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June 23, 2014

Review: SeaWorld's Shamu's Celebration: Light Up The Night and Generation Nature LIVE

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SeaWorld's Summer Nights kicked off Saturday -- the first official day of summer -- with two new shows. My family and I were invited to the final dress rehearsals on Friday for Shamu's Celebration: Light Up The Night and Genreation Nature LIVE, and I have a lot to share with you about them.

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Let's start with the theme park's new evening orca show, which replaces the popular Shamu Rocks. It's definitely worth the wait for Shamu's Celebration: Light Up The Night, which is the final show of the day and usually starts at 9 p.m. Featuring new, original music, ever-changing lighting and colorful backdrops, the show does indeed feel like a celebration. It even has its own DJ, who guides the evening's entertainment.

"That's really what this show is about -- moving and having a good time," said Kelly Flaherty Clark, curator of animal training at SeaWorld Orlando.

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As with the previous show, Shamu's Celebration showcases its stars performing breathtaking jumps, twists and turns, individually and in groups, under the direction of their trainers on the sidelines. But the whales also perform some new behaviors. Kayla, a 25-year-old whale, loves a challenge, according to Clark, and learned a new sequence of jumps just for Shamu's Celebration. She jumps with her dorsal fin up, then jumps with her belly up, and then returns to fin up on her third pass. Another whale gets quite a few laughs from the audience when it props up both pectoral fins on the slideout and shimmies from one side to the other.

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The slideout also provides trainers with the opportunity for more one-on-one interaction with the whales. During one of the show's slower songs, the trainer pets, kisses and even hugs the animal before signaling the orca to perform a series of up-close behaviors.

Shamu's Celebration delights in the whales' ability to get the audience wet. If you are sitting in the lower sections on either side of the slideout, you WILL get wet. Be sure to heed the multiple warnings if you have unprotected electronic equipment. The whales make multiple passes throughout the show, dousing visitors with powerful flips of their tails.

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The show ends with a bang -- quite literally -- as fireworks appear behind the stadium. Though I still wish SeaWorld offered a separate fireworks show at Bayside Stadium, I did appreciate not having to rush from one show to another to grab seats for the finale.

Shamu's Celebration is sure to be a popular ending to a day at the theme park, so be sure to get there early for a good view. Don't worry about being bored if you have a short wait because there is an entertaining pre-show presentation that gives the audience a chance to revisit music from past decades and enjoy a few laughs as cameras catch audience members caught up in the dancing.

SeaWorld's other new summer show, Generation Nature LIVE, also runs through August 10 and can be seen only on Saturdays in the Nautilus Theater. The show is an extension of SeaWorld's Generation Nature initiative, which aims to empower kids to make a difference with animals and nature. Youth ambassador Bindi Irwin, daughter of famous 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin, is the face of the campaign and can be seen in video clips at the theme-park show.

Generation Nature LIVE uses a host to introduce the audience to key experts at SeaWorld, including members of the Sea Rescue team and the veterinary staff who share their stories of interacting with the animals. Of course, the stars of the show are the animals that are brought out on stage. During our show, we saw a roseate spoonbill, a pelican and a bald eagle.


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To an adult, the show's message of conservation probably seemed a bit heavy-handed, but maybe that's not what children perceive. And, after all, they are the target audience. I know my own 9-year-old daughter was fascinated, especially by the video story about rescuing dolphins.

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"This is an opportunity to affect the next generation," Clark said. "The power of one is huge."

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Perhaps more memorable, though, is a visit to the SEA Garden outside the theater, where SeaWorld team members will introduce guests to various animals. We had a rare sighting of an Asian river otter, as well as the bald eagle from our show. Miniature ponies and flamingos can be viewed in corrals. An added bonus: Team members pass out collectible cards with information about the animals they are handling.


DISCLAIMER:
I was a guest of SeaWorld Orlando for its Summer Nights preview. This did not affect my story, and my opinions are my own.



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June 10, 2014

New at SeaWorld Orlando: Summer Shamu show and pass member exclusives

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SeaWorld Orlando is getting ready to launch an all-new Shamu show as part of its annual Summer Nights celebration, and the theme park is offering its pass members the opportunity to get a sneak peek and special seating all summer long.

"Shamu's Celebration: Light Up The Night" officially debuts on June 21. Pass members can preview the new show at 8:45 p.m. June 20 at Shamu Stadium by obtaining a wristband earlier in the day near the SEA Garden. Distribution begins at 4 p.m. Each pass member may bring two additional guests to the preview, but each person must have park admission. Pass members also will receive a commemorative gift (while supplies last). Then, through August 10, pass members can make online reservations for special seating.

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SeaWorld describes the new "Shamu's Celebration: Light Up The Night" this way: "[It's] an all-new, high energy show featuring new, original music and production elements, as well as new killer whale behaviors." The new orca presentation also will debut at SeaWorld San Diego and SeaWorld San Antonio.

"Shamu's Celebration: Light Up The Night" replaces the previous summer show, "Shamu Rocks." Based on comments from SeaWorld employees who have attended dress rehearsals of the show, visitors who may think they will miss "Shamu Rocks" won't be disappointed with the new show.

I will be attending the preview of "Shamu's Celebration: Light Up The Night" at Summer Nights and will bring you a full report soon.

SeaWorld Orlando also will introduce another new summer show, "Generation Nature LIVE." It highlights SeaWorld's Animal Ambassadors and animal care experts -- what the theme park calls its "everyday heroes" -- who dedicate their time, passion and commitment to helping wildlife in need.

The theme park launched its Generation Nature initiative, which partners SeaWorld Kids with youth ambassador Bindi Irwin, daughter of famous 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin. The conservation campaign aims to empower kids to make a difference with animals and nature and share their actions on multi-media platforms. GenN includes a website, digital apps, video blogs, online games and activities that highlight a new animal each month, such as polar bears, tigers, manatees and animals in back-yard habitats. You can read more about it on my earlier blog.

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In addition to the new shows, guests can see Clyde and Seamore in Sea Lions Tonite. My family and I think this is one of the best shows at SeaWorld. Talented sea lions, otters and a walrus parody favorite SeaWorld shows and attractions with a little help from their trainers. The popular show is laugh-out-loud funny, and even includes an Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin joke and a gentle poke at The Mouse, too.

On the Fourth of July, there will be reserved seating at the Lakeside Patio for pass members to view the fireworks. Seating begins two hours before the presentation and is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

SeaWorld Orlando stays open late for Summer Nights. Guests can experience other attractions and roller coasters until 10 p.m.



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June 27, 2013

SeaWorld's Summer Nights offers old favorites, plus a few surprises

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Summer officially began last weekend, and with it, SeaWorld's Summer Nights festivities. Through August 11, the theme park stays open later hours and offers two popular nighttime shows and a character dance party.

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A perennial favorite, Sea Lions Tonite has returned, and my family and I think it's one of the best shows at SeaWorld. Talented sea lions, otters and a walrus parody favorite SeaWorld shows and attractions with a little help from their trainers. The popular show is laugh-out-loud funny, and even includes an Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin joke and a gentle poke at The Mouse, too. Be sure to arrive at least 30 minutes before show time to get a decent seat. The wait passes quickly, though, because a mime hilariously interacts with the audience, keeping everyone entertained.

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Shamu Rocks, SeaWorld's unique combination of a rock concert and a killer whale show, has been updated for the 2013 season. The audience still will experience a high-energy show with catchy, classic-rock music and colorful lighting. The hair-band rocker with the Shamu guitar returns, too, and the animal trainers do more dancing than at the One Ocean daytime event.

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The change, though, comes at the end of the park's signature show, when fireworks have been added behind the stadium and in view of the spectators. The pyrotechnics certainly blend in with the concert feel of the show and are beautiful behind Shamu Stadium. Unfortunately, this addition is at the expense of the Reflections: Fireworks and Fountains Show Finale at Bayside Stadium. That water, lights and fireworks show is not being offered this summer, which is a disappointment in some ways because it was an enduring crowd-pleaser and one that my kids enjoyed seeing every chance they could.

Shamu Stadium typically opens 45 minutes before the show, and lines will form on the ramps, so get there early. The splash sections seemed to fill up first. Pre-show entertainment consists of live, camera-captured scenes of audience members, which never fails to amuse.

With SeaWorld open until 10 p.m. during the summer, guests have the opportunity to ride the new Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin at night. That section of the park is beautifully lit up after dark and the queue did seem shorter when we were there. Guests can cap off their evening with a dance party with the SeaWorld characters from 9 to 10:30 p.m. in the Village Square (adjacent to Guest Services).

On July 4, there will be special additions to the Summer Nights lineup. Fans of the retired fireworks show will be excited to know that a patriotic Reflections show is scheduled for that night only. Beforehand, the SeaWorld Celebration Singers, an ensemble group of singers and a nine-piece band, will perform a variety of popular music, including traditional marches and patriotic tunes. The concert starts at 9:30 p.m. and the fireworks are at 10 p.m.

Also, in celebration of the national holiday, SeaWorld will be hosting a Bayside Cookout from July 3 through 6. Along the Bayside pathway, guests can purchase a one-third-pound bacon cheeseburger, footlong hot dogs, BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, kids' meals and five flavors of Dippin Dots. Bayside Cookout will be open 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the end time extended until 8 p.m. on July 4.

SeaWorld is open an extra hour -- until 11 p.m. -- the Fourth of July.

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of SeaWorld Orlando during its Summer Nights kickoff. My opinions are my own, and this did not influence my review.

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About Summer Nights

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the Summer Nights category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Shamu Up Cose is the previous category.

TurtleTrek is the next category.

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