SeaWorld has made huge news today, as it announces a partnership with Miral to bring an all new SeaWorld to Abu Dhabi. SeaWorld Abu Dhabi is scheduled to open in 2022, and will be the first SeaWorld park in the Middle East. Yas Island is already home to Ferrari World, with the world’s fastest roller coaster, as well as Yas Waterworld waterpark. It will soon be home to a Warner Brothers World in 2018, and an indoor rock climbing and skydiving center called Clymb.
“Abu Dhabi is becoming a first choice destination for regional and global travelers by combining culture, heritage and unique leisure experiences into one compelling proposition. SeaWorld Abu Dhabi further strengthens Yas Island’s position as the global tourism destination,” said His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of Miral.
Instead of focusing on the larger animal connections that put SeaWorld parks on the map, SeaWorld Abu Dhabi will focus on connecting the ocean around us with aquariums, rides and of course putting the emphasis on attractions focused on their rescue and rehabilitation efforts. In fact, ahead of the parks opening, SeaWorld Abu Dhabi will open a 4R center. Rescue, Research, Rehabilitation and Release will be the focus of this new center and it will be the first in the country to offer these services to marine life.
The biggest news of the new park is that it will be the first SeaWorld park to have no Orcas on premises.
Joel Manby, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld said: “We are excited to announce our first international expansion and our partnership with Miral as we design a next generation SeaWorld that engages, educates and inspires, a blueprint brought to life in Abu Dhabi. This new park, combined with a dedicated research, rescue, rehabilitation and return facility focused on marine life care and conservation, continues SeaWorld’s legacy of marine life rescue that spans more than 50 years. This project presents an opportunity for collaboration and greater understanding of how species have adapted to the region’s unique marine environment, and to inspire the next generation of visitors, conservationists and animal care experts.”
The new SeaWorld Abu Dhabi will have no whales, and possibly no dolphins(though that is not confirmed). It’s pretty safe to say that this new SeaWorld will also have no shows featuring animals(again not confirmed), all of which have been a staple of the SeaWorld brand since it’s inception over 50 years ago. While there aren’t any official confirmation on attractions, there is rumor that there will a “link” to Orcas at other SeaWorld parks, and possibly to Killer Whales in the wild. With the current shift to VR in many parks, it’s quite possible (again, not confirmed) that we could see a VR Killer Whale experience, which would be purely educational, though SeaWorld would definitely find a way to make it interactive and entertaining at the same time, perhaps through special effects like simulated splashing. However, we do know that the new park will have tons of exciting new animal interactions, and exhibits with the focus on bringing the ocean to the forefront of guests thoughts.
This definitely appears to be the future direction that SeaWorld is going, with new destinations in different parts of the world. If the results are positive, and the public reacts warmly to this new announcement and move, we could likely see the shift to experiences like the ones in Abu Dhabi at SeaWorld parks across the rest of the world, including in the United States. How would you feel about the park getting rid of animal shows completely in the US, and going to interactive VR Experiences instead?
SeaWorld has already partnered with the Humane Society of the US to end all entertaining Orca shows by 2019, and has made a dedication to no more breeding of the Killer Whales. This effectively makes this generation of Orcas at SeaWorld the last generation of Shamu in the parks.
While many have questioned what it would be like to have a SeaWorld without Shamu, it definitely looks like Abu Dhabi will answer that question, and will possibly be the model the rest of the parks are shaped after.
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For more information about SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, visit the official website by clicking here!