“One Ocean” will make its debut at SeaWorld Orlando in April. This new killer whale show will replace the current “Believe” show. The idea is to bring out the energy and spirit of the ocean in a multi-sensory celebration of life under the sea that entertains, educates, and inspires. The show will dazzle with colored lights, panoramic LED screens displaying video of sea life, and surround sound, all with an underlying purpose of educating guests about environmental conservation. The show will feature the Orca splashes that everyone loves, especially on hot days. The big difference is the new show will feature whales playing in giant fountains, instead of with people.
Since last February’s death of 40-year old trainer Dawn Brancheau, SeaWorld has banned trainers from entering the tank with whales. That was a major adjustment to the still-running show known as “Believe,” which was designed around the trainers’ relationship with the whales and initially featured trainers cuddling and nuzzling with the whales, riding and performing acrobatics, and being launched into the air by a flip of the whales’ snouts. While I understand why SeaWorld has come to this decision, it is saddening to know that the show will be missing the element of the trainers and the orcas, the harmony between humankind and nature. I know I will certainly miss that. Trainers said they do hope to one day be able to get back in the water with the animals. They’ve had to change the way they train and think out of the box when it comes to designing their shows. It will take extensive tests and research to decide when or if the trainers will be back in the water with the killer whales. Meanwhile, SeaWorld is interacting with the whales with hoses, brushes and toys to keep them stimulated and is making sure they have adequate whale companionship.
Though trainers will remain on dry ground, the new show promised an increase in audience participation, allowing more guests to interact with the whales through a glassed segment of the tank. Other parts of the show will highlight whales’ relationships with each other, and between mother and baby whales, according to Julie Scardina, curator for animal training for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.