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SeaWorld's new killer-whale show 'One Ocean' awash with inspiration

Orlando Sentinel Tourism

Original Article »

April 21, 2011

SeaWorld Orlando's new killer-whale show includes old favorites, new maneuvers on display and a message designed to inspire landlubbers.

"The title itself, 'One Ocean,' says we're all in one world, the world is one ocean and we as a species can make a difference," says Kelly Flaherty Clark, SeaWorld's director of animal training. "We're hoping people leave affected, changed and inspired to change the world."

"One Ocean" makes its debut Friday, April 22, at the theme park's Shamu Stadium. It replaces the "Believe" show, which started at SeaWorld in 2006.

The tone of the new show is a notch less New Age-y than its predecessor. One segment of the 22-minute show is decidedly playful, both musically and in the whales' performances.

"We see them interact with each other in ways that look a lot like the way kids interact with each other," Clark says.

"While we're watching them on their free time, they're interacting with one another as mother and calf, they're interacting with one another as two young adolescents, they're interacting with each other in courtship, and we've witnessed all these things throughout the years," she says. "We want to share some of that with the audience."

Guests may spot Makaio, the park's youngest whale, in action during "One Ocean." He was born in Orlando in October.

"He's absolutely adorable because he does not stick to script," Clark says. "He does what Makaio would like to do. We're perfectly OK with that."

Although a new show is being put into place, the whales aren't unnerved by that, Clark says. They are accustomed to change.

"The animals don't live in a predictable environment," she says. "Their show is different every time you see it. They really don't know what's coming up next."

The whales respond to trainers' signals and to underwater tones not heard by the audience. "One Ocean" has less choreographed movement by the trainers, Clark says.

"We let you see our relationship with the whales and how we interact with them right through the glass," she says.

Trainers are not in the tank with the whales for "One Ocean." The practice was suspended after the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in early 2010.

The Shamu Stadium stage is still dominated by a fluke — the tail of a whale — but the structure is taller now and more colorful than the black-and-white version for "Believe." Trainer costumes are also brighter. The rotating video screens remain but with new imagery of the sea, above and below its surface.

The splash zone is bound to get even wetter with the addition of 35 fountains that line the base of the seating area. Some are choreographed to shoot water 35 feet straight up, others go in an arc over the pool for 50 feet.

"I'm sounding very theatrical here, but they bring the audience in," Clark says. "They connect the audience with the show."

The presentation is bookended with messages about becoming involved and finding personal inspiration. In the beginning, guests may notice the whale-inspired necklace that played a key part in "Believe." That represents a transition.

"'Believe' was about believing in yourself," Clark says. "This show is about 'Go out there and do it. Make a difference.'"

See for yourself

'One Ocean'

Where: SeaWorld Orlando, off BeachLine Expressway at Interstate 4, southwest of Orlando

When: Multiple shows daily. Friday's showtimes are 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Check website for other days' schedules.

Cost: $79.99 general, $69.99 ages 3-9

Phone: 407-351-3600


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