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SeaWorld San Diego (SWSD) Discussion Thread


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Screamscape is reporting that the budget for the 2015 attraction has been cut and nothing new will be coming! If this is true, it is extremely disappointing not only for this park but the entire Seaworld brand!

 

I saw that post as well. That would be very disappointing since I loved the park and the attention to detail. Plus, the park was quite crowded.

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While it is disappointing they had their 2015 budget cut (rumored), I doubt they were getting anything noteworthy. Maybe a flat ride or 2 and/or some new entertainment offerings?

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While I've heard that the Wanda Group has been eyeing our whales, I can't seem to find sources indicating a budget cut (except for sites and media outlets that are hopping onto the Blackfish bandwagon). Also, according to said sites, being $1.8 million short of $215.1 million is a 11% drop. Gotta love math.

 

I was there a week ago and things seemed fine. The park was packed, people were buying everything everywhere, and this was during Comic-Con, where everyone's supposed to be at the convention center. I believe Screamscape to be credible, but I wouldn't take every word for truth until solid evidence surfaces.

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I was there a week ago and things seemed fine. The park was packed, people were buying everything everywhere, and this was during Comic-Con, where everyone's supposed to be at the convention center. I believe Screamscape to be credible, but I wouldn't take every word for truth until solid evidence surfaces.

 

SWSD recieves over four million guests annually, so the park will still have a large crowd with a drop in attendance.

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SEAWORLD ANNOUNCES FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND KILLER WHALE ENVIRONMENT AND MORE THAN $10 MILLION IN NEW FUNDING FOR RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION PROJECTS

 

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

 

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

 

Transformational New Environments

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Killer Whale Research

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

 

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

 

Advisory Panel

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

 

Current Advisory Panel members include:

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Edited by robbalvey
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After the whole Blackfish debacle, I thought that if SeaWorld played its cards right from the backlash it would get, it could be the best thing to ever happen to them. If SeaWorld addressed the (nonexistent or trivial) problems the film made points of, we could see some great additions that would make the park even better for both the animals and the guests. [/ramble]

 

Regardless of whether or not the film and its rabid backlash inspired this decision, this looks like a wonderful step for all the parks to add, and if indicative of the direction the parks are going, makes me excited to see what else they'll be planning in the future.

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Three years to construct?? Does this mean no rides or other attractions for the next 5 years? Also, doesn't this mean the killer whales are going to have an even smaller tank while construction is going on?

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^SeaWorld San Antonio just announced several new additions to the park in addition to the Blue World Project. SeaWorld Orlando has confirmed that it will be getting a new Clyde and Seamore show. There is no indication to believe that no other projects will be started and/or finished in the time it takes for these parks to complete their respective Blue World Project expansions.

 

As for the smaller tank question, each stadium has several secondary tanks behind the show tank, and those secondary tanks are regularly drained and resurfaced every few years while the remainder of the complexes' tanks remain fully operational. Considering that the overhead view supplied with the announcement shows this expansion only directly linking to one of the secondary tanks and a few of the holding pods, it is probable that the impact will be as minimal as the standard refurbishment of one of those tanks typically is, albeit for a slightly longer period of time.

Edited by jedimaster1227
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Parents of disabled upset with SeaWorld

 

Theme park defends decision to do away with free escort pass for caregivers accompanying disabled children

 

Parents of disabled children are crying foul over SeaWorld’s decision to eliminate its long-standing policy of offering free admission to companions of individuals who are unable to come to the San Diego theme park on their own.

 

SeaWorld San Diego said Wednesday that it changed its decades-long policy last year to make it consistent with the ticket pricing practices at all other SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment properties, which did not offer complimentary admission passes for those who accompanied disabled visitors.

 

“We still offer a significantly discounted ticket for both our guests with disabilities and their escorts, specifically by providing them 50 percent off of the single-day general admission price,” SeaWorld San Diego spokesman Dave Koontz said in a written statement. “In addition to offering this half-off ticket, we offer additional programs to assist our guests with disabilities, such as complimentary guides for visitors that are visually impaired and American Sign Language interpretation for those with hearing impairments.”

 

Parents say the discounted single admission discounts are of little help to local residents whose children and their escorts are coming multiple times to the park and instead rely on passes to cover visits throughout the year. A general admission ticket for an adult is $84, the same price as a “Fun Card,” which, if purchased now, covers entrance to the park through the end of 2015. There is no half-price discount for the pass. (The price for children ages 3 to 9 is $78).

 

Discount policies vary across theme parks in Southern California. Local parks like the San Diego Zoo and Legoland offer free escort passes, while major attractions such as Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood do not.

 

Some local parents, as recently as this month, have opted to file formal civil rights complaints with the Department of Justice, alleging discrimination by SeaWorld because their children, some of whom are adults, were denied “reasonable accommodation” to come to the park, they contend.

 

The complaints are largely coming from parents whose children have varying forms of developmental disabilities, including autism, and regularly visit SeaWorld on a monthly and weekly basis because of the enjoyment and familiar, structured environment it provides them.

 

Koontz said that “SeaWorld takes its responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act very seriously” and believes it is complying with the law.

 

With the park’s change in policy, some parents say they are paying hundreds of dollars more each year to purchase passes for caregivers and aides who accompany their children on SeaWorld outings. They worry that many disabled individuals can no longer come to the theme park because their low-income parents do not have the financial means to pay for the added cost of admission.

 

“Regular folks can go by themselves,” said Connie Strohbehn, who has filed a complaint on behalf of her 32-year-old son Michael, who is both mentally retarded and autistic. “My son can’t go by himself, and his reasonable accommodation has always been an escort pass. So now, because of his disability he’s being discriminated against financially.”

 

Strohbehn, who is a marriage and family therapist, said she does not know how many others have filed formal complaints but is urging other parents to do so in hopes that SeaWorld might reverse its decision.

 

She said she’s fortunate to currently have a companion for her son who already had a SeaWorld pass of his own. That’s not the case for Michael Fraunces, whose 13-year-old son has significant developmental disabilities and relies on multiple caretakers to take him up to five times a week to SeaWorld.

 

Fraunces said he is now paying more than $600 a year for a total of seven different passes to cover him and his wife, his son (who he declined to identify by name) and four escorts. Prior to the policy change he was paying about $200 annually. His son, he said, is enthralled by many of the rides at SeaWorld and relishes the freedom of walking around, untouched.

 

“Clearly, we were disappointed by the change in policy, because it’s more money out of our pocket,” said Fraunces, an executive with a wireless services company. “We can afford to pay the extra money but there are plenty of families who would love to take their child there and can’t afford it.

 

“I don’t want to beat SeaWorld up too badly, because they’ve been really great to my son when he’s there, and once you’re in the park, they do have shorter lines for folks with special needs. I just think there’s a better way to allow folks like my son to go with somebody.”

 

The parents’ protests represent the latest controversy facing SeaWorld, which has been under continued siege from animal rights activists and has had to battle unwanted publicity from the documentary “Blackfish,” which was critical of its use of killer whales in performances.

 

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, which includes Disneyland and Disney World in Orlando, is also facing criticism of its policies related to the disabled, specifically those with autism. It is the target of a lawsuit filed by the parents of autistic children who claim the theme parks’ practices violate the Americans with Disabilities Act because they fail to adequately accommodate visitors with autism. The lawsuit stems from a change in its policy for handling the way disabled visitors can obtain passes to reduce the waiting time for rides. The case has been moved to Florida.

 

Here's my take on this:

 

OK...now don't get me wrong. I feel for those who are disabled and understand somewhat what they and their families go through. I know it's not as easy as it is for everyone else. However it seems quite ironic some of these folks feel they aren't being treated fairly. This was the only park in the chain (and only park I ever heard of) that had this offer and now that they are doing away with it they are quite upset. I guess I would be a little upset too if I had gotten in free for who knows how long and now have to pay, but I'd get over it.

 

Well guess what? You still get 50% off daily admission and if you plan to go multiple times a fun card for a regular day's admission. I don't think that's unreasonable. Also they offer other types of assistance to accommodate and I'm sure you get to skip the regular line and get special seating at shows. Plus you get to enjoy the park like everyone else...even if you are having to care for the person more so than others.

 

I will finish with this...disabled people want to be treated like everyone else right? So why complain about still having to pay half price when the rest of us still pay full price? I say be thankful they don't treat you like everyone else and make you pay 100%.

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I as well do not know what it is like taking care of a disabled person but here are my thoughts:

 

-To my knowledge no other parks besides Legoland offer this so I think they should be glad they offered it for as long as they did.

-They still offer some pretty good discounts and compensation for escorts. Complimentary Guides & ASL translators is a very nice touch.

-At the end of day they need to remember SWSD is running a business. ADA does not stipulate that complimentary admission needs to be given to escorts.

Was a nice touch? Absolutely!! Mandatory? No.

 

I understand both sides on this one.

Edited by DJeXeL
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So they are using the law meant to ensure as equal as possible accommodation to disabled people to sue Sea World for providing them equal accommodation by making them pay like the rest of their able bodied guests?

 

Sounds to be like the parents are just upset their abuse of the system is coming to an end.

Edited by Jew
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So they are using the law meant to ensure as equal as possible accommodation to disabled people to sue Sea World for providing them equal accommodation by making them pay like the rest of their able bodied guests?

 

Sounds to be like the parents are just upset their abuse of the system is coming to an end.

 

This!

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... so they still get 1/2 off ticket prices, yet they sue anyways. I'm getting flashbacks to Disneyland and its wheelchair debacle.

 

People got to realize that SeaWorld is a business, not your pal. These people suing think they're getting "unfair treatment" despite the fact that SeaWorld is still going the extra mile to accommodate them. The Americans with Disabilities Act ensures ethical, EQUAL treatment to those with mental and physical ailments. If they really want to be treated equally, then they ought to pay for themselves. Just because your free ticket deal is in shambles, that doesn't mean its a personal attack on your personal freedoms; you're just cheap.

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So they are using the law meant to ensure as equal as possible accommodation to disabled people to sue Sea World for providing them equal accommodation by making them pay like the rest of their able bodied guests?

 

Sounds to be like the parents are just upset their abuse of the system is coming to an end.

 

 

I salute you!

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Photo dump time!

 

Had an excellent visit to SeaWorld last Wednesday! The animals were all very active and there's a brand spankin' new baby sea otter! Seriously the cutest damn thing I've ever seen! Unfortunately photos through glass don't come out too well so I only got a picture of the sign.

 

There were a few new landscaping touches here and there, including some cool new rock art under part of Manta (there's a picture of it).

 

They were in the middle of setting the park up for the Christmas Celebration that begins on the 15th so there were decorations all over the place, just not turned on. Awesome day!

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The new entrance is gorgeous.

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Explorer's Reef is a huge hit with guests!

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Whale!

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OMG super cute baby otter!

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One of the best!

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The fatty seat.

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My kinda lines!

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New rock art underneath Manta.

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Puffer fish always look stoned.

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Snow World was being put together. The employees were testing out the snowball fight ability of the snow. Science-y stuff.

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The starfish are a nice touch.

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Great report! I love the artwork under Manta.

 

It's such a shame that SeaWorld's incredible conservation and rescue efforts are so blindly ignored due to the misguided propaganda of the media and activists.

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One can't help that California is full of hippies, particularly loud ones. But that nonsense will come to pass as well; they've done it once before with The Cove, and everyone forgot about that.

 

For being such a great ride, Manta never really does keep a line unless its a busy summer day. Glad you liked the park!

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I think the last time I went to SeaWorld was in 2007 or something, and I don't remember much. These photos look great, and I want to pressure my parents to take me there for another SoCal trip. And, wow, cute sea otter!

 

Too bad there's all of this Blackfish crap.

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