Disclosure: We were hosted by Sea World and invited on a VIP park tour and special VIP experiences while at the park. However, all opinions are my own… and 100% honest.
Truth be told, I almost passed when I received an invite to head down to San Diego to visit Sea World. I, like many of you, had heard all the stories and knew about the film that really burned into everyone’s hearts. But, unlike many people, I know how documentaries get made and I know that once a filmmaker has a certain point/agenda to prove, they will gather the footage and interviews that suit their own bias, edited to be seen only for their goals, whether there may be some false assumptions after the fact or not. I am very outspoken and when I hear/see something wrong, I too speak up…but only after I have done my own research and heard both sides. I am a huge animal lover (all 5 of my pets are rescues) and had to see for myself. So, with that, I accepted the invitation because what better research than to go to the source?
I want to be clear, the experiences my family and I had are not just meant for us bloggers who get invited. In fact, we were told that every experience is available to the public. So, that being said, here is what we learned, what we did and how much fun we had…
First, we got to hit up a behind the scenes experience where we actually talked to staff that work the rescue trucks, the animal hospital and more. Here, we got to see what each rescue truck carries with it, and learned that Sea World is the ONLY rescue team for marine animals in Southern California. In fact, they have rescued over 17,000 animals and continue to do so every day.
We got to talk to one of the vets on staff who gave us info on how they care and treat marine rescue animals, and how they prep them for release. The kids had a lot of questions, and they didn’t miss a beat giving the kids loads of information on how we can help keep marine animals safe by keeping out oceans clean, helping the environment and so on.
We also got to explore where the food is kept, and learned about what it takes to care for and feed many different marine animals. The kids were not into the smell, so we weren’t there very long.
This was the part most visitors don’t see (although- you can! Visitors can go behind-the-scenes for an additional $20. A portion of tour sales is donated to SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund to support projects across the globe.) and in truth, I think is truly what we should be talking about. There is a lot of work behind the scenes by people who really, truly love these animals and love their jobs. Sea World may be an “amusement park” but above all they care for the rescue and conservation of animals, as well as the educating of the general public about the importance of taking care of them and their habitats that they live in.
After that we did that behind the scenes look, we were in for a treat. We headed to check out the dolphins, up close with their trainers.
While learning about dolphins, we were invited to rub their bellies, dance with them, and tickle them. All under the careful guidance and supervision of their trainers.
In the “Dolphin Encounter”, you can touch, feed, and train SeaWorld San Diego’s bottlenose dolphins. This trainer-guided experience lasts approximately 15 minutes and provides a unique opportunity to get hands-on with these animals. Each animal has an individual trainer that cares for and trains with them. The trainers are very in tune with their animal and care heavily for them. Whenever they believe something is “off”, they immediately call the vet to examine the animal. We saw first hand how each trainer is focused and their animal, and just how much they care for them.
Now, much of the controversy has been over the orcas at Sea World. Last year, Sea World announced that they were ending the killer whale breeding program, which was commended by The Humane Society. However, they will still care for and have created a new experience for guests to see these majestic creature in “All Day Orca Play”.
Now through May 20th, guests will have access to SeaWorld’s killer whales throughout the day. This all-day experience includes live chats with orca behaviorists and educators, an inside look at killer whales and comprehensive knowledge about these remarkable animals. Experiences include live behaviorist talks, up-close killer whale training presentations and exclusive videos.
Also, launching at SeaWorld San Diego this summer, “Orca Encounter”. This new encounter will feature Orcas displaying their natural behaviors in their habitats. Guests will earn about their hunting behaviors and intricate ways of communicating. This live documentary-style display will also feature a large infinity video screen showcasing orcas in the wild.
But, there’s so much more to Sea World too. They have rides and other shows, and this summer more great things are coming!
Ocean Explorer: This new deep-sea discovery experience will feature three new family-friendly, sea-inspired rides, including Submarine Quest, which introduces guests to a host of undersea animals. Additionally, there will be multiple aquariums with pop-ups and digital technologies designed to teach families about sea life and how to protect our oceans.
Dine With Shamu: Before the Shamu show, guests who book this hour-long experience have the opportunity to witness orcas with their trainers and enjoy an expansive buffet featuring sustainable and organic food choices.
Electric Ocean: On June 17th, 2017, this nighttime spectacular will offer guests a distinct experience after dark. The ocean will come to life with bioluminescent lighting, a dance club and pathway entertainment.
I urge everyone who has questions to read “The Truth About Blackfish” and go explore the park. Ask questions! See for yourself what great things Sea World is doing for marine life. SeaWorld single-day tickets are starting at $55 right now but the best way to enjoy SeaWorld is with a 2017 Fun Card where you pay $87 and come back again and again. Visit the Sea World website at www.SeaWorld.com.