SeaWorld announces it is killing the theatrical killer whale show at SeaWorld San Diego. This announcement was made today during the conference call with investors as CEO Joel Manby laid out a re-branding plan for the parks.
The iconic theatrical show, which has been a part of the SeaWorld brand for decades, showcases the behaviors of the orcas. The show “One Ocean” will be phased out in 2016 and replaced with a new educational orca show in 2017. The new show will focus on informing the guests about orcas in a natural setting with a message inspiring people to act on conservation initiatives.
The move to re-brand the parks nationally is a continuing response to the documentary Blackfish.
However, the move in San Diego to cut the theatrical orca show in particular is not based on public backlash, as Manby says, “activists aren’t going to be pleased with anything we do.”
Instead, guests in San Diego have expressed changing tastes, “So we actually think it’s a good thing because our guests will resonate with it more. The theatrical production of the show in that market is what they wanted to see less of.”
The company also announced that some of the $100 million it had earmarked for the “Blue World” project, which was a plan to expand its killer whale habitat in San Diego, will be re-allocated putting in doubt whether it will be built in San Diego at all.
Recently, the company took a hit when the California Coastal Commission approved Blue World tying a requirement to end the breeding of captive orcas at the park. “I’m not comfortable making the decision to put $100 million into a market when there’s [an ongoing] regulatory question,” Manby says.