June gloom has hit us early in San Diego, but we still have a lot to share with you from SeaWorld.  The main entrance construction is rumbling along as the 50th anniversary of this seaside San Diego landmark gets closer and closer.  We then visit the still-in-existence freshwater aquarium and Shark Encounter.  And, of course, we’ll update you on all the major construction in the park as well as some Aquatica News.

Construction Central: Explorer’s Reef / The New Entrance

We begin this week with the biggest project in the park, the new entrance.

All of the entrance buildings have been taken out, and by this time next year, a giant wave will be constructed here as our “portal” into Explorer’s Reef.
New flags have been placed outside of the temporary entrance.
Here’s a look at all the dirt! Actually, you can see how vast the construction area is.


Some buildings are still up in the former entrance, we don’t know if they are being re-purposed or removed.


The bakery, restrooms, and Shamu store are still open…for the time being…


Walls have popped up on the path to Shamu Stadium. This area is also connected to the entrance complex.

Construction Central: Cirque 2013

The trampoline wall set has been completed and rehearsals should be starting very soon – if they aren’t already. The colors are bright and ready for show time.

The rest of the set from afar.

Atlantis Improved

We didn’t mention this before, but a couple months ago, when Journey to Atlantis reopened from a lengthy refurbishment, it actually got a pretty decent refresh. They’ve added a soundtrack for the ride and have taken out the narration, a few new set pieces have been installed, and a new revamped scene has been added inside the tower. It needed it! We’ll bring you photos and video soon.

Walls have popped up behind Shamu Stadium. They seem to do this a couple times a year, so I don’t think we should expect much, if anything at all…

Construction Central: Madagascar Live

Unlike our previous updates, we actually have something to talk about this week regarding Madagascar LIVE! construction.


First of all, work is being conducted on top of the theater.

Also, SeaWorld has posted a “teaser” for the upcoming show, which gives a hint as to what the show could be about…

It seems like the show could be about the characters going on vacation to SeaWorld San Diego. It may have nothing to do with that, but it’s just a guess coming from the teaser. I’m really hoping this show doesn’t disappoint.

50th Anniversary Talk

This week, we’ll be taking a look at some of the attractions around the park which could be upgraded or replaced for the 50th Anniversary next year.

We begin with the tide pools and World of the Sea aquarium. I don’t think we’ll see anything with the tide pool, but the aquarium is in desperate need of a makeover.


We’ll be taking a look inside the aquarium in a future update.

Okay, you might be wondering why I put this show on the list since it’s coming back for another year (or maybe a couple years). I think it is clear that SeaWorld is working on something to put here but decided to continue the current show a while longer. Eventually, we should see something new, but it may or may not be in time for the 50th anniversary. I personally would like to see another acrobatic show. Change the name, change the set, add some effect, new acrobatics. Cirque – even though it’s getting some refresh each year has long since worn out its welcome.Time for something new-ish.

A couple years ago, the SeaWorld Sky Tower was upgraded with modern machinery. Sadly, we haven’t seen the same thing done with these poor looking things! The SkyRide is a great ride and must be upgraded. Will we see this next year? I think we might have a good chance.

The building is getting repainted…that’s a start…right?



Don’t expect anything to happen till the fall. I was thinking that it would be gone by now, but I think they’re waiting a couple months to work on all the new attractions and refreshes at the same time for the 50th.

Chomp chomp chomp

Okay, now we come to our focus: Shark Encounter. If there is any attraction dying for an upgrade (after the Penguin Encounter, of course) it’s this attraction. Let’s take a look inside.

Welcome to paradise in the 80s, where plastic trees and fake plants await you. Oh, but the sharks are real.
Awwwww…aren’t they cute?
Quick story: I remember when I was a little kid, I used to put my hand in this pool. And they didn’t bite. Now they have a sign saying not to put your hand in there.


Okay, so after you finish the trail through paradise, you journey into the caves…


Where you’ll find shark teeth in the rocks…


And then you get to the BEST part of the attraction and the real reason for the long queue – the underwater view on a moving sidewalk.


Anybody have the Jaws theme playing in their heads right now?


Kinda scary from down here…not so cute…


And this is the exit.
After you exit, you’ll find yourself in the same plaza as Turtle Reef.
By the way, those retail shops will be redeveloped along with the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Garden of Discovery.


Nope…not going anywhere…but hopefully we’ll see Turtle Trek 360 added to the area one day.


Construction Central: Aquatica California

Here is where the flamingos will be as you float by in the lazy river.

The Aquatica Facebook page has uploaded some photos of construction for the water park formerly known as Knott’s Soak City.

The food will be here.
I’m hoping that they will significantly green up this park.

And that wraps it up for our dive into SeaWorld for this week. We’ll be back in a couple weeks for more SeaWorld San Diego and Aquatica California!

If you are looking for more SeaWorld info, please listen to our latest Unofficial SeaWorld Podcast:

What are you most looking forward to, Aquatica or the changes coming to SeaWorld San Diego?

  • Bill

    I would never ever want to see that disaster of an attraction (Turtle Trek 360) come to SeaWorld San Diego. Have you guys even seen that thing? It’s probably the worst 3D film in any park in the US.

  • almandot

    Agreed turtle trek was horrible and I found the fake paradise in the shark exhibit to be kinda nice. What they could stand for is making the tunnel longer like it is in Orlando’s but that would be a huge overhaul to everything.

    Hopefully the construction on a fresh entrance starts to address it, but SeaWorld San Diego just felt like an older zoo with its basic enclosures for the marine life and sparsely decorated park. I’ve definitely been spoiled by the environment in SeaWorld Orlando’s.

    • disney4me2001

      I agree with you about the Shark Encounter. It’s one of my favorite exhibits, and I love the fake trees and everything, even if it does look a bit dated and cheesy. At least it adds atmosphere to the exhibit.

      On a side note, when I was there last time I also noticed the sign saying not to put your hands in the small pool, and I could’ve sworn that it wasn’t always that way. Glad to know that I wasn’t imagining things! Although I do have to wonder why they changed it…

  • KingEric

    GREAT update Joseph! You are my life line to the San Diego park!

  • Thank you Joseph.

    I’ve got to say that I’m worried that SeaWorld doesn’t have enough time to really pull of something spectacular in time for the 50th. If they were going to go big with an Antarctica type of attraction, it would need to be under construction now. And since something of that scale would have to be approved by the Coastal Commission and the city council, I don’t think there is time.

    • josephtaylor

      The 50th Anniversary will be in March/April, but I think SeaWorld will be opening attractions all throughout next year, primarily having them open by the summer time. So, by this fall there should be announcements if they’re going to open a major attraction or two.

  • Freddie Freelance

    I don’t know if anyone had posted tis before, but the new snack stand behind the Pets Rule stadium is going to be a Fish Taco stand.