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‘Believe’ at Seaworld
Whenever we visit Seaworld we make a point of visiting the Shamu stadium to watch the amazing shows. The stadium has recently been updated and transformed, and is visually quite stunning. The centrepiece is a huge whale tail, which is three storeys high, and on either side of this tail are four giant LED screens which are able to move and rotate to provide a variety of configurations. These screens are used to allow the audience to see close ups of the whales performing their tricks and jumps, and they also provide under water shots of the whales as well as their trainers. At times the screens move together to form one 80 ft long panoramic screen, whilst at other times they form two big screens, or four smaller single screens. It is fascinating to watch this process.
The stadium itself is huge and can accommodate 5, 500 people during each show. Rows of seating rise up in a semi-circle with the vast 7 million gallon tank in front. The sides of this enormous tank are transparent which allows you to see the whales as they swim past. The salt water is kept at a temperature of 55 degrees F which is perfect for the whales, but pretty chilly if you get wet, and wet you WILL get if you sit in the first 14 rows. Disabled access is very good and we had no trouble finding good seating for our friend who was in a wheelchair. Areas are specially reserved for those who need to use wheelchairs.
We made our way into the stadium and sat waiting in anticipation for the show to start. It is always wise to get there early as it is a very popular attraction. The show, ‘Believe’, has an amazing soundtrack, choreographed to a musical piece specially composed and then recorded by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. The sound system which has been installed specifically for the show is highly sophisticated, and with almost 100 speakers it provides a surround sound experience which is simply amazing. The choreography is breathtaking and the grace and agility of the powerful whales is utterly amazing, and it is difficult to believe that each one weighs between 6, 000 – 10, 000 lbs.
The show features a story about a young boy who is inspired by an orca to become a trainer. The climax of the show is when he is revealed to be a Shamu trainer, and he then chooses a young member of the audience to receive the gift of a Shamu necklace. The show is devised to inspire guests to believe in themselves.
During the show six trainers dive into the water and swim across the pool to the area in front of the audience, where they get out and shake hands with some of the people sitting nearby. They then encourage the audience to wave their hands and arms and chant in order to summon the whales. When you least expect it, two tails rise out of the water and slap down so hard that water shoots up and over the audience, who rather foolishly have occupied the front rows, but of course, nobody minds, as its all part of the fun. The whales are truly magnificent as they jump out of the water, lifting trainers up from the water or allowing them to ride on them.
In 2005 a trainer was hurt at Seaworld, when one of the orcas became overly excited and bumped him. Although the trainer was taken to hospital he was not badly injured and was quickly released. We thoroughly enjoyed the new ‘Believe’ show, and it certainly highlights the unique relationship that the killer whales have with their trainers. It must be built on trust and positive reinforcement, as these whales are extremely powerful and could kill or maim their trainers should they decide to attack.
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