We have a special SeaWorld article for you today featuring an interview with the Corporate Vice President of Entertainment for SeaWorld Parks, Dennis Wirzman. He’ll give us a glimpse of what’s in store for the 50th Anniversary of SeaWorld, along with some great news about shows, parades and more!  We also look at the 3 new attractions coming to Aquatica in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio, and we wrap up looking at Christmas decorations now up at SeaWorld Orlando and a brand new episode of the Unofficial SeaWorld Podcast.  Let’s dive in. . .

Interview with Dennis Wirzman – Corporate Vice President of Entertainment

With 2013 winding down, and the holiday season now in full swing, we were able to sit down with Dennis Wirzman to talk about the upcoming floats in the Macy’s Holiday Parade, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parades, along with some surprises to keep an eye out for during the upcoming Sea of Surprises Celebration starting March 21st at SeaWorld in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio.

MiceChat:  For people who might not know, what is the “Sea of Surprises“?

Dennis Wirzman:  The Sea of Surprises is SeaWorld’s 18 month celebration of delighting guest for 50 years! This kicks off next year on March 21st, in all 3 SeaWorld Parks.   We have been working more than a year developing some new guest experiences that we think are going to be wonderful and delightful!  We are excited about them and can’t wait to premier them next year!

2013 SeaWorld's A Sea of Surprises- Macy's Parade float concept sketch main view

MC:  What can guests expect next year when they visit SeaWorld during the Sea of Surprises?

DW: Our current in park offerings are a tough act to follow!  The guest experience in the park is terrific, the animal interaction, the shows, and our team members are incredible, and the challenge for us is how do you top that?

So, we will be premiering new and different animal interactions than you have ever experienced before. We will debut some new music in the parks! We will have some new decor in the parks, that will bring the celebration to life. And we are developing a NEW nighttime show in the parks, which will have some great new music.

MC:  One of the items that was announced early as part of the Sea of Surprises was that you would have floats in both the Macy’s Holiday Parade and the Pasadena Tournament of Roses.  Why did you decide to have floats in both parades?

DW:  Both of these parades are iconic, they are family centric, and we all remember watching them with our families.  The Macy’s Parade kicks off the Holiday Season, and the Rose Parade kicks off the New Year, and we wanted to be part of both of those celebrations.  We thought it was a perfect opportunity to share the spotlight with those two events, and we want to help people get excited for this event kicking off in a few months.

MC:  Will you be using the same float in both parades, or are you going to be using different floats in each parade?


DW:  We will have two different floats.  The Macy’s float is designed and built by the Macy’s Parade Studio, we work closely with their design team, and we have had a great time collaborating with their team with a lot of sculpted foam, it has a nice and beautiful undersea environment theme.  Very beautiful and very realistic.  We are very excited about that.

Then with the Rose parade, one of the rules is that all of the visible elements must be live flora.  We worked closely with them on the design, and this year, the theme is “Dreams Come True”  and when we heard that we thought what a perfect connection for us as well, because as guests come to our parks and connect with the ocean, we make dreams come true!  The float is based on a little boy who is about to dive and discover the wonder and the beauty under the sea.

MC:  Are there any celebrities we should keep our eyes open for who will be riding the Macy’s Holiday Parade Float?


DW: Well that is top secret, but we will share it with MiceChat and the Unofficial SeaWorld Podcast.  On the Macy’s Float we will have Titus Burgess, a famous broadway singer (who originated the role of Sebastian in the Little Mermaid on Broadway) and Beverly Stauton a singer on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars!  We are thrilled that they are joining, and they will be singing a song that fans will be familiar with from One Ocean titled “One Song.”

MC:  And who can we expect to see on the Rose Parade float?

DW:  On the Rose Parade float, people will recognize some familiar faces of Team Members from SeaWorld who you have seen on daytime talk shows, or on ABC’s SeaRescue TV show.

MC:  Is there any hint of surprises we should be looking forward to as part of the 50th Celebration?

DW:  I’ll give you one word… Bubbles.

We cannot wait to experience SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration the Sea of Surprises, and we will have more coverage on this 18th celebration as it nears!

New Attractions coming to Aquatica in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio

A few months ago, SeaWorld started teasing on twitter that #NothingTaller was coming to Aquatica Orlando, and since then there have been numerous announcements about additions coming to all three Aquatica parks!

Aquatica Orlando

After months of rumors and speculation, it has finally been revealed that Aquatica Orlando will be getting the tallest and steepest multi-slide drop tower in Orlando called Ihu’s Breakaway falls named after Ihu Aquatica’s colorful gecko.  Here is the teaser video, demonstrating how terrifying this attraction will be when it opens in 2014.

Aquatica San Diego

In October, SeaWorld announced that the brand new Aquatica in San Diego would be getting a new 375ft long slide named Taumata Racer that will be open by Memorial Day weekend 2014.   This racing ride, will send riders through a 180 degree turn through a tunnel and then down a steep slope before they cross the finish line at the bottom.

Aquatica San Antonio

Aquatica San Antonio’s announcement went in a completely different direction, than the other two Aquaticas.  Instead of a new slide, Aquatica in San Antonio, is going to be adding a whole new experience, taken from Discovery Cove in Orlando.  Aquatica San Antonio, will be adding a free flight aviary, that will have the lazy river pass through it, and also have a relaxing area for guests to unwind and chill as they watch beautifully colored birds from all over the world fly over head.  With this addition Aquatica in San Antonio is quickly becoming an incredible hybrid water park/boutique park.






Christmas Set Up at SeaWorld

Before we can get to 2014 with the Sea of Surprises, and the new attractions at all 3 Aquatica parks, we still have an incredible Holiday Season ahead of us at SeaWorld Orlando.  From November 23rd to December 31st, SeaWorld Orlando throws what most consider the best Holiday Celebration in Central Florida.   With 7 special shows and attractions included with your daily park admission, it is an incredible family friend Holiday event.










Christmas Tree Up and Decorations

When you enter the park, the beautiful towering Christmas tree is now up, and all around the park you can find Christmas trimmings around buildings and light poles turned into snowmen.


Waterfont Decorations

On the Waterfront you will find the village decked out and ready for the holidays, with lights and decorations everywhere.
























Sea of Trees

On the lake between the Waterfront and Shamu Stadium is the Sea of Trees, a beautiful water and light show that will take place at night during the Holidays.



That wraps up our SeaWorld coverage. We will be back soon with more news from SeaWorld Orlando and San Antonio as they both get ready for a great Holiday season.  But until then, enjoy a new episode of the Unofficial SeaWorld Podcast with your hosts Eric and Mike as they interview an Former SeaWorld Killer Whale trainer about why people love SeaWorld and why you should love SeaWorld too!

iTunes Link | Stitcher Link

  • Malin

    The first thought that comes into my mind is that I really hope that the Blackfish fanatics won’t use SeaWorld’s promotion in the Parade’s as a way to demostrate its agenda. I can just see the tacky Poster signs in the crowds now.

    I’m still undecided about the “Sea of Celebration” at the moment. Dennis isn’t really giving much of the details away. The new night-time show sounds promising and so does the Animal interactions. I might visit San Diego because I like the sound of the new entrance. But will wait to find out more before confirming plans. I am in the fortunate position of having the opportunity to visit Orlando next year too. So might visit both Parks depending on how good the full plans are once SeaWorld officially annouce them to the public.

    I really hope Ihu’s Breakaway falls includes an animal experience of some kind. This is what sets Aquatica apart from the other Water Parks in the area. It provides an education not just thrills.

    • Eric Davis

      Well I am hopeful. There is more information in his audio interview of the Unofficial SeaWorld Podcast that goes up next week! Dennis got me from excited to CRAZY excited during the interview!

      • Malin

        Can’t wait to listen to more of the interview Eric. Yourself and Mike always provide an excellent Podcast.

    • soletrain

      eehhhh. tomato~potato, because i can’t wait to see people demonstrate the blackfish agenda at the parade!

      • Malin

        Must not feed the troll but it does sound like Blackfish is not the only one with an agenda.

    • AaroniusPolonius

      I’m certain the Blackfish fanatics will use the parades as a promotion and a demonstration of their agenda, as well they should. However one feels about the movie and its advocates, clearly SeaWorld is using the parades to promote their agenda, so why shouldn’t the Blackfishers do the same with theirs?

      I will say this for the Blackfish movie: it does have its facts correct with regards to lifespan truncation in a marine park environment for the orcas, which makes it a very different argument than those against zoological parks for elephants and lions and such. I’m honestly torn, as the movie was clearly pulling on my heartstrings and manipulative in its narrative thrust (and who doesn’t like looking at an orca?) But I’ve done some foot work on the subject and the basic premise of the film is sound: it’s a far worse life these intelligent, social, familial animals are leading in captivity than the one they would be leading in their pods in the ocean. Whether or not that makes me a fanatic or not is up for debate!

  • Coasterjunkie

    I’m looking forward to seeing both floats as well. Unfortunately, you’re going to see some of those signs from PETA out there. There are always going to be those hard core type people out there no matter what the cause is.

    • AaroniusPolonius

      I think the point is missed when one is lamenting about the PETA signs, by both those opposed and those in the organization. PETA is demonstrating their anti-marine-park agenda. It’s a surface protest that just says “we’re against this.” The deeper and more effective agenda is the association between protesters and SeaWorld. The more that that association can be reinforced in the minds of parents, that a vacation to SeaWorld means dealing with a contingent of protesters, the less likely it will be that families will choose to vacation at SeaWorld, spending their money at a less controversial site, which will either force the closure of SeaWorld, or a different focus on marine life away from the orcas.

      And honestly, this is a democracy full of apathetic people. I’m thrilled when some of them protest, because it demonstrates their freedom to dissent, as well as the act of actually caring about something beyond the Real Housewives. Props, yo.

  • Freddie Freelance

    San Diego Sea World has upped the number of Christmas decorations around the park, too. And have three Christmas shows already running: Shamu’s Christmas, Clyde & Seamore’s Christmas Special, and Madagascar Live! Operation: Christmas Vacation.

    Also returned this year: SnowWorld, Pets Rule! Cat’s Christmas Parlor, Santa’s Cottage & Reindeer, and the Christmas Tree with holiday decked Sea World characters.

    When I went on Friday evening I could hear a tour being given of the new construction, so hopefully someone from here got a tour and will post pictures.

  • Country Bear

    This all sounds great and I think SeaWorld parks are beautiful. They do a lot of amazing things and I ensure I visit them whenever I am in the area. However, having just seen Blackfish last week, I am really torn by this. I get that it’s a business, but the message on-stage and off-stage seems to be very different. Not sure how to respond to them anymore. I guess time will tell.

    Anyway, thanks for the great report as always Eric.

    • Tielo

      The whole blackfish thing is overdramatized and not a honest portray.
      True I don’t care for animals jumping trough hoops but the Sea World parks and their amazing animals preach a good message that is unfortunately lost to most people in the USA. Taking care for our planet, our animals and humans is very important and it’s shocking the US produces 25% of all pollution in the World and because of that killing millions of animals and humans in the process. You really have to look hard to find energy sufficient appliance, isolated homes (double glazing, walls, floors and roofs) and recycling isn’t standard. When you look at the big picture it’s kind of hypocritical people are making a fuss about a park that captures some animals to take really good care for them to present a meaningful message while you pollute the earth in a shocking speed. But I guess it’s the American way to always blame someone else and don’t take responsibility for your own actions. Really just go and visit Sea World, if it wasn’t for them the manatees would have been extinct by now and the animals won’t have a voice.

      • bhb007

        So there’s this rich guy that uses child labor for his factories to make a profit. He donates TONS of money to good causes, though. When you look at how much good he is doing, you would have to be some sort of fanatic to protest his sweatshops. All that blaming and no personal responsibility of Americans!

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Honey, the real American Way would be to eat the orcas after they die.

  • KENfromOC

    Went to SeaWorld San Diego last weekend for my girl’s 7th birthday. Overall a great time! The landscaping is beautiful.
    Couple notes:

    Wild Arctic looks like it has not been updated – ever! The simulator “helicopter” ride was laughable – jerky and terrible quality film. The walk through still uses computer props form the mid-1990’s! It is sad and really needs help!

    The Madagascar show was pretty bad – basically a hooky themepark music group, a lame story, and a few of the characters from the film – they didn’t even have a couple of the funniest characters from the film – the giraffe and zebra. Some folks walked out. What a waste and something that could have been good.

    Again it was a great time, but there is need for updating for sure!

    • Amy VandenBoogert

      The same Madagascar show plays at Busch Gardens in Tampa and it’s always a packed house. I personally love the show and have seen it several times (never seen anyone get up and leave… maybe the SeaWorld cast isn’t as good as Busch’s). It’s silly and fun and the music is catchy. Marty (the zebra) and Melman (the giraffe) are in the show technically… they’re featured on the video screens on either side of the stage during one of the songs. They probably didn’t include those as furryhead characters because they’d be to difficult to make a costume for and have a performer wear (Marty might’ve been doable but Melman definitely not).

  • almandot

    When they say a new nighttime show do they mean a new show somewhere, like a lagoon show, or do they mean a new Shamu or dolphin nighttime show? I’d love a lagoon show, one that isn’t in that very very poorly designed bayside stadium where no one on the upper level has a good view of anything. I realize San Diego doesn’t exactly have a lagoon like that.. But they can do it in the parking lot or something. 😉

  • Malin

    Sounds like Animal rights groups are already protesting the float being featured in the Macy Thanksgiving parade. I refuse to get into the whole Blackfish debate but it does seem like a dumb move by SeaWorld to hold its first float in the Parade during a year where media attention is at a high over how SeaWorld cares for its Killer Whales.