SeaWorld is a chain of marine parks in the United States featuring a wide variety of sea life on display, and just so happen to be the largest of its kind in the world.
The first of the parks was founded in 1964, by Milton C. Shedd, Ken Norris, David Demott, and George Millay. Despite its small size at the time, it was a huge success; prompting the construction of further parks. The company would then go on to be traded amongst several conglomerates, the first being Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., who bought the parks in 1976 but eventually sold them to the Anheuser-Busch company (who at the time also owned the Busch Gardens parks) in 1989. It would not be until 20 years later that Anheuser-Busch would go on to sell the parks to the Blackstone Group, who took the company public in 2012 as SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.
In 2013 the documentary Blackfish exposed myriad serious ethical, moral, practical, animal welfare and safety issues with SeaWorld's keeping of large marine animals in captivity, their treatment and their living conditions, leading to a serious public relations problem for the organisation and a large downturn in visitor numbers. The company is making strenuous efforts to overcome this by re-focusing on conservation rather than entertainment but time will tell if this will be effective.
The marine park chain's three locations include:
- SeaWorld San Diego: The first one to open. It opened in San Diego on March 21, 1964, offering a sealife alternative to the more famous San Diego Zoo.
- SeaWorld Orlando: The third one to open, and perhaps the most famous one. Opened its gates in Orlando on December 15, 1973, in an attempt to capitalize off of the same great success Disney has had in that area.
- Discovery Cove: A spin-off "boutique park" that offers guests an even closer look at the animals, including the opportunity to swim with dolphins. It opened on July 1, 2000.
- SeaWorld San Antonio: The next and (so far) last one to open. It first came about in San Antonio on May 27, 1988.
- Discovery Point: A "boutique park" that's more-or-less the same thing as Discovery Cove. It opened on May 21, 2016.
Adjacent to the San Antonio and Orlando locations is Aquatica, a water park that also utilizes an ocean-life theme. Aquatica San Diego is being converted to a new Sesame Place park.
The chain formerly ran a location in Aurora, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. It was the chain's second park, opening in 1970 next to regional amusement park Geauga Lake. Geauga Lake became Six Flags Ohio in 2000. The next year, Six Flags purchased Sea World Ohio and combined both parks into the massive Six Flags Worlds of Adventure.
SeaWorld provides examples of:
- Adaptation Distillation: The park's former seasonal The Polar Express Experience is this, as since it is a five-or-so minute simulator ride, it cuts out most of the character interactions and sub-plots of the movie, leaving in only the most memorable bits. Said bits are the boy being picked up by the train, the conductor, the plummet down Glacier Gulch, and the boy meeting Santa Claus, thus truly believing in him. The simplification of the movie does incidentally make the ride more closer to the original book, however.
- Alliterative Title:
- Alligator Alley
- Jazzy Jellies
- One Ocean
- Pacific Point Preserve
- Pelican Preserve
- Turtle Trek
- Electric Eel
- Tidal Twister
- Atlantis: Journey to Atlantis is a water coaster set in, well, Atlantis.
- The Bermuda Triangle: The former simulator, Mission: Bermuda Triangle was based entirely around the location.
- Christmas Special: The parks hold multiple festivities around December, including many holiday shows and activities.
- Derelict Graveyard: San Diego's Shipwreck Rapids is naturally themed around a graveyard of marooned ships.
- Enemy Mine: Despite being competitors with them, the SeaWorld parks hold a close affiliation with Universal Studios and often feature a lot of joint ticket deals with them, as a way of mutually strengthening each other against the Disney Theme Parks.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: San Diego and San Antonio feature an entire exhibit centered around penguins, called Penguin Encounter. Orlando goes even further by having an exhibit and ride (called Antarctica) on penguins.
- Excited Show Title!:
- Lights, Camera, Imagination 4-D!
- Pets Ahoy!
- Halloween Special: During September and October, the parks have the family friendly Halloween Spooktacular event. San Antonio also runs the way more darker and adult Howl-O-Scream event at night.
- High School: The plot of Clyde & Seamore's Sea Lion High is about the title characters attending the school and having to pass their classes in order to earn scholarships to Ocean University.
- If It Swims, It Flies: In the Wild Arctic simulator, the "helicopter" the guests ride in is shown as also being submersible, as at one point it dives into the Arctic Ocean to get a view of some narwhals.
- Kraken and Leviathan: The Kraken coaster is based around the titular creature, taking place in its lair, where it has been locked up by the Poseidon.
- Legacy Character: Shamu.
- Lighthouse Point: The setting of the former R.L. Stine's Haunted Lighthouse 4-D attraction.
- Mascot: Shamu the orca whale has served this role since the brand's inception.
- Name and Name: Both Clyde & Seamore's Sea Lion High and Clyde & Seamore Take Pirate Island shows.
- Non-Human Sidekick: In the Clyde & Seamore shows, Seamore is Clyde's sea lion sidekick. O.P. Otter takes this Up to Eleven, being a sidekick to both of the sea lions.
- One-Word Title:
- Pirate: Pirates were featured in two former attractions: Pirates 4-D and Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island.
- Portmantitle: The park's title, SeaWorld.
- Recycled Soundtrack: Journey to Atlantis uses music from Beetlejuice in the first outdoor scene.
- The Rival: To many parks, most notably the San Diego Zoo and the Disney Theme Parks.
- Scenery Porn: Evident mostly in the Waterfront and Antarctica areas of the Orlando park.
- Self-Deprecation: The show, Sea Lions TONITE, pokes fun at many of the park's other shows and attractions.
- Shark Tunnel: Arguably the Ur-Example, the Shark Encounter exhibit was one of the first instances of this.
- Sirens Are Mermaids: Allura, the villainess of Journey to Atlantis, is a mermaid/siren that at first appears friendly, only to reveal her true self very quickly.
- Tagline: "Where Imagination Meets Nature"
- Threatening Shark:
- The Shark Encounter exhibit used to play this up, as it was originally titled Terrors of the Deep.
- Alluded to with the Mako roller coaster, which is an intense thrill ride themed around the Mako shark.
- Water Guns and Balloons: In front of Journey to Atlantis are a group of water guns that guests can use to shoot water at the people riding.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: In the Orlando version of Journey to Atlantis, after going down the ride's biggest drop, you are made to think that you have escaped the ride's villainous sea witch...only for you to be taken back into the building for a final encounter with her, resulting in the brief roller coaster portion of the attraction.