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Clyde and Seamore's Countdown to Christmas Archives

August 12, 2014

What will replace Clyde & Seamore sea lions show at SeaWorld Orlando?

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On Sunday, SeaWorld Orlando's longest-running show, "Clyde & Seamore Take Pirate Island," sailed off into the sunset. After 15 years, the theme park decided it's time for its beloved sea lions, walruses and otters to embark on a new adventure.

"It's bittersweet," said Todd Coffman, assistant curator of animal training. "I love this show, but I'm ready for the chance to do something new and different."

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Coffman spoke with reporters and bloggers on Friday about the pirate-themed production's last performances and gave us a few hints about what we can look forward to when a new show debuts in 2015.

What can you tell us about the new show that is coming to Sea Lion & Otter Theater?

You can expect the same amount of humor and laughs that you get with this current show. At Sea Lion & Otter Theater, the thing that makes us great is that people get a chance to laugh. When they go to see Shamu, there is the wow factor. When they see "Blue Horizons," there is an emotional connection. At Sea Lions, it's all about laughter.

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Are there other successful elements that will translate to the new show?

I think one of the things that makes "Clyde & Seamore Take Pirate Island" so popular is that we have the ability to change our segments to keep it fresh. We can take a lot of things that are happening in the news and in the world and we can make jokes about those and put them into the show. So it's always fresh for the audience. That will happen in the new show, as well. We'll never get away from that. That's the staple of what the sea lions show does. What keeps people coming back is that this is a place for laughs. ". Even when the animals don't do exactly what they're supposed to do and we have to improv, we love that. We have fun with it, and of course, the audience has fun with it. So, all those elements together make this a winning recipe.

SeaWorld is known for its ability to entertain crowds who are waiting in its stadiums for its big shows to begin. Will the new sea lions show have a pre-show, similar to the mime at "Clyde & Seamore Take Pirate Island"?

We're still working on the whole concept -- the scope, the characters -- so it's kind of too early to talk about that, but our plan is to make it every bit as enjoyable as our current show. We're not going to go backwards.

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Will Sea Lion & Otter Theater remain open while the new show is being developed?

No. We're going to tear down this entire set, and we're going to rebuild it with a brand-new themed show. (The construction means that there will not be a Christmas sea lions show for the 2014 season.)

During that time, what will the sea lions be doing?

They still will be in their pools out back, participating in all their usual activities, plus training for the new show. It takes three to five years of training before a sea lion will perform in a show. We have gotten to the point where we train all sea lions to do all the behaviors. We have 12 sea lions in our collection and, discounting our pups who aren't quite there yet, we've got about eight sea lions who can do Clyde or Seamore.

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How do you train the sea lions?

Having a relationship with the animals is vital to training. Not anyone can just go out and start teaching them to do tricks. We build the relationship through a number of ways, including sessions where we just hang out. A target ball, though, is used to teach almost all behaviors. And the sea lions are rewarded with fish, whisker scratches and rubdowns. Sea lions are not just food-motivated animals, they're also motivated by their own curiosity. They love to learn.

What is the most difficult behavior to train?

Some of the harder behaviors that we train are the ones when we have to train them to do nothing. They have to sit there and wait and watch. For me, my favorite is always the dinner segment, where the sea lions steal fish off the plate. It's a very behaviorally crisp segment. The animals are really responsive. If you watch them, they wait for very simple, subtle cues from us and the responses are quick and sharp. That's been one of the hardest things to maintain here. We have a large cast of trainers here -- 17 people -- and multiple people play the same role, so we have to make sure that everyone is doing it exactly the same way.

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While Sea Lions & Otter Theater is closed, where can guests see the sea lions?

Pacific Point Preserve will remain open for feeding and viewing while the new sea lion show is being developed. Guests will continue to be able to see them, hear them bark and feed them. The up-close experience will change slightly, however. The separately priced hourlong tour will focus on an Asian small-clawed otter and trainer rather than the sea lions.



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December 11, 2013

What not to miss at SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration

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Though the weather outside is a frightful 82 degrees, SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration is in full swing in Orlando. My family and I recently attended the holiday event and experienced a show we didn't see last year and a few new things along the way.

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We started the evening for bloggers with a welcome from SeaWorld President Terry Prather. "Christmas at SeaWorld is not like any other place in Central Florida," he said. "In our world, we say that we own Christmas."

Despite the hyperbole, Prather's comment has an element of truth. There are so many Christmas-themed activities each evening at SeaWorld that it's impossible for a guest to view them all in one night. So, for first-time guests and those who only have one night, here's a look at all the experiences to help make your selections.

Last year, my son and I enjoyed dining at Santa's Fireside Feast, a traditional holiday meal with entertainment that included a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus and reserved seating for "A Sesame Street Christmas." On multiple visits, we also experienced "Clyde and Seamore's Countdown to Christmas" and "Shamu Christmas -- Miracles," two shows we definitely recommend. (You can read all about them plus see videos here.)

Although most of the Christmas activities take place in the evening, The Polar Express Experience is open all day long, so be sure to make that part of your early touring plan. The Polar Express Experience is a Christmas overlay at the Wild Arctic attraction, and it even includes a visit to Santa once you arrive at the North Pole and the opportunity to purchase hot chocolate (like in the movie) inside the attraction. (See a full report here.)

At dusk, Bayside Village opens along the walkway to Bayside Stadium. This area, which often serves as the centerpiece for other special events at SeaWorld, has expanded offerings for the 2013 holiday season. There are Christmas-themed games; photo opportunities; food vendors selling treats, including the new Hot Toddies and Hot Chocolate S'mores Cobbler; a large fire pit with seating; and an expansive model train display. Plus, the walkway overlooks the gorgeous, lighted Sea of Trees in the bay.

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Along the Waterfront, visitors will find additional Christmas snacks and shopping, plus the life-size snow globe is back. This photo opportunity allows guests to step inside an inflatable holiday prop with pretend "snow" that actually makes it appear as though you are standing inside a huge snow globe. If you see a short line, be sure to take advantage because this is a popular holiday attraction. A professional photographer will take your photo, but you also can use your own camera, as well.

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This year, my family and I made it a point to see "O Wondrous Night," a retelling of the Christmas story that is sure to be a hit with younger audiences. Our performance started with a violinist playing popular Christmas carols, much to the delight of the audience, of which many in attendance sang along. The actual show features live gospel-style music from singers with powerful voices. Using humor and song, some of these performers also use puppets to tell the story of the baby Jesus' birth from the perspective of the animals in the stable. The finale is an amazing sight with live animals, including camels.

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"We're very proud of how we use Christmas as a platform to not only celebrate what Christmas is all about -- the reason for the season is really the birth of Jesus Christ and we talk about that -- but more importantly, we use it as another way of celebrating, connecting, and showing people that we care," Prather said. "When you go to the shows, whether it's the ice show or "Shamu Miracles" or "O Wondrous Night" "� you'll see that we're all about connecting people to the natural world."

Speaking of the ice show, "Winter Wonderland on Ice" is a unique way to wrap up your holiday evening. Be prepared to be wowed by numbers with pairs and ensemble skaters. Many of the songs are the same as in previous years -- including classics and even the popular hot chocolate song from "The Polar Express" -- but the skaters have donned new apparel for the 2013 season.

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Don't jump up to leave at the end of the ice skating show, unless you want to miss the Reflections Fireworks. Bayside Stadium is aptly named, and the beautiful fireworks show over the water also includes water jets and laser lights.

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With so many wonderful holiday attractions like these and more at SeaWorld Orlando, it's easy to be in the holiday spirit. Just leave the scarves and snow mittens in your suitcase.

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DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of SeaWorld Orlando to experience its Christmas Celebration. This did not influence my story, and my opinions are my own.



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November 27, 2012

Polar Express, Shamu and Clyde & Seamore at SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration

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Today, I'm going to pick up where Deb left off in our coverage of SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration. As she mentioned, at the media event, we had to choose among the holiday attractions and shows because of the timing, so we decided to divide and conquer!

The Polar Express Experience

When we arrived at the park, my family and I headed immediately to The Polar Express Experience. (This is a holiday overlay at the Wild Arctic attraction.) I think I may have been more excited than my children, remembering how quickly my family fell in love with the movie when it was released in 2004.

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In front of the attraction, guests will find a replica of the steam engine, where they can pose for photos and a conductors quartet performs Christmas carols periodically. Visitors can choose between two queues -- one to walk straight into the arctic animal exhibit and one to board the Polar Express. While they wait, guests can watch clips from "The Polar Express."

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If you choose to board the train, your experience begins in Billy's bedroom, just like in the movie. You'll watch that scene on a screen before moving to lines for the ride. The inside of the simulator really does feel like a seating compartment on the Polar Express with its re-imagined decor. Despite the images of steep hills and cracking ice, the simulator feels smoother than when it operates as Wild Arctic. (That ride makes me a little queasy.)

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Once you arrive at the North Pole, you'll be able to meet Santa Claus; he's waiting just around the bend from a giant decorated Christmas tree. Don't delay if you want to meet Santa, though, because that line grows quickly when passengers debark the train. Elves will be happy to take photos, and there also is a professional photographer on hand.

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Then it's off to see all the amazing animals of the arctic -- polar bears, beluga whales and walruses. Along the way, you'll find a hot chocolate stand, where the sweet treat is sold for $1.99 a cup, and a place to purchase Santa photos.

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"Clyde and Seamore's Countdown to Christmas"

Clyde and Seamore's Countdown to Christmas is, like all their other themed shows, filled with plenty of laugh-out-loud theatrics as the loveable sea lions, their human friends, otters and even a walrus get ready for Santa's visit. The jokes are corny, and the pratfalls and physical humor are really just a variation of what the characters do in other shows -- yet the audiences love it as always, and for good reason. It's a show that doesn't take itself -- or, in this case, any holiday tradition -- too seriously.

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Of course, the show's mime gets the laughs started even before the show, and he carries it through to the big finale. My 8-year-old daughter was doubled over in laughter for most of the show. And, when she wasn't laughing, she was admiring the cute stage antics of the animals. This show is a great antidote for any holiday stress.

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"Shamu Christmas -- Miracles"

My 10-year-old son is a big fan of all the variations of the Shamu performances, so he could hardly wait to see the Christmas show. This one begins with a live saxophone player who meanders through the audience, drawing viewers into the show. As with summer's Shamu Rocks!, music is a driving force for Shamu Christmas -- Miracles. The show blends solemn songs with joyful tunes and finishes with a Gospel-style soloist. At the same time, trainers take the killer whales through their paces, amazing the audience with their feats.

The theme of "Shamu Christmas -- Miracles" is family -- within the Shamu family and with human families. The performance strives to show how precious children are to today's parents who desperately want them. It also explores everyday miracles, delivering an upbeat message of hope and appreciation. The show concludes with a rousing number that is designed to get the audience moving in their seats.

This is my first year experiencing SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration, and I have been impressed. My only complaint is that there are too many holiday shows to see in one night!

You can read Deb's blogs about "O Wondrous Night" HERE and "Winter Wonderland on Ice" and "Holiday Reflections: Fireworks and Fountains!" HERE. I described our experience at Santa's Fireside Feast at Seaworld HERE.

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of SeaWorld Orlando to experience its Christmas Celebration. This did not influence my story, and my opinions are my own.

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About Clyde and Seamore's Countdown to Christmas

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the Clyde and Seamore's Countdown to Christmas category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

O Wondrous Night is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.