|Slogan:||"Where worlds connect."|
|Type:||Amusement Park /Marine Mammal Park|
|Locations:||San Antonio, TX, San Diego, CA, and Orlando, FL|
|Animals:||Orcas, Bottlenose Dolphins, Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, False Killer Whales, Belugas, Sea Lions, Otters, Sharks, Rays, Fish, Lorikeets, Walruses, Alligators, Polar Bears, Penguins, Flamingos, and Sea Turtles|
SeaWorld is a United States chain of marine mammal parks, oceanariums, and animal theme parks owned by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. The parks feature captive orca, sea lion, and dolphin shows and zoological displays featuring various other marine animals. There are operations in Orlando, Florida, San Diego, California, San Antonio, Texas, and previously Aurora, Ohio. On March 5, 2007, SeaWorld Orlando announced addition of the Aquatica water park to its adventure park family, which already includes SeaWorld and Discovery Cove. On February 28, 2008, Busch Entertainment announced plans to open a fourth SeaWorld park in Dubai, UAE, but these plans have been shelved for now due to the international credit freeze.
SeaWorld parks also feature a variety of thrill rides, including roller coasters like Kraken and Manta at SeaWorld Orlando and Steel Eel and The Great White at SeaWorld San Antonio. Journey to Atlantis, a combination roller coaster and splashdown ride, can be found at all three US parks. The parks were owned by Busch Entertainment Corp., the family entertainment division of Anheuser-Busch, which is best known for brewing beer. In November, 2009, Busch Entertainment was sold to the Blackstone Group and subsequently renamed SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
One of the biggest attractions is the Shark Encounter, in which guests are carried through a submerged acrylic tube into the sharks' tank. Another famous ride is Wild Arctic, simulating a helicopter ride to the Arctic. After the ride, the guests arrive at a simulated base station, where they can observe polar bears, Pacific walruses, and beluga whales. During the Christmas holiday season, SeaWorld Orlando's Wild Arctic is transformed into the Polar Express Experience which offers the park's guests the opportunity to ride the Polar Express to the North Pole and meet Santa Claus in addition to the polar bears, Pacific walruses, and beluga whales that are at the Wild Arctic exhibit year round. Another attraction is the Penguin Encounter, showcasing a variety of penguins. In addition, an attraction features endangered Florida manatees. The park has an extensive playground for children, named Shamu’s Happy Harbor, formerly known as Cap'n Kids World. (Although SeaWorld San Diego has Sesame Street Bay of Play which showcases Sesame Street characters.)
SeaWorld recently created the non-profit SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. Sea World is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, meaning they have met and exceeded the standards in Education, Conservation and Research.[vague]
Milton C. Shedd, Ken Norris, David Demott, and George Millay brought SeaWorld to life, yet that was not the initial idea. The four graduates of UCLA originally set out to build an underwater restaurant and marine life show. When the underwater restaurant concept was deemed unfeasible, they scrapped those plans and decided to build a park instead, and SeaWorld San Diego was opened on March 21, 1964. With only a few dolphins, sea lions, 6 attractions and 22 acres (89,000 m2), the park proved to be a success and more than 400,000 guests visited in the first 12 months.
After considering other locations in the midwest, including the Lake Milton/Newton Falls area west of Youngstown, Ohio, it was decided that Aurora, Ohio would be the new home of a SeaWorld. The Aurora site was approximately 15 miles (24 km) northwest of the Lake Milton site, and 30 miles (48 km) southeast of Cleveland. By this time the founders of the company had captured a few more species of animals including a killer whale that would call the new facility home. The Ohio site would prove to be difficult to maintain. The harsh winter climate permitted the park to be open only from mid-May until mid-September. However, the vast population of the Midwest and Northeastern states lived within a day's drive of the park, which would eventually add to the success of SeaWorld of Ohio.
The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida opened near the end of the second operating season of SeaWorld of Ohio. The success of Disney in Orlando provided another ideal spot to capitalize on the mass number of tourists that would make their way to central Florida for vacations. Since opening day in 1973, SeaWorld Orlando has thrived in a place known as 'the theme park mecca of the world'.
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc. (HBJ) purchased the company in 1976 and 12 years later they ventured deep into the heart of Texas. In 1988, SeaWorld San Antonio opened just a few miles outside of San Antonio. Growth has pushed the city outwards, and now SeaWorld San Antonio lies in the Westover Hills community in West San Antonio. The park was open year-round like its sister parks in California and Florida in 1988 and 1989, then went to a seasonal schedule. The stress and financial resources it took to build and maintain a state-of-the-art marine mammal facility in the late '80s eventually took its toll on the company. HBJ, whose primary focus was producing school books, needed to reduce its assets in order to avoid a bankruptcy.
The Anheuser-Busch Company made an offer to purchase the SeaWorld parks. However, HBJ also owned and operated two other parks, Cypress Gardens and Boardwalk and Baseball, and out of fear of not being able to find a buyer for the two other parks, HBJ refused to sell the parks individually. Despite a long negotiation, Anheuser-Busch bought all six parks in 1989: SeaWorld in San Diego, Aurora, Orlando and San Antonio as well as Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven and Boardwalk and Baseball in Haines City. Soon after the sale was final, Busch sold Cypress Gardens to the park's management and closed Boardwalk and Baseball. Anheuser-Busch put millions of dollars back into the parks to revive and to prolong their longevity.
SeaWorld San Diego, the first SeaWorld park, opened on March 21, 1964. The park features shows such as One Ocean, the current Shamu show and Sea Lions Live, a comedic show with sea lions and otters. Rides include Journey to Atlantis, a splashdown ride that also has characteristics of a roller coaster. The Summer Nights program changes some shows and adds others. One show featuring Shamu is available during the night called Shamu Rocks, a rock concert choreographed to the killer whales, and then the fireworks show Into the Blue, which uses music from the newest dolphin show Blue Horizons.
SeaWorld Orlando opened on December 15, 1973, and had crowds topping 5,300 on its opening day. One Ocean, a new Shamu show which premiered April 22, 2011, is hosted here, along with Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island, an adventure with two sea lions, and Blue Horizons, the park's dolphin show. The park contains three roller coasters: Kraken, a floorless coaster based on the mythical sea creature, Manta, a coaster designed to simulate how manta rays move, and the Shamu Express, a coaster oriented to kids located in Shamu's Happy Harbor. It is also home to the original Journey to Atlantis water coaster. SeaWorld After Dark is SeaWorld Orlando's night program, featuring the fireworks show Reflections, a sea lions show Sea Lions Tonite and Shamu show Shamu Rocks.
SeaWorld San Antonio opened on May 27, 1988. Its formal opening over Memorial Day Weekend 1988 held about 75,000 people. 3.3 million people visited SeaWorld San Antonio during its first year, 10% more than what was originally projected. The park shows One Ocean, the new Shamu show; Azul, a one-of-a-kind show combining diving, synchronized swimming, dolphins and beluga whales; and The Cannery Row Caper, a sea lion show following the sea lions Clyde and Seamore solving a mystery. Parks rides include The Great White, an inverted roller coaster, Steel Eel, a roller coaster reaching a height of 150 feet, and Journey to Atlantis, a water roller coaster into the mythical land of Atlantis.
In February 2001, Anheuser-Busch sold the SeaWorld Ohio park to Six Flags, Inc., operators of neighboring "Six Flags Ohio" (Geauga Lake until the end of 1999, reverting to the "Geauga Lake" name in 2004). Upon completion of the sale, the two parks were combined in spring 2001 as the so-called "mega-park" "Six Flags Worlds Of Adventure", which boasted its "Three parks in one" uniqueness: a waterpark, an amusement park, and a wildlife animal park - all included in one price of admission. Sea World executives replied that their park had been sold because of the short season of the animal park, because of Northeastern Ohio's cold winter months, and also because they were not able to get the rights to build roller coasters like the other Sea World properties had been able to.
In March 2004, Six Flags, Inc., announced that it had sold "Six Flags Worlds of Adventure" to Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, the operators of the Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. Cedar Fair took the park back to its original "Geauga Lake" name, which had a history dating back to 1888. Since the Six Flags company retained ownership of the animals, the majority of the animal portion of the park, including all of the exhibits and animal stadiums, was either emptied or fenced off for the 2004 season.
After a nearly season-long wait, the Cedar Fair company announced its plans for the non-operational side of the former Sea World Ohio/Six Flags Worlds of Adventure-Wildlife Side. That entire portion of the land would become an immense waterpark, named "Wildwater Kingdom", opening in two phases, with the first phase in 2005, followed by the second phase in 2006. This decision marked the end of the marine-life park permanently.
All of the animal stadiums and buildings were next torn down or converted into other venues. Some of the SeaWorld property remained intact, albeit hidden or modified. What remained included the former seal and sea lion area, the Ski Stadium (to be used in a Lumberjack show in 2006), the Aquarium (to be used for unknown purposes), and two movie theater houses/simulators, once housing 3D/4D movies. The Ski Stadium was removed in off-season 2008 to make way for "Coconut Cove", a refreshment station/observation area.
All of these except for the "Wildwater Kingdom" closed permanently in 2007.
Busch and UAE-based developer Nakheel had planned to together build a SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Discovery Cove and Aquatica water park on a man-made island in Dubai. The parks would be built on The Palm Jebel Ali, part of Dubai's ambitious "Palm Islands" complex. The first phase of the project was projected to open in 2012. The Worlds of Discovery resort on the Palm Jebel Ali would include hotels, spas, shops and restaurants. The project was put on hold in February 2009 however due to the global economic downturn, but may be resumed once the economic situation improves.
SeaWorld's main attraction is its killer whales, several of which are housed in 7-million-gallon habitats that are each known as Shamu Stadium. Shamu was the name of the first killer whale brought to SeaWorld San Diego in the 1960s from the Seattle Marine Aquarium. 'Shamu' is now used as a stage name for adult killer whales in performances at SeaWorld parks. The killer whales all have real names. Currently, Sea World houses 20 killer whales in its three parks.
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (March 2010)|
Organizations such as the World Society for the Protection of Animals and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society campaign against the captivity of dolphins and killer whales; SeaWorld, which holds most of the world's captive killer whales, is cited for its role. Killer whales are believed to have a shorter lifespan in captivity than in the wild; however, recent studies have shown that the average age of killer whales in captivity has extended due to better care.[dead link]
Aggression in captivity is also not uncommon. In August 1989, a dominant female killer whale, Kandu V, tried to rake a newcomer killer whale, Corky II, with her mouth during a live show.[dead link] In February 2010, an experienced female trainer at Sea World Orlando was killed by killer whale Tilikum shortly after a lunchtime presentation in Shamu Stadium.
SeaWorld's attempt to capture several killer whales in Puget Sound in the early 1970s using powerboats, airplanes and explosives to drive the animals resulted in the capture permit being revoked.[dead link] The animals are now obtained through breeding including artificial insemination, loans, and purchases from other marine parks around the world.
PETA offered to buy a SeaWorld park as a publicity stunt in 2008 so that the animals could be released and replaced with virtual ones. Beer company Anheuser-Busch, which was in control of the SeaWorld franchise did not offer a press response to the offer.
In 2011, PETA filed a lawsuit in US federal court, alleging that SeaWorld violated the US Constitution by treating captive orcas "like slaves." On 6 February 2012, in response to a motion by SeaWorld to dismiss the suit, US District Judge Jeffrey Miller heard oral arguments by PETA and SeaWorld on whether animals enjoy the constitutional protection against slavery that humans do. It was the first time in US history in which an attempt was made to extend constitutional protections to animals. Judge Miller dismissed the case with prejudice two days later, stating that since the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery and indentured servitude, which he termed "uniquely human activities", the amendment was not intended to protect "non-humans".
On May 31, 2012 Occupational Safety and Health Administration administrative law judge Ken Welsch cited SeaWorld for two violations in the death of Dawn Brancheau and fined the company a total of $12,000.
In response to criticism leveled at SeaWorld and other marine parks by the award-winning documentary film The Cove which accuses them of obtaining dolphins obtained in drive hunts, SeaWorld spokesperson Fred Jacobs stated that, "We think we're being unfairly criticized for something we're opposed to."  He adds that, "SeaWorld opposes the dolphin hunts documented in The Cove. We do not purchase any animals from these hunts. More than 80 percent of the marine mammals in our care were born in our parks. We haven't collected a dolphin from the wild in decades."  Since 1993 there have been no permits issued to facilities in the United States to import dolphins acquired through drive hunt methods. Marilee Menard, the executive director of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, has also stated that she believes that The Cove filmmakers are "misrepresenting that the majority of zoos and aquariums with dolphins around the world are taking these animals." 
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