Tag Archives: seaworld

Baby It’s Cold… In Orlando (Somewhat)

It’s the last week of fall and here in Central Florida we’re experiencing temperatures 10 degrees higher than average. What’s an Orlandoan to do when they’d like a taste of a Winter Wonderland? Here are my top five:

1) Ice Skating
I remember skating on a pond outside our house in Michigan as a child. It was a tiny little thing, and you couldn’t really get up enough speed to do even an arabesque, much less any kind of twirls. Luckily we have rinks here in Orlando like RDV Sportsplex that has public skating hours, and in Kissimmee there’s  The Ice Factory where they also have open skating AND you can skate with Santa this Friday night (December 18, 2015)! Light Up UCF has an outdoor (albeit warm) rink plus lots of other holiday activities including a film festival and light show. Other synthetic ice rinks include and I-Drive 360  and the Orlando Science Center both warm yet (pardon the pun) COOL!

If watching ice skating gives you a shiver, SeaWorld Orlando’s Winter Wonderland on Ice is a show-stopping, ice skating extravaganza. Though far from making one think of ice, “Hot Chocolate” is my favorite production number. Check it out! (♫ Oh We Got It! ♫) Best of all, all #SeaWorldChristmas events are included with admission.

2) Ice Bars
Ice Bar on International Drive is one “hot” spot (pun intended) where you can “taste the cold” along with your drink! Visit during happy hour every Sunday through Thursday from 7–9p for discounted admission (drinks extra).

At Minus5 Ice Bar at Pointe Orlando everything is made of 100% ice including the bar, tables, benches, walls and even the glasses guests drink from. Check their calendar for events and specials.

Though both bars are marketed to the tourists, locals can have a night of cold fun if to just imagine what it would be like to live in a cold clime, or to remember the days when they “used to” live up north.

Another option is On The Block, a “pop up” VIP ice bar inside ICE! at Gaylord Palms (read more about ICE! below). This add-on experience is for guests 21 and over.

3) Frozen Treats
Can’t get TO the snow? How about a snow… cone?! Or ice cream? Orlando is home to great restaurants and shops with delicious frozen treats. Vivoli Gelateria in Disney Springs offers a variety of Italian frozen creations including seasonal flavors. Also at Disney Springs, Downtown Snow Company (near Fulton’s Crab House and across from Portobello), offers shaved ice and a multitude of festive flavors. Thinking French instead? Check out L’artisan des Glaces at Epcot’s France Pavilion. Kona Ice serves up shaved ice at multiple locations and you can’t go wrong with a Concrete from Shake Shack (not very “holiday”, but I LOVE the Key Lime!) or Freddy’s Frozen Custard (they have a Pumpkin Pie one seasonally that’s OH so good).

Want to make a frozen drink at home that tastes like the holidays? Emily Ellyn created some of my all-time favorites. (Her Eggnog Martini is my go-to holiday drink with spirit!)

4) Snow and Ice IN Florida
You’d be hard pressed to find anywhere in Florida colder than ICE! at Gaylord Palms. It’s a chilly 9 degrees inside! Enjoy ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas carved out of over two million pounds of ice. After your chilly stroll through a true Winter Wonderland, add to the fun with Alpine Rush! Who knew you could snow sled in the Sunshine State?! My son has been down the slides at least 50 times (conservatively). This is by far my favorite Florida cold spot, though remember to bring your touch-pad gloves for the walk-through if you intend to take pictures or Instagram your #CAGP15 trip. My phone froze up before I made it to the last room, the Nativity.

ProTip: Keep your phone or camera as close to your body as you can between shots and by all means wear closed-toed shoes. (I did not during one of my walk-throughs this year and I found myself doing a Prancer imitation as I went from room to room.) ICE! featuring ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas runs through January 3, 2016. Season passes are available, too, so you can enjoy the Frozen Fabulousness over and over. It’ll be like you live in snow country. But without the tire chains.

This Friday (Dec. 18), guests age 21 and older can visit Gaylord Palms Resort to zoom down the Alpine Rush Snow Tubing hills and jaunt through the 9-degree ICE! attraction wearing only a bikini or board shorts (shorts and a T-shirt can also be worn)! Their one-night-only Polar Bear Plunge 2015 is $50 plus tax and processing fees and include access to Alpine Rush Snow Tubing and ICE!, appetizers and two drink tickets to be redeemed during the event. A portion of all ticket proceeds from the Polar Bear Plunge will be donated to Special Olympics Florida.

The City of Winter Haven is holding Snow Central. Play in 70 tons of snow and go down 3 lanes of the Snow Slide,  meet Santa and more, all for free, Thurs. Dec. 17 from 6–9pm.

5) Fake It ‘Till You Make It
While there are no places to build snowmen (though you can sing along to the family frozenDisney Frozen soundtrack…), you can close your eyes and imagine the attraction industry’s soap-bubble concoction or tissue paper cutouts are snow. Theme parks have snow nightly now through the end of the year (Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld all have Florida-friendly “snow” nightly; check park maps for details), and it’s “Now Snowing” at Celebration Florida, too!

I only lived in Michigan for a couple of years. The rest of the time I lived in my birth place of Central Florida. It did snow here one year when I was a kid. I hadn’t seen snow prior to then and it seemed other-worldly. I think we managed to scoop up enough for a single snowball, but in that moment it was winter here in Orlando. There are no forecasts for flurries this year, but I can “feel” winter just a little more though fun frozen activities and treats all around town.

Top 5 Fall Family Friendly Fun

October is the month when, if you’re not a fan of blood, guts, and gore you might have a hard time finding ways to avoid them. It seems like every TV channel and event has some tie-in to the macabre (Phantasmagoria!) and, if you like that sort of thing, you’re in LUCK (check out Howl-O-Scream, The Shallow Grave or Halloween Horror Nights at Universal)!

Parents wanting a kinder, gentler fall season, however, might want a few suggestions for scare-free kid zones through October and (in some cases) beyond.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Photo Credit: Kent Phillips, Walt Disney World

Photo Credit: Kent Phillips, Walt Disney World

Disney Magic with a big dash of Hocus Pocus surrounds you at this separately-ticketed special event select dates through November 1. While officially from 7 to midnight, the party can be entered at 4 p.m., and affords families the opportunity to enjoy a few rides before the festivities begin. Enjoy Mickey’s Boo To You Parade (8:35 and 11:15 p.m.), Trick-or-Treating, meet-and-greets with Jack and Sally from “Nightmare Before Christmas” and others, plus special shows including the “Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular.” Download the free My Disney Experience app to explore event-only entertainment using the “Here and Now” feature. Bring your treat bag and costumes (adults, too!, though no masks allowed). Happy Hallowishes fireworks will round out your #NotSoScary good time. Dates sell out, so purchase yours as soon possible.

SeaWorld Spooktacular

#throughglass

#throughglass

 

An ocean of fun awaits weekends through October 31. Trick or Treat along the pathway where under-sea creatures and sea-inspired “fantasia” characters can be found at every turn. Join Count von Count and his friends Elmo, Abby Cadaby and friends at Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween (reserved seating is available). Add on Dine With Shamu Halloween Spooktacular Brunch while you’re there, and don’t forget to get your jam on with a live DJ at Penelope’s Party Zone in Bayside Stadium for stories, activities, bubbles galore, and a pumpkinfish or two! Stop when you see a special silly Spooktacular street performance pop up. You may find the Longshoremen yucking it up Three Stooges-style scooping out pumpkin guts! Wear a costume, or not. All are welcome (adults included!) to enjoy #SeaWorldSpooktacular!

ZooBoo Kids

Photo Credit: Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo

Photo Credit: Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo

Fear not! Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is focusing on the FUN with ZooBoo Kids. Fear-free activities include a crazy corn maze, Scaredy Cat’s Fun House, Pumpkin Toss Animal Enrichments, Trick-or-treat stations and more. Little boys and “ghouls” (age 11 & under) will enjoy fright-free festivities (no haunted houses) starting at 1 p.m. with extended Zoo hours until 7 p.m. This daytime Halloween celebration features candy, bats and scaredy cats! Happier Halloween ZooBoo activities are included with paid Zoo admission or Zoo membership. ZooBoo KIDS dates are October 10-11, 17-18, 23-26, 30-31 and Nov. 1.

Scott’s Maze Adventures

Credit: Long & Scott Farms

Credit: Long & Scott Farms

Get lost in Scott’s Maze Adventures at Long & Scott Farms, a fall tradition with 7-acres of good, clean fun. Bring your friends and family to test their navigational skills as they wind through the maze with game stops along the way. Bring your sense of adventure (and comfortable shoes!) for an old-fashioned fall phenomenon. J General Public Days are Saturdays and Sundays October 3 through December 13. Check their website for details, prices, and map to the farm.

Brick-or-Treat

Photo Credit: LEGOLAND Florida

Photo Credit: LEGOLAND Florida

Brick-or-Treat at LEGOLAND is for kids of all ages (just like LEGOs!, though only kids 12 and under can trick-or-treat along the Pirates’ Cove Trail). There’s a Spider Scavenger Hunt in Miniland, Special appearances by Frankenstein & Mad Scientist, and if your kids love a little friendly competition, enter the “Everything is Awesome” Costume Contest at FunTown Theater. Enjoy LEGO Halloween Character Meet-and-Greets and special builds including an 8’ ghost and take part in building the world’s largest LEGO Vampyre! Take photos with the 13 foot-long LEGO Hearse built brick by brick and LEGO Pumpkins and stay for the all-new nightly Brick-tastic Fireworks show. Want more? VIP Upgrade Packages are available. Brick or Treat runs October 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 23-25, 30, 31. Find out more online.

Top 5 Interaction Programs at SeaWorld Parks

Guest writer Kaylin Williams shares the Top 5 BEST Interaction Programs & Tours SeaWorld Parks have to offer

Follow Kaylin on Instagram & YouTube @BlessedByTheOrcas

So, we all love up close animal encounters right? Imagine swimming with beluga whales, shaking hands with sea lions, feeling a penguin’s feathers on your fingertips, and being immersed in a whirlwind of awe and basking in a wave of education. Interested? Well good news for you, SeaWorld is one of the few places in the world to offer such interactive experiences, for they’re rare opportunities.

I myself, have participated in various programs SeaWorld has to offer and I’m going to give you the lowdown on some of the best edu-taining programs, Top-5 style. (Note: I am only going to list programs that I have personally participated in, for I have no jurisdiction to talk about other programs such as the Grand Adventure Tour or Behind the Scenes Tour since I have not partaken in those programs myself.)

#1. The Beluga Interaction Program:

This program is offered at all three SeaWorld parks, it is my favorite interaction I’ve done so far. In this completely immersive experience you get to work side-by-side with a trainer. You get to put on a wetsuit and get in the 62℉ salt water with one of the most interesting, rare and mystical ocean dwellers. This program includes hands-on interaction and learning through trainer talks. I did mine with Imaq and Natasha the belugas!

Wanna see for yourself? Link to video: https://youtu.be/_1XJXHBJC2E

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#2. The Sea Lion Interaction Program:

This program is offered at SeaWorld San Antonio, it’s a very immersive experience for ages 7 and up! Get on your wetsuit and swim with one of the loudest, most playful and agile animals in the marine environment. You get to lay out and relax, tote around and just have fun with one of the most dog-like sea mammals our there. I did mine with Digit and Dylan the sea lions!

Wanna see one for yourself? Link to video: https://youtu.be/xkH9P7xfTzo

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#3. Dolphin Touch/Interaction Program:

So far, I’ve only participated in the Dolphin Touch Program and I’ll be doing the interaction this summer! This touch program is a 5-10 minute long program of fun facts, hands-on rubdowns, feedings and a couple behaviors with either an Atlantic Bottlenose or Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin. I did mine with Donely the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin.

 

SeaWorld Trip December 6, 2014 Kamea's 1st Birthday 103SeaWorld Trip December 6, 2014 Kamea's 1st Birthday 130

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4. Penguin Tour/Penguin Up-Close Tour:

This program sure does break the ice! Ever wanted to touch a penguin without the frozen tundra temperatures? Then this program is just right for you. Enter through the back of the polar exhibit (Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin or Penguin Encounter depending on which park you are planning to visit) and meet a penguin face to face! Touch hand to flipper with one of the most popular polar birds, from Rockhopper and Chinstrap Penguins, to Gentoo and King Penguins, every species has its own flare. You can even take a peek into the exhibit itself and feel, listen and smell. I met Jenny, the 2-year-old Rockhopper Penguin.

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#5. The Beluga Tour:

This program is on the less expensive side of the Beluga Interaction Program. This program takes you backstage where you can meet a white whale from the dry land — no wetsuits necessary! Take a look at all the different whales, get background information on each individual and learn about the anatomy, behavior and training techniques SeaWorld uses with their Beluga Whales from a trainer. I did my melon rub with Imaq!

SeaWorld Trip December 6, 2014 Kamea's 1st Birthday 072SeaWorld Trip December 6, 2014 Kamea's 1st Birthday 057

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there it is. The top 5 programs that I have personally participated in and know you’ll enjoy! I hope you have a chance to partake in these programs so you too, can learn about these beautiful animals and how to help make this world a cleaner, safer, less polluted and overall, better world for both animals and us humans.

More information available at http://seaworldparks.com.

 

 

Article and photos contributed by guest writer Kaylin Williams.

 

Cyberbullying towards Aspiring SeaWorld Trainers from Anticaps?

Cyberbullying towards Aspiring SeaWorld Trainers from Anticaps?

By: Kaylin Williams

Hard to believe? Think again. Kids from ages of 10 all the way to 18 and older kids who are aspiring to become SeaWorld trainers are receiving death threats from Anti-Caps on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc…

I’m an avid Instagram user and I’ve personally gotten multiple death threats like, “You want to work for PoolWorld? Well, you deserve to get dragged under and killed like Dawn Brancheau did.” I’ve also gotten attacked just for simply talking about SeaWorld at my own school. I also remember seeing a post to the Blackfish Film Facebook page of my article (Link to “The Truth About SeaWorld Parks:The Blackfish Backlash”) where an anti-cap said “The Kaylin Williams scribbling is quite insipid, it’s honestly depressing that kids and teens get sucked into the SeaWorld brainwashing epidemic”.

SeaWorldStoryCentralFloridatop5

People go to crazy extents just to tear a kid’s dreams apart. The idea that you have to be in your 20’s to know the truth about SeaWorld needs to be debunked. I’m here spreading the truth, and i’m only 16 years old! There are kids and teens who have done their own research and spread awareness about SeaWorld and the Blackfish backlash going around. People are misinformed, that is becoming more and more apparent. The other day I was talking about Blackfish with a kid that had seen it and wanted my input on the film, and from across the room this girl shouts “SeaWorld is awful! They beat the whales with buckets and they only use those whistles hurt their ears!” Where are these horrendous accusations coming from? These claims aren’t even made in Blackfish itself.

There was even an account I was following on instagram of this aspiring trainer, a young girl who had a HATE account made about her. The account was based around screenshots of pictures on the girl’s account and hating on her, including a long list of followers. This girl had to report that account, delete her own, start a new account and put her account on private! This is uncalled for.

Another incident happened over halloween. A woman dressed up like a zombie Dawn Brancheau, and her baby boy as a killer whale. How disrespectful is that? To glorify the death of someone like that? Unacceptable. Can you imagine how Dawn’s family would’ve felt seeing that? Disrespectful.

Kids, teens and adults should not be scrutinized, torn down or given death threats and wishes. Let kids be kids, teens be teens, and adults live their lives. These keyboard activists need to learn when they’ve gone too far. People shouldn’t be trashed like this, when chatting up SeaWorld with a pro-cap, anti-caps need to be respectful, don’t trash talk or use foul language. Be thoughtful, and courteous to others please. Make this world a friendly place.

Business inquiries: If there is anything you want me to be involved with, rather it be a class, workshop, internship, article or interview or anything please contact me through Instagram: @Blessedbytheorcas
Article I wrote for former SeaWorld trainer, Kyle Kittleson: http://marinemammaltrainer.com/seaworlds-history/
Articles I wrote for Central Florida Top5 can be found through this link to the first one I wrote: http://centralfloridatop5.com/2014/05/17/the-truth-about-seaworld-parks/
Thank you for your time and consideration! It means a lot!
And have a Whale of a day!

 

 

 

SeaWorld Orlando Offers Free Pass for Preschoolers

Children five and younger can enjoy all of 2015 at SeaWorld Orlando for FREE

SeaWorld Orlando is celebrating the new year and families with young kids with a limited-time offer. Children five and younger can explore SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa for FREE throughout 2015 with the return of the Preschool Pass. Starting today, guests can register for the pass online and get their kids ready for all of the excitement, thrills and inspiring shows that only SeaWorld and Busch Gardens can provide.

Kids will love being kids at Shamu’s Happy Harbor®, a play area that features fun for all, including:Preschool Pass

  • Shamu Express® – the park’s first family-oriented roller coaster reaching speeds of 26 mph
  • Jazzy Jellies – a jellyfish-themed ride that lifts and spins families to heights of 30 feet
  • Sea Carousel – a classical marine-themed masterpiece topped by a 45-foot-wide pink octopus
  • A variety of other kid-sized attractions to keep the little ones moving and shaking

And at Busch Gardens, experience kid-sized attractions and exciting encounters, including:

  • Busch Gardens’ Sesame Street® Safari of Fun – a family-friendly African adventure filled with kid-size rides and cool water fun
  • Madagascar Live – kids can join the adventure with King Julien and his friends during this live show
  • Treetop Trails at Jungala® – older kids can explore and climb nets, bridges and tubes in this multi-level maze, while the younger set can play in the water area inside this 3-story family play area

Sign up today!
The Free SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Preschool Pass is an exclusive online offer, available at SeaWorldOrlando.com. It is exclusively for Florida residents ages five and younger and is valid for unlimited admission – with no blackout dates – through Dec. 31, 2015, at SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. The Preschool Pass does not include parking or Pass Member discounts or benefits.

Another great reason to get a free Preschool Pass for the little ones is that all of SeaWorld’s 2015 events are included! The year kicks off with Wild Days, an immersive event that connects kids to the wild and wonderful world we all share; followed by the all-new Praise Wave, a series that makes the park come alive with the hottest names in Christian music. And don’t forget about family favorites Halloween Spooktacular and SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration, also included with a Preschool Pass!

The best deal for the rest of the family is a SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Fun Card which allows unlimited admission to both parks throughout the year at a discounted price of $165.

From soaring on the mighty Manta rollercoaster and experiencing the power and grace of killer whales in the One Ocean show, to exploring an underwater journey of sea turtles at TurtleTrek and seeing penguins on the thrilling, chilling adventure of Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, there is something for everyone in the family at SeaWorld Orlando.

 

Busch Gardens Deals Offers For 2015

Busch Gardens® Tampa is kicking off 2015 with great ways to save while you experience world-class rollercoasters , Broadway-style entertainment, up-close animal encounters and some of the biggest thrills found anywhere!

BuschGardensTampa

Any 2  Parks for $99

For a limited time, enjoy any two parks for any two days for $99! Choose between SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica®, Busch Gardens Tampa, and Adventure Island. ChooseSeaWorld Orlando and you’ll soar like a ray on Manta, visit Busch Gardens Tampa and dive face-down at 60mph on North America’s tallest freestanding drop tower Falcon’s Fury®, take the plunge down Ihu’s Breakaway Falls at Aquatica, or hurtle high on Colossal Curl™, Adventure Island’s newest family thrill slide.

There are no blackout dates, visits do not need to occur at the same park and visits must be redeemed by May 22, 2015. Visit buschgardens.com for more information.

Adventure Island Fun Card FREE, with a Busch Gardens Fun Card Purchase

For a limited time, guests can receive an Adventure Island® Fun Card FREE with the purchase of a Busch Gardens Fun Card, which lets guests pay for a day and visit both parks now through 2015. Enjoy the thrills of Busch Gardens through Dec. 31, 2015 and all the water-soaked fun of Adventure Island’s 2015 season, including the park’s newest family thrill slide, Colossal Curl™.

The two-park Fun Card includes admission to an incredible lineup of events including Busch Gardens Tampa’s Real Music Series™, the inaugural Food & Wine Festival, Summer Nights, Christmas Town™ and Adventure Island’s Island Nights. Price does not include tax and service fees. Visit buschgardens.com for more information.

FREE 2015 SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Preschool Pass

Busch Gardens is commemorating five years of family-friendly experiences with Sesame Street® Safari of Fun by bringing back a limited-time offer. With Preschool Pass, kids 5 and younger can enjoy all the excitement of Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld® Orlando for FREE from Jan. 5 through Dec. 31.

Join everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends at Busch Gardens’ Sesame Street Safari of Fun for a family-friendly African adventure filled with kid-size rides and cool water fun. This is a limited-time offer and online registration is required. The Preschool Pass does not include daily parking, separate-ticketed events or other Pass Member discounts.

To learn more about Preschool Pass, and to register, visit buschgardens.com.

Visit buschgardens.com for more information about these great deals and others. Or, be the first to know about new events, special deals and future announcements by following the park’s blog at BuschGardensTampaBlog.com, or “Like” the Busch Gardens Facebook page and follow @buschgardens on Twitter and Instagram.

SeaWorld’s Blue World Project: A Bold Vision for Killer Whales

Guest post By: Kaylin Williams be sure to follow her on Instagram: @Blessedbytheorcas

SeaWorld is about to embark on a brand new initiative. I’m going to break it down to the Top 5 things you need to know about this brand new addition to all 3 SeaWorld Parks for their beautiful Killer Whale collection.

  1. SeaWorld’s Blue World Project is creating a more effective understanding of killer whales, while educating and inspiring conservation efforts from around the world that work tirelessly to protect orcas in the wild. In fact, SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. is providing $10 million in new funding for research and conservation projects for killer whales in the ocean.
  1. The Blue World Project is a world-class innovation, with a viewing gallery that is almost 4 stories high, 50 feet in depth, and 1.5 acres of surface area. This allows more ample opportunities for play, including a “fast water current” which allows for the killer whales to swim through moving water which increases exercise and helps to keep dorsal fins standing tall.
  1. Guests will have the opportunity to walk with the killer whales along the shore and interact with them from the depths of the ocean, or they can view the whales from a “bird’s eye view” at the surface.
  1. Guests will have increased interactions with SeaWorld’s professionals and experts. New programs will extend educational opportunities to guests, fostering a deeper knowledge for killer whales and their ocean habitat.
  1. Unprecedented research with a focus on animal husbandry and care makes for many ample opportunities for SeaWorld’s animal health professionals and independent scientists to gain a greater understanding and better care for the orcas that reside at SeaWorld parks, and in the wild.

Construction will soon begin in the San Diego location next year (2015), and the Orlando and San Antonio locations will follow soon after. SeaWorld has battled much controversy over their care of killer whales since the exposé, ‘Blackfish’ came out. SeaWorld is out 24/7 rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing animals, inspiring the next generation to care for the natural world, and dedicating their time to research, education and new discoveries for many different species. What did the ‘Blackfish’ cast do for killer whales? BlueWorldProjectAbsolutely nothing, not a dime went anywhere but to ‘Blackfish’ campaigns and the so called “experienced” former trainers in the film’s exploitive, agenda driven biases. The director didn’t donate any money to killer whale research and conservation in the wild…SeaWorld donated $10 million. Which do you support? You should support SeaWorld, because without these parks, these animals wouldn’t be so beyond appreciated as they are now. Thank you so much for reading; I hope I taught you a few things about the new initiative SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. has embarked on. It should be quite the journey and it is sure to be impressive and very environmentally enriching for these large sea animals.

For more information on the Blue World Project, please visit www.seaworld.com/blueworld

*Thank you to every avid SeaWorld supporter that is here to spread awareness! Please read The Truth about SeaWorld Parks, The Blackfish Backlash

Business inquiries: If there is anything you want me to be involved with, rather it be a class, workshop, internship, article or interview or anything please contact me through Instagram: @Blessedbytheorcas

Check out another article by Kaylin Williams  for Kyle Kittleson: marinemammaltrainer.com/seaworlds-history/

Interview | Mark Simmons -Former Seaworld Trainer

Guest post By: Kaylin Williams be sure to follow her on Instagram: @Blessedbytheorcas

Hey there everyone! I’m Kaylin Williams and I recently asked Mark Simmons, Former senior killer whale trainer for SeaWorld, appeared in the film ‘Blackfish’, and authors of ‘Killing Keiko’ (Coming out in August) a few questions. 

KW- At what age did you realize that you wanted to be a SeaWorld animal trainer?

MS- “I was 17 when I first visited a SeaWorld park.  I knew instantly.”

KW- How would you describe the care and research SeaWorld applies toward their Killer Whales?

MS- “Second to none. Over the course of an amazing career (thus far) I’ve had the opportunity to consult for nearly 30 different facilities and research organizations worldwide.  I have never seen anything yet that matches the level of sophistication, commitment and resources that are put into animal welfare in the SeaWorld parks. Other than the wealthiest one percent, I doubt there are many people that receive the same benefits and dedications of professionals who help to ensure a happy, healthy life as the animals receive at SeaWorld.”

KW- What do you think it MEANS to BE a SeaWorld animal trainer?

MS- “Most of us are familiar with animal/human relationships.  Whether that’s having a pet or the many and varied ways we engage animals throughout our society. But working “with” an animal in a positive reinforcement atmosphere where relationship is the coveted “Pulitzer Prize” is a remarkable and truly indescribable journey. A pure relationship, cultivated in a positive and stimulating environment removes the barriers between animals and people. It is not threatening, it is not punitive; it is most certainly not domination. It is working together toward a common goal, helping each other, trusting each other and building on that bond over time. I have never been more enthralled with animals than when working with them in this capacity – and that’s true of rescued animals we’ve returned to the wild as much as animals in our daily care. Though the program goals may differ, the tenants of learning and behavior are the same. It’s a level of relationship I wish everyone could experience at least once in their lifetime.”MarkSimmons

KW- What are you doing currently to get the truth out about SeaWorld Parks?

MS- “I don’t expressly support SeaWorld in any direct way.  I advocate the continued development of zoological sciences as a whole. We are now facing the brunt of a century of industrialization – persistent ocean contaminants.  Everything we do (and have done) ends up in our oceans. Think of the ocean as a giant air filter for the earth ecosystems. I believe “conservation” is what we do today that will benefit our grandchildren and their children. But nothing we do now will stop the tidal wave of destruction yet unfolding. Evidence abounds all over the world’s oceans that we are now facing tropic collapse starting with many well-known and higher order apex predators. That’s a very scary situation. I’ve seen it first-hand, and the peer-reviewed science is there to provide ample testimony to this fact. If we have any hope of preserving a species, it will require proactive environmental assessment and the knowledge and expertise, financial resources and public “will” to carry out these measures. The vast majority of these resources come from the zoological field.  Now is not the time to back away from our zoological expertise. It’s an asset that belongs to the public as a whole. Now more than ever we will need to rely on that asset to help treat and salvage what we can. The conversation on animals in human care has taken place in a vacuum, emotionally charged by sensational films like Blackfish (void of context). If there’s any hope of preserving a species, wild or not, we’ve got to start focusing on real threats.”

KW- What is your view on ‘Blackfish’ and the affect it’s had on the public?

MS- “Blackfish is a film produced by people; people with their own ideas, agendas and machinations on exploiting the animal/human bond. There are simply too many fallacies and too much disinformation in the film to adequately dissect in the scope of this response. Nonetheless, I would categorically say the film has become a profound public disservice toward the future of marine life conservation and preservation. I would also note that these high profile exotic animals attract public attention and the “profits” or “donations” (whichever term you like best) that come along with it. It’s important to remember that money plays a role on both sides of the proverbial table. In the zoological field, it pays for unbelievably complex and advanced care as well as the conservation programs that support marine species in the wild.

KW-What changes do you think SeaWorld needs to apply to the care and display of their animals, if any?

MS- “While I have not worked at SeaWorld in more than 15 years, I am not aware of any programmatic changes that I could offer.  Like many others, I’d love to see new habitats established that incorporate all the best modern technology has to offer, but if I know SeaWorld, I suspect we’ll see precisely that in the not too distant future. However, it’s important to realize that the characteristics of an animal (or person’s) environment, does not alone define quality of life. To inject a little humor here, “bigger” is not unequivocally better.  More important is that the animals’ receive a constant flow of positive novel stimuli in their day to day lives. Social change, physical exertion, mental challenge (new learning) and variety are the spices of life.  As we saw with Keiko, and other animals given the choice, once they have a bond with humans, it’s strong enough to outweigh access to a wild environment.”

KW- Do you think waterwork behaviors with Killer Whales should return to shows again?

MS- “A resounding “Yes.” Whether in shows or another capacity, the ability to interact bodily and directly with the whales is a favored form of stimulation and enrichment (for trainers and the animals). Remember, Tilikum (who was responsible for the only death in a SeaWorld park) was not raised in the SeaWorld system. He was never taught human-whale water etiquette.  Worse, he has an abusive history in his past life and one of the results is the aberrant possessiveness of foreign objects in the water; a dangerous combination. Judging the safety of killer whale/human water interaction on the basis of one highly unique outlier (Tilikum) is an injustice to the many other whales in SeaWorld parks. Between my wife and me, we represent nearly 23 years of killer whale waterwork, thousands upon thousands of in-water interactions. In that time, neither of us ever had one single incident to speak of. When you watch Blackfish you’d think a trainer couldn’t survive a week at SeaWorld.  I watch Blackfish and I can’t reconcile the world they portray with the world I know intimately. It’s a shame that most do not have this frame of reference and therefore fall victim to heavy-handed artistic license (to put it mildly).”

Mark also added, “I’d also caution against delineating “shows” as having any bearing on this topic.  Shows are nothing more than another type or variety of interaction between the whales and trainers. They are immensely rewarding experiences for the animals – in fact, by association the show pools are the most popular “hang out” for the animals even in their private time. From my own experiences (and allowing a little interpretation here), I’d go so far as to say many of the animal’s love “showing off” for audiences. Yet there’s a much more important function of shows. We live in a society that invests billions in entertainment.  From NFL, NBA to NASCAR and Hollywood; entertainment drives our attention. Imagine if marine life conservation and animal awareness were entertaining. Imagine if it were not.”

KW- Do you think moving these whales to a sea pen is a good idea?

MS- “Every environment, wild, sanctuary or man-made has its positives and negatives.  If the ocean was the pristine environment like we all want to believe, I’d say create a habitat wherever you please (but the ocean is not pristine and that’s another topic for another day). It’s not the environment that alone defines quality of life. While the size or characteristics of an environment can be factors in determining quality of life, they are secondary to other important psychological, social and physiological needs. This is a complex topic that MUST include an understanding of each animal’s learning history (its ontogenetic history). Imagine you were raised in a high-rise apartment in the city. You had a wonderful childhood and stimulating lifestyle. All of a sudden I decide that you’re better off in the country. So I pull you away from that which you know and plop you on a hillside. There, now you’re happier now, right?  My point: The book of life cannot be judged by its cover, and quality of life is not so simply defined.” 

KW- What gave you the inspiration to write “Killing Keiko”?

MS- “Keiko’s story is powerful, but not for the reasons that most would assume. It’s a love story, a story of overcoming the impossible, a hope-filled story and a heart-breaking story. It’s also a lesson far too valuable to leave in the dark. But I guess my inspiration was the experience and the journey itself. When I talk to my colleagues, who also worked on the front-lines of the project, we all have at least one thing in common: Keiko left a permanent mark on ,each of us. I truly didn’t have much choice in the matter, the book wrote itself in my head over many years. Putting it on paper was a release. And in the end, I hope it honors Keiko and the people who poured their hearts out to ensure Keiko’s life.”

KW- What do you hope people take from the book as a whole?

MS- “That’s tough to answer without giving away the pinnacle of the story.  I’ll leave it at this – I hope we learn to collaborate.  I hope we (as a society) realize that there is no separation between zoological and wildlife management. One might support one, both or the other.  Agreeing to disagree is okay.  But common ground has to be found.  I hope we recognize that we have the public will to do what needs be done, but that we remember emotion alone is not a tenant of good stewardship.  I hope Keiko’s story reminds us to invest in relevant expertise and critical thinking to guide the way.”

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I’d like to thank Mark Simmons for talking to me about the conservation, protection, and preservation of marine life. I’m so excited for the book to come out! I highly recommend pre-ordering it right now! Go preorder ‘Killing Keiko’ at killingkeiko.com and to find out more about the animal welfare and care being put towards all animals in SeaWorld Parks at seaworldcares.com Thank you!

 

*Thank you to every avid SeaWorld supporter that is here to spread awareness! Please read The Truth about SeaWorld Parks, The Blackfish Backlash

Business inquiries: If there is anything you want me to be involved with, rather it be a class, workshop, internship, article or interview or anything please contact me through Instagram: @Blessedbytheorcas

Check out another article by Kaylin Williams  for Kyle Kittleson: marinemammaltrainer.com/seaworlds-history/

Interview | Bridgette Pirtle – Former Senior Killer Whale Trainer at SeaWorld

Guest post By: Kaylin Williams be sure to follow her on Instagram: @Blessedbytheorcas

Hey there everyone! I recently spoke with Bridgette Pirtle/Davis, former SeaWorld San Antonio’s Senior Killer Whale Trainer who was even involved with the ‘Blackfish’ campaign, and asked her a few questions about her work with SeaWorld and other animal welfare topics. Here’s what she had to say. 

KW- At what age did you want to be a SeaWorld trainer?

BP- “I was three years old when I decided I was born to be a “whale rider.” My family had taken our first big, getaway vacation together to Orlando and that was the first time I saw killer whales. The first interaction I experienced was a simple learning session in between shows. Standing in the empty stadium, I watched the trainer feed Namu, Shamu and Baby Shamu. That moment shaped my dreams and aspirations for decades to come. Everything I did revolved around my love for the animals, my passion for the job and my dream of becoming a SeaWorld killer whale trainer. Just fifteen years following that first interaction, I would be living my dream of being a SeaWorld animal trainer.”

KW- How would you describe the care and research SeaWorld applies toward their killer whales?

BP- “SeaWorldʼs care and research is the pinnacle of the industry. I was fortunate to be a part of several different research projects throughout my ten years there. From visual acuity to respiratory capacity, there was ample opportunity to add to our knowledge of killer whales through the research projects made possible by facilities like SeaWorld. Since I was young, the most impressive contributions to our understandings of the cetaceans all came from zoological facilities like SeaWorld. One of my favorite revelations is one that came recently from a SeaWorld park. Because of their dedication to research, we now know that killer whales are capable of learning different dialects of communication. That’s unbelievable.”

She also commented on SeaWorld’s Killer Whale care,“As far as care, you will never meet anyone more dedicated to their job than the trainers and zookeepers of SeaWorld. Each and every day centers on providing the very best for the animals in their care. It is a responsibility that, as a trainer, you take to heart. There is not a moment in your life that you are not prepared to drop anything you are doing to answer to the needs of your animals. The passion and love for the animals fuels a trainer’s drive to do the best and give everything they can to the animals each time they step poolside.”BridgettePirtle

KW- What is your view on ‘Blackfish’ and the effect it had on the public?

BP- “‘Blackfish’ is very selfish and misinformative. It’s an egocentric, misguided representation of what a few mislead individuals feel would be best for the animals they used to care for. As a whole, the film manipulates its viewers through craftily edited footage that is mostly outdated. Quick cuts from out-of-context show clips from decades ago mislead an audience to believe aggressions occurred, when the reality of the situation, no aggression took place. It’s deceiving enough to fool even experienced former trainers like myself. Even I fell victim to its message initially. I was grateful that I learned to ask the right questions and that is when the truth was revealed to me. These former trainers were mostly inexperienced and outdated. Their limited perspectives from their minimal time working at SeaWorld were misrepresented.

As far as their contribution to understanding modern day safety protocols in killer whale training, their contribution is absolutely irrelevant. To have anyone argue that what they experienced decades ago is relevant now is arrogant and quite ignorant as well. On top of having a very limited understanding of killer whale training, you have a manipulative representation of killer whale researchers who are more accurately “activists masquerading as scientists.” (I’d like to give the credit to Eric Davis of Unofficial SeaWorld Podcast for that description. It’s very appropriate and very accurate.) Longevity estimates are manipulated. Contradictions are prevalent throughout the film. All of these faults are disguised within clever edits and a beautiful soundtrack. At its very core, the film was exploitive. In pursuit of superficial Hollywood success, ‘Blackfish’ further exploited the lives of Dawn, Keltie and Alexis all to perpetuate a radical activist agenda that would spawn a movement that supports actions that represent a death sentence to animals.

Overall, it’s scary to see so many people look to ‘Blackfish’ as factual. It’s anything but a fact-based documentary. It’s opinion-driven, fueled by outdated experiences and contrived scientific studies. Events recalled by former trainers are exaggerated or, even worse, fabricated. It is a tool of animal activist propaganda that takes advantage of a mainstream audience that lacks the knowledge of a more appropriate and current depiction of animal training and zoological facilities operating today. This, in turn, encourages those within its gullible audience to leap for the “‘Blackfish’ bandwagon” before they truly have a well-grounded, accurately depicted understanding of the issues at hand. ‘Blackfish’ is misleading in that it takes you on this journey that focuses on Dawn, how she was an inspiration in so many ways throughout her life, and you are lead to believe that now, this anti-SeaWorld, anti-captivity spin zone that has materialized in the weeks following the films’ release is a part of Dawn’s story. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The film exploited the positive impact and the lasting impression Dawn had on the lives of so many animals and people by twisting it into an egocentric, self-serving purpose of promoting the activists’ disorganized and irrational ideas of rehabilitating the animals. It’s important to approach such discussions as captivity pragmatically.

I truly believe that once the audience lifts the wool from over their eyes and begin to take responsibility of their knowledge and understanding of the issues and ask questions that reveal the truth stripped by the emotional ploys of the film, they will realize again, like the sad saga of Keiko, that Blackfish is yet another manipulative tactic by animal activists attempting to gain mainstream support for their poorly-founded, extremist ideas that serve to spell a huge setback in the area of animal welfare.”

KW- What changes do you think SeaWorld needs to apply to the care and display of their animals, if any?

BP- “My favorite thing from my years of being an animal trainer was enrichment. Playtimes and relationship sessions were integral to establishing strong relationships with your animals. I’ve recently seen and heard of some of the amazing additions to the areas that really serve to show a dedication SeaWorld has for giving the animals the very best. Animals are enriched with sessions that involve touchscreen interactions that serve to provide an even deeper understanding of the mental capacity of these creatures. The facilities are continuing to evolve to provide cutting edge safety for both the trainers and the animals.

The most impressive part of these recent additions is that they are being incorporated into the animals’ areas in a way that also provides environmental enrichment. Fast-rising false bottom floors not only allow trainers and killer whales to interact safely, but the floors itself can be used as environmental stimulation that adds a valuable layer of enrichment for the animals. The actions I’ve seen SeaWorld take are amazing. They truly do have the animals’ and trainers’ care and safety forefront in their minds.”

KW- What are you doing currently to get the truth out about SeaWorld?

BP- “I’ve always been very open and honest about what I’ve experienced these past couple of years. I believe that by sharing firsthand knowledge I acquired during my brief involvement with the film will reveal a more appropriate depiction of what honestly motivated those involved in making the film and what continues to motivate them now. It’s all very self-serving. The strongest examples of animal welfare experts are those dedicating their lives to the animals each and every day. They are sweating in wetsuits, not parading on red carpets.I honestly believe that, by sharing my experiences from my ten years at SeaWorld, I can use these experiences as a way to encourage others to take the same path and dedicate their own lives to caring for animals responsibly. Being with the whales at Sea World was the best time of my life. Those pictures represent a culmination of a dream that started when I was 3 years old. I loved the whales and continue to love them. I will never be anything less than proud of my time at SeaWorld and the things I accomplished with the whales. It was a magical time that allowed me to live my dream and share it with others.

I realize I won’t please everyone, but have come to value speaking the truth in love.

I want to lay out my core beliefs in regards to animals & human life:

• Both are to be highly regarded and respected

• We are stewards of this earth & the animals left to our care

• It is possible to have animals in captivity with doing harm

• Captivity does serve a purpose in educating the public

• Waterworks is a connection between you and the animal that can only be felt when experienced

• Though my opinion may differ from others I will respect that opinion without criticism or judgment (Well, that’s my prayer with God’s help. Forgive me when I fail.) The reality is that, by sharing my story through whatever means available (whether it be social media, local newspapers or even Fox News), I can hopefully help contribute positively and constructively to a healthier and truer image of what it means to honestly and selflessly care for animals, and have their best in heart and mind as it pertains to their welfare.”

KW- What do you think it means to be a SeaWorld trainer?

BP- “It’s the culmination of a dream that began when I was three years old. It’s an honor and a privilege that very few get the opportunity to be a part of. Being a trainer is about genuine passion, selfless sacrifice, and endless dedication each and every day. I will never be anything less than proud of my time at SeaWorld and all the things I accomplished caring for the animals. Being an animal trainer, you are blessed with an opportunity to not only live out your own dream but also to share that dream with thousands of others and hopefully inspire them to pursue the same dream of devoting their best to caring for the animals.”

KW- Do you think that waterwork behaviors with killer whales should return to shows?

BP- “Simple answer to a complex question… Yes. Here’s why- I believe that maintaining a positive reinforcement history with waterwork desensitization is in the best interest for the safety of both the animals and the trainers. One of the most important concepts within behavior modification is maintaining a strong reinforcement history of a myriad of different behaviors within various contexts. This includes waterwork behaviors in a variety of different interactions, including show performances. I believe SeaWorld is doing a wonderful job in applying these behavioral principles to the best of their ability within the recent constraints given by the OSHA findings. Taking the government out of the equation, SeaWorld has always been at the top of the industry when it comes to safety within its killer whale training program. SeaWorld’s trainers literally wrote the book on the most successful and effective methods of operant conditioning and positive reinforcement. That being said, I side with SeaWorld in that slowly and safely re-introducing waterwork in many different contexts, including shows, would be in the best interest of creating the safest working environment for both the animals and the trainers. By the government establishing these requirements that restrict waterwork interactions to a non-performance context, it is creating opportunities for discrimination to occur that increase risk factors rather than minimize them.

I believe that the training staff at Shamu Theater can safely and successfully re-integrate waterwork behaviors within multiple contexts that will benefit the animals by improving the quality of hands-on care that the trainers are capable of providing as well as significantly improving upon the safety of both the trainers and the animals.”

KW- Do you think moving the whales to a sea pen is a good idea?

BP- “Absolutely not. It’s more like one of the most misguided, horrible ideas ever on so many levels. These ideas being introduced haphazardly to Congress are done so on a whim to capitalize on this so-called “‘Blackfish’ effect” without thorough thought or consideration to what’s truly in the best interest of the animals. These so-called animal welfare acts are in all actuality a death sentence for the animals they involve. Bills are being presented in a way that seems more like incomplete sentences in their attempt to tell the masses that whales need to be released, even though they don’t know exactly the who, what, when, where, why or how of the situation. It’s again a very egocentric way of force-feeding their radical activist agenda to the gullible masses without any legitimate rhyme or reason. Sea pens would compromise the safety and well-being of not only the animals, but also the trainers.

The sad reality of the situation is that this isn’t the first time that our generation has seen such a gross misrepresentation of animal welfare. Keiko is an excellent example of how attempting to release an animal at any cost causes more harm to the animal than good. I, personally, am very much looking forward to reading Mark Simmons’s book, ‘Killing Keiko’. I am certain it will provide much needed insight into what truly happened during the attempt to release the star of Free Willy once the message of the project’s activist influence took precedence over what was in the best interest of the Keiko’s well-being. With Keiko, we have a disheartening example of what extremes these self-proclaimed scientists are willing to go to, all in the arrogant pursuit of proving their point. I certainly pray that society sees through this and steps forward to prevent such a sad chapter of our history from repeating itself.”

KW- Before we go would you like to add anything else?

BP- “My first steps into Blackfish were truly honorable. At that time, I was lead to believe that this film was being created with the intentions of accomplishing a positive change for the animals I cared for during my career at SeaWorld while honoring the memory of Dawn and the powerful impact she had on the lives of the animals and so many people. Initially, I hoped to speak about opportunities to provide something even greater for the animals and how I felt SeaWorld could make a more powerful impact on the lives of both the animals and the trainers.As I started to form these connections amongst those involved with the film, I began to feel prompted to compromise my own core values that centered around my love and respect for the animals in order to fit into the agenda of Blackfish.

My conscience began to bother me as I felt a disconnect between my core beliefs and that which I was saying and doing to fit into the agenda of the film.I began to learn how to ask the right questions, and with them the inconsistencies within the stories entwined in Blackfish were revealed to me. Slowly, unsettling answers revealed that the message of Blackfish was no longer one of hope and inspiration. Instead, I felt it shift towards frivolous accusations and fabricated stories in a craftily edited attempt to paint SeaWorld as evil. My message of truth, respect and opportunity was absent as the film’s message had morphed into one that exploited two tragic losses in the interest of perpetuating an activist agenda.”

She also added,“I never intended on becoming involved with a film set on villianizing SeaWorld. Being with the whales at SeaWorld was the best time of my life. During my association with the film, I was operating in a fluid environment, filled with uncertainties and conflicting emotions and values. In the past few months, I have returned to my own core values. The relationships I had with the animals and my time at SeaWorld were integral in instilling these values of honesty and respect within myself. By no longer compromising my own experiences and beliefs, I hope to better represent a more respectful role that not only speaks out for the animals, but also those of SeaWorld being unfairly criticized as they continue dedicating so much while caring for the animals. These trainers sacrifice every day to give their best and they deserve to be viewed as compassionate heroes. The ten years I spent caring for the animals represent the culmination of a dream that started when I was 3 years old. I will never be anything less than proud of my time at SeaWorld and all the things I accomplished caring for the animals. SeaWorld blessed me with an opportunity that not only allowed me to live my dream of connecting with and caring for the killer whales but also to share that dream and inspire others to pursue the same.”

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I would like to thank Bridgette Pirtle/Davis for speaking with me about all the amazing things SeaWorld does and how ‘Blackfish’ had a misleading masquerade of fallacies to meet an activist agenda. Thank you for reading. Always remember that you can’t always see the silver lining, doing your research is a big part of learning and becoming educated on what SeaWorld really strives to do.

*Thank you to every avid SeaWorld supporter that is here to spread awareness! Please read The Truth about SeaWorld Parks, The Blackfish Backlash

Business inquiries: If there is anything you want me to be involved with, rather it be a class, workshop, internship, article or interview or anything please contact me through Instagram: @Blessedbytheorcas

Check out another article by Kaylin Williams  for Kyle Kittleson: marinemammaltrainer.com/seaworlds-history/

25 Reasons to LOVE SeaWorld!

SeaWorld Top 5 x 5 = 25!

Guest post By: Kaylin Williams be sure to follow her on Instagram: @Blessedbytheorcas

1. SeaWorld owns and operates its very own conservation fund along with Busch Gardens! This is a non-profit organization that puts its funds towards species research, habitat protection and wildlife education.

2. SeaWorld is an amazingly educational place! They have educational shows that express how intelligent and social animals really are.

3. Animals! SeaWorld has one of the largest zoological and aquarium based collection in the world! SeaWorld houses over 67,000 animals comfortably.SeaWorldTop5

4. SeaWorld’s Rescue team! They released over 23,000 animals to their natural habitat in 2013. SeaWorld just recently released their 500th manatee!

5. The shows! SeaWorld offers many spectacular animal shows! In all 3 parks they show “One Ocean” which is a show with majestic killer whales and energizing music which is all about spreading awareness about preserving the oceans we all share. There are also shows with dolphins, beluga whales, sea lions, otters, walruses and even animal ambassadors!

6. The perfect water park right on SeaWorld’s man-made coastline! Aquatica is SeaWorld’s very own water park filled with fun slides, tide pools, lazy rivers and of course, animal interactions!

7. The animal interaction programs! You can get up-close and personal with sea lions and beluga whales in San Antonio, Dolphins and Belugas in San Diego, Dolphins, Belugas & Rays in Orlando, Sign up for an interaction program today, put on the wetsuit, and dive into an immersive experience from a SeaWorld animal trainer’s perspective.

8. Adventure Camps! SeaWorld and Busch Gardens both offer Adventure camps, there are Day Camps for young children and Resident Camps. Resident Camps are a week long, there is Career and Advanced Career Camps. These camps are an amazing and educational experience offered in all 3 parks. Send your kid to these camps for a week and they will have learned so much through a week of behind the scene looks, fish prep and animal interactions offered nowhere else!

9.The best staff! All of SeaWorld’s trainers and ambassadors are ecstatic to answer your questions and talk about what the love to do! Go ahead and talk to an animal trainer the next time you visit, they love talking about their job!

10. Helps stimulate and keep the economy going! SeaWorld employs more than 21,000 people nationwide!

11. Longevity! SeaWorld has been entertaining families and educating the public about the wonderful creatures of the ocean for over 50 years! Go join their 50th Celebration going on now at a SeaWorld Adventure Park near you!

12. The food! SeaWorld offers in park restaurants themed like whichever stadium/theater you’re near! Like Shipwreck Cafe, SeaPort Market, Shamu’s Waterfront Grill and more!

13. You can “Dine With Shamu”! “Dine With Shamu” is a wonderful experience blending delicious eats and an educational show with Seaworld’s famous killer whales! Listen to Shamu trainers discuss the natural behaviors, diet and training techniques for these powerful animals while having lunch or dinner!

14. The rides! SeaWorld offers roller coasters that will be an amazing experience for the adrenaline rush lovers! SeaWorld also offers great rides for kids and water rides that lead to fun animal encounters!

15. Underwater Viewings! Although only offered in Orlando and San Diego, get face-to-face with SeaWorld’s killer whales, bottlenose dolphins, commerson’s dolphins, manatees, sea turtles, seals, sea lions, otters and so many more magnificent animals!

16. SeaWorld has world-class standards of care, animal habitats and animal welfare acts! SeaWorld provides behavioral enrichment, preventive health, veterinary medicine and facilities within management. They also help with research into the sustainability of marine oriental fish. SeaWorld Park’s programs and policies are within federal/state laws as well. Examples are the Animal Welfare Act, Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act and others. SeaWorld is also observed by OSHA, IMATA, AZA, and AMMPA.

17. Explorer’s Reef is now open in San Diego! Touch fish and other small aquatic creatures in the touch pools and explore the coral reef!

18. Roa’s Aviary in San Antonio! See hundreds of exotic and endangered birds in Aquatica’s own aviary! Touch and feed the Scarlet Ibis, Spoonbills, Sun Conures and so many other exotic and colorful birds from the walkways or the lazy river stream running through, no matter how you view it, it’ll be an immersive and unforgettable experience.

19. Discovery/Dolphin Cove! In San Diego and Orlando discover amazing dolphins, pilot whales, and false killer whales. In San Antonio visit Dolphin Cove and touch and feed Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins and Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins!

20. Sesame Street’s Bay of Play! Kids will love playing in the massive play tubes, kiddie pools, jungle gyms and water fountains!

21. The Animal Tours! Go behind the scenes of SeaWorld and see animal training techniques, training sessions, fish preparation, and all the hard work that goes into the spectacular animal shows you see during park hours.

22. Souvenirs! There are so many themed gift shops around the park and even souvenir cups! You can bring these cups back to the park and get cheap refills!

23. Hotels and flights! Many hotels have partnered with SeaWorld to make people like YOU have a great vacation at SeaWorld and in your hotel! Southwest Airlines is also a SeaWorld partner so if you live in an area where you would need to fly to a SeaWorld near you, you can get there safely and comfortably.

24. Since the film ‘Blackfish’ came out, SeaWorld has gotten some backlash.(See my other article on this website “The Truth About SeaWorld Parks”) But, SeaWorld has put in a raising floor, safety nets, remote controlled gates and so many other safety  features to the stadium that trainer safety is high standard just like their animal care.

25. It’s an all inspirational place! This aquatic theme park has things that you can’t find anywhere else in the world! so get on your flippers and dive on in!

Thank you to every avid SeaWorld supporter that is here to spread awareness! Please read The Truth about SeaWorld Parks, The Blackfish Backlash

Business inquiries: If there is anything you want me to be involved with, rather it be a class, workshop, internship, article or interview or anything please contact me through Instagram: @Blessedbytheorcas

Article I wrote for Kyle Kittleson: http://marinemammaltrainer.com/seaworlds-history/

 

SeaWorld’s Viva la Música 2014 Festival Details!

The Best Music and Food and weather to enjoy SeaWorld! Plus check out this great line-up for 2014!  Watch out Daddy Yankee video highlight video from last year!!

Celebrate the food, fun, sights and sounds of Latin culture at this annual festival, featuring live concerts by internationally renowned Latin musical artists, included with park admission.

Enjoy savory Latin cuisine prepared by SeaWorld Orlando’s Executive Chef, Héctor Colón. With more than 20 years experience – and a lifetime enjoying countlessVivaLaMusica2014 Caribbean and Latin dishes – Chef Colόn has added his touch to the traditional Latin favorites such as empanadas, arroz con pollo, carne frita and bacalaítos.

As with all SeaWorld special events, performances are included with admission, Fun Card or annual pass. Viva la Música festival activities begin at 12 p.m. each Saturday, with concerts starting at 3 p.m. at Bayside Stadium:

Saturday, April 26 – Chino y Nacho (reggaeton)

Chino & Nacho is a Venezuelan pop duo, consisting of Jesús Alberto Miranda Perez (Chino) and Miguel Ignacio Mendoza (Nacho). In 2010, the group won a Latin Grammy for Best Urban Album for “Mi Niña Bonita.”  Formerly, the two men were part of the Venezuelan group, Calle Ciega.

Saturday, May 3 –  La India (salsa)

India, also known as the new “Queen of Latin Soul,” made her debut in the music business in the ’80s, with the popular dance group TKA, one of the first Latin free style groups to take over the streets of New York. She is a multi- Grammy Nominee, and has collaborated with renowned vocalists such as Oscar De León, Gloria Estefan and Michael Stuart.

Saturday, May 10 – Victor Manuelle (salsa)

Originally from Puerto Rico, Victor Manuelle is an international star who has sold out concerts at Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall.  “Si Tú Me Besas” reached number one on Billboard’s “Hot Latin Songs” chart.

Saturday, May 17 – Olga Tañón (merengue)

Olga Tañón is a Puerto Rican recording artist whose singing career began when she joined a group called “Las Nenas de Ringo y Jossie” (Ringo and Jossie’s Girls) in the ‘80s. A short time later a very popular group in Puerto Rico called “Chantelle” noticed her mezzo soprano voice and recruited her. Over the course of her career, she has earned two Grammy Awards, three Latin Grammy Awards, and 29 Premio Lo Nuestro Awards.


The amazing shows are general seating; however, reserved seating for your favorite concerts is available with the following packages:

Front Row VIP seating –Front Row seats can be purchased starting at $39.

Viva la Música VIP Package — Starting at$29, this special package includes a meal (entrée and any one item from a selection of side salads, side dishes or desserts, plus a regular-sized non-alcoholic beverage) at any Viva la Música food sampling area or SeaWorld cafeteria-style restaurant, plus reserved seating — Center Stage!

VIP seating – Want to make sure you get a good seat to your favorite show?  Purchase this package to buy your reserved seats for $19.  

All packages are available at SeaWorldOrlando.com.

The best way to experience Viva la Música is with a 2014 Annual Pass, starting at only $13 per month with EZpay, for Florida residents. Plus, with an Annual Pass, you can experience SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration featuring new interactive experiences and shows, even more up-close animal encounters at the all-new SEA Garden and the SeaWorld “Surprise Squad” treating park guests with prizes and special experiences every day.

For more information, visit SeaWorldOrlando.com.  Viva la Música event dates, times and artists are subject to change.

Details: The Annual Pass offer with EZpay is valid for Florida residents only.  Annual Passes include free parking (Save $15 on each visit), no blackout dates, no down payment, unlimited admission for 1-year, discounts on dining and shopping, and more.  For full details, click here.

* SeaWorld® Surprise Squad: No purchase or park visit necessary. Open to park visitors and to legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.) 18 years and older. Void where prohibited. Sweepstakes ends 9/7/15. For Official Rules, how to enter by mail, prize descriptions and odds disclosure, visit Guest Services or SeaWorld.com/OfficialRules.  Sponsor: SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc., 9205 SouthPark Center Loop, Suite 400 Orlando, FL 32819.

 

 

Top 5 Reasons to Take Your Kids to SeaWorld’s “Just For Kids” Festival

I am always looking for ways to have fun and create lasting memories with my kids. So, when the opportunity came to go to SeaWorld and enjoy their Just for Kids Festival, I jumped on it!

Here are 5 reasons YOU should take your kids!

1. It is educational. As a busy homeschool mom, I will use any and all opportunities to educate my children. So, I was thrilled to see that I really didn’t have to do much, other than sit back and let SeaWorld do the educating.

Your kids will learn about many different animals and their habitats, eating habits, and more. Plus they will learn valuable information about taking care of the environment!

It is a science lesson all wrapped up in more fun than you can squeeze in a day–and the best part is, they don’t even realize it!

2. Close Encounters. In the new “Sea Garden” they will have several opportunities to not only “meet the keepers”, but they will also see some amazing animals–and even get to touch a few!

On our trip we saw and learned more about: the awesome and fabulous bald eagle, a majestic African fish eagle, an adorable miniature horse, and a very sophisticated laughing kookaburra! It was very cool!

Seaworld's Just For Kids Festival - Laughing Kookaburra

Laughing Kookaburra

Seaworld's Just For Kids Festival - miniature pony

My sweet girl fell in love with this miniature pony.

Seaworld's Just For Kids Festival - bald eagle

This is Maddie. She fell out of her nest at 5 weeks and was permanently injured and was declared unreleasable by the government. Now, she lives a happy life at SeaWorld–helping kids appreciate wildlife!

Another thing about the Sea Garden I want to mention is the incredible statues! Each one is made from trash that washes up on the beach! You would never know that it was trash. They are each so incredibly beautiful and creative!

Seaworld's Sea Garden art - fish

Can you believe this is made from TRASH that washes up on the beach?? Amazing!

Seaworld's Sea Garden art -StarFish

My little girl loved this pretty starfish!

Seaworld's Sea Garden art -Octopus

This was my favorite. I was amazed that someone made an octopus like this–out of trash! SO beautiful!

3. Interactive Games and Challenges. My daughter loved this. You are given special event maps for the kids to use during their adventure. The map shows the various areas around the park that are dedicated to the Just for Kids Festival.

It also has 4 Starfish at the bottom. These stars are a very cool part of their experience. You see, they go around the park, and these 4 stars represent special locations where they will play a challenging game (not too challenging. They are age-appropriate), and learn about some animals, their habitats, etc. Once they have participated in the game and listened to the Animal Ambassadors, they get a cool animal card and a stamp for their map!

Once all 4 stars are stamped, they get a very nifty little “junior” ambassador SeaWorld key chain with a picture of Shamu!

My daughter loved it! She felt like she accomplished something.

4. Conservation and the Environment. Unfortunately, our environment has suffered a lot from the poor decisions people have made over the course of time. Because of this, the beautiful creatures that were created to bring us joy, are suffering. They are losing their habitats, lives, and quality of life.

It makes me sad.

Thankfully, there are places like SeaWorld, who educate children (our future), work to protect the environment, and help rehabilitate animals that are adversely affected by our poor choices.

It makes me happy that my daughter is learning to appreciate animals and the planet she stewards!

5. It’s F.U.N. Of course you cannot have an event for kids without fun! And, let me tell you, it is FUN! There are dance parties, music, roller coasters, kid-friendly activities, close encounters, rides, interactive games, face-painting, awesome shows, story time, and more!

Speaking of “awesome shows”… We saw Cookie Monster RAP at the Elmo Rocks show! OMG! It was hilarious! I never thought I could enjoy Sesame Street characters this much! I think the parents in the audience liked it just as much as the kids–maybe more! They had some 80’s tunes sung by Bert, Ernie, Cookie Monster, Abby, Zoe, and of course Elmo himself!

Loved it! It was totally awesome!

Seaworld's Just For Kids Festival - Elmo Rocks

This was one of my favorite parts of the day! I will never forget when Cookie Monster rapped!

OK, so go and grab your SeaWorld tickets and head on out to the Just for Kids Festival! It is going on Saturdays through April 12, 2014!

Then, come back and tell me about all the fun your kids had–and don’t forget to see Elmo Rocks!

About the Author: Lara is a busy mom of two who loves traveling, good food, and enjoying life! You can read more about her at AdventuresofaTravelingFoodie.com

Still Want More Christmas? SeaWorld Continues The Holiday Festivities Till End Of The Year


SWO Christmas Celebration

The gifts have all been opened but that doesn’t mean it’s time to stop singing the Christmas carols or stop enjoying the sights of the season.

Over at SeaWorld now through the end of the year the annual SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration puts on all the goodness of Christmas while keeping the seas at center stage.  The amazing live nativity show ‘O Wondrous Night’ features 30 carols and plenty of camels (along with a plethora of other animals as well). The park itself is filled with enjoyable Christmas decorations and live holiday musical acts that set the mood no matter what the temperature.

Sea of TressSeaWorld’s large lake in the middle of the park is filled with over 100 trees that sparkle and dance to music.  The trees, reflecting off of water, make for the perfect Florida holiday tradition.

Don’t worry about the animals because SeaWorld’s animals get in on the Christmas action as well.  Everyone’s favorite sea lions, Clyde and Seamore, meet up with a few mischievous otters, a comical elf, and a wintery walrus or two for a Christmas show like no other.

Shamu Christmas Miracles is a fantastic Christmas show of friendship and peace.  The show features the killer whales and plenty of amazing Christmas songs.

Shamu’s Happy Harbor also gets in on the action with Holly Jolly Railway added to the lineup of kiddie rides and snow flurries filling the air.

Elmo’s Christmas Wish show features Rosita, Grover, Zoe, Cookie Monster, and that super ticklish fur ball Elmo in a Christmas show that is an instant holiday classic.

Wild Artic takes a vacation during the holiday season and instead The Polar Express Experience is offered. As one of the most popular attraction overlays in all of Central Florida this simulator ride takes riders on the famous train to the North Pole.  Once rides arrive at the North Pole the big man himself is there meeting guests.

Bayside Stadium features an impressive outdoor lakeside ice skating extravaganza.  SeaWorld Parks have always been known for their impressive ice skating shows and this one doesn’t disappoint.  Make sure to check out the last show of the evening and stay for the fireworks that follow directly afterwards.

Each evening is topped off with a holiday light and fireworks show.  Dancing fountains, glittering lights, and festive fireworks, all choreographed to classic holiday favorites.

The best part of SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration is that it’s included in regular park admission and while the parks are all busy this time of year even on busy days SeaWorld just seems more enjoyable than some of those other insanely busy parks in town.

 

SeaWorld invited us out to the Christmas celebration a few weeks ago.  Even with us arriving at dusk we were still able to comfortable enjoy some of the highlights of the park (like the new Antarctica area, a must see after dark, and the one of kind coaster Manta) all while enjoying the holiday festivities.

So step back from the holiday rush and enjoy a relaxing post-Christmas holiday celebration at SeaWorld, going on now nightly through end of the year.  And for Florida residents if you buy a one day Fun Card pass you’ll get all of 2014 free with it.

 

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Salutes Military with “Waves of Honor”

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is honoring the men and women of the U.S. armed services through its Waves of Honor™ military salute program.

The program provides free admission to the SeaWorld® and Busch Gardens® Parks, and Sesame Place® for members of U.S. armed forces and as many as three direct dependents through 2013. Waves of Honor follows Here’s to the Heroes. Created in 2001, the program has awarded more than 6.7 million theme park tickets to service members and their families.

Program Provides Free Admission for Military Members and as many as Three Direct Dependents to SeaWorld®, Busch Gardens® Parks and Sesame Place® 

“It has always been our honor to host members of the military and their families at our parks each year,” said Jim Atchison, President and CEO of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. “Waves of Honor is our way to say ‘thank you’ to these dedicated service men and women who sacrifice so much to preserve the freedom we share in this country.”

Waves of Honor provides one complimentary admission per year to one of the SeaWorld® or Busch Gardens® Parks, Sesame Place®, Adventure Island® ,Water Country USA® or Aquatica® San Diego (weekdays only) for the service member and as many as three of his or her direct dependents.

Any active duty military, activated or drilling reservists, or National Guardsman representing any of the five service branches is entitled to one complimentary admission to one of the participating parks under the program. He or she need only register, either online at www.wavesofhonor.com or in the entrance plaza of a participating park, and show a valid active military identification. All dependents 10 and older must present a valid military dependent identification for entry into the park. Dependents may take advantage of the offer without their service member, though an adult must accompany minor dependents.

 SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa, and SeaWorld San Diego operate year-round. The remaining parks are seasonal. Each park’s operating schedule is available online.

Inactive, standby and retired reserve members, military retirees, U.S. Merchant Marine and civilian Department of Defense workers are ineligible for the program. The program does not include Discovery Cove® in Orlando or Aquatica® Orlando. Rules of eligibility can be found at www.wavesofhonor.com and are subject to change. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment reserves the right to terminate the program.

About SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™: SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is a leading theme park and entertainment company delivering personal, interactive and educational experiences that blend imagination with nature and enable its customers to celebrate, connect with and care for the natural world we share. The Company owns or licenses a portfolio of globally recognized brands including SeaWorld®, Shamu® and Busch Gardens®. Over its more than 50 year history, the Company has built a diversified portfolio of 11 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind collection of approximately 67,000 marine and terrestrial animals. The Company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests. In addition to its theme parks, the company has recently begun to leverage its brands into media, entertainment and consumer products.   SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a wholly owned subsidiary of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., a publicly traded company (NYSE: SEAS). Copies of this and other news releases as well as additional information about SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. can be obtained online at www.seaworldentertainment.com.

SeaWorld Orlando Now Caring for Wounded Florida Sandhill Crane

A wounded Florida sandhill crane was rescued this morning by SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team in Pine Lakes, Fla., and then transported to the park for further care and rehabilitation. The bird was spotted in the woods with an arrow lodged through its torso by a concerned citizen. Upon arrival at SeaWorld Orlando, animal care experts took the bird into surgery for its injuries.  The bird is now in stable condition and will receive regular tube feedings, and continue to be monitored closely. The Florida sandhill crane is an endangered species and protected by state law.
 
So far in 2013, SeaWorld has rescued nearly 200 birds. In collaboration with the government and other members of accredited stranding networks, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment operates one of the world’s most respected programs to rescue ill and injured animals, with the goal to rehabilitate and return them to the ocean. SeaWorld animal experts have helped more than 22,000 animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned – for more than 40 years. 
 
If you see an injured bird or marine animal, you can help by contacting the FWC hotline at 1(888) 404-3922 or by dialing *FWC on a cellular device.

SeaWorld Orlando Rescues Entangled Dolphin, Returns to Local Waters

Yesterday morning, January 8, a team of marine animal rescue experts – from SeaWorld Orlando, National Marine Fisheries Services, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute – worked together to free a dolphin that had been tangled in fishing line in the Banana River, located near Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The male Atlantic bottlenose dolphin was observed to be having difficulty swimming by a private citizen, which was reported to the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute. Following the approval of the National Marine Fisheries Services, SeaWorld Orlando’s Rescue Team was called for assistance.

Upon arrival at Brevard County’s Banana River, local veterinarians were able to locate the sub-adult dolphin and successfully remove the monofilament line from his tail flukes. The 300-pound dolphin was also evaluated by SeaWorld Orlando veterinarian Dr. Lara Croft, and given long-term antibiotics. After determining the dolphin was in stable health, he was returned to the Banana River waters that same morning.

This is the first bottlenose dolphin to be rescued this year.

In collaboration with the government and other members of accredited stranding networks, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment operates one of the world’s most respected programs to rescue ill and injured marine animals, with the goal to rehabilitate and return to the ocean. SeaWorld animal experts have helped more than 22,000 animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned – for more than four decades.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment operates 10 parks across the U.S. including SeaWorld parks in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio; Busch Gardens parks in Tampa, Fla. and Williamsburg, Va.; Discovery Cove and Aquatica in Orlando; Sesame Place near Philadelphia, Pa.; and water parks Adventure Island in Tampa and Water Country USA in Williamsburg.  The 10 parks play host to 25 million guests each year and employ 26,000 people nationwide. To learn more, visit SeaWorldParksandEntertainment.com or call toll-free 1-888-800-5447. Additionally, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment created the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, a non-profit, private charitable foundation committed to supporting wildlife and habitat conservation, research, education and animal rescue programs worldwide. Learn more at SWBG-ConservationFund.org.

Just for Kids 2013 Festival at SeaWorld

SeaWorld Orlando announces an amazing concert line-up for its Just For Kids festival!

SeaWorld-JustforKids-CenFLTop5Featuring performances by kids’ favorite entertainers!

The 2013 Just For Kids concert lineup includes:

January 12           Imagination Movers (pictured below)

January 19           Laurie Berkner – Solo Performance

January 26           Choo-Choo Soul with Genevieve

February 2            Kratt Brothers Live Featuring the stars of Wild Kratts

Concerts are included with park admission, with show times at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. at SeaWorld’s Nautilus Theater.

For more details about Just For Kids, visit www.SeaWorldOrlando.com

 SeaWorld-JustforKids-ImaginationMovers

(Imagination Movers)

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment operates 10 parks across the U.S. including SeaWorld parks in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio; Busch Gardens parks in Tampa, Fla. and Williamsburg, Va.; Discovery Cove and Aquatica in Orlando; Sesame Place near Philadelphia, Pa.; and water parks Adventure Island in Tampa and Water Country USA in Williamsburg. 

The 10 parks play host to 25 million guests each year and employ 26,000 people nationwide. To learn more, visit SeaWorldParksandEntertainment.comor call toll-free 1-888-800-5447. Additionally, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment created the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, a non-profit, private charitable foundation committed to supporting wildlife and habitat conservation, research, education and animal rescue programs worldwide. Learn more at SWBG-ConservationFund.org.

Related:

SeaWorld New 2013 Ride Preview(with video Interview)

 

Toby Keith Gives SeaWorld Orlando Two Thumbs Up! (photo)

CELEB PHOTOS: Toby Keith with Clyde the Sea Lion at SeaWorld Orlando

Happy New Year!  So many wonderful people coming to Orlando to celebrate the Holidays and for the bowl games and our “warmer” weather! (warmer than other places- but oh my we are chilly!)

SeaWorld is one of our favorites places to recommend to our friends and guests!  (The park itself, the animals, the rides, the staff and the shows!)

In Orlando with his family for the holidays, country music superstar Toby Keith gives two thumbs up to Clyde the sea lion following the show at SeaWorld Orlando.

Toby Keith two thumbs up for Clyde the sea lion

Photos courtesy of SeaWorld Orlando, All Rights Reserved, 2013

Photos courtesy of SeaWorld Orlando, All Rights Reserved, 2013

 He also bent down for an up-close Happy New Year flipper shake from the sleek and sassy sea lion.

Photos courtesy of SeaWorld Orlando, All Rights Reserved, 2013

Photos courtesy of SeaWorld Orlando, All Rights Reserved, 2013

Photos courtesy of SeaWorld Orlando, All Rights Reserved, 2013

 

Related:

New Ride for 2013! “Designers revealed a bit more about the vehicles’ unique role in the attraction.” http://bit.ly/Q4htEz

video

 

Trista and Ryan Sutter Love Central Florida

 

Orlando Citrus Parade

 

 

 

 

SeaWorld’s “Turtle Trek” Free Mobile Game App

Proceeds from In-App Purchases Help Conservation

SeaWorld® announced today the company’s first mobile game, Turtle Trek now available from theApp Store.

Turtle Trek is a free game download for the iPhone and iPad. Players guide an adventuresome sea turtle on a quest across the beach and into the water to find friends.  They help the plucky sea turtle navigate through the perilous seascape and conquer a variety of challenges, some dangerous and some light-hearted.

 With help from friendly characters such as Shamu the killer whale and Nyah the green sea turtle, players collect treasures and fill virtual sticker books with an array of ocean friends met during their trek. SeaWorld engaged Sleepy Giant through its Flying Grom label to create the new game. WATCH! 

Turtle Trek provides hours of fun and immersive action, and also offers an educational benefit by sharing fun facts about real sea animals.  Players encounter dozens of sea creatures but when they meet a special “Ocean Friend,” they gain a collectible virtual sticker for their Trek Book. At the touch of a finger, this virtual sticker opens to reveal interesting facts and photos about the actual ocean animal that the character resembles. These facts are kept easily accessible and can be shared with family and friends.

The game’s name and theme reflect the newest attraction at SeaWorld Orlando that opened this past April. The attraction blends up-close encounters with live sea turtles and manatees with the world’s first 3D, 360 degree domed theater. In this attraction, guests get a turtle’s eye view of the world as they are surrounded on all sides – and even above – by the hyper-realistic 3D film that is journey of a special sea turtle named Nyah.

Since 2011, SeaWorld has recently begun expanding its popular brand into new media and entertainment platforms such as mobile games, movies, television and new lines of licensed consumer products.

“SeaWorld has a 50-year history of creating entertainment experiences that inspire people to connect with animals, and this type of entertainment is a natural extension for our company,” said Scott Helmstedter, Chief Creative Officer of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. “It is engaging and fun, but also instills a greater understanding of some of the ocean’s amazing animals.”

The game is the first to be offered under the new partnership between SeaWorld and Sleepy Giant. Sleepy Giant’s Flying Grom label is focused on working with brands to create compelling, family-oriented interactive experiences.  

  “We are thrilled to be working with SeaWorld, an exceptional brand and partner.  SeaWorld has a rich history of providing entertainment, education, and conservation in everything they do, and ‘Turtle Trek’ extends that tradition with fun and learning,” said Matt Hannus, CEO of Sleepy Giant.

While Turtle Trek offers a free opportunity to download and play, additional purchasable content is available. A portion of proceeds from the purchasable content will be donated directly to the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.

The game’s name and theme reflect the newest attraction at SeaWorld Orlando that opened this past April. The attraction blends up-close encounters with live sea turtles and manatees with the world’s first 3D, 360 degree domed theater. In this attraction, guests get a turtle’s eye view of the world as they are surrounded on all sides – and even above – by the hyper-realistic 3D film that is journey of a special sea turtle named Nyah.

About SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

One of the most respected companies in the themed entertainment sector, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has a 50-year legacy of creating innovative entertainment experiences that blend imagination with nature.  It is best known for its 10 U.S. theme parks, attractions that play host to 24 million guests each year and include the beloved SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Sesame Place brands. Since 2011, SeaWorld began expanding its popular brands into new media and entertainment platforms to connect people to nature and animals through movies, television, and digital media. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment also is a global leader in animal care and welfare. The company cares for more than 67,000 animals, contributes millions to conservation on every continent, and operates one of the world’s most respected marine wildlife rescue programs.

The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund is a registered non-profit conservation foundation that supports conservation around the world. The Fund commits 100 percent of donations to on-the-ground wildlife conservation efforts, and SeaWorld covers all of its administrative costs.

About Sleepy Giant and Flying Grom
Sleepy Giant is the leading games-as-a-service provider for game developers and publishers on all digital platforms. The company partners with creative development teams and forward-thinking entertainment companies to fund, design, launch, operate, and grow franchises. Sleepy Giant is based in Newport Beach, CA, with offices in Chicago, IL.  Learn more about  Sleepy Giant at www.sleepygiant.com.

Flying Grom is a publishing label managed by Sleepy Giant.  Flying Grom provides live management, marketing, and community growth to projects focused on a youth audience.  Learn more about Flying Grom at www.flyinggrom.com.  

Bonefish Grill Orlando SeaWorld

Super excited to try out the new Bonefish Grill  here in Orlando by SeaWorld on Central Florida Parkway! ( 6730 Central Florida Pkwy, Orlando, Florida  )

They have already done some great things – like this charity night. 

Here is a peak at their menu …. via their website

Brian really wants to try:

Wood-grilled Atlantic Swordfish over Pumpkin Ravioli
topped with feta, crispy sage + shallot brown butter – $19.9

And

Bee’s Knees Martini
A 1920’s Prohibition era throwback. Made with honey + lemon to mask the smell of alcohol which was prohibited. – $6.9

 

All specials, Special Wines + Drinks subject to change, based on availability.

Visit them on HERE

More soon!