why today’s Sea World pretty much sucks whale penis

I loved Sea World long before I worked there. And perhaps more importantly, I still loved it while I worked there, during one fun, crazy summer in 1995, and I still loved it afterwards. It’s easy to get disenchanted with a place once you’ve seen its inner workings. But Sea World remained my favorite park. But that was then. The Sea World I took my nephew to the other day is not that Sea World.

This “Sea World Adventure Park” that was designed to attract Universal visitors who want thrill rides? Suck. Sea World used to be about education. Not boring, ram-it-down-your-throat-why-would-I-pay-to-have-learning-forced-on-me education, but the kind of education you don’t completely realize you’re getting while you’re having fun and seeing cool stuff.

Now, even the animal parts of the park are not really focused on education, and really, I’m thinking you’d have to actually work pretty hard to totally remove education from an animal exhibit. Part of the problem is they’ve removed areas that were places where you could watch animals and turned them into restaurants, and places you have to pay to see things. The killer whale area, for instance. There used to be three main killer whale stations – one was the show stadium itself, but the whales aren’t usually in that pool unless the show is happening. Then there’s the underwater viewing area, which looks into one pool – haven’t seen a whale in it any time I’ve been there. The third area was the best – it was all alongside one of the biggest pools, and had a decent view of all the pools. You could be practically right up next to one or more of the whales. Now it’s gone. It’s part of the “dine with Shamu” experience. More cash for them. Less chance to really see a killer whale up close for most of the public.

Terrors of the Deep is the other exhibit where they did this. It also used to be a multi-part experience, starting with a theater where you could look at the sharks and learn about them. From William Shatner. I heard the recording so many times I can still recite it … “you know the nightmare. you’re underwater, and you sense them … out there … sharks. the ultimate terror of the deep.” All gone. Now you walk through a couple of tunnels, and there are some signs that label the fish – but there’s not even an education staffer posted in that exhibit anymore. Oh, excuse me, “education and conservation.” That seems to be the new name of the department.

And the manatee exhibit – my favorite. I loved it not only for the manatees, but for the whole exhibit – it was a Florida environment complete with all the fish you’d find in Florida waters with manatees. I loved working the underwater part of  the exhibit last thing at night. It was so relaxing. Now all the fish are gone. Got diseased and died, but they haven’t reintroduced them and it’s been more than a year. Kinda boring with just the manatees. I give the guy working the upper level props, though – he came up to us and another family with a kid and was asking questions about manatees. But they don’t even force visitors to go through the movie anymore before entering the exhibit – which I’m kind of personally grateful for, but it did, you know, educate about manatees and boating and why they’re endangered. The kind of stuff Sea World is supposed to be doing.

And finally there’s the Shamu show itself. Believe. Lame. I was shocked the first time I saw it – I never saw so many dancing trainers in a whale show. There’s the cheesey intro about a boy who dreams of working with whales, and finds this necklace and holds on to it and he becomes a trainer … oh, and you can buy one of the necklaces in the stands of the show. And some whales come out and trainers perform with them and the whales leave and the trainers all do some synchronized diving and swimming – oh, and yeah, we have whales too, wanna see them? The old show actually had crazy things, like facts about killer whales. Do they think that everyone now knows everything there is to know about orcas, so we don’t need to tell you anything in the show anymore? Lemme tell you, I watched that old show probably 3-5 times a week when I worked there. I didn’t love seeing it that often, but I didn’t mind. I would poke my eyes out with a cheap imitation symbolic whale necklace if I had to watch this one more than twice a month.

So anyway. I could go on but there are my big issues and since I got to complain AND use the term “whale penis” in a blog title, my work here is done.

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