Thanks to our friends at Stand With SeaWorld, we have our first look at new signage at SeaWorld San Diego. We knew that the park is creating an all new experience with their Killer Whale population, now we’re getting the first taste of what that will include.
A new screen in the park plays clips of whales at play, which is a clear indication of what to expect when the new Orca Experience opens later this month. From the pictures above we have a clear indication that the experience will remain largely the same, with the whales performing many of the same behaviors that were demonstrated in One Ocean.
The new Orca Experience will feature the parks Killer Whales performing in a more natural habitat. The park will also roll out a VR experience that will take guests into the water, virtually, with the whales. That experience will be an additional cost, and not included with park admission.
Another big change coming is the experience formerly known as Dine With Shamu. The experience will apparently still happen, but now as “Dine With Orcas”. While a name change seems like it’s not a big deal, it actually points to something larger that could be happening at the park, and across the chain.
Shamu was the name of SeaWorld’s fourth Killer Whale, and a name that stuck with all the whales from then on. From the shows, to the stadiums, Shamu is a fixture at SeaWorld parks nationwide. In the past few years, many people have come to associate Shamu with horrible images, including the death of SeaWorld Orlando trainer, Dawn Brancheau. The company has completely rethought and rebranded their image to try and keep activists at bay, and try to bring people back to the SeaWorld brand. It seems that the company is now taking the next step in that process and is distancing themselves from the name Shamu. Will it work?
In the days after the closing of One Ocean, reports came in that attendance at SeaWorld had dropped dramatically. There were also reports that people were under the impression that Orcas had replaced Killer Whales, and that Shamu was gone. They didn’t understand that Shamu was just the name of the brand, and that Killer Whales and Orcas were the same thing. A SeaWorld without Shamu may be one that guests simply will not understand. After all, the SeaWorld name was built on Shamu, much like Disney was built on Mickey Mouse. Whether guests adapt to this new SeaWorld or not will remain to be seen. It won’t be for lack of SeaWorld’s trying, however, as they are rolling out several huge new experiences at all of their parks this summer, including more at SeaWorld San Diego.