SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego

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SeaWorld was the idea of four graduates of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1964. The original idea was an underwater restaurant, but it was not technically feasible, so the concept grew into the reality of a marine zoological park on 22 acres along the shore of Mission Bay in San Diego.With an initial investment of $1.5 million, 45 employees, several dolphins, sea lions, and two seawater aquariums, SeaWorld drew more than 400,000 visitors its first year.In 1968, SeaWorld offered its stock publicly, which enabled the company to grow. It was followed by a park in Orlando, Florida, in 1973, and the largest park, which opened in San Antonio, Texas, in 1988.Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. The parks are owned and operated by Busch Entertainment Corporation (BEC), one of Anheuser-Busch's subsidiaries. In January 2001, BEC sold SeaWorld Cleveland to Six Flags, Inc.SeaWorld grew from a small collection of marine animals into one of the largest and most respected marine zoological collections in the world. All three parks are accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) — a recognition that the facilities have achieved high levels of animal husbandry, medical care, and management competence in their zoological exhibition, collections, public education, and park operations.Throughout SeaWorld’s history, the three parks have remained committed to their founding principles of quality in the areas of education, entertainment, research, and conservation.

Replies (4)

I've been on both versions of this simulator ride and don't care for either. They're done cheaply, with substandard visuals and effects. However, as SeaWorld's first big-budget ride, it was a step in the right direction.

Here's hoping the management in place now that SeaWorld is a public company will remember what made people flock to the parks when they were run by A-B (cleanliness, value, compelling shows and animal exhibits, innovative rides) and continue to pour resources into their growth and maintenance, rather than cut budgets to save money and stabilize the stock price.

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The story of SeaWorld's Shamu killer whales

Shamu is actually a brand name, based on the original star of these shows, who performed 50 years ago.

The first Shamu was captured in October 1965 and was purchased for SeaWorld in San Diego two months later.

She died in 1971 but lent her name to the many orcas who would follow, in shows that have become controversial.

Recently celebrities such as Harry Styles and Pamela Anderson have been campaigning against SeaWorld but in the past it wasn't frowned upon for them to pose with the orcas.

Peter Graves starred in the television series Mission Impossible and posed with a subsequent Shamu in 1975.

Kalina was the first orca to be successfully born and survive in captivity in 1985. Her parents Katina and Winston had been captured in the wild.

Kalina was known as Baby Shamu, although she was not directly descended from the original Shamu. She gave birth to a number of her own offspring, including this one in 1999.

Since then there have been Grandbaby Shamus and Great Grandbaby Shamus.

The first Great Great Grandbaby Shamu was born in 2014 and called Amaya.

Over the years, a number of trainers have had minor injuries and some have been seriously hurt, after altercations with the captive orcas.

The worst came in 2010, when Dawn Brancheau, who had many years of experience, was dragged by an orca called Tilikum into the water and died in front of Orlando park guests.

Park visitor Victoria Biniak said the whale "took off really fast, and then he came back around to the glass, jumped up, grabbed the trainer by the waist and started shaking her violently.

"The last thing we saw was her shoe floating."

SeaWorld has repeatedly updated its safety policies over the years and job applicants are told that the role is one of the "most rigorous" in the park.

Animal rights group Peta said it had long been asking SeaWorld to stop taking wild, ocean-going mammals and confining them to an area that, to them, is "the size of a bathtub".

Tilikum, the orca which killed Ms Biniak, was retired from performing for a while, but later returned to the park as one of its star turns.

He and other captive orcas were the subject of the 2013 documentary, Blackfish, which claims that they experience stress, increased aggression and a shorter lifespan by being kept in tanks.

This film spurred further campaigns against SeaWorld. The park has since called the film "propaganda".

In a statement on their website, SeaWorld says: "We object to Blackfish because its two central premises are wrong."

These are that "SeaWorld is harmful for killer whales and for trainers" and that they "attempted to cover up the facts surrounding the tragic death of trainer Dawn Brancheau" and Tilikum's role.

"Nothing could be further from the truth," they conclude.

Regulators in California approved SeaWorld plans to expand the orca habitat in San Diego, upsetting campaigners who want to see the animals released into the wild instead.

SeaWorld say the Blue World Project will give the public better access to viewing the orcas, while scientists will be able to better understand and care for them.

They say the habitat will have "more natural habitats" including water currents and shallow, beach-like areas.

The current San Diego show, One Ocean, will run throughout 2016, before being replaced.

In a statement, SeaWorld says: "The new experience will engage and inform guests by highlighting more of the species' natural behaviours.

"The show will include conservation messaging and tips guests can take home with them to make a difference for orcas in the wild."

While the public displays may be very different by 2017, this big investment suggests captivity will continue for some time to come.

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Amusement Parks: SeaWorld San Diego – a Potted History

SeaWorld San Diego is one of three SeaWorld amusement parks in the USA &ndash the other two being located in Orlando, Florida and San Antonio, Texas.

The idea for the amusement park was initially forged by four students from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) back in 1964 when they were considering how they might build an underwater restaurant. This concept was far more difficult than they envisaged, however, and they eventually abandoned it and, instead, opted to create a marine zoological park on the shores of Mission Bay in San Diego.

Since 1989, the amusement park has been owned and operated by the Busch Entertainment Corporation, one of the Anheuser-Busch companies who, as well as being famous for its Budweiser beer, is equally well known in the amusement park arena for its Busch Gardens branded parks.

One of the amusement park&rsquos main attractions has to be its marine wildlife. The Orca whales are one of the &lsquomust see&rsquo species and there are also pilot and beluga whales. No SeaWorld amusement park would be complete without its dolphins and penguins too. Not only do you get the chance to see the dolphins perform in their own show, you can also experience close up encounters where you can touch, feed, swim with and help train the dolphins and there is also a wild arctic interaction programme at the amusement park where you&rsquoll make friends with massive walruses, barking seals and even polar bears.

SeaWorld amusement park also has a range of other rides and attractions. These include its Shipwreck Rapids which is a raft ride that weaves its way through shipwrecks and, at one point, you even flow through an exhibition of live turtles. The amusement park&rsquos Bayside Skyride gives you the opportunity to view the beauty of Mission Bay from the air and the 320-foot SeaWorld Skytower also offers fantastic views over San Diego.

Younger children visiting the amusement park can enjoy gentler rides such as Elmo&rsquos Flying Fish and Oscar&rsquos Rocking Eel.

There are several special shows throughout SeaWorld&rsquos &lsquoSummer Nights&rsquo programme of events at the amusement park as well as plenty of other shows and exhibits which take place throughout the year at this amusement park which offers educational and entertainment fun for all the family.

Why did SeaWorld mysteriously close submarine ride less than a year after it opened?

Less than a year after SeaWorld debuted its signature submarine ride within the San Diego park’s new Ocean Explorer attraction, the ride has been shut down for months with little explanation.

Submarine Quest, which SeaWorld boasted would transform visitors into underwater researchers, opened last June but following the summer season was rarely open and has not been operating this year, with no explanation given of when — or whether — it will reopen.

References to the the three-minute-long ride, which ran along an elevated track, are no longer on SeaWorld San Diego’s website where it showcases its attractions, and there is no park signage offering an explanation for the closure. And the entrance to the ride has been cordoned off to the public.

SeaWorld officials would provide no details on reasons for the closure, only saying that the park is working through technical issues.

“As we’ve conveyed to our park guests who’ve asked, the Submarine Quest ride at Ocean Explorer is currently undergoing maintenance,” SeaWorld San Diego spokesman David Koontz said in an email to the Union-Tribune. “As soon as there’s additional information, we will communicate that to you and our guests.”

The ride, though, has been closed since at least January, dogged by periodic shutdowns and opening only temporarily last December after the summer season. Since then, regular park goers say they have not seen evidence of work being performed on the ride.

Submarine Quest, designed for younger children, was introduced as part of Ocean Explorer, a two-phase attraction that initially opened in 2017 as a combination of aquariums and multiple kids’ rides, culminating with the May debut of Electric Eel, the park’s highest, fastest roller coaster.

The individual submarine vehicles were outfitted with interactive digital navigation dashboards meant to replicate the experience of a deep sea explorer on a mission. The very short, dark-ride portion of Submarine Quest brought riders face to face with a huge digital octopus.

Hastin Zylstra, a self-described theme park geek and regular visitor to SeaWorld, has tracked the ups and downs of Submarine Quest via his visits to the park and social media and says there have been no recent indications of maintenance work or a reopening timeline for the ride.

He pointed to a Tweet last September from a frequent visitor, who said, “@SeaWorld will Submarine Quest ever be fixed? 4th visit to the park since the grand opening and it has not once been operational??”

Said Zylstra, “Given that they spent most of 2017 trying to get it open, it then opening to lackluster reviews, and now that Electric Eel has the marketing spotlight, I can’t imagine they are going to spend any more money on it. It’s just unfortunate for SeaWorld, given the company’s current situation, that they are going to have a ‘standing but not operating’ ride in one of their flagship parks.”

In recent years, the San Diego park has struggled to reverse declining attendance, fueled in part by the backlash from “Blackfish,” the 2013 anti-captivity film that focused on SeaWorld’s treatment of its killer whales.

Once Ocean Explorer opened last year, the feedback about the ride from theme park bloggers and amusement park enthusiasts was largely lukewarm to negative, unlike the reviews of Electric Eel, which has generally been widely praised.

In an earnings call last year, former SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Joel Manby, who suddenly left the company earlier this year, acknowledged that Ocean Explorer had fallen short of expectations and hadn’t delivered the return on investment that was anticipated.

Shortly after Manby’s resignation in March, SeaWorld announced that two of its top executives in the design arena — Anthony Esparza, chief creative officer, and Brian Morrow, vice president of theme park experience design — were stepping down.

Morrow, who has since formed his own production company, declined an interview request about the SeaWorld attraction.

Adding to the mystery surrounding Submarine Quest, Screamscape, an online guide to theme parks, posted a news item May 16 suggesting that the ride may not reopen:

“(5/16/18) While the Submarine Quest has been closed perhaps longer than it was ever open, a reader noticed that any and all mentions of it have now been removed from the park’s website as well. When sending in a question to the park about the ride’s status, they were told that it was, ‘closed indefinitely.’ No telling if they will ever reopen it, or if it is destined for the scrap pile.”

Theme park consultant Dennis Speigel said he was skeptical that the closure of Submarine Quest was driven solely by operational issues.

“I heard that it was closed because the attraction was way far less than what SeaWorld had envisioned it to be when they commissioned it and that they didn’t feel that it justified keeping it open to the public,” said Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services. “It just didn’t have the story and the guts it needed to entertain and interest the visitor.”

While theme park experts say it is fairly uncommon to retire rides not long after they’re opened, there are examples, including a few ill-fated attractions at Disneyland like Rocket Rods and Superstar Limo, which nearly two decades ago opened and not long after closed.

Meanwhile, Legoland California is preparing to debut this July its very different version of a submarine ride, which will traverse a 300,000-gallon aquarium inhabited by more than 2,000 sea animals. Legoland is characterizing it as the single largest investment by parent company Merlin Entertainments for a ride in any Legoland park.


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SeaWorld, in full SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc., American company that manages several commercial theme parks, including four—three SeaWorld parks, in San Diego, California, Orlando, Florida, and San Antonio, Texas, and the Discovery Cove park in Tampa, Florida—that feature marine life. The company also operates water parks in San Diego, Orlando, San Antonio, and Tampa the Busch Gardens amusement and wildlife parks in Tampa and Williamsburg, Virginia and Sesame Place, outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

All the SeaWorld parks have educational displays and aquariums housing a variety of fish, invertebrates, and marine mammals, including dolphins and orcas (killer whales).

Until the late 2010s each of the SeaWorld parks featured circuslike performances by trained orcas, which were alternated in several daily shows and introduced to audiences as “ Shamu,” a stage name that the company trademarked. In 2013 the company became the target of protests by animal-welfare organizations following the wide release of Blackfish, a documentary that chronicled SeaWorld’s mistreatment of the orca Tilikum. The animal’s abusive captivity allegedly drove it to kill three people—including Dawn Brancheau, an orca trainer at SeaWorld Orlando, in 2010. Facing drastic declines in attendance at SeaWorld parks, the company announced that it would no longer breed orcas in captivity and that it would revamp its orca shows to emphasize the animals’ natural behaviours.

The first SeaWorld opened in San Diego in 1964. Its aquariums hold hundreds of species of fish, including sharks, and its facilities house various exotic birds. The park in Orlando features a large coral reef aquarium. Covering 250 acres (101 hectares), SeaWorld San Antonio is the largest marine zoological park in the world. Although it initially was open year-round, the Texas theme park adopted a seasonal schedule in 1989.

SeaWorld sponsors educational programs for students and provides guided tours and publications. In 1976 the Orlando park initiated an animal rescue and rehabilitation program to aid injured or orphaned animals. Scientists at the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in San Diego conduct marine studies, especially research in bioacoustics and the migration and diving habits of sea turtles and pinniped mammals.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Brian Duignan, Senior Editor.

5 Just The Same: SeaWorld Made Things Worse By Opening Up A Q&A Twitter Account

With some twisted logic, SeaWorld's PR decided to open up a Twitter account where they would answer questions in order to bring about truth over Blackfish. It was called 'Ask SeaWorld' and provided anything but the answers that people were so desperately seeking. People took to social media to probe the company on what the real story was, as well as demanding an explanation for what they had seen. Rather than comply and tell the actual truth, SeaWorld's PR team instead claimed that Twitter users were harassing the account and were insistent that they stopped asking the wrong questions. Bravo on evasion, SeaWorld.

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Dunlap was executive director of the San Diego Zoo from 2008 to 2013 and then joined Iconic Attractions Group as president and CEO. His projects for Iconic included the redevelopment and opening of the Dubai Safari Park and the transformation of the Jungle Island theme park in Miami.

Before his time in theme parks and zoos, Dunlap held multiple leadership roles within the hospitality industry culminating as manager of the Westin St. Francis Hotel on Union Square in San Francisco, where he led the redevelopment of the legendary property.

Dunlap holds a bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies from the University of Virginia as well as an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

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Old Town is considered the birthplace of modern California. Encompassing approximately 230 acres, this area was the site of the first European settlement on the West Coast as well as the home of the first city in the present-day Golden State. The Old Town neighborhood is bordered by Interstate 5 on the west and south, Interstate 8 to the north and Mission Hills to the east. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the heritage district is the setting for the Old Town State Historic Park, Heritage Park and Presidio Park. The robust community features numerous museums, theaters, shops and eateries as well as cultural celebrations throughout the year.

Archaeological excavations reveal that humans have inhabited the area around San Diego for nearly 10,000 years. When the Spaniards arrived in 1542, they met the Kumeyaay Native Americans whom they called Diegueño. Over three centuries later, Spain established the first permanent settlement in its California colony on a bluff overlooking the San Diego River. Junipero Serra and Gaspar de Portola established the San Diego Mission de Alcala and the San Diego Presidio in 1769, which constituted the first Spanish settlement in Alta California. As the first of a chain of 21 missions stretching northward along the Pacific Coast, it would serve as the cornerstone of California’s exploration and settlement by Spain. While the Mission moved several miles further inland, the Presidio remained in its original location as the town of San Diego expanded around the base of the bluff. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park commemorates this location.

The Mexican government designated San Diego as a pueblo, or chartered town, in 1834. It lost this designation four years later when the population declined. Because the settlement was not located in close proximity to navigable water, supplies for the town brought ashore at Point Loma had to be trekked overland along the La Playa Trail. The town plaza is the location where a U.S. Navy lieutenant and a U.S. Marine lieutenant first raised an American flag over California in 1848.

The small community, primarily situated in the Old Town area, became the seat of San Diego County when California was admitted into the Union in 1850. A decade later, newcomer Alonzo Horton promoted the development of the present downtown San Diego. Businesses and residents quickly relocated to “New Town” from Old Town because it was situated closer to the harbor and shipping. In 1871, the city and county moved their records to a new courthouse. The new district eclipsed Old Town as the focal point of the city. Old Town was connected to the new downtown area by streetcars in the early 1900s. The expansion of the public transit system was championed by entrepreneur John Spreckles as part of the city’s preparations for the Panama-California Exposition of 1915.

In 1968, the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation created the Old Town State Historic Park. This living history museum preserves the rich cultural heritage that characterized San Diego throughout the 19th century. The neighborhood boasts nine hotels, over 30 restaurants and more than 100 specialty shops. The Old Town Transit Center is a major local intermodal transportation hub where you can switch from city buses to the San Diego Trolley Green line. The station also serves the Coaster commuter rail line and Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner route.

Things to Do in Old Town

Old Town is one of the most visited attractions in San Diego. In addition to food, shopping and live entertainment, the neighborhood boasts historic sites and museums that span the area’s cultural heritage from Mexican rule to its early days as an American state.

Step back in time as you explore the streets of the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, a living history museum. View heritage architecture and hear fascinating tales about early California recited by actors wearing mid-19th-century attire and performing daily tasks. You can tour adobe haciendas, historic churches, San Diego’s first schoolhouse and a working blacksmith shop as well as the Whaley House, which is reputed to be the most haunted house in America.

Heritage Park preserves many of San Diego’s finest examples of Victorian architecture along with other historic buildings like Temple Beth Israel, San Diego’s first synagogue.

Presidio Park is the location for the original Presidio and the Mission of San Diego that were built in 1769. While the Mission relocated, the fort remained on Presidio Hill. In addition to sweeping vistas of the city, the San Diego River valley and the nearby Pacific Ocean, the park features a museum dedicated to Junipero Serra.

The Mormon Battalion Historic Site recognizes the legacy of the only religious-based unit in U.S. military history. The volunteer unit heroically accomplished an overland march of more than 2,000 miles to serve in the Mexican-American War.

While the shops of the Bazaar del Mundo offer a variety of handicrafts featuring traditional designs, numerous local restaurants serve authentic and fusion ethnic dishes. In addition to strolling mariachi bands and other street performers, Old Town is the location for the Fiesta de Reyes Stage that hosts traditional Mexican dance and musical performances. The park is also the setting for cultural events like the Old Town Art Festival as well as the Cinco de Mayo, Dia de los Muertos and Fiesta Navidad celebrations.

Why Tilikum, SeaWorld's Killer Orca, Was Infamous

The killer whale that drowned three people inspired a movement to end captivity. He died in Orlando on Friday.

The largest, best known—and most notorious—orca held in captivity by SeaWorld died on Friday in Orlando after a long battle with illness, including a drug-resistant bacterial lung infection. The immediate cause of death is not yet known.

SeaWorld announced that Tilikum, who was thought to be 36 years old, died early in the morning surrounded by trainers and veterinarians.

As Blackfish co-writer Tim Zimmermann recently wrote for National Geographic, "His life has changed how we view SeaWorld and the marine park industry, and changed our moral calculus regarding the confinement and display of intelligent, free-ranging species."

Tilikum was caught off of Iceland in 1983 when he was two years old. He spent the rest of his life in captivity, with much of that time at SeaWorld Orlando, where he was seen by tens of thousands. (Learn about the world's oldest orca who passed away.)

On February 24, 2010, Tilikum pulled SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau into his pool and killed her. That tragic event made world news, but few people realized the orca had already been involved in two previous deaths. One was another trainer, in 1991, and one was a trespasser, in 1999.

And yet the whale's trainers were loathe to label Tilikum as a monster. Instead, many began to question the whole system of how he was raised and displayed.

"Instead of the iconic, happy killer whale celebrated by SeaWorld and its fans for five decades, Tilikum demanded the world confront his reality, Shamu’s reality, which involved separation from family, confinement, boredom, chronic disease, aggression among marine park killer whales, and aggression against trainers," Zimmermann wrote.

At 22 feet long and 12,000 pounds, Tilikum had been transformed from a wild, apex predator to an amusement for tourists. And that transformation wasn't smooth. He suffered bullying by other captive whales and stress from being separated from his wild family, according to his trainers. And he had a demanding schedule of training and performances. (See "Former Trainer Slams SeaWorld for Cruel Treatment of Orcas.")

Tilikum was part of captive breeding efforts and is thought to have sired 21 calves, 11 of which died before he did, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

But Tilikum's tragic life also made a difference in the world. Because of his story, attendance at SeaWorld and whale shows slid over the past few years, protests were launched, musicians boycotted the parks, and finally the company announced that it would begin phasing out the animal-based entertainment.

SeaWorld San Diego is set to host its final orca entertainment show this Sunday, though the shows will continue until 2019 in Texas and Florida.

After Sunday, the company's San Diego park "will conduct an interim orca educational presentation in the pool that is also used for underwater viewing . while we remove the existing theatrical moving screens and show set in the stadium and replace them with a natural backdrop that will reflect the natural world of the orca," SeaWorld San Diego spokesperson Dave Koontz told the media.

In announcing the closing of the shows, SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby said in a statement, "We are proud of our part in contributing to the human understanding of these animals. As society's understanding of orcas continues to change, SeaWorld is changing with it."

"Tilikum must be the last orca to die at a SeaWorld amusement park," Lisa Lange, a senior vice president of PETA, said in a statement. "Sea World needs to release all the remaining animals from its parks—the orcas, beluga whales, bottlenose dolphins, sea lions, walruses, penguins, and others—and rehabilitate and return them to nature or release them into coastal sanctuaries, where they could spend the rest of their lives in as natural a setting as possible."

Tilikum, who long was billed to the ticket-buying public as another Shamu, will now likely be remembered under his own name.

Watch the video: 2008 San Diego Sea World Shamu Show