SeaWorld celebrates 50th anniversary of its parks

04/10/2014 12:00 AM

04/08/2014 9:34 PM

SeaWorld Orlando has gussied itself up for its 50th anniversary celebration, and some of it looks downright trashy.

That’s by design. SeaWorld commissioned four sculptures that are made of beach debris.

The colorful sculptures were created by the Washed Ashore Project, an environmental art group. Octopus, parrot fish, a sea horse and sea anemone reef pieces are in the park’s revamped Sea Garden.

You’ll probably see the sea horse first. It’s close enough to touch and examine the many kinds of plastic goods. It’s fascinating to look at but depressing to think of that junk on our shores and in the water, causing injury to sea life. That’s kind of the idea, right?

The celebration, which is called “Sea of Surprises” and will continue for 18 months, commemorates the opening of the original SeaWorld park in San Diego in March 1964. In addition to San Diego and Orlando, there’s a SeaWorld in San Antonio.

The celebration includes pop-up entertainment, unexpected encounters with animal ambassadors, and prize giveaways by the SeaWorld Surprise Squad, which roams the park daily. A new nighttime show, “Shamu’s Celebration: Light Up the Night,” is set to debut June 21.

Other evidence of SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration is springing up throughout the park. There have been enhancements to the signage at the parking lot’s entrance and a new look for the lighthouse at the park. The two-level seating area that scales the Sky Tower now has a stylized Shamu and bubbles on it.

The bubbles are a recurring theme. They even appear on construction walls (”Pardon our bubbles …”). A “Bubble Blowout” vehicle is in action in Shamu’s Happy Harbor.

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