Not Your Grandmother’s SeaWorld: Orlando Marine Park Announces Historical Disney World-Level Changes As Part of a 60th Anniversary Celebration

seaworld orlando 60th anniversary celebration
Credit: SeaWorld Orlando/Canva

SeaWorld Orlando is celebrating the 60th anniversary of the debut of the family of aquatic parks with historical additions and changes that rival some of the latest additions at the Walt Disney World Resort.

seaworld orlando

Credit: SeaWorld Orlando

Related: After 60 Years in the Business, SeaWorld Entertainment Is a Thing of the Past

SeaWorld Orlando Celebrates 60 Years of Aquatic Entertainment

It’s been 60 years since the very first SeaWorld park opened in San Diego, California, in 1964. As such, SeaWorld Entertainment kicked off its 60th anniversary celebration on Thursday at its three U.S. parks in San Diego, Orlando, and San Antonio.

seaworld san diego in 1964

Credit: SeaWorld/YouTube

SeaWorld Orlando is jumpstarting its celebration of 60 years of the zoological and aquatic parks with a special observance through March 24. Each morning, guests are invited to experience various offerings at SeaWorld Orlando that celebrate the park and honor the nostalgia that has grown over the years.

But the celebration doesn’t end after March 24–not by a long shot. In fact, the initial festivities are only the beginning of the anniversary celebration, as the park has unveiled new experiences and additions to the park as part of the festivities, and fans are only days away from the debut of SeaWorld Orlando’s newest roller coaster attraction.

sea world 60th anniversary

Credit: SeaWorld Entertainment/Canva

This Isn’t Your Grandmother’s SeaWorld 

If it’s been a while since you visited, you owe it to yourself and your family to save at least one day of your Central Florida vacation for a visit to SeaWorld Orlando to see just how far the aquatic park has come in recent years, especially as the park gears up to unveil some Disney World-level additions.

In 2022, nearly 4.5 million people visited the Orlando zoological- and aquatic-themed parks, and while those attendance numbers don’t seem to initially hold a proverbial candle to the number of guests who visit the four theme parks at Walt Disney World annually, they do represent an almost 50% increase in attendance at SeaWorld Orlando over the previous year.

seaworld orlando

Credit: SeaWorld Orlando

From exciting and educational animal exhibits and experiences to heart-pounding rides and attractions, SeaWorld Orlando is more than just a theme park centered around sea creature shows. It’s the 200-acre premier marine adventure theme park in Central Florida–an exciting vacation destination offering world-class entertainment, thrilling rides and attractions, unforgettable animal exhibits and encounters, and exciting dining options and shops.

dining at seaworld orlando

Credit: SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando Finally Fixes An Age-Old Issue For Guests

As part of the 60th anniversary celebration, SeaWorld Orlando has fixed a common problem among guests of the aquatic theme park, and it’s been a long time coming.

The painstaking process of remodeling Orca Stadium is nearing completion. The newly-upgraded stadium has a revamped stage, a newly-resealed pool, and a brand-new color scheme. But the new colors aren’t merely an attempt by SeaWorld Orlando to give the stadium a fresh take on the design of its interior.

orca stadium at seaworld orlando

Credit: YouTube/CoasterCrew

Rather, the new colors were used to reduce glare and squinting.

“We blasted the structure, we cleaned the structure, and we recoated the structure,” SeaWorld Orlando President Jon Peterson explained. “If you go into our stadiums now, your eyes don’t hurt. [The former white paint] in the sun and the reflection actually makes it really bright. If we’re standing here right now and it’s white, I’d be squinting. So we softened it.”

Guests who’ve visited Orca Stadium in the past will likely notice that the roof of the structure has been painted brown instead of white.

seaworld orlando orca stadium

Credit: Flickr/Chad Sparkes

“In all honesty, it’s been a long time since we’ve gotten in there and really done an all-over refresh,” Peterson said during a walkthrough of the park on Thursday. But the makeover of the stadium was no easy task.

The orca attraction is one of SeaWorld Orlando’s most popular experiences, and as such, park management frowned at the prospect of a lengthy closure. They opted instead to complete work on the 5,500-seat Orca Stadium in phases, roping off the sections of the stadium on which work was being performed as they went along.

“Every day [the attraction is] closed, one more person is upset that they’re not getting to see Orca Encounter,” he added.

The Upgrade Is Good For the Sea Creatures Too

The refresh of Orca Stadium was an extensive project, lasting 63 days. Upgrades and changes included draining and pebble-blasting the front pool to remove the coating. The pool was then resealed and, of course, painted a different color as well, to help with the glare.

orca encounter seaworld orlando

Credit: Flickr/Fabian Vasquez

Peterson noted that “there’s really no blue in the ocean–[there are] browns, greens, blacks. There’s really no blue, but when you do the right colors, you get a beautiful blue water. You get that deep water blue.”

The SeaWorld Orlando chief says that the deep water blue is good for two reasons: first, it has a beautiful look to it, and second, the blue color stops the refraction in the sunlight–something that is plentiful in Central Florida. Peterson said the color is better for the sea creatures’ eyes as well.

Additional Enhancements in Other Areas & New Food Locations

Other enhancements at SeaWorld Orlando’s Orca Encounter include the installation of whale statues at the entrances, a new mural under the seating area, and the return of the stadium fountain. Nearby retail and concessions locations have undergone enhancements as well.

Peterson also said that the underwater viewing area is also getting “a full facelift” as well.

Work has also be completed on the Sea Lion and Otter Stadium, as well as at the Dolphin Stadium and the SeaWorld Rescue Center. The marine park has also added a coral-rescue facility, and visitors are invited to observe the operations that take place there.

sea lion and otter stadium at seaworld orlando

Credit: SeaWorld Orlando

For human creatures at SeaWorld Orlando, a new Dockside Pizza restaurant has opened, as has the Coaster Coffee Express kiosk. There have also been changes made at the Altitude Burger eatery in an effort to lower the wait times for guests.

“When you’ve got 25,000 guests in the park, the speed of service is a huge deal,” Peterson explained.

Renovations have even extended to nine restroom locations in the park as well.

Penguin Trek Coaster Opening This Spring

This Spring, SeaWorld Orlando will debut the all-new Penguin Trek coaster, a family-friendly launch coaster that takes guests on an unforgettable adventure through Antarctica. It’s the third coaster to be built and opened to guests at SeaWorld Orlando in the last three years.

penguin trek coaster seaworld orlando

Credit: SeaWorld Orlando

The indoor/outdoor adventure at the Penguin Trek coaster begins when passengers board a snowmobile, readying themselves to race through the Antarctic wilderness alongside their fellow explorers at more than 40 miles per hour.

As they are become familiar with the beauty and vastness of the White Continent, they’ll navigate harrowing twists and turns and very narrowly escape the dangers of a crumbling icy cavern. And a special reward awaits those who reach the end of the journey–a real penguin habitat teeming with lots of the adorable, flightless aquatic birds.

To add to the excitement of SeaWorld Orlando’s newest coaster attraction, the park’s list of planned enhancements also includes the completion of the Antarctic realm that surrounds the Penguin Trek roller coaster, slated to open in Spring 2024.

There are also plans for a reimagining of the area that includes erecting fixtures to provide additional shade, as well as the construction of a new gift shop and a bar.

The Return of SeaWorld’s Costumed Characters

This week, SeaWorld Orlando celebrated the exciting return of its costumed characters, including Shamu, Sydney the Shark, Shivers the Polar Bear, Flip the Sea Lion, Coral the Dolphin, and Puck the Penguin.

seaworld costumed characters

Credit: Instagram/RideOnOrlando

Guests can pose for photos with the lovable characters during their visit to SeaWorld Orlando. For some, the new opportunity represents the first time they’ve ever encountered the characters in the park.

Sixty Years of SeaWorld Nostalgia

Later this summer, SeaWorld Orlando will debut a brand-new Cirque-style show and a new parade featuring the characters and a myriad of other elements to create a feeling of nostalgia from SeaWorld’s 60 years in operation.

“When you talk about 60 years, you have no choice but to talk about the nostalgia of the company, what we’ve done over 60 years, and where we’re going in the next 60 years,” Peterson said.

SeaWorld Ticket Prices

If you and your family want to get in on the fun at SeaWorld Orlando’s 60th anniversary celebration, click here to get more information about ticket options and pricing. Single-day tickets to the park start at just $60 each in celebration of SeaWorld’s anniversary.

seaworld orlando

Credit: SeaWorld Orlando

The park also offers add-ons like All-Day Dining, early seating at select experiences, like the Orca Encounter, multi-day tickets, and more. Visit SeaWorld Orlando’s official website to learn more.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!

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