Wednesday, June 4, 2008

SeaWorld: A Review

SeaWorld is one of the major attractions in Orlando, but it is a lot like the old-time roadside attractions of yesteryear. It doesn't have the high production values and quality showmanship of DisneyWorld and Universal Studios, but it does offer some things that boys can enjoy.

The number one feature of the park is the killer whale shows, featuring the star orca character "Shamu". The standard tricks that they perform can be an entertaining way to pass a half hour, a couple times in your life, but the real sight to see are Sea World's male trainers in their wetsuits. The tight fit of the soaked suits accentuates the sexy contours of the male physique and creates the appearance of a hunky costumed superhero. Their daytime show "Believe" suggests that kids may dream about becoming trainers themselves after seeing one in their youth, although the sight in reality has probably led more to rubber fetishes than sea mammal training.

There are two killer whale shows, a daytime version and a night one, with both having several performances. The tricks are largely the same, so if you only have time for one of them, go to the night show. It's more exciting with its rock music score and it doesn't have the sappiness of the silly day one.

The other animal shows are rather boring and best appreciated by younger children. They don't have any serious "wow" factor for adults. Worse, their quality would be considered "bad show" at a Disney park. Walt zealously didn't want the magic to be spoiled for visitors by seeing the back stage work, whereas staging at SeaWorld is practically non-existent and stage hands wandering through the show are the norm.

The worst show is the ski show. It's a total waste of time. There are like two minor ramp jumps, one high dive, and that's about it. No traditional human pyramids or flag waving. I'd rather see the Go-Go's perform their song "Vacation" in front of a green screen.

A funner time can be had by parking yourself in front of the display window of the underwater entertainment at "The Oyster's Secret" store. The gimmick of the shop is that they sell pearl bearing oysters laying in a large tank of water that you can direct the staff divers to bring to the surface for you. In between retrieving oysters the divers dance underwater to the music of a DJ playing lively popular tunes. The boy dancer/divers are really cute and a lot more exciting to watch than your average sweaty, disinterested go-go boy. It's a captivating sight. Seeing young Eric doing his moves in the tank is like seeing a character from the "The Sims" game come to life.

The most important visitor tip is to remember that the park is owned by Anheuser-Busch, which means that there is a lot of beer sold there. Management knows that they don't have to work as hard to provide entertainment for its mildly intoxicated visitors and the shows are created with that mind. So, if you want to experience the park as it was intended, take frequent Bud breaks and laugh at sea lions playing pirates.