SeaWorld’s Shamu on Hiatus

One Ocean will be temporarily suspended while pool maintenance takes place. (SeaWorld photo)

The Orlando Sentinel reports that SeaWorld’s “One Ocean” show featuring Shamu, the killer whale, will be suspended for three months while the 5,000-seat Shamu Stadium undergoes maintenance. The “Dine With Shamu” experience will also be suspended. 

The main pool will be repainted and the clear panels that separate the animals from the audience will be replaced. Officials say it’s the first time this kind of maintenance has been done since the stadium opened in 1984. The attractions will close early January and return in early April, typically a slower time for traffic.

In their place, SeaWorld will present “Shamu Up Close,” which will feature above-water and underwater interactions and a look at training methods taking place in the Dine With Shamu area.

Officials say that operating without One Ocean will be a challenge and the aim will be to provide some exposure in a way that people will feel like they’ve been able to see Shamu.

After the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, SeaWorld invested millions of dollars installing faster-rising emergency lift floors and other safety features. The anticipated maintenance will not involve safety equipment; rather it must be done while the pool is empty. One Ocean opened in April 2011, without the hand-on interaction of its predecessor, Believe.

Nor is the closing in response to the controversial “Blackfish” documentary, which is highly critical of keeping whales in captivity. SeaWorld has maintained that the film is inaccurate and misleading. Indeed the debate about whale captivity is intense as seen in the comments section of Inside the Magic’s post on the temporary closure.


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