After a winter break, we’re back at SeaWorld San Diego for a construction update.  There’s a lot of work in progress and we’ll show you what will be coming for the Summer 2013 season.  We also review the SeaWorld Christmas Celebration for the past holiday season. The festivities actually end today, but there is plenty for us to share.

The Construction Season Begins!

If you look to the right of this image, you’ll notice that construction walls have gone up on part of the entrance. Yes folks, work is underway on the massive new entrance complex.

They haven’t touched the current main entrance yet.

For now, work is being done to the right of the passport members entrance. When I asked a park rep, they said that work on the main part of the entrance should begin in March. We’ll take a closer look at this in our next update.

Cirque 2013? 

To our amazement, the Cirque set hasn’t been touched since the last update (over a month ago).

The trampolines have been taken out of the trampoline set.
The truss sets on both sides of the stadium are still intact.

And the sign is still up! Actually, it seems like it even got touched up a little bit. It looks possible that Cirque may return this summer after all. Unless SeaWorld starts making changes shortly, this stadium will either be back in the acrobat business or they’ll have a big unused stadium this summer.

Aquatica is coming to San Diego! 

SeaWorld recently announced that they’ve purchased the Knott’s Soak City park in San Diego from and will be reopening it this summer as Aquatica. While hardly any information has been shared, we do know that the park is going under an extensive makeover. And yes, we’ll be there opening day to see what they’ve done with the place.

The Post-Holiday Christmas Celebration Look Around 

And now, ladies and gentlemen, it’s time for our Christmas Celebration review! We begin at the entrance – where the ticket booths have been painted for the last time! Are you shedding your happy tears?

Last year, SeaWorld pulled out all the stops to make a spectacularly decorated holiday event. This year, they’ve found even more stops to pull because they’ve gone wild with the décor!

The same tree as the years before has returned.

Right in front of the Animal Encounters attraction, guests can frolic with the Reindeer and even meet Santa Claus!

Let’s begin with the one thing that’s real here…the reindeer!


Awwwwwww…isn’t he a-dor-a-ble????


They began to attack one of their caretakers. While I was walking away, another caretaker took out a couple graham crackers and both reindeer sprinted in the other direction.

A SLEIGH! You know what that means…


SANTA CLAUS! But don’t get your hopes up…


…cause he went home. Sorry kids.
Last year, SeaWorld debuted Snow World…
If returned this year with a ton of snow for kids to play in.
And yes, you can even go sledding.

New this year, kids can plan a strange version of Tic-Tac-Toe. Have fun figuring this one out!

The area looks breathtaking at night. There are tons of snow machines that circle the area, but weren’t turned on during this visit.

Speaking of breathtaking, take a look at some of these great decorations. Manta got a little holiday cheer for its first year at the park!

Dozens of trees surround the back end of the ride.
At night, it’s a forest of lights…

The front of the Blue Horizons also got hundreds of white trees with blue LED lights. You can see these in the sunlight in our last update…

These dripping icicle lights are really neat. They were located near the side of Pet’s Rule.

It’s a nice touch!

And to wrap up our look at the holiday decorations, SeaWorld has installed these ball lights around the Shamu Stadium.

They completely surround the stadium and look great as a backdrop when watching the Shamu Show.

Shamu’s Christmas Review:

I’m going to wrap up this update by sharing my thoughts on the Shamu Christmas show and SeaWorld Entertainment as a whole. The following is filled with spoilers, so if you don’t want to know what happens during the show, feel free to breeze through these images.

During the Christmas Celebration, SeaWorld puts on a Shamu holiday show as an attempt at a spectacular way to end your evening.

Before the show, a guitarist comes out and plays various holiday songs for about twenty minutes as an effort to keep the audience entertained…even though no one is really paying attention, as you can tell by the way the stadium is silent when he finishes, with maybe a small applaud here and there.

After she finishes her monologue, a man walks out playing a saxophone… 

We begin the show with our host, who welcomes us and defines what the true meaning of Christmas is. And after all that, we finally get to see the one thing we actually care about…the animals.

Set to the backdrop of the holiday tunes Sleigh Ride and a composition by Trans-Siberian Orchrestra, we dive deeper into this incredibly corny show.

At the end of this scene, Shamu returns with its trainer, who gives him a hug…over a metallic bar which she struggles to get over.

And there are fountains in the show, which is probably the highlight of the performance.

There are so many things wrong with this show. It seems like SeaWorld San Diego may not understand what makes a Shamu show work. This show is out of breath! And it’s not just this show. Many of the shows are in a similar situation.

SeaWorld needs to create shows which are less corny and appeal to a wider audience of every age.

That should do it for SeaWorld for today.  Join us next time for more information on Cirque De La Mer and the ongoing construction at the front of the park.

  • Great update and photos.

    Like you, I’m not really impressed with the Shows at Seaworld San Diego. Blue Horizon is interesting, but I don’t like how the animals are playing second fiddle to the storyline. Sounds like the same problem you had with the Shamu Christmas show.

    I do hope that the entry re-theme will continue throughout the park and that some of the less themed areas will be given an identity.

    That having been said, we do love the park and visit once or twice a year. It isn’t up to par with the Orlando park, but it is a park worth seeing

  • SpectroMan

    Blue Horizons is probably my favorite Sea World show EVER in 40 years. However, the Shamu shows since “Believe” and going forward have always been a little lacking. I’m all for drama and storytelling instead of just showing off whale tricks, but there’s got to be a better balance.

  • Rick Wright

    I couldn’t disagree more with your characterization of the Shamu Christmas Show. I look forward to this show every year because it is NOT just an animal show. The singers that you complain are “a bunch of people (who vary in age) lip-singing and using hand gestures as if to make the show even more powerful” are actually singing in American Sign Language. If you understand what they are doing, it is powerful indeed. The rest of the show features extremely talented musicians and singers that were well appreciated in the show that I attended this year. The choir members are community members who come from throughout Southern California to sing. I love this show because it is different from the whale show that we see all year long.

    By the way, the “regular” Shamu show is performed multiple times throughout the day. The Christmas show is usually only performed for the last show or two in the evening.

  • Freddie Freelance

    The Shamu Christmas Show has been the same for years, they don’t update it because it is what people expect and come back year after year.

  • Freddie Freelance

    Oh! And I wanted to point out that the “passport members entrance” has almost never been used as such, but has been most often used as a special entrance for large groups.

  • fnord

    My comment is awaiting moderation? What??? Totally non controversial
    Comments require moderation? What’s up? Why bother posting?
    Lip-syncing is the dictionary spelling. Has any literate person on this board ever heard
    of lip singing?

  • airick75

    I know they try to make family friendly entertainment, but the Shamu show and Horizons are both cringe worthy. I was surprised a commenter really liked Blue Horizons. I have to offer the contrary. The first time I saw it, I thought it was the worst, most embarrassing show I’d ever seen. The costumes are silly. I don’t want to see birds, I came to see the dolpins! And the whole princess/prince storyline??? Are you kidding me? I think everyone at that point would rather kiss a walrus! Thankfully, while still corny, the Sea Lion and Otter show at least have a sense of humor.

  • Austin

    I actually liked the holiday show. It was an interesting change seeing a little bit of the real story of Christmas incorporated, instead of just the “Santa” and “presents” aspect. I also got the opportunity to participate in the show with my church and we sang a couple of songs in the stands in choir robes a whole behind the scenes thing with some cast members. It was a great experience. Even when I watched it and was not participating in it I enjoyed it.