On Friday March 21, 2014, SeaWorld kicked off its 50th anniversary celebration. After five decades of inspiring guests with unique entertainment, thrilling rides, and up-close encounters with amazing sea life, SeaWorld invites visitors to join them for a year-and-a-half long celebration of this incredible milestone.
SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration will feature a Sea of Surprises at all three parks to commemorate when the original SeaWorld park opened its gates on San Diego’s Mission Bay in March 1964. Since that time two other locations have joined the family—SeaWorld Orlando opened on December 15, 1973, followed by SeaWorld San Antonio May 27, 1988.
Several Surprises began March 21, 2014:
- Bubble Blowout—An eccentric tinkerer travels throughout Shamu’s Happy Harbor by way of a whimsical vehicle, stopping to create bubbles of all sizes and shapes while engaging guests to create the big Bubble Blowout. **Learn the science of bubbles!**
- Splash Dance—Spontaneous performances will pop up at surprising moments near Nautilus Theater to engage guests throughout the day. A landscape team loses control of their hoses and sprayers and before long they (and some guests) are soaked.
- SeaWorld Surprise Squad—A lively duo roams the park daily, randomly giving away special gifts, including exclusive access to rides, behind-the-scenes experiences, Shamu-themed merchandise, reserved show seating, and more.
- SEA Garden—Experience close-up encounters with animal friends—most of them rescued—including eagles, spoonbills, opossums, and more.
Beginning June 21, 2014:
- Shamu’s Celebration: Light Up the Night Sky—A high energy show with new music and production elements, as well as new killer whale behaviors will debut.
- Additional surprise encounters with animal ambassadors—Guests will see a variety of animal species, many of whom were orphaned or injured in the wild and given a second chance by the SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team, at the front gate and at SEA Garden. **SeaWorld Animal Rescue has rescued and rehabilitated more than 23,000 animals in the last 40 years!**
Throughout the celebration:
- The Washed Ashore Project—To showcase SeaWorld’s commitment to the environment and passion for protecting the ocean, four giant sea life sculptures will be displayed at the SEA Garden. The sculptures were created by environmental art group, The Washed Ashore Project, who uses materials materials—mostly plastics—that wind up in our oceans. These unique pieces illustrate SeaWorld and Washed Ashore’s shared mission of education and appreciation for the world’s oceans.
- New SeaWorld App—SeaWorld launched a variety of technological enhancements, from interactive apps that provide fun new ways to experience the park to new games and video content. Search SeaWorld in the iTunes store; Android version coming out soon.
I got to attend Friday’s kickoff celebration with my two younger kids, and we really had a great time honoring this wonderful organization! We received a goody-bag full of SeaWorld50 gifts, as well as additional information about the 18-month-long party and the park itself. We were entertained by an informative film showcasing SeaWorld’s many conservation and rescue accomplishments over the past 50 years, and enjoyed hearing the brand new theme song. The UCF ROTC presented colors for the Star Spangled Banner, and several animals—many of them rescues—were marched across the stage. After the introductory performances, we were treated to a time with Terry Prather, Park President of SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando. Afterward, we were free to roam the park and take in all the new and existing experiences first-hand.
My kids wanted to see the penguins first, but we stopped—and got completely soaked—along the way at Journey to Atlantis. We were surprised to get as wet as we did! Thank goodness we had a 30-minute wait in Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin to dry off, or we’d have turned to icicles! The quality of the Antarctica experience rivals any Walt Disney World attraction. My kids and I were enthralled by the south-pole scenery—it even snows outside in the Florida sun. The ride inside is fully immersive, from entering the ice cave to swirling your way through a blizzard into the penguin area aboard a hovercraft-looking, circular ride vehicle. Viewing the penguins up-close in their cool environment was a highlight of our day.
We viewed the roller coasters from the ground, as my daughter is not yet brave enough to try them and my son is a few inches too short, but we ventured everywhere else, stopping to pet the rays and watch the dolphins play, to trek through turtle territory and virtually swim with the sharks, and to admire Shamu up close (Molina was learning new tricks) and to release some energy at Shamu’s Happy Harbor. It was a very full day, and we cannot wait to get back to experience more of what this resort has to offer! We hope you and your family will have the opportunity to visit during this special celebration.
For more information about SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration and Sea of Surprises, visit SeaWorld.com/Celebration.
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