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The future of SeaWorld

Discussion in 'United States' started by The_UltimateBea, 28 Feb 2018.

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What should SeaWorld focus more on?

  1. Animals

    30 vote(s)
    65.2%
  2. Rides

    4 vote(s)
    8.7%
  3. Both equally

    12 vote(s)
    26.1%
  1. The_UltimateBea

    The_UltimateBea Well-Known Member

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    On the heels of former CEO Joel Manby's departure, it is clear that SeaWorld is once again plotting a new course for its future. What should the company do to reverse its declining attendance? Is the brand beyond saving?
     
  2. Moebelle

    Moebelle Well-Known Member

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    These aren't particular my words and full on beliefs but rather the general opinions of the young SeaWorld fan base. Part of the reason for their decline in the last couple of years is also due to the departure of those who have continued to defend SeaWorld. Every time the company caved in to the desires of animals right people (which is a never ending circus of a struggle to deal with), the more and more fans lost trust in SeaWorld. It is idealistic, but the only way to gain back their supporters is to do any of the following: Lift the breeding ban, ditch the HSUS, renovate their cetacean exhibits, and the big one - bring back waterworks.
     
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  3. The_UltimateBea

    The_UltimateBea Well-Known Member

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    What was waterworks?
     
  4. Moebelle

    Moebelle Well-Known Member

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    Trainers in the water with the killer whales.
     
  5. timmychompchomp

    timmychompchomp Well-Known Member

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    I would agree that trainers in the water brings excitement to the shows. For me, I could careless because I am there for the animals and I do not need a show for my entertainment. I do, however, realize the general public enjoys tricks and human-cetacean interaction. Its voyeristic and has a hint of danger, more so with the knowledge that horrors have happened in the past. Humans, we are a twisted bunch, as evidenced by the general popularity of horror films. I am not sure its a good reason to put the trainers back in the water, but I can see how it has wide ranging appeal from “how cute” and “wow”, to “how dangerous.”

    If I was put in charge I would push the board to risk it all and remodel the entire ideaof what Sea World is. I would lose the shows and opt for a an actual inland sea experience that no aquarium can replicate. Massive, naturalistic tanks/exhibits, with numerous adventure based offerings. Do it like no one has ever attempted before.

    When I say massive, I mean massive exhibits. Orca Tank the size of a small lake, like epcots lake. Viewing areas above and below the water line. Shark diving in cages. Dolphin experiences in naturalist exhibits. A Coral Reef with both viewing from above, below, and in the water. Whale watching excursions from inside the park to the Ocean. Educational enviroment with engaging ride or walk through experiences deficated to the sea and its power, perils, and adventure. A Disney like experience with a bigger focus on the animals than Animal Kingdom.

    Can they do it? I believe yes, if they are willing to risk it all on one park somewhere. Other than that, I believe its a doomed concept. They have to do what Walt did to Amusement Parks. Whatever Disney parks have become, when the first park opened it was a revolution of an industry and an absolute inspiration. Those two brothers gambled it all on the concept and I believe that is the only way to save full size Ocean dedicated theme/zoo parks.
     
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  6. pachyderm pro

    pachyderm pro Well-Known Member

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    @timmychompchomp hit the hammer right on the nail. If SeaWorld wants to be saved, they need to drop roller coasters and similar items and become a true marine park. In fact, I have an absolutely pie in the sky, so unrealistic idea, that it feel a little foolish to bring it up now, but what if SeaWorld is turned into a completely different park. More specifically...

    The San Diego Zoo Aquatic Park!

    Its crazy, I'm aware. But what if a third San Diego Park was built in its place a la San Diego Zoo Safari Park, though with marine animals. Knowing that San Diego Zoo owns the place will already give it a better rep with the general public. I know it may never happen for a multitude of reasons, but if it ever does, watch this post.
     
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  7. azcheetah2

    azcheetah2 Well-Known Member

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    I was looking at San Diego recently on Google Maps, more specifically, the area near Sea World, and it was disheartening to see the icon used to mark Sea World was the same as that for an amusement park. It was either a roller coaster or a ferries wheel, I don't remember.

    For a number of years I was a Sea World 'insider'...I knew most of the trainers and was privy to information that wasn't available to the general public. I am no longer 'in the know' because my interests changed and I started spending more time at the zoo and WAP and eventually stopped going to Sea World entirely. The last time I went, I walked out on One Ocean because it was such a spectacle. I enjoyed watching the orca-trainer interactions and the waterworks, but not the dancing and music and lack of education.

    All that said, I think they need to just give up the ghost, so to speak, and become an amusement park with a behind the scenes area to continue with their rescue and rehab because I know the need is there for it. The problem would be what to do with the animals since they're not releasable into the wild.
     
  8. The_UltimateBea

    The_UltimateBea Well-Known Member

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    I think their animal message is past saving. I think they still have an base who wants to see animals remain but they should focus more on rides. They can't completely get rid of animals because that is the entire brand. On the other hand, if they wholy focus on animals they will not get any visitors. Their continually declining attendance is proof that their welfare education campaigns aren't working.
     
  9. Shellheart

    Shellheart Well-Known Member

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    So, there are a few things you listed that simply would not work. The biggest being that there is no point in exhibit expansions for orcas anymore, as orcas are a phase-out species for all SeaWorld parks. Last time a tank expansion was attempted, something like what you mention was allowed, with multi-level viewing and all, even a full current to run through the exhibit. It was allowed with the condition no breeding was allowed. SeaWorld decided to phase out orcas entirely after that decision.

    I really hate to say this, but there is no point to doing a full-scale renovation of an exhibit for what is more or less a phase-out species in SeaWorld's eyes. California law prohibits it, and a very strong animal rights campaign has turned the public strongly against cetacean captivity entirely (and I guarantee elephants will be next, but that's a whole other discussion). At best we can possibly see modifications to the exhibits, but unless new management is drastically different, that's about it. If we are looking at what orca exhibits can be, we must turn our eyes to Spain, where Loro Parque has a renovation planned, China, where new marine parks are being built, and possibly (but doubtfully) France. SeaWorld has given up entirely at this point. Incidentally, do look up Marineland Antibes. There's no official size for their enclosure, however, that might be what you look for when you say you want a lake-sized enclosure.

    Now, as for the dolphin exhibits, I recommend you look at SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Antonio's newly remodeled dolphin exhibits, or Discovery Cove, a separate park they own. I agree fully with you that SeaWorld San Diego needs a similar renovation, but they would have to go through the California Coastal Commission, who, as I mentioned, has already proven to be a problem. I think the coral reef thing is a really, really good idea. SeaWorld still builds new aquariums, but they're all more like zoo aquarium buildings, none of them really have impressive individual exhibits. A giant coral reef tank would be an excellent offering.

    Finally, I don't know how much you know of SeaWorld's current goings-on, but in San Diego the dolphin and orca shows are now very educational. It sadly has not worked.
     
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  10. PossumRoach

    PossumRoach Well-Known Member

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    So... I am not a SW geek but was the blue project cancelled?
     
    Last edited: 1 Mar 2018
  11. Shellheart

    Shellheart Well-Known Member

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    Yes, almost three years ago now. The caveat that no breeding would be allowed in the Blue World Project meant that there was no point in creating it from a logical point of view, so SeaWorld chose to partner with the HSUS to attempt to score points from the animal rights lunatics (didn't work, of course, because they still have orcas and other cetaceans), and end the breeding of orcas altogether. Later, California passed a law banning the breeding of orcas in the state.
     
  12. jibster

    jibster Well-Known Member

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    On what do you base your idea of the "general opinions of the young Sea World fan base"? While I do not doubt that there may be some who "lost faith" in Sea World, I would wager that a vast majority of those who attend Sea World either don't know or don't care. The audience of rabid Sea World fans who really know or care about the breeding ban and the stated reasons for it is likely very small (although probably quite over-represented on forums like this). To state that the "only way to gain back supporters" is to do the things you suggest is overly simplistic and does not take into account the changing times. And I would wager that reversing the breeding ban might actually hurt Sea World more at this point. Not to mention the potential legal and liability pitfalls that would come from the reintroduction of waterworks.
     
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  13. Moebelle

    Moebelle Well-Known Member

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    The thousands of us that stay in touch through social media and discuss every aspect of SeaWorld. Similar to what we all do here. A majority of which state they wish for all of the things that I said to come back on a constant basis (waterworks, breeding, etc.) - and there are many loyal fans within this group (borderline obsessed) who have "left" the community for the reasons I expressed.
    Those who have cancelled their memberships, and quit visiting SeaWorld all around because they are tired of SeaWorld giving in to demands.
     
    Last edited: 1 Mar 2018
  14. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member

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    I’m at a loss as to why anyone would think this is a good idea. At least three marine park employees have died and many more have been injured by this practice.
     
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  15. Moebelle

    Moebelle Well-Known Member

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    If you're referring to practicing it with killer whales, no one has ever died from waterworks. Also if you're referring to the incidents involving Tilikum: the trainer fell in the sea pen and it was never proven that he caused the attack. A visitor stayed after night and jumped into the tank with an animal that was already prevented from performing waterworks. Lastly, Tilikum grabbed a trainer off of the deck and brought her into the pool. The other incidents at the parks, which are very few, happened with known causes. Each one had an answer from the park and precautions were taken. Typically resulting in ending waterworks with that particular animal. There were many animals such as Kalia, Corky, Ulises, Katina (the most dominant whale), Keet, Nakai, and Kayla reportedly never having an incident. In 2014, a video was released of the trainers practicing an in water session with Ikaika (including the trainer riding on him). Work with Ulises had to stop because he supposedly liked them too much - if you understand what I'm trying to say. I'm not saying it's not a risk, but no trainer at SeaWorld has ever died from waterworks.
     
    Last edited: 1 Mar 2018
  16. Shellheart

    Shellheart Well-Known Member

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    To piggyback off what Moebelle said, Tilikum was an anomaly to begin with. Waterworks were not allowed with Tilikum in his history at SeaWorld whatsoever. Tilikum never had the water desensitization training other whales had, so no waterworks were performed with him in the pool. The waterworks ban wouldn't have saved the two people who Tilikum killed (his "first kill" probably wasn't even him, as he was the least dominant animal in the pool at the time, and the women in Blackfish described the attacker as "the big one", despite him being a juvenile at the time). I can't imagine waterworks bringing back many guests myself, though. I think the company-wide breeding ban was the nail in the coffin for many old fans since it symbolized the heads of the company listening to animal rights activists instead of caring for their animals.
     
  17. jibster

    jibster Well-Known Member

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    Still, the thousands of you on social media are a mere drop in the bucket when looking at the millions who visit Sea World each year. It's dangerous to extrapolate from personal experience in an online community to larger trends, especially as the subsection of Sea World visitors who participate in such online groups are not the most representative of Sea World visitors as a whole. Sea World needs more than the support of a relatively small number of uber-fans to turn its fortunes around.
     
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  18. jibster

    jibster Well-Known Member

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    A few points I wanted to make here:

    First, I agree with Shellheart fully that waterworks on its own is unlikely to make any noticeable improvement to Sea World's attendance. I don't necessarily agree the waterworks is either a safe or commendable practice (and I imagine that some of the reason Sea World discontinued the practice was to avoid the specter of the government stepping in to ban the practice), but at this point, its return would probably not appreciably help Sea World.

    Second, while I do not doubt that some fans of Sea World were disappointed by the breeding ban and a small number probably did stop frequenting the parks for that reason, I don't think it had quite as large of an effect as people here seem to believe it did. As I noted previously, there was a decline in Sea World's attendance prior to the release of Blackfish, and I would imagine that declines post-Blackfish are at least partially due to the documentary (whatever one believes about its merits). I could imagine that the ongoing negative publicity before the announcement of the breeding ban caused a much greater loss of patronage than the breeding ban itself did.

    Third, I think that strong pro-captivity advocates need to watch making hyperbolic claims as much as the anti-cap crowd does. While you might view the breeding ban as caving in to anti-cap demands, Sea World most likely viewed it as a business decision in the face of troubling financial times. And I would certainly disagree that the imposition of a breeding ban represents an instance of Sea World not "caring for their [sic] animals," as there is nothing about an end to a breeding program that suggests Sea World is abandoning its care for these animals (to the contrary, Sea World has admirably pledged to continue caring for the orcas currently in captivity, while recognizing that the orca program has a finite ending). For various reasons, many animals kept in captivity are not bred, and I would never presume to argue that the decision not to breed is tantamount to not caring for the animals (or for caving to pressure from anti-caps).
     
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  19. CuseZoofan

    CuseZoofan Well-Known Member

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    In the end I don't think SeaWorld needs to focus on the orca aspect of things. There's not much that can be done once the final whales pass on/leave for whatever reason. What they do need to do is focus on other sea life like their Dolphin and Sea Lion Exhibits and possibly add more smaller aquariums like when they first started. One thing about Sea World is they do not have smaller displays like your average aquarium would.
    They don't have to stop focusing on rides to go with their animal exhibits, Busch Gardens does this very well and so does Animal Kingdom. There's no reason they cannot successfully do this. But it really does begin and end with Orcas. The rest of the exhibits they do are fantastic and they do a great job with them. But they do need more standard aquarium exhibits but possibly done up to another level since it's SeaWorld. I would love to see them do a large Fresh water exhibit at Orlando, something along the lines of River Giants like the TV show.
    Rides can still exist but they need to continue with animals as well it is what separates them from other Theme Parks and Zoos.
     
  20. timmychompchomp

    timmychompchomp Well-Known Member

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    I am aware of the laws and Sea Worlds current plans. I agree with your assessments in regards to how things stand in San Diego and direction the shows have taken. The current shows are a band aid to stop the bleeding and are unimaginative or ill guided approachs. I would equate them to educational in the way a meme relates to a political discussion. Thats not what I had in mind. Honestly it would take me months of research and preparation to adequately explain my vision in a post on the forum. I say that because its what I have been doing for the last 22 years of my life and realize that big ideas are not related well in a rambling forum post. So I understand that Im not being realistic or very detailed, sorry. I can see it in my mind, but it would take way to much effort to explain or demonstrate.

    My post was meant to be a “blue sky” how to save the concept of Sea Worlds and turn public opinion. I wanted to clarify that I am fully aware of how pie in the sky my idea is and that I do not expect it to happen because, like most entertainment offerings, the bottomline rules and ambition is limited. I speak from experience from my years with Disney.

    I am of the opinion that they should do something similar to what I proposed or get out of the business. Develope a transition from a animal facility to a ocean theme park that has a few animals. I prefer a serious animal focussed facility very much like the Safari Park with a focus on adventure and education instead of the current model of exhibition and entertainment.