|ShamuMobile (Flickr user Mike Liu/CC)|
Sea World opened in 1964. Highway 101 was shortened in 1966 to an official starting point in Los Angeles. Interstate 5 was opening in 1965 as the Main North/South highway in San Diego and Orange Counties running over largely the same route. At the same time the Interstate was being built, several large scale housing development were in the works for Northern San Diego. Tourism had been drawing huge crowds (and revenue) into Orange County to the North because of Disneyland in Anaheim and San Diego city leaders wanted in on the action.
A plan was drawn up by the city allow development of an aquatic theme park on the edge of the already resort lined Mission Bay. The marine theme fit in nicely with the cities beachfront location as well as it success with its world famous zoo in Balboa Park. Two proposals for a marine park were considered. One backed by the San Diego Union, was a park designed by a group of local businessmen. This was the odds on favorite,
The SeaLand concept park introduced the idea of having an orca performing in shows. The plan would have had the orcas swimming in mock battles with sharks. Never mind the fact that no one had successful kept an orca in captivity. And having two predators performing together and doing stunts, what could possibly go wrong? The proposal also had shows with dolphins, penguins, penguins riding on dolphins and other sorts of unlikely marine entertainment.
The underdog proposal was submitted by 4 recent UCLA graduates, George Millay, Milt Shedd, Ken Norris and David DeMott. They were living in Los Angeles. Also in Los Angeles, an existing operation called Marineland had been running since 1949 on the relatively remote Palos Verdes Peninsula, Marineland had been started as an aquarium and educational facility in marine biology. Within a few years to keep up income from visitors the park added shows featuring a trained pilot whale, as well as dolphin shows such as several other aquarium facilities around the country featured.
|Dolphin Shows Are Still Part Of The Marine Park Experience |
(Flickr user Alexis Fam/CC)
The park was more "fun" than the more scholarly Marineland in Los Angeles. It had easier access too due to the new highway for visitors driving down from Los Angeles or Orange Counties. With a large local base also curious about the big new park, its first year was huge success with over 400,000 visitors.
For over 50 years Sea World has continued to entertain visitors with exhibitions of trained sea animals, most famously their orca shows. Here is a series of home videos of families visiting Sea World since it's opening.
Sea World had great first year. It's fame would continue to grow when their first orca named Shamu broke the life longevity record for an orca. Before Shamu the longest lived orca in captivity was 13 months. Shamu lived and entertained Sea World guest from shortly after the the parks opening in 1965 until she finally passed away in 1971. Shamu's long captive life gave Sea World credibility at the time as a humane operation.
|Orcas Put Sea World On The Map |
(Flickr user Andy Morales/CC)
|Sea World Has Been Criticized For Not Respecting The Dignity Of Their Animals|
(Flickr user Channone Arif/CC)
As part of our look at Sea World I now offer you a virtual day at the park with video playlists of all of the currently operating attractions and shows being performed. If you like the idea of Sea World here is a free sampler. If you hate the idea of Sea World, you can see the animals and build up a righteous rage.
|Cirque de la Mer Is A Non Animal Show|
(Flickr user Mike Liu/CC)
The animal shows that made Sea World famous, and they are what is causing a public relations disaster for the part in recent years. The shows currently running are:
The orca show.
- One Ocean
Another orca show
- The Shamu Story
A dolphin show
- Blue Horizons
Yes, you guessed right, a sea lion show. Coupled with theme park caliber comedy.
- Sea Lions LIVE
Do I need to say it? A pet show.
- Pets Rule
A song and dance numbers featuring costumed character from the animated film, Madagascar.
- Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation
Cirque de Soleil style show on the edge of Mission Bay with acrobats, jet skis, French clowns-you get the picture.
- Cirque de la Mer
|Journey To Atlantis|
Regardless of your opinion of the trained animal shows, Sea World does have more to recommend it.Ten rides and attractions offer something for the more thrill oriented guests. Although sea life is never far away in the theming,
A classic gondola skyride that goes over the bay with stunning views.
- Bayside Skyride
A unique attraction that combines a water flume ride and a tracked coaster ride connected by a bit of dark ride.
- Journey to Atlantis
A supervised "interact with dolphins" program.
- Dolphin Point
On of the original attraction a sky needle that his a revolving deck that rises up along its length like an elevator. Excellent views of Mission Bay and San Diego reward the passengers.
- Sea World Sky Tower
A playground/character area featuring theming and characters from Sesame Street. Toddler central.
- Sesame Street's Bay of Play
A typical white water rafting ride with some elaborate shipwreck/storm theming.
- Shipwreck Rapids
An underwater viewing are for a large sea turtle aquarium.
- Turtle Reef
A simulated helicopter ride take you to an arctic research station where you can see a beluga whale, look at scientists quarters, see walls of ice and polar bears before exiting through the obligatory gift shop.
- Wild Arctic
A spinning ride with inflatable rescue boats as the theming.
- Riptide Rescue
The other big coaster for Sea World beside Journey to Atlantis.
A musical Sea World adventure of sorts. This weeks playlist is a fairly eclectic mix with everything from new wave to funk to french cafe jazz. The list has indie country-rock, 50's muzak, and marching bands. There is also has a modern interpretation of 1930's jazz soundtrack music, it has 60's psychedelic country rock, and 1980's English anarchist folk music. Then we move on to some harmonica blues, indie pop, sea chanty folk music and a beach fire folk singing. I hope you like it.
- Return To The Valley Of The Go-Go's The Go-Go's 2:59 Vacation
- Love Rollercoaster Funk Classics: The 70's, Vol. 2 Ohio Players 4:50
- Mermaid Avenue, Vol. 2 Billy Bragg & Wilco 2:42 Secrets Of The Sea
- Motifs Paris Combo 4:32 Aquarium
- Beachwood Sparks Beachwood Sparks 3:20 The Calming Seas
- Music For Vacation Fun Sound 8 2:15 LINK
- Ocean Tide March American Brass Band Journal: A Collection of New and Beautiful Marches, Quick-Steps,and Polkas Arranged in an Easy Manner for Brass Bands of 12 Instruments Empire Brass 1:23
- On To The Show The Beau Hunks Play The Original Little Rascals Music The Beau Hunks 0:50
- The Notorious Byrd Brothers The Byrds 2:00 Dolphin's Smile
- Don't Try This At Home Billy Bragg 4:20 Dolphins
- SuperHarps II Carey Bell 4:30 Walking Thru The Park
- Vacation Connie Francis 2:20
- Post-War M. Ward 2:49 Rollercoaster
- The Whale Weighting Anchor Shanghaied On The Willamette 6:38
- To The Sea Jack Johnson 3:39 Only The Ocean
Signing Off And Coming Attractions
Today's visit to Sea World is not about taking a stance pro or con on the ethics of an operation like this, I have my opinions, but would like to keep this blog as non partisan as possible, The fact is, this is a notable stop on our journey that could not be bypassed for reasons of avoiding controversy. Have you pleasant experiences about Sea World? I'd love to hear about them in the comments.
- Next Week: More from Vero Beach as we visit the McKee Botanical Gardens before continuing North through Florida on Interstate 95.
- Two Weeks: The story of the Blues Brothers continues to be our focus in the never ending tour of Chicago at the start of Route 66 in Illinois,
Route 66: 0 Miles/1 State/1055 Tracks/268 Videos/41 Posts
Highway 101: 26 Miles/2 Countries/1 State/641 Tracks/407 Videos/31 Posts\
Interstate 95: 143 Miles/1 State/89 Tracks/144 Videos/15 Posts
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