SeaWorld Orlando New Killer Whale Environment Projects

SeaWorld Orlando Killer Whale Announcement

SeaWorld Announces First-Of-Its-Kind Killer Whale Environment and More Than $10 Million In New Funding For Research and Conservation Projects


SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. announced today that it plans to build new, first-of-its-kind killer whale environments and that it will fund new programs to protect ocean health and killer whales in the wild. The new projects will build on SeaWorld’s legacy of providing state-of-the-art, innovative homes for its animals, and will offer park guests unique and inspiring killer whale encounters for generations to come. As part of its vision for the future, the company also pledged $10 million in matching funds for killer whale research and is embarking on a multi-million dollar partnership focused on ocean health, the leading concern for all killer whales and marine mammals.

“For 50 years, SeaWorld has transformed how the world views marine life. The unprecedented access to marine mammals that our parks provide has increased our knowledge of the ocean and inspired generations,” said Jim Atchison, Chief Executive Officer and President of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. “Our new killer whale homes and research initiatives have just as bold a vision: to advance global understanding of these animals, to educate, and to inspire conservation efforts to protect killer whales in the wild.”

Transformational New Environments

SeaWorld Orlando Killer Whale Announcement

The first of the new environments will be built at SeaWorld San Diego where the killer whale environment is planned to have a total water volume of 10 million gallons, nearly double that of the existing facility. With a planned maximum depth of 50 feet, surface area of nearly 1.5 acres and spanning more than 350 feet in length, the new environment will also have views exceeding 40 feet in height, providing guests with the world’s largest underwater viewing experience of killer whales.

Named the Blue World Project because of its size and scope, the new environment will allow for increased engagement with SeaWorld experts through new enriching experiences and other interactive programs. The environment will enhance the educational experience for guests, foster deeper knowledge of killer whales and their ocean environment and inspire them to celebrate and conserve the natural world.

“Through up-close and personal encounters, the new environment will transform how visitors experience killer whales,” said Atchison. “Our guests will be able to walk alongside the whales as if they were at the shore, watch them interact at the depths found in the ocean, or a birds-eye view from above.”

Expanding on SeaWorld’s legacy of leading-edge animal environment design, the enlarged environment will provide killer whales with even more dynamic opportunities.  It will support the whales’ broad range of behaviors and provide choices that can challenge the whales both physically and mentally.  Among other things, it is planned to include a “fast water current” that allows whales to swim against moving water, thus functionally increasing speed and diversity. Innovative features focused on husbandry and animal care will offer SeaWorld’s animal health professionals and independent scientists unique access to the whales that can lead to a better understanding and care of the animals both in the parks and in the wild.

The San Diego environment is expected to open to the public in 2018 with new killer whale homes to follow at SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Antonio.

“SeaWorld’s capital investment will create a significant number of new jobs in our community and help drive the economy when construction begins at the Orlando park. Beyond that, it will enhance tourism by providing a state-of-the-art experience for visitors while providing valuable new research and educational opportunities in animal health and behavior,” said Representative Daniel Webster (FL-10).

Killer Whale Research 

As part of the Blue World Project, SeaWorld has committed $10 million in matching funds focused on threats to killer whales in the wild, especially those identified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration related to the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale.  That includes new projects already funded this year: one that will help to understand the hearing ranges of killer whales and the other that will provide insight into nutritional status and reproduction of the Southern Resident Killer Whale.  The matching funds will be in addition to killer whale research conducted by SeaWorld’s scientists, which includes nearly 50 studies to date.

Recognizing that ocean health is a leading concern for killer whales and all marine mammals in the wild, the company also announced it will be embarking on a major multi-million dollar partnership focused on protecting the ocean.  More details of the partnership will be announced in the coming weeks.

Advisory Panel

SeaWorld will also engage an Independent Advisory Panel to bring new perspectives and ideas to the project. The panel will focus on the creation of an environment that maximizes the health and wellbeing of the animals. Given the particular expertise of current panelists and those expected to join, the panel will further advise on integrated research projects that can be conducted within the new environment and foster partnerships within the science and academic communities working in the wild.

Current Advisory Panel members include:

  • Dr. Paul Boyle, Senior Vice President for Conservation and Education, Association of Zoos & Aquariums
  • Dr. Heidi Harley, Professor of Psychology, New College of Florida
  • Dr. Dorian Houser, Director of Conservation and Biological Research, National Marine Mammal Foundation
  • Dr. Linda Lowenstein, Professor Emeritus Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
  • Dr. Shawn Noren, Associate Research Scientist, Institute of Marine Science, University of California Santa Cruz
  • Mr. Tom Otten, Chief Executive Officer, Reef Experience
  • Dr. James F.  Peddie, DVM, Distinguished Faculty Chair, Exotic Animal Training and Management Program, Moorpark College
  • Dr. Paul Ponganis, Research Physiologist, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  • Dr. Kwane Stewart, Chief Veterinary Officer and National Director, Film and Television Unit, American Humane Association
  • Dr. Pam Yochem, Senior Research Scientist and Executive Vice President, Research, Hubbs SeaWorld Research Institute

“Like so many others in science and industry, we are constantly learning more about how we can evolve our knowledge and continue to learn more about these amazing animals and stewardship of those in the wild,” Atchison said. “We look forward to working with these experts to build on these learnings and achieve our vision of increased knowledge of killer whales and global efforts to protect those in the wild.”

For more information on the Blue World Project, please visit


SeaWorld Park and Entertainment Logo

About SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) is a leading theme park and entertainment company delivering personal, interactive and educational experiences that blend imagination with nature and enable its customers to celebrate, connect with and care for the natural world we share. The Company owns or licenses a portfolio of globally recognized brands including SeaWorld, Shamu and Busch Gardens. Over its more than 50-year history, the Company has built a diversified portfolio of 11 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind collection of approximately 86,000 marine and terrestrial animals. The Company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests. In addition to its theme parks, the Company has recently begun to leverage its brands into media, entertainment and consumer products.


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Walt Disney World Swan And Dolphin: Celebrating Grandparents Day

Grandparents Can Connect with Family at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel with Connecting Room Deal in Honor of Grandparents Day

Walt Disney World Swan and
Swan and Dolphin Hotels

Grandparents Day is 9/7! Families can celebrate all September at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel with connecting room deal


In recognition of Grandparents Day, September 7, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel is making it easier for the whole family to connect and spend quality time together with an offer ideal for a multigenerational vacation.

Grandparents and their families vacationing at the Epcot Resort Area hotel can receive a connecting guest room for just $109 per night – up to a 50-percent savings off standard rates – when booking one room at the standard price for stays in September. Connecting guest rooms provide the space, privacy and access ideal for multigenerational families as well as for grandparents traveling alone with grandkids. They’re the perfect space for making priceless memories like sharing a bedtime story with grandma or sneaking a midnight snack with grandpa.

Whether grandparents want to enjoy nearby theme parks with their grandchildren or escape for a couples massage, the hotel offers a variety of amenities for each generation and activity level, including: 17 world-class restaurants and lounges, five pools, two health clubs, tennis, nearby golf, a Balinese-inspired spa and complimentary transportation throughout the Walt Disney World Resort.

For additional information, or to make reservations, call 1-800-227-1500 or visit Taxes, resort services fee and gratuities not included. Not valid with any other special offers, promotions, or for existing reservations or groups; offer is based on rate schedule availability.

About the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel

In the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort, the award-winning Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel is the gateway to Central Florida’s greatest theme parks and attractions. The hotel is located between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and nearby Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and Magic Kingdom Park. Guests can discover 17 world-class restaurants and lounges, sophisticated guest rooms with Westin Heavenly Beds and the luxurious Mandara Spa. The hotel features five pools, two health clubs, tennis, nearby golf, complimentary transportation throughout the Walt Disney World Resort, the Extra Magic Hours benefit, where each day, one of the four Walt Disney World Theme Parks is open extra time for guests to enjoy select attractions (Valid Theme Park admission and Resort ID required) and the new FastPass+ service, where guests can reserve up to 3 select theme park experiences up to 60 days in advance of their visit. The hotel can be reached at or through Facebook at

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Polynesian Resort Photo Update

Yesterday I had the chance to walk around Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort for the first time since construction started earlier this year. While I was waiting for my ‘Ohana reservation time to roll around, I took a few minutes to stroll around the resort. Since Captain Cook’s just opened on Wednesday, I thought I’d share the pictures of the newly refurbished counter service location as well as some general construction photos from around the Polynesian.

This was my first chance at seeing the construction walls around the lobby in the Great Ceremonial House. While it did make me sad to no longer be able to see the beautiful water feature, I have to admit the walls looked better than I expected. From what I understand though, they have been recently updated to their current state. The walls surround most of the lobby area that was previously occupied by the aforementioned water feature and wrap around to the entrance to Boutiki on the other side. Concept art of the way the finished lobby will look adorn the walls along with several photo ops with Disney characters in Polynesian outfits.

Polynesian Lobby – Great Ceremonial House

Polynesian porte cochere Photo Aug 14, 9 58 33 AM Photo Aug 14, 9 58 39 AM Photo Aug 14, 9 59 14 AM Photo Aug 14, 9 59 39 AM Photo Aug 14, 9 59 53 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 00 13 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 00 15 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 01 21 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 01 31 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 01 50 AMPhoto Aug 14, 10 12 44 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 12 55 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 13 20 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 13 36 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 13 47 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 13 52 AMPhoto Aug 14, 10 14 54 AM

I like the refresh of Captain Cook’s quite a bit. There is new flooring, furniture and artwork throughout with a nice updated Polynesian vibe. Although I was sad when I saw the cooler that is now storing cupcakes where the dole whip machine was housed previously, I do look forward to when the new Pineapple Lanai dole whip kiosk opens up either later this year or beginning of next year at the Polynesian. I also took a moment to lament the loss of the grown up grilled cheese sandwich from the lunch and dinner menus. The food and beverage manager I spoke with suggested emailing guest services to express the desire to have the sandwich added back on the menu. I liked the sound of some of the new menu items and look forward to trying them out sometime soon. One of my favorite things about the refurb is the set of posters around the restaurant named after the different longhouses.

Captain Cook’s Refurb with new menus

Photo Aug 14, 10 02 19 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 02 29 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 02 34 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 02 42 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 02 48 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 03 04 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 04 09 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 04 23 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 04 32 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 04 45 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 04 54 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 05 10 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 05 21 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 05 29 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 05 35 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 05 38 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 05 44 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 05 53 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 06 00 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 06 04 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 06 11 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 06 14 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 06 22 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 06 26 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 06 35 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 06 41 AM

After I finished breakfast, my family and I decided to go check out the construction of the Polynesian bungalows down by the beach. The work is coming along pretty well, with siding and windows in and even some painting being done. It was cool to see this up close for the first time in person. The last time I saw the buildings, they were mostly plywood boxes that just had the roof lowered on to them. I cannot wait to see these and how they turn out next year. The progress is very noticeable from the bungalows closest to the beach being the furthest along and seeing the different levels of work being done from one to the next.

Exterior pictures of bungalows and pool

Photo Aug 14, 10 14 17 AM Photo Aug 14, 10 14 31 AM Photo Aug 14, 11 49 35 AM Photo Aug 14, 11 49 45 AM Photo Aug 14, 11 49 58 AM Photo Aug 14, 11 57 26 AM Photo Aug 14, 11 57 41 AM Photo Aug 14, 11 57 47 AM Photo Aug 14, 11 58 26 AM Photo Aug 14, 12 00 33 PM Photo Aug 14, 12 00 35 PM

Have you been by the Polynesian Village Resort recently? Have you had the chance to try any of the new menu items at Captain Cook’s yet? If not, what are you most looking forward to trying there? Let me know.

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