SeaWorld plans to combat its recent decline in revenue and attendance with pricing, promotions and new attractions this summer, including a new nighttime festival of light and a virtual reality addition to its Kraken roller coaster.
SeaWorld will be the first major theme park in Florida with a roller coaster outfitted with virtual reality goggles when Kraken reopens June 16. With them on, riders will be chased by the mythical squidlike kraken creature as they zoom along on the roller coaster.
The coaster upgrade comes the same week that the park begins its nightly Electric Ocean festival with bioluminescent lighting, music, a fountain show and fireworks, June 17-Aug. 5.
The Orlando-based theme park company is shifting away from animals as entertainers, instead focusing more on conservation and rescue efforts.
The company ended its orca breeding program last year after declining attendance and pressure from activists following the 2013 release of the critical documentary Blackfish.
The park retired its Blue Oceans dolphin show this year after an 11-year run and on April 1 opened Dolphin Days. It cuts the acrobatics in favor of an educational show.
The new Dolphin Nursery, opening mid summer, will make the home of dolphin mothers and their calves an interactive area. New large-scale acrylic windows will offer views at multiple levels to give kids a face-to-face perspective with baby dolphins.
SeaWorld’s killer-whale shows continue, but the performance-based shows in Orlando are set to end in 2019.
The company has said one of the ways SeaWorld plans to combat its decline in attendance is by offering more deals. Right now, you can save $20 when you buy your admission ticket at seaworld.com/orlando at least one day in advance. There are also good multi-ticket options with sister parks such as Busch Gardens, Aquatica and Discovery Cove. Always check the website for deals before going.