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SeaWorld Orlando: General Discussion


TS Contributor
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Steel Vengeance
An incredibly beautiful park which in my eyes, is the most underrated of the Floridian lot. It's also home to my most beloved ride in the world ;)

This year, Sea World welcomed a brand new 360 3D attraction, Turtle Trek. Next year, the park is set to open Antarctica: Empire Of The Penguin. So without further ado, let's take a look at the progress so far on the latest attraction to Sea World's lineup set to open in Spring of 2013:
























Oh, and what would a construction update be without a QR code? ;)




























Another recent addition to the Sea World lineup is the Dine With Shamu experience:





I really like Manta and Kraken but the fact that the operations are so poor really puts a dent in the day. I don't particularly like being stuck on Manta's break run for 3-5 minutes while they load the other train and any park that stacks Kraken on the break run when its on one train needs shooting.

Love their Sealion and otter show though, thats a good laugh.
That's odd. During every single time I was on park over summer, I didn't once experience being stuck on any of the rides or any prolonged delays, other than having to ride Kraken a few times whilst I waited for Journey to Atlantis to be fixed after it broke down.

Much better than Thorpe Park for dealing with rides breaking down anyway. :p
BigAl said:
That's odd. During every single time I was on park over summer, I didn't once experience being stuck on any of the rides or any prolonged delays, other than having to ride Kraken a few times whilst I waited for Journey to Atlantis to be fixed after it broke down.

Much better than Thorpe Park for dealing with rides breaking down anyway. :p

It's not a race to the bottom you know. ;)
mark9 said:
I really like Manta and Kraken but the fact that the operations are so poor really puts a dent in the day. I don't particularly like being stuck on Manta's break run for 3-5 minutes while they load the other train and any park that stacks Kraken on the break run when its on one train needs shooting.

Love their Sealion and otter show though, thats a good laugh.

Operations at Seaworld are a joke. Back in August 2010, Manta was ridiculous. The guys from Air could teach them a thing or two.
I have to agree with Dan, Manta was terrible on my visits in 2010. Even with no queues, the ride ops still managed to make a cock up of things. And not to mention down time was quite the issue also.

I also find it interesting how Sea World have a policy where they don't operate Manta and Kraken if the temperature is below a certain rate [I can't quite remember the exact temperature, but if they were located here in the UK, they'd never open :p]
Here's an article from Theme Park Insider on how SeaWorld operate their rides during cold weather:

My mother has a theory that whenever it's a bit chilly in Southern California (and "a bit chilly" here means temps in the 50 or 60s), then it's hot and sunny in Orlando. And vice versa.
Well, I probably don't need to tell our Central Florida readers that it's a gorgeous 80 degrees here in the Los Angeles area this morning.

Orlando, along with much of the east coast is freezing its *ahem* off this week. When I worked at Walt Disney World during a cold snap in 1990, we lost an entire morning on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, as the ride's computer control system wouldn't let us start up the roller coaster. With temperature in the 30s, the coaster's track had become so cold that trains were slogging through their block zones, causing the control system to shut down the ride since it couldn't "see" the trains hitting their marks at the correct time. We had to wait until the sun emerged from the clouds around noon, warming the track to the point where we could get a test train all the way around.

I've been getting notes from readers this week, asking why rides such as SeaWorld's Manta have been down, as temperatures have been dipping into the 20s and 30s overnight and early mornings. With highs expected in the 40s throughout the week, I dropped an e-mail to Tim Carrier, SeaWorld Orlando's operations director, to ask about how the cold weather affects theme park attractions.

Typically, cold weather's not a big deal at theme parks, as parks outside of usually-warm Southern California and Central Florida operate on a seasonal basis, shutting in colder weather. (Or, if they open for Christmas, the operate only a limited slate of rides and shows.) But arctic air does blast into the Orlando area every few years.

Robert: How does the cold affect theme park rides, such as roller coasters?

Tim: There's nothing more important than the safety of our guests and employees, so everything we do is with that in mind, even on the rare cold morning in Orlando. Our safety and ride experts know that below certain temperatures, or even in strong winds, even the best coasters like Manta can't maintain what we've established as a minimum speed, so the ride teams will wait for the temperature to rise or the winds to calm before testing again. During testing, they're looking at many things, including the ride's speed and how long it takes each train to complete the ride and return to the station or what we call the "cycle time." Only when all requirements have been met will we open a ride. Interestingly, hot weather can make coasters faster, so during the hotter days, we may use different wheels on the trains to slow the cars down a bit.

Robert: How cold does the temperature have to be to shut down rides?

Tim: It's rare in Florida to close a ride during the day because the temperature has dropped. But if it should happen, around 40 degrees is when we'd look at closing the ride and running those tests.

Robert: What happens when the temperatures climb back above those levels? Do affected rides reopen immediately, or does it take some time to get them back up?

Tim: If the ride's been open previously that day, we have re-opening procedures to make sure everything meets our safety requirements, so it does take a little time. If the ride's not yet been open, we have a very extensive opening checklist. It's called "green tagging" a ride. But when our guests take that first drop on Manta, it's all been worth the wait.

Robert: How about animal attractions and shows? How are those affected by colder temperatures?

Tim: There are no bigger fans of cooler weather than our whales, dolphins and sea lions! At Shamu Stadium, for example, our whales and trainers are performing in 50-degree water, so cold weather isn't a concern. We might give our guests a few extra reminders about our splash sections, though.

Robert: What's your advice for visitors on cold mornings? Where should they visit first, both to get a full experience and to avoid crowds?

Tim: I do have a few insider tips. If it's nippy, know that you can always warm up at indoor rides and shows. At SeaWorld Orlando, you can do that at Wild Arctic or Pets Ahoy, for example. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and shake off the chill at an indoor restaurant, like our Sharks Underwater Grill. The best time to hit our rides is when a big show is on, like Believe, our killer whale show. And for all the shows, always arrive early, especially to check out the mime at our sea lion show -- not to be missed. Our parks take on a certain sense of adventure when it's cool and even chilly. Plus you're at SeaWorld Orlando and you're probably on vacation, so go for it!

So it's quite rare, actually. Coasters shut there frequently when there's lightning within 4 or 5 miles as we asked a few members of staff whilst we were in Aquatica as bad weather was coming across to the parks and we spotted the rides close a couple of times and reopen with nobody on the trains. They will also get you out of the pools as well. :p

But anyway, there was an old guy operating Manta whilst we were there and he was letting rows go with just two people in them instead of asking anyone in the queue if they were in a two, or grouping two lots together, etc... But Kraken was a different story and the three ride operators were pretty damn quick at rolling trains out. There was hardly ever a queue over 15 minutes at peak times but every train was packed.

My primary memory of SeaWorld is emerging from one of Atlantis' tunnels, feeling water coming onto me then quickly realising that it had begun pouring down with rain whilst we were inside. Then after getting off the ride, running to take cover in the toilets opposite for about an hour. That was at about 3pm - none of the rides reopened afterwards. :(
When I was at the park last Tuesday operations where good on all the rides overall. The rides wrent overly busy but kraken still running two trains and although manta was only running two trains they did use both sides of the station until queue dropped to around 5 mins (they then went to one station with two trains)

However still not as good as Alton towers! Although cant remember if they had it back in 2010 but their is a single rider line on manta and where using it to trains. I know some on here don't like Manta, but I think it's great and much better than air, their is plenty of force in the pretzel loop but I don't find it uncomfortable. I really like kraken as well.

The new dome 3d show "turtle trek" is fantastic and the use of 3D in the dome theatre works well especially with the theme of the show., sealife inc turtles look like they re actually swimming through the middle of the room. Hopefully more parks install these theatres over the traditional 4d that every park seems to have these days.
When we went, Turtle Trek was quite busy and the queue past the manatees and turtles was very loud with people talking. We could hardly hear the poor young member of staff trying to talk about the creatures next to us.

The night time fireworks and riding Kraken and Manta in the darkness were they highlights.

Haha, another double post, but I promise it's for a good reason! :p

From Screamscape:
2013 - Antarctica - Empire of the Penguin - (11/16/12) A press release from SeaWorld about the new trackless ride car that you will ride on Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin describes it not just as a trackless dark ride car, but as a mobile simulator who’s movements will will allow you to become one with the storyline as you follow a young penguin’s adventures. They also say that “Guests will also be able to choose one of two levels of adventure to experience Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin. This will allow the whole family to enjoy the attraction at their own pace.”
This last part is a bit interesting, though they don’t get into more detail, I have to wonder if the two levels are a way of cranking up the thrills for those seeking adventure, compared to a more mild tour experience for those visiting with Grandma. (She’s got a back back don’sha know?) In case anyone was wondering, the ride hardware for the new system comes from Oceaneering, who are apparently also looking to sell the system to other interested parties as well.

I've always loved the idea of a ride having different experiences based on what the riders choose. It'd be interesting to see if that will indeed be the case for Sea World's next attraction.

Hungry Dolphin! :p

Dolphin bite at SeaWorld

I love how the child's parents want to film her injury at the end, even though she doesn't want them to do so and they tell her they don't want to show anyone....

CNN article:
SeaWorld defends protocol, staffers' actions after dolphin bites girl

(CNN) -- SeaWorld defended itself Sunday from criticism from a family after a dolphin bit their 8-year-old daughter at the Orlando attraction.

A video posted online shows the girl standing along the edge of a pool, one of several people feeding dolphins. After she picks up a paper plate that once held the marine mammal's food, a dolphin lunges at her and bites her hand.

The dolphin let go after a few seconds, but not before leaving three puncture wounds on the girl's hand.

In a statement, SeaWorld spokeswoman Becca Bides said on-site "educators and animal care staff ... immediately connected with the family. In addition, a member of our health services team was in the area at Dolphin Cove and quickly responded and treated the young girl."

Yet in an interview with CNN Atlanta affiliate WSB, the family at the center of the November 21 incident faulted the central Florida attraction's staff for not warning them the dolphins might bite and for their response after the girl was injured.

"We felt powerless," the girl's father, Jamie Thomas, said in explaining their decision to post a video on YouTube. "We thought, look, we've got this video, let's make it public, and let's try to put some pressure on SeaWorld to make some changes."

The 8-year-old, Jillian Thomas, said she "accidentally held" up the paper plate, after which the dolphin "jumped up and ate the carton and bit my hand."

"I was thinking it was going to haul me into the water," she said. "And this is a little crazy, but I thought it was ... going to eat my hand off."

Jamie Thomas said those feeding the dolphins were told the paper plate should stay on the wall, "but we really didn't know why." No one signed a disclaimer, and there were no signs indicating any risk, the father said.

The girl's mother, Amy Thomas, said she was upset about SeaWorld staffers' response.
"They did not tell us to look out for any signs of infection," the mother said. "We had to ask for Band-Aids."

The Thomas family never contacted SeaWorld after leaving the park, Bides said.
She defended the attraction and its protocol, including "specific instructions to not pick up the paper trays at any time."

"Our guests are given clear instructions on how to feed the dolphins in an appropriate and safe way," Bides said. "... Unfortunately, there are times when instructions are not followed."

Anyway, Orlando United has some photos of the 2013 attraction for us!







Out of curiosity what is the Antarctica area replacing? Was it just spare land or a few amenities?
Adam James said:
Out of curiosity what is the Antarctica area replacing? Was it just spare land or a few amenities?
According to this website, Antarctica: 'Empire of the Penguin' is replacing 'Penguin Encounter':
Sea World is giving a major facelift to an existing area... Along with the new area being "themed", it will also have a new animal habitat as well as a new ride. Boosting Sea World Orlando's ride count to 5 rides (six if you include the Sky Tower). Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin opens in 2013...

Anyway, another photo update from Orlando Theme Park News of the 2013 attraction can be viewed here.

A new update on 'Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins' construction progress can be found here at Florida Thrills Network. Here are a few of the best images:









There are also a few other images of other attractions being fixed-up on there as well. :)
Blackstone in talks with two big companies about possible Sea World parks buyout, according to Reuters:

Apollo, Six Flags explore SeaWorld buyout: sources

(Reuters) - SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, which is exploring a sale, has attracted early buyout interest from private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC (APO.N) and amusement park operator Six Flags Entertainment Corp (SIX.N), according to three people familiar with the matter.

Orlando, Florida-based SeaWorld, controlled by private equity firm Blackstone Group LP (BX.N), filed for an initial public offering in December but is also in talks with potential buyers in what is known as a "dual track" process, Reuters reported previously.

Apollo, which got into the resort and leisure business with its $262 million acquisition of Great Wolf Resorts in 2012, and Six Flags, the largest regional theme park operator in the world, are among several potentially interested parties, according to the sources.

The process is largely limited to a small group of industry players that have experience in the sector, one source said.

A deal could value SeaWorld, known for its killer whale mascot Shamu, at about $4 billion, based on the financials of its publicly listed peers, such as Six Flags and Cedar Fair LP (FUN.N).

Blackstone acquired SeaWorld from beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev SA (ABI.BR) for $2.3 billion in December 2009, according to Blackstone's website.

Blackstone and Apollo declined to comment, while Six Flags was not immediately available. The sources asked not to be named because the process is not public.

A public offering for SeaWorld remained the more likely route since it would come at a time when shares for amusement park operators are trading at healthy levels, one source said.

Established operators in the U.S. theme park industry host about 315 million visitors per year and have proven resilient in a weak economy as parents still turn to them for family vacations.

SeaWorld owns 11 theme parks, including those with the SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Sesame Place brands, and cares for more than 67,000 animals.

(Reporting by Soyoung Kim and Olivia Oran in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
I like Six Flags, but if they were to buy SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment I dread to think how they would start running the SeaWorld parks. Six Flags Busch Gardens Williamsburg? No thank you!