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.







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


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.


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.













Alan Jackson

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


The rainbow ends at Bands Brews and BBQ






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.







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

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

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.


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







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

On your mark…
Get set…

Dip that toe in.

Yikes! COLD! Just keep going…

I got this…



PFffffftt… I got this! I got this!

Shake it off. This is for a good cause.

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











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.

  • Oh god! Those abused penguins. Someone call an animal rights group!

  • And by abused, I mean the fact the birds had to see Eric in a prom dress.

  • Eric, you are awesome and brave.

    Pledging to run the event in a prom dress if you were able to raise $500 was a brilliant idea. It got me to donate. And watching you do a face-plant into the pool was well worth the money. 😉

    Keep up the good work and thank you for the update!

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    The photo of your faceplant is still making me laugh, Eric! You looked awesome in that prom dress! 😉

    Another great update! I seriously need to get my butt back to SeaWorld sometime this year. Every year I keep saying that though. LOL!

  • Disneyfan58

    Blackfish tells the horrors of what has happened and what continues to happen in this marine park disaster. By spending your money at SeaWorld you are promoting the abuse of animals.
    You would (hopefully) never have a dog, and then keep it in a small cage for his entire life. Seaworld has stolen whales from the wild, and kept them locked up in small pools for decades.

    Shame on SeaWorld Boycott SeaWorld.

    • GDub80

      Learn y our facts before you go spouting your mouth please. SeaWorld is a wonderful place. Perhaps you should focus on the recent tragic death of the innocent giraffe… or the over 4,000 cats and dogs that PETA kills annually… SeaWorld has rescued and released over 23,000 animals in 50 years. They have donated to countless charities that assist in the rescue and rehabilitation of mammals and animals around the world. When SeaWorld collected whales, it was LEGAL to do so. Since then, they have learned so much to help these animals thrive and live incredible lives. Shame on YOU for not knowing what you are talking about before you pretend to do so while being an armchair activist. What do YOU do to help the environment and other animals???

    • SWRocks

      Blackfish is full of lies and is nothing but propaganda. If you believe it there is something wrong with you. You need to get to SeaWorld and see firsthand for yourself about the care that goes into the animals and see the conditions they are in. These animals are well cared for and loved a lot. They are very lucky to have the homes they do. SeaWorld has taught me so much about what I can do every day to help animals by little actions. I am so grateful I am a frequent visitor to SeaWorld and everything I have learned. SeaWorld has a state of the art rescue program that offers world class care

      You call yourself a Disney fan so I am guessing Animal Kingdom animals are all right for you and the dolphins and manatees at EPCOT that never even get to see natural light. They are all ok for you because they are at Disney?

    • Freddie Freelance

      Disneyfan58, I’m sure you were very moved by the plight of the Orcas in Blackfish, but the movie was written & edited to play on your emotions and not to educate you about the problems faced by animals in captivity.

      One of the main thrusts of the the movie is that the Orcas are being driven into psychosis by their tiny enclosures, and that Orcas in the wild don’t attack humans. There are numerous errors in this thesis: Orcas and humans almost never interact, being we swim mostly in the temperate zones immediately around land and Orcas live in much colder regions and in the open ocean, and other Dolphin species (Orcas are members of the Oceanic Dolphin family) who share the same waters as humans much more often, such as Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins, Pilot Whales, and False Killer Whales, are known to attack humans, pulling swimmers & snorkelers under water or butting them hard enough to knock them unconscious, break bones, or even kill them.

      I’m sure you’ve heard that three of the former Sea World trainers who appeared in the the movie have since begun speaking out that the Producer lied to them and heavily edited their interviews to match the editorial bias the Producer wanted for the movie. Or that the Producer begged them to not speak out about their complaints before the selection of Oscar contenders.

      Or maybe you’ve heard that the movie uses footage of the Orca nicknamed Luna as an example of wild Orcas being “amazingly friendly and understanding and intuitively want[ing] to be your companion” when Luna was socialized to humans, not wild, and that Luna had died back in 2006 after accidentally swimming into the propeller of a tugboat he was playing with, something wild Orcas would never do.

      Or maybe you’ve heard that there have been literally millions of interactions with Orcas at Sea World parks (including shows & training, veterinary attention, and animal husbandry interactions), with One death of a trainer in 50 years. Or maybe you heard that Blackfish‘s Producer told interviewees the movie was going to be a tribute to trainer Dawn Brancheau’s life and not about Sea World’s animal policy.

      Other points where the movie was wrong or purposely edited to give a one sided view of the situation are mentioned in other comments, so I’m not going to repeat them.

  • Freddie Freelance

    Eric, red is definitely your color!

  • CreepyMonkey

    Just caught up with the update Eric and it is awesome as usual. Thanks!