The off season has turned busy at SeaWorld Orlando. We have a full update on record January crowds, the start of Bands Brews & BBQ festival, and some rumors. Plus, we have an all new episode of the Unofficial SeaWorld Podcast where we interview Cathy Valeriano about how they select the food for Bands Brews & BBQ.

Record January Crowds

This past January, SeaWorld got aggressive with events and pricing to bring in the crowds during a time that has historically been one of their slowest months. This year, SeaWorld introduced a new festival called “Wild Days” that was a smash hit with locals. Then they offered an incredible BOGO with their “Fun Pass,” where guests who bought that pass also got a free Fun Pass to Busch Gardens (with a valid Coke product).

The last weekend in January saw a record number of people come out for this BOGO offer. SeaWorld sold so many Fun Cards that they physically ran out of ticket stock and had to give guests vouchers to return, along with complimentary parking.  At park close, there was a 2 hour wait to get this offer.

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Mid-day, there was a 30 minute wait to get through the toll plaza, with every toll booth operating.

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The line of cars stretched out of the toll plaza, down Central Florida Blvd to International Drive.  This offer was a hit with Central Floridians, and since these fun cards give guests unlimited access to SeaWorld year round with no blackout dates, this year should be a banner year for SeaWorld Orlando’s attendance.

Bands Brews and BBQ

After Wild Days, SeaWorld kicked off their Annual Bands Brews and BBQ.  This event had received some negative press, as many bands have pulled out of the event over the Blackfish film. However, we learned early on that SeaWorld had an ace up their sleeve.  With just a few days until the start of the event, SeaWorld announced that Alan Jackson and Kid Rock would be performing the first weekend.

SeaWorld also offered some great, new BBQ offerings, with their Brisket and Knife and Fork Pulled Pork Sandwich.

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Both Alan Jackson and Kid Rock performed to capacity crowds at Bayside Stadium, with people spilling over into the grassy hills to both sides of the stadium, and guests watching in overflow video areas around the park.

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Alan Jackson

Alan Jackson played to a full house, and delivered an amazing 90 minute set, that everyone was able to enjoy.

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The rainbow ends at Bands Brews and BBQ

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Kid Rock

Kid Rock is not known as a family entertainer, and, internally, SeaWorld was unsure if he could keep it PG. SeaWorld was proactive, and had signs up all over the park warning guests that there might be adult language used.

In the end, Kid Rock proved himself to be a class act, as he kept his show strictly PG and family friendly, and even gave a touching endorsement of SeaWorld, saying it was a place that he came to a lot with his grandparents and that it is a place that brings families together.

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SeaWorld has decided that they will continue to only announce performers the week of their engagement for the rest of this festival. To get the latest news on who is performing, follow MiceChat’s Unofficial SeaWorld Podcast twitter account to learn the moment that they are announced.

Polar Plunge

For the past 5 years, SeaWorld Orlando has been hosting the Polar Plunge at their Aquatica water park. They have hosted this event to raise money for the Special Olympics of Florida.  This was the first time MiceChat participated, and we thrilled that we were able to contribute a little bit to this amazing organization.  Over the past 5 years, SeaWorld has helped raise over $1,000,000 for the Special Olympics of Florida.

Before the plunge, we were able to interview SeaWorld CEO Jim Atchinson, and Aquatica VP Bryan Nadeu about SeaWorld’s involvement with the Special Olympics of Florida.

Interview with Bryan Nadeu

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VP of Aquatica Orlando Bryan Nadeu

MiceChat:  How long have you been doing the Polar Plunge?

Bryan Nadeu:  This is our 5th year, and I have been lucky enough to be involved with it since the first one.

MiceChat:  What do you think the Polar Plunge brings to Aquatica?

Bryan Nadeu:  We are normally a lush tropical environment where the water is 82 degrees.  A couple weeks ago I turned the heaters off, and we started the cool down process.   But all of this benefits the great organization the Special Olympics of Florida which helps tens of thousands of athletes every year.

MiceChat:  You Chill the water?

Bryan Nadeu:  We turn the heaters off, and we turn on the waves to dissipate the heat, so the water is down to 61 degrees.

MiceChat:  If people didn’t come and plunge, how can they get involved?

Bryan Nadeu:  Go to Special Olympics of Florida’s website, and they can donate, and if you can’t be here in person next year you can virtually plunge online.

Interview with SeaWorld CEO Jim Atchinson

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SeaWorld CEO Jim Atchinson

MiceChat: Why is SeaWorld involved with the Special Olympics of Florida?

Jim Atchinson: It is a wonderful cause.  This is the 5th year of the polar plunge here at Aquatica by SeaWorld, where people get to come and get in the water but it is all about the athletes who participate.  In fact 24,000 athletes compete in the state of Florida.  It is a great enterprise that does great work, the families and athletes don’t pay anything to participate in it.  We couldn’t be more proud to be associated with the Special Olympics.

MiceChat:  What does the Special Olympics mean to you personally?

Jim Atchinson: It means a lot.  The first organization I ever volunteered for as a teenage was the Special Olympics.  I then served on the board here in Florida for many years, and I couldn’t be more proud to be associated with the organization.  It is all about helping people with intellectual disabilities to achieve their goals and dreams.

Polar Plunge

When we decided to get involved here at MiceChat, we wanted to make giving fun for those of you back at home.  So I promised that if we raised over $500 for the Special Olympics of Florida, that I would do the plunge in a Prom Dress.  I am thrilled to report that we raised over $560 for the Special Olympics, and I took the dive in a dress.  Don’t believe me? Well, luckily the MiceChat News Crew Team was there to capture the plunge.

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See the guy in the red dress? That’s me.

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We now offer a play-by-play of the beginning of the race as told through Eric’s thoughts.

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On your mark…
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Get set…

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GO!!!!
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Dip that toe in.

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Yikes! COLD! Just keep going…

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I got this…

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WHOA!!!

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ffffmmfllrsgggg…

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PFffffftt… I got this! I got this!

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Shake it off. This is for a good cause.

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Awesome. Nobody saw that
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A stunning debut for Eric Davis at the Polar Plunge!

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We want to take another moment to thank everyone who donated and supported MiceChat in the Polar Plunge.  Hopefully next year, we can raise even more money for this incredible organization that is helping the dreams of thousands come true every year.

Unofficial SeaWorld Orlando Podcast Episode 17

Before we finish up today’s update, we have a new Unofficial SeaWorld Podcast for you in which we interview Cathy Valeriano about Bands, Brews & BBQ.  But keep listening, because we share a VERY interesting rumor about the future of Clyde and Seamore.

Stitcher | Direct Link | iTunes

Well folks, that’s the scoop from SeaWorld for this week.