row anymore to avoid the water sloshing over the sides, but that's a tolerable loss for improved security .

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  • 2 weeks later...

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-seaworld-tilikum-20110325,0,141493.story

 

SeaWorld Orlando plans to put the killer whale Tilikum back into public performances beginning Wednesday, for the first time since the 6-ton whale killed a trainer at the marine park more than one year ago.

 

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment President Jim Atchison signed off on the decision this week, and Tilikum is expected to appear in an 11:30 a.m. performance of "Believe," the company's main killer-whale show.

 

Tilikum has not appeared in any shows since Feb. 24, 2010, the day the animal battered and drowned 40-year-old trainer Dawn Brancheau. The death made headlines worldwide, forced sweeping safety changes within SeaWorld, and sparked government investigations and private lawsuits that have yet to be resolved.

 

SeaWorld said Tuesday that including Tilikum in shows is important for the animal's health and husbandry.

 

"Participating in shows is just a portion of Tilikum's day, but we feel it is an important component of his physical, social and mental enrichment," Kelly Flaherty Clark, SeaWorld Orlando's animal training curator, said in a prepared statement.

 

Company officials said repeatedly in the aftermath of Brancheau's death that they intended to put Tilikum back in shows eventually.

 

The move comes at a sensitive time for SeaWorld, which is challenging a U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration citation issued last summer. The federal agency accused SeaWorld of willfully exposing its killer-whale trainers to danger without adequate protection, and it recommended that trainers never again be exposed to Tilikum.

 

Tilikum, an adult male who has sired more than a dozen calves over the years, is by far the largest of the roughly two-dozen killer whales in SeaWorld's corporate collection. He had been involved in two human deaths before Brancheau's, including a trainer at a British Columbia aquarium in 1991 and a homeless man who snuck into SeaWorld Orlando's killer-whale complex after hours in 1999.

 

Hearings before a federal administrative law judge are scheduled to begin April 25.

 

SeaWorld declined to discuss its decision in detail Tuesday. But in the written statement, Flaherty Clark said SeaWorld "will be using the same methods in caring for Tilikum that have been in place for more than a year."

 

Those changes include requiring trainers to stay farther away from Tilikum when working with him — massaging him, for instance, with high-pressure hoses instead of manually rubbing him by hand.

 

SeaWorld says it also has made many safety upgrades to the killer-whale facilities in its parks in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio. Among them: Guardrails around pool ledges, and devices that can more quickly deploy safety nets in case of an emergency.

 

And the company says it will make more substantial changes in coming months, including the installation of fast-rising, false-bottom floors in its killer-whale pools capable of lifting multiple whales and trainers out of the water, potentially in less than a minute.

 

Still, SeaWorld's critics say the company is risking its trainers lives by continuing to work with Tilikum.

 

"If you had a friend that had a dog that had mauled three people, would you go play with that dog?" said Russ Rector, a former dolphin trainer in Fort Lauderdale who now opposes keeping marine mammals in captivity. "These people only care about the show. They never learn."

 

Even as it puts Tilikum back into its shows, SeaWorld is also moving forward with plans to put its trainers back in the water with the animals.

 

Company officials said last month that trainers in its three U.S. marine parks would soon begin limited "water work" with killer whales, with the interactions initially restricted to small medical pools already equipped with lifts in the floors. The company says it still has not decided whether its trainers will again begin performing with the whales during shows.

 

No trainers, however, will be allowed in the water with Tilikum. SeaWorld had prohibited water work with the animal even before Brancheau's death because of his size and dangerous history, though the company had begun some limited "water-desensitization training" — during which a whale is taught to ignore a human in the water — before the tragedy.

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There's always going to be danger with wild animals and people. No matter how long they've been in captivity, whales will still wild animals. Sad events like Dawn's death unfortunately occur every once in a while, while you can put safeguards up, there will always be risks.

 

I honestly think the GP will freak out when they find that the "Killer" Whale has returned...

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Tilly is WAY too big to be put back in the show. He's already killed 2 trainers. I know probably he thought he was only playing and didn't know he did something wrong, but this guy is just humungoid. If something else happens and he's responsible, Sea World better not start crying because they know Tilly is a liability. They should just give him full access to all the whale pools when there aren't shows going on and keep up with his physical and mental stimulation without the trainers being too close to him.

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I think Tili should be in the shows. I mean, the trainers - ESPECIALLY knowing his past, still deal with him from the sidelines. They do not go in the water with him, and that was in place prior to Dawn's accident. I think it should be entirely up to the trainers, as to whether or not they are involved directly with the whales. I know, being an animal lover - I would definitely still be involved. But this is what they do. They each know there is a risk every time, but they choose to continue on. I wish we could hear from a trainer...and how they feel about the scenario.

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He's no bigger now than he was when he was actually in the show. His size is not an issue in regards to being in the show. His sole purpose in shows it to splash people. Even before, trainers weren't in the water with him.

 

Frankly, if something else happens with ANY of the whales, SeaWorld is going to be in the spotlight no matter what. If they feel he needs the stimulation of going out in front of a couple of thousand people three times a day for 5 minutes, with no trainers in the water, and new safety precautions in place, I trust their judgement.

 

Tilly is WAY too big to be put back in the show. He's already killed 2 trainers. I know probably he thought he was only playing and didn't know he did something wrong, but this guy is just humungoid. If something else happens and he's responsible, Sea World better not start crying because they know Tilly is a liability. They should just give him full access to all the whale pools when there aren't shows going on and keep up with his physical and mental stimulation without the trainers being too close to him.
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An Oviedo entertainment company is suing SeaWorld, its parent companies and affiliated parks, accusing executives of using copyrighted designs in some their major attractions without paying for them.

 

Revere Entertainment Studios filed the lawsuit in Orange County Circuit Court on Thursday. It says SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment used Revere's designs in several popular SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Tampa attractions, including the recently opened SeaWorld Aquatica water park.

 

A spokesman said SeaWorld would not comment until it had a chance to review the documents.

 

Source: Orlando Sentinel

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I was reading that story about the lawsuit earlier and found it very interesting. I have absolutely no idea how credible the lawsuit is, and I have never heard of that company or that park for Australia, but I do find it kind of ironic how all of the recent new attractions at Busch/Seaworld parks (Jungala, Sheikra, Manta, Sesame Street, Happy Harbor, Allure, Aquatica, etc) are all kinda similar in feel and almost completely different than anything else Busch parks had produced in the recent past. I mean all of these recent installations are fantastic and on a level of creativity and detail that I personally didn't think existed at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens 10 years ago. Jungala and the Manta/commersons dolphins habitats are just completely different than any other animal enclosure they had previously at either park. I don't know, I would normally look at a story like this and immediately deem it as false but something about this feels a little weird to me.

 

At Disney and Universal the whole place has more of a consistent feel of quality and overall theme where as in Busch gardens and Sea World you can really walk around the a park and just "feel" what is new and what is old and dated. And ironically everything that feels "new and fresh" looks like something from the drawing of that proposed park for Australia. Maybe its just a coincidence, maybe not.

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It could be because the Busch parks are owned by a completely different company with a different approach at new rides/attractions.

 

I've noticed that Blackstone seems to be investing in rides that AB probably wouldn't have (Mach Tower, Cheetaka, Manta West, and the possible prototype launcher coming to BGW come to mind). Blackstone enjoys taking slightly bigger risks in their investments.

 

The whole copyright ordeal seems interesting though.

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