This show had a tragedy in February 2010 when an experienced trainer was killed by a killer whale which grabbed her by her pony tail pulled her under water and kept her there causing her to drown. The show we saw did not include any killer whales instead using the false killer whales. I wondered if this was a change in policy due to the death but I have not been able to find any information stating that. By the way both type whales are really in the dolphin family.
The park can be a great place for a family trip, although the admission fee of about $79 and $73 for children could make it a very expensive day.
In all fairness I do need to mention that these parks do come under criticism from some organizations including; World Society For the Protection of Animals, The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society and PETA ( People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). The criticism is directed at these parks concerning the believed shorter life span of killer whales when in captivity. 21 killer whales dies in theme parks between 1986 and 2000, all died at much younger age then the average for these creatures. They also said that making these animals perform for food can breed aggression and cause violent acts toward the trainers.
PETA actually offered to buy the park and then it would release all the inhabitants back into their natural environments. Budweiser beer which owned the park never responded.
The park can be great fun for kids the exhibits are really well built and have a good amount of space for viewing, I particularly enjoyed seeing the penguins. They are kept in a large glass enclosed environment where the temperature is kept at 30 degrees fahrenheit.
There are rides that the family can enjoy and may help keep you cool.
The Blue Horizon Show was a fun way to spend some time under cover from the hot Florida sun. They had dolphins and whales performing as well as some high flying performers, who fly around the pool attached to cords. They also had divers jumping from ramps that were much to high for me to ever think about diving off of.
But to me the stars are the dolphins, whales and the trainers. I colds ee how much these young people care about the whales and dolphins. During one part of the show I happened to notice a trainer by the side of the pool with two dolphins leaning over the edge toward her. They were waiting to perform after the act finished. She was not in the spot light but I saw her talking to them and stroking them. At one point she leaned over and kissed them both. It was a touching moment to observe.
The show has parts where the dolphin/whales do acrobatic jumps, alone and in unison with each other. The highlight for me was apart I remembered from when I was there in the 1970s. The trainers ride the dolphin/whales around the pool. As a kid that was really exciting for me to see and to be honest it still was all these years later,
When the dolphins start jumping as a photographer you really need to pay attention. There is now warning that they are about to leap into the air.
This trainer is riding one of the dolphins. Notice the whistle, it is a high frequency whistle that the dolphins can hear, it is used in training.
I love the two trainers behavior. As this large whale jumps inches from their faces they act like their at the water cooler at work discussing what they watched on TV the night before.
The young performers flying high in very colorful costumes
These divers kept jumping and then climbing back up the tower and doing it all over again and again and again!! What energy!!!
From these photos that Phyllis shot you can see that they were pretty high up.
They were falling really quickly
Everyone of them made perfect landing
A false whale taking cues from the trainers
He then acknowledge the applause from the audience
Trainer getting up on a whale for her ride
Whale and trainer exchanging hugs and kisses
Both of these images remind me of the old cowboy movie, The scene where the horses pulling the stage coach would be out of control and the hero would jump down and grab the leads and ride the horses till they stopped.
The big finish with lots of jumping!!!! Look how high this whale is getting. Jumping way higher then the trainer.
I do have to admit to some misgivings about this place as I do in all zoos. I have mixed feelings. I can only hope that their treatment of these beautiful creatures is humane and stays that way!!