Sea World San Diego - miscellaneous bits - June 12, 2001

Just as a point of reference - I've been an annual passholder at Sea World San Diego since 1993, and I try to make a visit at least once every few months even though I live in the Los Angeles area. During busy times, 4 or 5 months or more may go by in between visits, and conversely, during one stretch about 2 years ago, I managed to get there once a month for six consecutive months, so I was quite a happy camper. Most of my visits were usually solo, or sometimes with this friend or that. Over the past three years, though, after addicting both my husband and my mother-in-law to Sea World, trips include some combination of the three of us and a fourth, a friend who has also been a Sea World AP for as long as I have been.

Some news from the visit this past Saturday -

New AP program: Since I've been visiting Sea World, they've only offered one AP, unlike Disney's system. The Sea World AP was good for a full year's worth of admission and free parking, discounts on guest admissions, discounts on food and merchandise, and a newsletter. Very recently, Sea World has begun to offer different APs. The Silver Pass (which is what the regular passes have changed into) is currently $75. They also offer a Gold Pass, which is just the Silver Pass but is good for two years instead of one, at the discounted price of $120. The newest offering is the Platinum pass for $95, which includes the following benefits, with my comments in brackets:

year-round admission to Sea World San Diego

free admission to other Anheuser-Busch Adventure Parks (excluding Discovery Cove)

free preferred parking [which is near the front entrance of the park]

reserved seating at all shows

one free admission ticket for a guest [a comp ticket with no expiration date]

free rides on the Skytower and Skyride and savings on guest ride tickets [tickets are usually about $1.50 or so each]

front of the line privileges at Pirates 4-D

20% savings on guest admissions and most gift shop purchases

10% savings on food at any Sea World restaurant

savings on education courses, guided tours, birthday parties, sleepovers, summer camps and Dolphin Interaction Program

exclusive events and previews

Included with your "welcome pack" is a welcome letter, two "platinum pass" license plate frames, two "platinum pass" window decals, and a "platinum pass" lanyard with a plastic pocket that you can keep your pass clipped in. You need to wear/show the lanyard/pass for entry to the reserved seating at the shows.

You also receive a copy of the quarterly newsletter, entitled "Passportal", which is mailed to your home and contains information about upcoming events and programs.

Our friend had let his prior pass lapse, so when he bought a new pass, he went for the platinum pass. Details about what the platinum pass included had previously been very sketchy, but once we found out what all the benefits were, my husband, my mother-in-law and I all upgraded to the platinum. (We each had Silver passes.) The convenience of closer parking and the free rides on the Skytower and Skyride are alone worth the extra $20 price difference between Silver and Platinum, but the comp ticket certainly makes the the choice between Silver and Platinum a pretty easy decision, and if you're able to take advantage of going to the other parks (which we're hoping to do), the value of the Platinum pass is even more evident.

On to other things -

On May 25, Sea World San Diego introduced a new show called "Cirque de la Mer" in the stadium that previously hosted the Extreme Games and the old Water Ski show. The Sea World park guide describes the show as "a unique water-based fantasea featuring mysterious half-human half-sea creatures possessing amazing abilities. Witness the breathtaking blending of acrobats and aquatics in a whimsical and colorful outdoor setting." The latest Passportal offers this description: "Legend has it that in the land of Amphibia, colorful creatures swing, float and tumble through a charmed life in an underwater orb. Sea World recently discovered this forgotten world, befriended its whimsical inhabitants and brought them to San Diego so others can enjoy the spectacle of their unique talents. The result is Sea World's new acrobatic odyssey on water, Cirque de la Mer. Russian swings propel aerialists into the water. On the Chinese polls, athletes dangle precariously over Mission Bay. Hand balancers exhibit a slow ballet of strength. Water-bound trampolinists perform rhythmic leaps and twists on a fluid surface. And, the Zorb, never before seen on water, mysteriously conveys a Sea Sprite across the Bay. This incandescent sphere is a natural mode of transportation in the land of Amphibia and for the summer of 2001, it can be seen only at Sea World."

Having read the Passportal write-up and seeing a couple of ads, I was very much looking forward to seeing this show. The Extreme Games and Water Ski show never did much for me, so I've not had occasion to spend any time in that stadium in many years.

I thought the show was...interesting, but not much more than that. Many of the acrobats are dressed in outfits that are cut to make them look vaguely sea-creature-like, and these costumes are suitable for performance in the air and in the water, but I think the costumes are actually very distracting and detract from the performances themselves. Two performers are on high trapeze swings, and they periodically jump off and play around with the plastic rubber-band/bungee cord-like things wrapped around their waists that allow them to do somersaults and such in the air. However, the two performers are at opposite sides of the huge stadium, with many other performers in between, so it's a bit hard to know where to turn your attention. The poll climbers were ok, but I couldn't help but think how much better were the poll climbers that I used to watch in the Lion King Celebration. The strength balancing duo were good, but I'd seen an act just like them at Circus Circus in late April. The acrobats on trampolines were, in my opinion, the weakest of the acts. They jumped around and did some turns and dives from the floating trampolines into the waters of Mission Bay, but I didn't think any of it was particularly spectacular. Later on, some of them made dives off of a standing swing, but other than the one time when a single performer made the swing do a 360 loop, all of the other leaps were comparable to what I'd expect to see at a high-diving competition. The floating orb was what had intrigued me the most during the commercials, but unfortunately, rather than featuring the neat-looking vehicle, it was used in most of the comic relief segments and really didn't get much spotlight time except for a stunt reminiscent of the giant rolling ball in "Raiders of the Lost Ark". At the end of the show, there was much applause from the audience, so others did enjoy it, but I thought the show emphasized the "showiness" (of the sets, props and costuming) more than anything and not nearly enough on the content and performances themselves. I understand that they were trying to theme the show to Sea World by making up the whole Amphibia thing, but I thought that story fell terribly flat. The commercials and the name of the show are designed to make you think of Cirque du Soleil, I'm guessing, but the shows themselves are not comparable. I've seen this show once, and I could be dragged to see it again, but I'd have no desire to volunteer to see the show again.

On a different note, in the summer, Sea World San Diego offers a nighttime ice skating show in an arena that is used in the daytime for the bird show. It had been a while since I'd seen the show and since our friend wanted to see the show, we went along, and I have to say that I liked the show very much. There were some things that were similar in the ice skating show to Cirque, but it was presented much better here, and the "tricks" were much more amazing. The show features a combination of acrobats, gymnasts and ice skaters, all performing in rotation to upbeat music and show lights. I liked the pacing of this show, and given the much smaller arena, you could really appreciate the skill of the performers, including the ones who were doing running jumps and flips on the trampoline-like runway. Much more impressive, I thought, than the trampolinists at Cirque. Because it's not quite summer season yet, there was only one ice skating show, but during summer hours, there are usually two shows. I would highly recommend this show.

Other than that, nothing else terribly new to report. We spent quite some time with the polar bears, as is our habit. Some of our time there was spent watching them sleep, sometimes they were at play and sometimes there were eating, but no matter what they're doing, they're always a joy to watch. My husband and I also spent some time at Shamu Backstage (Shamu Close-Up on the guide map) watching two of the killer whales swimming. This location gives you an underwater view of the whales, and it's one thing to see them leaping periodically out of the water, but you really get to see the majesty and wonder of them when they're simply cruising in their world.


Back to home.