Important Update: Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, SeaWorld Orlando has made operational adjustments since the reopening which include opening / closing hours, attraction restrictions and dining establishments.
It is highly recommended to check the theme park web site before making plans for your next visit.
Since its original opening in the mid/late 1960’s, the Shamu shows have been one of the primary attractions at all the SeaWorld parks with multiple shows running every day. With large capacity stadiums seating thousands of guests in each park, the Orca (killer whale) shows represent the biggest draw that SeaWorld has to offer.
During the summer months as well as the winter holiday season, SeaWorld has produced a number of themed Orca shows which are highlight their special events. Several of these shows include “Shamu Rocks”, “Shamu Christmas Miracles” and “Shamu’s Celebration: Light Up the Night”.
The Beginning of the End of the Shamu Show
But due to pressure from environmental groups, the death of a SeaWorld trainer in 2010 and a 2017 California state law banning the breeding of killer whales and using animals in theatrical shows (the law indicates that these whales can only be used in “educational presentations”), SeaWorld has been forced to make changes to its Orca shows and breeding program.
Back in 2016 Joel Manby, the President and CEO at that time, announced that are ending their breeding program and transform the current theatrical shows into “natural orca encounters”. In additional, SeaWorld will partner with the Humane Society of the United States to help advocate for the protection of ocean wildlife.
These new educational Orca encounters started in the San Diego in 2017 and are planned for the SeaWorld Orlando and San Antonio parks by 2019.
Changes to Shamu Stadium in Orlando
As annual passholders and frequent visitors to SeaWorld Orlando, we have not noticed any significant changes to Shamu Stadium or the theatrical shows since the announcement in 2016. However, during our visit on October 19, 2019 we noticed that the massive video screens that are used during the shows are missing a huge crane was observed behind the show facade.
In addition to the missing screens, one of the SeaWorld trainers announced that they are making “enhancements” to the stadium which made us think that they are now begging to start the transformation of the set from ‘theatrical” to “educational”.
In addition to the changes at Shamu Stadium, we found an article by the Orlando Business Journal entitled “SeaWorld: Still ‘on track’ to revamp killer whale shows this year”. The article referenced a SeaWorld spokesperson indicating that the plans to transition the Shamu shows to educational presentation are on track “by the end of 2019”.
While it is possible that SeaWorld is setting up for their annual Christmas Celebration which begins on November 23rd, there are no specifics about a show featuring the killer whales referenced on their web site. We will continue to monitor the Christmas Celebration page for updates but CLICK HERE to view the page yourself.
So at this time it appears that we are starting to see the beginning of the end for the theatrical killer whale shows at SeaWorld Orlando. Check out our latest video which references the possibility of the last days of the Shamu shows and gives highlights of a “modified” version of the One Ocean show.
What’s Next for Shamu and SeaWorld Orlando?
New Thrill Rides
Since we get the sense that the final days of One Ocean and hopefully a Shamu themed Christmas show are upon us, then one has to ask what is next at SeaWorld Orlando.
When we think about all the changes that have made to park (as well as its Florida sister park, Busch Gardens Tampa, and some of the other SeaWorld parks), there has been a trend towards adding additional “thrill” rides and attractions.
Most recently the shark themed roller coaster “MAKO” as added to SeaWorld Orlando’s line up of thrill rides. Mako is a considered to be a hyper coaster at 200 feet in height, a top speed of 73 miles per hour and 4,760 feet of track length. It’s a very exciting ride and an excellent compliment to its existing roller coasters (Kraken and Manta) as there are no loops or inversions on Mako.
Check out our ride of the MAKO roller coaster from the front row (full ride POV):
In addition to MAKO SeaWorld has another roller coaster under construction at this time and scheduled to open in the spring of 2020.
This new coaster will be known as ICE BREAKER and will be SeaWorld’s first launched coaster with a steep vertical drop and four “airtime filled launches, both backwards and forwards”. This coaster is right next to Bayside Stadium and across from Wild Arctic and looks to be another amazing additional to SeaWorld Orlando’s line up of roller coasters.
Sesame Street Land
In addition to the additional of new and exciting roller coaster, SeaWorld has not forgotten about the little ones. Earlier in 2019 SeaWorld Orlando opened Sesame Street Land which was a complete revamping and retheming of Shamu’s Happy Harbor.
There are a number of interactive play areas, a daily Sesame Street parade, a story telling experience with Big Bird and a number of rethemed rides and attractions which include:
- Abby’s Flower Tower
- Big Bird’s Twirl ‘n’ Whirl
- Cookie Monster’s Cookie Drop
- Elmo’s Choo Choo Train
- Slimey’s Slider
- Super Grover’s Boxcar Derby
With all the recent additions and changes to the Orlando area theme parks including the Star Wars land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Universal’s Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure along with the recent announcement of EPIC UNIVERSE, SeaWorld needs to continue to improve to stay competitive.
Their strategy appears to be working as the company announced increases in attendance and revenue in a recent quarterly report.
Current and Past Shamu Shows
Over the years we have enjoyed watching a number of the Shamu shows and especially liked getting wet in the “Soak Zone” when Shamu made a splash. However we understand that times do change and SeaWorld must change with it.
So if you can fit in a trip to SeaWorld Orlando among your end of year travel plans, you can take in a final theatrical show of a theme park icon while looking forward to the next phase of SeaWorld orca encounter.
Check out our videos of some of the current and past Shamu shows at SeaWorld Orlando.
If you are making a trip to Orlando and you want to stay in the SeaWorld area, look at the SeaWorld “Official” and “Partner” hotels in the area since there are not any “on site” hotels (as of yet). We would highly recommend staying at an “Official” hotel has you get slightly more SeaWorld benefits but most specifically at complimentary one time “Quick Queue” pass which is SeaWorld’s front of the line access pass. It is an amazing benefit especially on those busy days when lines are long – you get to walk by the long lines on most of the popular rides during your visit.
Our favorite hotel in this area is The Renaissance at SeaWorld which is directly across the street from park and since it is an Official SeaWorld Hotel, you get a complimentary one time Quick Queue pass. There is no need to get in your car as you can walk right across Sea Harbor Drive to get to the park.