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SeaWorld San Diego (SWSD) Discussion Thread

p. 61: Jewels of the Sea Jellyfish Experience coming in 2024!

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While I consider myself informed, I've never been big into political arguments. I'm not the kind of person that gets angry over things politicians do and I'm the last person to stand on a soap box and complain about their incompetence... but this is truly stunning.


How is it that a member of the State Assembly has nothing better to do than to champion a made-up cause without doing any real fact-checking? I'm not an expert on whales and I don't pretend to be, but going to Gabriela Cowperthwaite for "fact gathering" is like going to the Republican National Convention for "fact gathering" about Democrats (or vice-versa). All you're going to end up is twisted facts, complete lies or a list of cherry picked things from the last 50 or so years that are blown out of proportion even if they're completely irrelevant today.


On one side you have Jack Hanna, the family of Steve Irwin, the family of Dawn Brancheau and hundreds if not thousands of marine biologists and animal experts. You also have countless Killer Whale trainers and former trainers and people who were in the movie who's words were twisted and taken out of context.


On the other side you have a bunch of people who watched a 90 minute propaganda film and now consider themselves experts and a few former Seaworld employees that had very limited interaction with Killer Whales.


While I'm no whale expert, all of the people who are whale experts are on SeaWorld's side. This is one of the best videos I've seen on the subject from a former trainer with no ties to SeaWorld. I'm more likely to believe a former trainer than someone with an agenda who has never had any real interaction with killer whales. If this bill passes and these animals are sent to sea pens, then they'll be exposed to diseases and ocean conditions they've never seen before. If the experts are right (and they probably are because they're experts) then the whales are likely to respond very poorly.


I understand that there are a lot of stupid people out there, but it's frustrating when our elected officials are just as stupid and closed minded as people on Twitter who watch a 90 minute one-sided movie and consider themselves whale experts.

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That's a pretty strong law, but I'm not surprised someone in California is trying to pass something like that. Kind of one of the reasons I wouldn't really want to move to there. Also it seems the bill only wants to stop the "entertainment" portion of Orca captivity. SeaWorld could probably keep their orcas, with the downside of stopping shows.


Midgetman "I was super surprised a few nights ago to see CNN still airing Blackfish" 82

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Also it seems the bill only wants to stop the "entertainment" portion of Orca captivity. SeaWorld could probably keep their orcas, with the downside of stopping shows.


Actually that's probably not the case. SeaWorld would most likely have to get rid of it's whales... either by sending them to certain death in the ocean or holding them in sea pens. SeaWorld is located in a cove... maybe they would be allowed to set up a pen there but obviously I have no idea.


Under the terms of the bill, all 10 orcas held in tanks at SeaWorld San Diego, the only California facility that has whales, “shall be rehabilitated and returned to the wild where possible.” If that is not possible, then the whales must be “transferred and held in a sea pen that is open to the public and not used for performance or entertainment purposes.”
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That bill is the death warrant for all ten orcas at SeaWorld. Why can't the morons figure this out?!


Also, like Elissa said, what about the rest of the animals? Are all of the sea lions, seals, turtles, sharks, fish, etc, lesser animals than the orcas? Will this effectively shut down the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park if this path continues? Will Disney have to release Mickey into the wilds of Anaheim?

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The question to be asked (possibly a dumb one): Do you think SeaWorld would pull out of California? Either By closing SWSD and relocating what can be relocated, or by Re-branding the park, (Possibly as Busch Gardens since the world seems to have no problem keeping any other animals "captive" ) Just throwing something out there...

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On a lighter note than this morning's news, here's a TR from my trip to San Diego these past two days!


The girlfriend and I finally had a chance to go on a mini-vacation again (stupid work schedules going haywire) and we didn't decide on where to go until Tuesday afternoon. We're indecisive like that, haha. Anyways, we hit the road early Wednesday morning and headed to Balboa Park in San Diego. We caught a matinee of Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale" at The Old Globe Theatre. Excellent show! Living in Las Vegas, it's been a while since we've seen a proper play rather than a big stage production. If anyone is interested in theatres, The Old Globe is a GREAT room. It is a smaller space, maybe 500 seats, but the production was Broadway level. We're definitely going to be back for another show in the future!


After the show we took a quick drive up the coast to La Jolla and visited Scripps Park, where La Jolla Cove is. If you're in the area and want to see wild sea lions, this is the place! There were a ton of them lounging around all over the rocks, some sleeping, some swimming, most of them making noise like sea lions tend to do. We wandered around the park as the sun went down (unfortunately there was a thick cloud cover, so no good sunset to view), hopped back in the car and drove the 6 miles south to Belmont Park to ride The Giant Dipper at night!


The Giant Dipper - The last time we rode The Giant Dipper was last summer in the back row during the day. This time was (technically) winter in the front row at night. It's still an excellent ride (love me some classic woodies) but it is most definitely a back seat ride. We did have the train to ourselves, though! Apparently San Diegans don't like to visit the beach at night in March, haha.


We ended that day in Seaport Village and grabbed some dinner. Be careful with parking here, though. We forgot to get our parking ticket validated (nothing said we had to) and they tried charging us $20 for an hour and a half. Luckily we were able to convince the attendant that we actually did eat dinner and only paid $3.


The next morning we were up bright and early for SeaWorld! First, though, we had to get breakfast. What better place than DuPar's Diner? We'd already visited the original location at the LA Farmer's Market in January and loved it and, since this one was directly on the way to SeaWorld from our hotel, why not grab some pancakes? I got a short stack combo, the girlfriend got the corn beef hash combo. Holy wow, was it incredible. The pancakes were great, but the corn beef hash was out of this world!


We got to the park right before opening. The current entrance is quite the bottleneck with only 4 turnstiles and two ticket windows, but luckily it wasn't very busy yet and we had arrived in front of the school busses, haha. Once inside we saw a porcupine and some huge, fat lizard as the Animal Ambassadors on our way to Journey To Atlantis.


Journey To Atlantis - We got wet. Very wet. Way more wet than our last visit in December. Luckily my phone avoided the water so good news there! The ride didn't seem to shuffle as much as last time, too! They still need to fix a few of the screens in the vertical lift, though. Always a fun ride!


After JTA we wasted some time before heading into Pets Rule!


Pets Rule! - This show stars almost exclusively rescued pets and is a lot of fun! If you've seen Animal Actors at Universal you know what you're getting into, but these shows are always fun to kill a half hour at! The fact that SeaWorld rescues these animals from shelters and trains them to perform on this level is incredible, though! The animals at the Universal shows are, if I'm remembering correctly, exclusively trained to perform on stage or on film. These animals at SeaWorld come from a completely different past, usually neglect or poor conditions, and are rehabilitated in excellent conditions! Very nice to see!


We opted to skip the Wild Arctic simulator and go straight to the exhibits for two reasons. One, let's be honest, the simulator is pretty cheesy. It's fun but it isn't a must do by a long shot. Two, the line was huge and full of little kids screaming and yelling.


The beluga whales are still doing their thing, being lumpy and swimming around with goofy grins! The polar bears, unfortunately, are currently out of the exhibit for breeding (giggity) and have been temporarily replaced with seals. The walrus was being awesome, swimming around, bumping into the windows and generally being a blob.


There were penguins out in front of the Penguin Encounter building! In December they were exclusively indoors but there were a bunch out front swiming around and grooming each other. At the indoor exhibit we got to see a ton of super-playful penguins today. They were WAY more active than our last visit! There was even one rogue penguin swimming around and body slamming into every other penguin that got in his way, haha. Penguins are awesome, that is all. The puffins were being lazy, unfortunately, but you can't win 'em all, I guess!


Turtle Reef was pretty inundated with young kids so we didn't spend a whole lot of time inside. We did check the interactive wall, though, and got some updates on the turtles that are being tracked. One of the turtles has crossed the Pacific since our last visit! She's back in the Phillipines to hang with her buddies! One of the other guys apparently just enjoys to circle from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas and back over and over again.


Riptide Rescue was fun, as usual. We rode it to waste a few minutes before the next show.


Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation - Yep, we saw it. That's about all I can say. It's a song and dance revue that has nothing to do with the movies other than the cameos from some of the characters. Nice theatre, though!


We circled back around to Shark Reef and saw some sharks that had trouble keeping their mouths closed. We made it through just before a huge school group went in, so lucky us!


The freshwater aquarium has a lot of cool exhibits in it, but it's kind of hidden (like the Madagascar theatre is) in the back of the park, but keep your eyes open! This reminds me, there was some construction going on between the Sea Lion theatre and the Madagascar theatre that was greyed out on the park map. I'm not sure what is happening there, but judging by the size I'd say a new food venue.


Sea Lions Live - Clyde And Seamour are always great! They rip on Survivor, Dancing With The Stars, CSI, and superheroes. OP the Otter needed a little help with his cues, though, haha.


Manta - I love this ride. Like I said last time, it's the perfect family coaster. Smooth, twisty, full of airtime, well lanscaped, and it flies by flamingos.


We didn't get to see One Ocean (conflicting show schedules) but we did do the underwater viewing where we SUMMONED SHAMU! Seriously. We were sitting down there for a while watching the orcas swim by. We were about to leave when the girlfriend said "Hang on, I wanna see them one more time." A half second later the biggest guy in that tank swam vertically by the glass and jumped out of the water! Probably the most perfect timing I've ever witnessed, haha. One of the trainers came down and did a bit of a presentation, having different orcas come to the glass to say hi to everyone!


We headed to Manta for a few more rides before the park closed. We took the long way around on our way out and were met with a small surprise. Explorer's Reef has soft-opened a small section!


Explorer's Reef - This is the brand spankin' new entrance attraction that is going to fully open in two weeks (March 21st). A few days prior to our visit they soft opened two of the pools, one for sharks and the other for rays and horseshoe crabs. The way they've set this up is excellent! Each tanks has at least two attendants to give information about the animals inside. There's also an attendant on a microphone giving general information for everything, greeting guests, etc. The look is pretty much exactly what the concept art showed (a rarity these days). I can't wait for the full entrance to open. With the construction wall still covering most of it you can only see the roofs and part of the huge wave out front, but it looks incredible. It will definitely be a huge improvement when the walls come down!


After SeaWorld we took a small side trip up to Carlsbad to stop by the Legoland Hotel on our way home. Why? No reason. I just wanted to waste time to get past rush hour in LA. We explored the hotel and grabbed dinner at the Karl Strauss Brewery across the street.


Legoland Hotel - Holy geeze. The themeing is awesome! I still haven't been to Legoland (very soon) and now I can't wait to come back! DANCE PARTY ELEVATORS! It's amazing! As soon as the doors close the lights change and a disco ball turns on! Every elevator should do this! Yup, definitely staying here when we come back to Legoland.


On with the pictures!


The Old Globe plaza.


The Museum Of Man, next to The Old Globe.


More Globe.


Better lighting.


La Jolla Cove. SEA LIONS!


La Jolla Cove


The gradient color on the moss was really cool.


Funky trees at Scripps Park.





Night pictures on phones always turn out crap. Sorry!


Heh, bird on bird.


Porcupine with the trainers.



Giant lizard!


They're getting the gardens ready for the 50th Anniversary celebration.


Journey To Atlantis goes splash.




Pets Rule!





Ripetide Rescue doing its thing.


Gorgeous day!



Looks cool! Pretty "meh" show, though.







Check that lens flare. JJ Abrams would be proud.















Shamu being awesome









Explorer's Reef (what's open)


Only a small portion has been opened.


The rest of Explorer's Reef, opening March 21st.


It looks excellent!


Touch the sharks, kids!



The new SeaWorld Store was very pretty, too!


Legoland Hotel!




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The question to be asked (possibly a dumb one): Do you think SeaWorld would pull out of California? Either By closing SWSD and relocating what can be relocated, or by Re-branding the park, (Possibly as Busch Gardens since the world seems to have no problem keeping any other animals "captive" ) Just throwing something out there...


The park will not close by their will. If this goes through, and the shows stop, the park will still do other stuff to market the park. If the park fails then, because they cant do shows, then that's another issue. Secondly, it is not easy at all to "move" a theme park....That's why no one has ever moved one. Its not financially feasible. They could relocate the animals and some rides, but the majority of the park would remain.

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When I posted the article, I didn't read the comments section, and people really seem to have no idea that these killer whales have zero chance of survival in wild. It's really sad to know that there are so many uninformed people in this country.


Also, I can't see this type of legislature being created in Texas or Florida, due mainly to the fact that they are much less crazy than California!

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This is the quote from the article, which itself is a quote from the bill (emphasis mine):

"[the bill makes it illegal to] hold in captivity, or use, a wild-caught or captive-bred orca for performance or entertainment purposes."

There's a big difference between preserving animals and using them for entertainment purposes. I've always been against this, which is why I don't visit zoos or animal shows. I haven't seen Blackfish, but to me IMHO it doesn't matter where the law came from, the focus is banning using the animals for entertainment purposes and not holding animals for preservation purposes and that's not a bad thing. So IMO to say that this law will ahem, kill off the killer whales, when they CAN still be in captivity and NOT forced into the wild is a fallacy.

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^That would depend how you look at it. Without Shamu shows to capture the hearts and imagine of guests, it is fair to reason that funding for research would drop. Without the shows to draw attention to the plight of killer whales, you could also argue that people would just forget about the issue in the first place…


But without turning this into a huge debate, regardless of your stance, it's just stupid (and most likely illegal) to have a bill that targets one business in the entire state.

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So we can preserve the killer whales and just let them sit in their enclosed space with no interaction at all. Honestly from watching Black Fish I didnt see any part of it that said the whales were unhappy performing. If anything its beneficial for them because it keeps them stimulated and excercised. The only thing that black fish brought up, which has been disputed quite significantly, that I thought was a red flag was SW's management practice of treating whales soley as assets and not creatures. And again that view point has been disputed. Personally I think if we let the whales die off and discontinue the shows, I give it a generation for people to stop giving a shit about the animals. The only reason why we care now is because we can have that interaction. A lot of this black fish rhetoric comes across, to me, as more key board activism. A bunch of people who think they're making the world a better place by the click of a button.

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I just came across something about the bill and a petition on Facebook, got really mad and came here and found out people were already talking it. This is just so stupid, if this bill passes I'm going to flip.


While I'm no whale expert, all of the people who are whale experts are on SeaWorld's side. This is one of the best videos I've seen on the subject from a former trainer with no ties to SeaWorld.

Thank you for sharing this!


I agree with so much of whta he said in this. I especially liked the portion where he talks about how rewarding it is for a little kid to see marine mammals. I saw my first killer whales and dolphins at Marine World when I was 2, and I became obsessed with them and learned all about them and wanted to be a marine biologist for years. I know there are a lot of other kids like me.


This is the quote from the article, which itself is a quote from the bill (emphasis mine):
"[the bill makes it illegal to] hold in captivity, or use, a wild-caught or captive-bred orca for performance or entertainment purposes."

There's a big difference between preserving animals and using them for entertainment purposes. I've always been against this, which is why I don't visit zoos or animal shows. I haven't seen Blackfish, but to me IMHO it doesn't matter where the law came from, the focus is banning using the animals for entertainment purposes and not holding animals for preservation purposes and that's not a bad thing. So IMO to say that this law will ahem, kill off the killer whales, when they CAN still be in captivity and NOT forced into the wild is a fallacy.

I'm pretty sure the bill said Seaworld must either free the whales or put them in an open-water pen. As Kyle Kittleson pointed out in that video coasterbill shared, an open water pen would be extremely stressful and harmful to the whales who have been used to a very controlled environment.


I get what you're saying, and I would be in favor of having the whales stay at Seaworld but not perform. However, the bill is calling for much more than that and what they're calling for could really harm the whales, and other animals as well (since Seaworld would lose revenue from this, and they spent millions on rescue and conservation).


I also agree with what Elissa said earlier. Why so much focus on the killer whales now? There are so many other large animals in much worse conditions in zoos and other places. Some of those animals may be endangered. Killer whales are not at all endangered, and they've lived in captivity for several decades now. It's like this is a repeat of the "Free Willy!" movement from the '90s, but on a much larger scale.


If one movie can make such a fuss, then let's just release a bunch more slanted documentaries and see what happens. Let's talk about how school bus drivers are ruining our children, and how eating oranges causes cancer, and how driving yourself to work means you're going to cheat on your wife. Anything is possible now.

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^^^ Was there a comments section for the awesome cartoon? I could use a good laugh and/or raise my blood pressure.


not that I saw, but then again, I saw it in our Austin, Texas paper.


(but I'm sure if you google Steve Breen and San Diego Tribune, there's a bunch of feedback from folks who were "offended"




edit: ah, here's one from their Opinion page on 3/11 in response to the cartoon:

Retiring orcas is progressive thinking


What a disappointment to see Steve Breen’s editorial cartoon (March 9) of the public being fed baloney by animal rights extremists. The cartoon was in regards to Assemblyman Richard Bloom’s proposed legislation to prohibit orcas from being held in small concrete tanks to perform tricks for our entertainment.


The world and its thinking progresses. Women can now vote; blacks aren’t held as slaves; gays have the right to marry; and animals were not put on Earth to entertain us.


I respect SeaWorld for the rescues it does. But it has turned into an attraction center with thrill rides. It will not lose any money should orcas retire. San Diego won’t lose the 4,000 summer jobs. Tourists will still come. And progressive thinking will continue to improve the lives of people and animals.


Joelle Thornton



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here's a good one in support of Breen's cartoon:


Reader says he was fed baloney

Steve Breen is a San Diego treasure.


His Orca cartoon (March 9) — depicting animalists feeding the public a baloney sausage — rings true.


When I was a middle-schooler, our biology teacher frequently ranted against SeaWorld, even claiming it cut out all of its dolphins’ teeth to prevent litigation in case of a bite. As a teenager, I believed her. Imagine my surprise when I ventured to SeaWorld for the first time and saw all dolphins with mouths of teeth.


Steve Schoellerman


San Diego

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Four investor presentations later, one Wall Street analyst was finally brave enough to ask SeaWorld Entertainment execs about what impact the documentary Blackfish has had on its business.


Their answer: none. In fact, the controversial film might have even helped attendance by raising awareness of marine mammal parks, Chief Executive Officer Jim Atchison told analysts on a conference call Thursday, a sentiment he also shared with the Wall Street Journal in November.


"As much as we're asked that, we can see no noticeable impact on our business," he said, calling assertions the company mistreats animals "a fundamental mischaracterization." "The movie in some ways has actually made perhaps more interest in marine mammal parks and actually even about us, so we've seen that reflected through certain visitor profiles and certain guest comments and things we get."


It's difficult to believe that watching Blackfish would make a person want to go to SeaWorld. The damning documentary focuses on the parks' treatment of animals after one of its whales killed a veteran trainer in 2010, and has spurred an outcry from animal activists and regular viewers. It's even caused entertainers such as Heart and Willie Nelson to cancel concerts at the parks. But SeaWorld says its reputation remains intact.


"With respect to national surveys and data that we collect around our reputation efforts and image, there's awareness of the movie that kind of peaks and drops as CNN — whose one of the owners of the movie, by the way — as CNN shows it repeatedly from time to time, so that does spike on occasion, but our surveys don't reflect any shift in sentiment about intent to visit our parks," he said. "The movie did not get an Oscar nomination in January and we continue to take proactive efforts communicating with our guests and partners."


Still, it's hard to gauge what impact, if any, Blackfish had on visitors. While SeaWorld reported record fourth quarter attendance, it still fell 1.4%, and for the year, the number of guests fell 4.1% to 23.4 million.


The company, which went public in April, reported that 2013 revenue rose 3% to $1.46 billion. SeaWorld blamed the decrease in visitors on bad weather, an early Easter and "planned pricing and yield management strategies."


"We're very proud of the work we do and how we do that," Atchison said today. "The animal activist community, they don't necessarily burden themselves with facts, and we have to deal with that from time to time."


While Blackfish premiered in January of 2013, it blew up in the latter half of last year after CNN aired the film. Just last week, a California lawmaker proposed legislation that would ban the use of orcas for entertainment.

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