We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

What is happening to our Sea World?

Norcross, Georgia
Level Contributor
34 posts
41 reviews
Save Topic
What is happening to our Sea World?

My wife and I recently visited Sea World in Orlando, perhaps for the 6th or 7th time, and had a reaction that we have experienced after visiting several other once favorite destinations -- that this may be last time we ever come here. Maybe we're just getting old, but I thought it might be interesting to express my thoughts in the forum to "compare notes" with others out there.

First, it just seems overall that the emphasis of the park is changing from that of a true marine mammal and sea life facility to that of an amusement park with sea life as a background theme. True, this has always existed to some extent, but in the past we could ignore the roller coasters, rides, and silly gift shops and still spend a full, satisfying day in the park just going to the animal habitats. On this last visit, it seems like we completed our day very quickly. This may have been due to a number of exhibits being closed for renovation (notably the penguin encounter), but is just seems there is less to see. The underwater viewing area for the Orcas appears to be permanently closed, quite a disappointment as well.

Also, there seems to be more of a glitz factor -- rather than educational emphasis -- in how the animals are presented. We were appalled that the dolphin show now seems to be something similar to a Cirque du Soleil spectacle. Not a word was said about the animals during the performance -- the species, their behaviors, conservation concerns, etc. -- just Vegas style entertainment to be consumed by the approving masses. The Orca (Shamu that is) show was a little better as far as the trainers actually conveying some information about the whales, but the style and format of the show was similar.

A very troublesome observation this time, is how Sea World is creating different classes of visitors -- with different privileges -- depending on how much money one is willing to pay. We noticed in many areas -- dolphin cove, the sea loin/seal habitat, and the dolphin nursery among others -- that the viewing areas are now quite crowded and cramped because sections have been cordoned off for those who are paying for the "behind the scenes" or "VIP" tours. We have done a couple of these tours ourselves in the past, but they used to be conducted in such a way as to not be a nuisance and inconvenience to other guests. That however is now very much the case.

Related to this is the long waiting in line to get into exhibits while others who have paid for "quick queues" or who are pass holders are allowed to zip right in ahead of you. We had actually made the effort of coming back for a second day (as allowed by our one-day admission) because we were interested in visiting Turtle Trek, which was not opened on the first day we were there. After standing in line for what must have been 45 minutes, and seeing a continual parade of people, being let in ahead of us, we gave up and left. Fortunately we could still see the turtles and manatees in an open air area, but this experience put a bit of a negative taste on the day. I am sad to think that this is probably the kind of thing they will be doing for the new penguin exhibit, now under construction, which use to the place we enjoyed the most at Sea World. I do realize all major amusement parks are doing this kind of thing, but given how much a basic one-day admission costs, around $70 at a minimum, it is becoming most offensive and -- I would think -- quite the recipe for some significant social tension. I keep expecting to hear a news report of a riot breaking out in one of the parks when those who can only afford regular admission reach their breaking point as the privileged class is allowed to keep cutting in line ahead of them.

Of course the short answer for us is just not to go to Sea World anymore, which I'm sure a lot of people also conclude. But it is unfortunate, as this is something we really used to look forward to. I would be interested in the thoughts and perspectives of others.

And another thing, the Anheuser-Busch hospitality center -- with free beer samples -- is no more since the change of ownership!

Level Contributor
481 posts
Save Reply
1. Re: What is happening to our Sea World?

We didn't go to seaworld but I did have the same feeling about universal studios and IOA.

I felt really second class having paid for a full price ticket and yet having hoards of VIP and express guests let right infront of me in line. Just because they have paid more.

I really disliked this and much prefer Disney who give everyone an equal chance if getting a fast pass if they either get up early or walk to an attraction to get it.

Level Contributor
11,126 posts
15 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: What is happening to our Sea World?

I think it all comes down to trying to get the most money out of people while keeping the prices low. Universal does the same thing. Air lines as well. They get you in with a low price and then nickle and dime you. You can pay just a little more to not have to wait.

It does look like the new owners are putting some money into it so that isn't all bad. They just opened up the turtle Trek and it looks like some pretty serious construction where the penguin experience was. That was in bad need of some refurbishment.

I agree that I miss the hospitality center.

Seahouses, United...
Level Contributor
1,360 posts
1 review
Save Reply
3. Re: What is happening to our Sea World?

I totally agree. A couple of years ago you could walk along the dolphin pool while some people bought food to feed them. Now you cannot get near as it is roped of for people feeding them..more money!.

It is a great shame but many go to Seaworld for the marine life and as that gets less and less approachable then fewer people will go.

Dunfermline, United...
Level Contributor
13,335 posts
39 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: What is happening to our Sea World?

I thought it was just us who felt this way about Sea World. What a relief to find others feel the same way.

We gave up going to Sea World a few years ago and won't be hurrying back for all the above reasons.

Maybe a letter to Sea World explaining your concerns and experiences might help

Brighton, United...
Level Contributor
1,891 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: What is happening to our Sea World?

We're giving sea world a miss this time & did last year as well. I don't like that you can't get up close unless you pay extra (wouldn't be so bad if admission prices went down!), and some of the exhibits - mainly the polar bear- made me uncomfortable. It used to be one of our favourites, but no more. Hopefully if people vote with their feet, they might get the hint!

This is all just IMHO of course!

Level Contributor
1,120 posts
59 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: What is happening to our Sea World?

Couldn't agree more!!! I mentioned my concerns to a member of SeaWorld staff back in July last year (primarily that it was becoming more focused on theme rides rather than marine life) and was told that it was a sign of the times and having to compete with Universal (especially Harry Potter) and Disney.


That said the new Turtle Trek does look good as does the turtle and manatee exhibit. I hope the new penguin exhibit is as good.


Denver, Colorado
Level Contributor
1,861 posts
32 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: What is happening to our Sea World?

I have become more and more irked with Seaworld and Universal as the shenanigans increase. They truly are putting people into classes. It is bad enough that people who pay through the nose to stay at their resorts get front of line access, but then they expect others to pay $30 or $40 extra to get the same privelege. This of course makes all the "low class peeps" in line wait and wait and wait. It is even more irksome for those of us who cant go in the slow season because of school schedules (I would LOVE to go in September just once!!!)

Disney does much better by offering EMHs, that do not interfere with regular paying guests. Personally I wish all the parks would adopt the Fast Pass/EMH system, as it is the most fair for everybody. I have no problem with perks for staying onsite but they shouldnt inconvenience everybody else.

Kissimmee, Florida
Level Contributor
2,760 posts
125 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: What is happening to our Sea World?

well we may pass on seaworld tris again.this is why i usely only go to disney parks...

Edited: 01 May 2012, 00:21
Level Contributor
5 posts
73 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: What is happening to our Sea World?

I agree. The last time we went to Sea World was in July 2011. I was so totally disappointed. I have been visiting the Sea World theme parks for the last almost 20 years. Not every year but at least every other year or so. Every time I have gone before 2011 I learned something new about the animals. I walked away with a piece of knowledge.

When I took my kids I went to a dolphin show that wasn't a dolphin show. They learned nothing like I use to learn about the dolphins when I went before 2011. The Shamu show was a joke. Not a single thing about the Orca's was said. The kids and audiences didn't learn anything about the animals to build an appreciation. I sat there passing all the knowledge to my kids that I learned over the years of going there.

I remember Sea World as a place to have fun and LEARN. There is virtually no learning there. The animals are like props and people aren't seeing the true value that they present. What REALLY blew my top was at the Wild Artic exhibit when we were looking at the Polar Bears. The lady there was reading from a script. When my 12 year old daughter approached her about he conservation status of the animal she didn't really know. When she started asking about the lose of habitat and Polar Bears drowning the Sea World attendant was lost. That's when I bumped in and asked if she knew anything of the animal that she is speaking of. Her answer is all I know is what I see on my script. WTF!!!!

I truly hope that Sea World realizes that they are loosing the thing that makes them special.

In all honesty ever since Anhauser Busch got sold it to Blackstone corp its all down hill from there. The anhauser corporation was big on animals and conservation. Hence "Bush Gardens."

I truly hope something changes soon so that my kids can enjoy the same level of knowledge that I obtained as a kid from Sea World. If not I will not bring my kids there look at animals as entertainment.

Level Contributor
2,845 posts
151 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: What is happening to our Sea World?

I was interested in reading your thoughts and concerns, gaken.

SeaWorld’s parent company is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. The main mission isn’t education or conservation but, rather, making money for their shareholders.

They are in the entertainment business to make money, obviously.

Dolphins and orcas are caught in this corporate machine because they have money-making value.

A picture is worth a thousand words….

Go to youtube and watch a video of a pod of wild orcas swimming through the ocean. Then, watch a video of an orca performing tricks for food at a theme park.

Which of the two would you like to see more of in the world?

Take a look at SW from the perspective of Google satellite maps and notice how small the enclosures are. Zoom in. You’ll see a spot of blue water surrounded by an ocean of land. The pools look bigger when you are in the park, don’t they?

I think we should be wary of allowing big business to tell us what to think about the oceans and the animals that live in it.

If the park does manage to evolve away from animal displays and toward more rides and rollercoasters, I wouldn’t complain a bit. I would applaud them.

>>Of course the short answer for us is just not to go to Sea World anymore, which I'm sure a lot of people also conclude.<<