Recently scrapping its heretofore trademark Shamu shows, the marine mammal theme park is also silencing, for now, its nightly summer fireworks displays.
“This summer we are debuting our new summer nighttime extravaganza called Electric Ocean,” said SeaWorld spokesman David Koontz. “At dusk, we will transform the park into an underwater world of colorful vibrancy immersing our guests in a glowing sea of bioluminescent-like lighting, music and pathway entertainment, and a dance club.”
Koontz noted Electric Ocean “will be a nighttime version of our Cirque de la Mer show (a summer daytime show the last 12 years), which will be take place in our Cirque Stadium on Mission Bay. Complementing Cirque Electrique will be another new nighttime show featuring overhead laser lights and an interactive RFID (radio frequency identification) experience, acrobats and live musicians and an illuminated parade.”
Koontz added SeaWorld's “Putting our fireworks on hiatus, other than on the summertime three-day holiday weekends, and for a handful of other special events. This new nighttime spectacular will have no impact on general aviation in that area, nor will it impact air traffic departing and arriving at Lindbergh Field.”
The cessation of SeaWorld's summertime pyrotechnics was hailed by long-time opponents as a major step forward.
Martha Sullivan, spokesperson for SeaWorld fireworks opponents, who launched a successful online petition drive garnering more than 11,000 signatures against summertime displays, labelled SeaWorld's announcement shelving them as a victory.
“It's an evolution that we've been encouraging them to do,” Sullivan said. ”They're using new technologies and adjusting their business model to the current conditions of their customer base.”
Sullivan added the marine park is “realizing they need to be good neighbors.”
Asked why fireworks became an issue, Sullivan replied, “I think it was just people being really fed up with it.”
SeaWorld fireworks detractors claim research shows “noise pollution from nightly fireworks causes harm to humans and other animals. … Effects of noise pollution to humans include (damage to the) physiological and psychological health of human beings: hypertension, annoyance, high stress levels, aggression, hearing loss, tinnitus, sleep disturbance, etc.”
Meanwhile, SeaWorld is transitioning from theatrical orca shows to a more educational presentation reflecting natural behaviors of the whales. The final "One Ocean Shamu" show was conducted Jan. 8.
The first of these live documentary-style presentations, called Orca Encounter, will debut at SeaWorld San Diego this summer with temporary seating around the orca underwater viewing area pool.
Patrons will learn how killer whales behave in the wild, how they move, hunt and navigate, what they eat and even how they communicate. Orca Encounter will also look at broader themes such as research, rescue, conservation, habitats and distribution, husbandry and care, and social structures.
“This will inspire as well as educate guests about the majesty of these complex animals and reinforce the company’s commitment to provide educational experiences with the park’s resident orcas,” Koontz said.
Other game-changing developments at SeaWorld San Diego include development of the Electric Eel, 150-foot high ride roller coaster debuting summer 2018, and Submarine Quest, a submarine-inspired attraction.
Both attractions are coming to SeaWorld as part of the park's new Ocean Explorer area. Participants will experience digital technology and can interact with the ride to "save" ocean creatures.
Through Ocean Explorer, debuting later this year, guests, through an interactive mini-sub, can get up close to some of the ocean's most fascinating creatures, then take a spin on three new family friendly rides.
With three new attractions, this is SeaWorld's biggest roll-out in 53 years.
For more information, visit seaworldparks.com.