It may be SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration, but the surprises are all for park guests. SeaWorld parks in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio – as well as Busch Gardens Tampa, Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Sesame Place – are welcoming the warmer weather with new rides, attractions and events for the entire family to enjoy.
Fifty years ago, three Southern California entrepreneurs opened SeaWorld, a marine zoological park on 21 acres along the shore of Mission Bay in San Diego. Today, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a leading theme park and entertainment company that includes three SeaWorld parks in the U.S., including the original San Diego, Calif. location, and parks in Orlando, Fla. and San Antonio, Texas. The parks’ up-close animal encounters, educational attractions and innovative entertainment have inspired millions of guests of all ages to celebrate, connect with and care for the natural world around them.
For nearly five decades, SeaWorld has surprised and amazed guests with unique entertainment, thrilling rides and up-close encounters with marine animals. During SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration visitors will be invited to take part in the celebration through new interactive experiences, shows and pathway performances, even more up-close animal encounters throughout the park and the SeaWorld “Surprise Squad” treating guests with prizes every day.
Stay tuned after the break as we share some of the highlights for 2014 from Busch Gardens and SeaWorld parks around the country.
And as always, be sure to follow us on Twitter @thrillgeek for the latest from SeaWorld, Busch Gardens all of their sister parks.
Here are some of the 2014 highlights from SeaWorld and Busch Gardens parks around the country:
- Shamu’s Celebration: Light Up The Night is the new nighttime Shamu Show debuting at all three SeaWorld parks this summer. The show will include new, original music and production elements, as well as new killer whale behaviors.
- At SeaWorld San Antonio, a 50th themed ski show will also open this summer.
- SeaWorld San Diego will celebrate 50 years by completely transforming the park’s arrival experience.Explorer’s Reef will open in March for the celebration kick-off, and immediately immerse park guests into an undersea oasis. From the moment they enter the park, guests can connect with the sea through multiple touch pools featuring shark pups, rays, skates and delicate little cleaner fish.
- SeaWorld guests are often greeted by an animal ambassador, many of whom were orphaned or injured in the wild and given a second chance thanks to the SeaWorld Rescue Team. As part of SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration, there will be more surprise encounters with animal ambassadors throughout the day. A pair of Magellanic penguins, a lemur, or even a parade of flamingos could surprise guests at any moment at all three SeaWorld locations.
- To showcase SeaWorld’s commitment to the environment and passion for protecting the ocean, a series of giant sea life sculptures will be displayed throughout the parks. SeaWorld commissioned environmental art group The Washed Ashore Project for a collection of larger-than-life sea-themed sculptures – many weighing more than half a ton. The materials used to create these pieces come from the billions of pounds of garbage – mostly plastics – that wind up in our oceans. These amazing works of art point to the urgent need to protect marine animals from such dangers and preserve their ocean habitats.
Busch Gardens, Tampa, Fla.
Falcon’s Fury – rising May 1, 2014
Falcon’s Fury is the tallest freestanding drop tower in North America, standing at 335 feet. At the ride’s highest point there is an element of surprise. Like its bird of prey namesake, riders pivot 90 degrees in midair to a face-down dive position. An instant later they’ll plunge 60mph straight down with speed and power like they’ve likely never experienced before. A variable hold time at the top of the ride ensures you’ll never know how long you’ll hang before dropping.
The park will also unveil a fully-reimaged land. Currently known as Timbuktu, the fully remodeled Pantopia will boast elaborately-jeweled theming and feature thrilling rides and attractions, sensational new food and beverage options, exciting entertainment, shopping, a renovated indoor theater and more.
Sesame Place, Langhorne, Pa.
Cookie’s Monster Land – opening May 2014
Sesame Place, the nation’s only theme park based entirely on the award-winning show Sesame Street, will open Cookie’s Monster Land ™, in May 2014. Cookie Monster will serve as host to all of his monster friends in this colorful and imaginative new land featuring five exciting rides, a three-story net climb and a soft play area for the park’s youngest visitors.
The area’s feature ride, Captain Cookie’s High “C’s” Adventures, will take guests around a track with multiple small inclines that mimic the gentle rolling waves of the ocean. On the new Oscar’s Rotten Rusty Rockets, guests can join Oscar the Grouch and his best pal Slimey on a space mission in trash-can rocketships. Children 42 inches and taller, can take a ride on Honker Dinger Derby, where colorful cars will move up and down while simultaneously rotating in small and large circles. Flying Cookie Jars will spin guests around in a giant cookie jar 40 feet above the ground for a monster’s eye view of the park. Families can also move and groove across the dance floor in spinning disco ball teacups with everyone’s favorite furry monsters on Monster Mix-Up.
Aquatica Orlando, Fla.
Ihu’s Breakaway Falls™ – opening May 9, 2014
Riders brave a watery free-fall when Ihu’s Breakaway Falls™ – the tallest, steepest and only multi-drop tower slide of its kind in the southern United States – opens at Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark™ on May 9.
- Ihu’s Breakaway Falls features the tallest, steepest, longest and only multi-drop tower slides of their kind in the southern United States.
- At nearly 80 feet tall, Ihu’s Breakaway Falls has the tallest and steepest 360-degree spirals in the southern United States.
- Those who dare to brave Ihu’s Breakaway Falls will experience an almost vertical drop for nearly 40 feet, the steepest in the southern United States.
- Ihu’s Breakaway Falls is the longest water thrill slide of its kind featuring three “breakaway boxes” and four completely different slide paths. Once the floor disappears, riders will drop 20-24 feet per second.
- Ihu’s Breakaway Falls is the only high-speed water thrill slide in the world that propels guests through four, 360-degree spirals.
Busch Gardens, Williamsburg, Va.
London Rocks – debuting Spring 2014
Guests will embark on a musical journey that explores the roots of rock-n-roll and transforms Busch Gardens’ Globe Theatre into a rousing 25-minute live action and multi-media rock spectacular when London Rocks debuts this spring. A team of more than 200 musical directors, designers, technicians and artists is taking on the new production, four years in the making.
London Rocks is among the many reasons to visit Busch Gardens this year, including the return of the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival (Weekends, May 23 – June 29)
Colossal Curl™ at Water Country USA – opening Spring 2014
Water Country USA’s guests are in for an epic journey on the park’s newest thrill ride – Colossal Curl, set to debut at Virginia’s largest water park this spring. This mega slide promises to deliver a high-adrenaline, action-packed adventure. Colossal Curl features a funnel element that will swish and swirl guests before whisking them through the ride’s enclosed colorful tubes on their way to a wave element that hurtles them high above the park. At 552 feet long, it is almost the length of two football fields.
Colossal Curl will join Vanish Point, the park’s first big thrill slide which opened in 2011.