SeaWorld debuts 3 new rides next year
SeaWorld Orlando hopes to better compete with its giant theme park neighbors by appealing to children under 7 years old and their families.
The park will debut three rides next spring geared toward young children within its Shamu's Happy Harbor area, including a Shamu-themed roller coaster, a tower ride with a jellyfish theme and a teacup-style beach bucket ride.
In addition, SeaWorld will revamp its killer whale show with new choreography, a new set, an original musical score, a panoramic video screen and an upgraded sound system.
"What they're trying to do is attract the little kids, and the kids can bring the parents with them," said Dennis McAlpine, managing director of Scarsdale, N.Y.-based McAlpine Associates, an entertainment-industry consulting firm.
"If you think of Walt Disney World, it doesn't really have a lot for the little ones," McAlpine said. "And Universal skews old. So it's logical SeaWorld is revamping to compete."
Amusement Business magazine estimates attendance at SeaWorld Orlando was 4.9 million in 2004, ranking it No. 8 among North American theme parks, behind Disney's four major Orlando-area theme park and Orlando's Universal Studios, among other parks.
Alice Hernandez, a grandmother of two who lives in Palm Bay, said that regardless of the SeaWorld admission price, upgrading to add rides for the children enhances the park experience.
"It can only get better if they add rides," Hernandez said "I love SeaWorld. If it had more rides for the kids, it would even be better. I have nieces and nephews who are 5, 6 and 7 who live in Palm Bay also."
The new rides will be the centerpiece to Shamu's Happy Harbor, a 3-acre children's play area that offers climbing nets and tunnels, nine slippery slides and a splashy water maze.
"What's fun about it is the rides can be mom-and-dad-friendly, too. The parents can ride with the kids," said Dave Goodman, vice president of entertainment for SeaWorld Orlando and the nearby Discovery Cove. "The idea is to give little kids more to do in the park."
In addition to the new rides, SeaWorld Orlando -- as well the Anheuser-Busch-owned SeaWorld parks in San Antonio and San Diego -- will present a new killer-whale show called "Believe." It is the first major change to the whale show in seven years, Goodman said.
The show, which will debut next spring, will provide guests at Shamu Stadium with video-screen views of the whales from above- and below-water cameras, including, for the time, a camera suspended directly over the main show pool.
SeaWorld trainers have developed a reportoire of nearly 160 killer-whale "behaviors," 100 of which will be part of the new show. The park has 24 killer whales, each weighing 6,000 to 10,000 pounds.
"Changing the Shamu show is important," said Jerry Aldrich, president of Amusement Industry Consulting in Orlando. "Magic Kingdom changes the parade and Epcot changes the fireworks show. Theme parks can't just market the same old thing."
He added that it's important to continually upgrade attractions.
"It's probably time to spruce it up and freshen it up by putting in some new elements and taking out some of the old," Aldrich said.
McAlpine said sea creatures and animals have a strong attraction for all ages.
"The animals never run their course," McAlpine said. "But, by adding the attractions and revamping the show, I think they're thinking this is a way to set themselves apart from Disney and Universal."
The biggest challenge is to upgrade the stadium while running the killer-whale shows, Goodman said.
"The whales need their rest, though, so we're going to give them enough time to get rest, but we will be working at night and in between shows to fix up the stadium," Goodman said.
SeaWorld Orlando officials declined to comment on how much they were spending on the new attractions, and said no decision has been made on changing ticket prices when the attractions open.
SeaWorld last year debuted "Blue Horizons," a theatrical show featuring dolphins, and exotic birds, as well as costumed human performers.
Source : floridatoday