Within this stadium, SeaWorld's iconic mascot, Shamu, and other orcas star in a choreographed spectacle. A three-story whale-tail backdrop, enormous LED screens, a brilliant oceanic color palette, rhythmic music, and surround sound set the scene for the killer-whale performances. Celebrating how we and other creatures are all connected to the world we share, the show also incorporates fountains, an innovation inspired by regular interactions between whales and trainers, who have long used water hoses in play sessions. Perhaps you've heard tales of so-called soak zones? They exist. It takes only a wave of these creatures' massive flukes or a well-placed belly flop to throw gallons of water into the stands. Even in the upper reaches of the splash zones, you'll still get wet—fun at the time, but less so a few hours later if you didn't bring a change of clothes. If you've seen Believe, you may be disappointed; if not, this show may still be entertaining. For people with disabilities:
If you're using a wheelchair, you and a companion can sit in a special area near the front-row soak zone, and others in your party can sit nearby. Assisted-listening devices are available. The show itself lasts about 25 minutes, but there's also a 20-minute preshow, so plan accordingly. For an extra fee, reserve a seat through Signature Show Seating.
Fodor’s Note: SeaWorld has received intense public criticism for its treatment of killer whales, also known as orcas, which was largely brought to light by the 2013 documentary Blackfish. The award-winning film follows the life of Tilikum, an orca at SeaWorld Orlando that was involved in the deaths of three people, including one of its trainers during a live show. Since the release of Blackfish, numerous animal welfare groups have come out in support of the film, arguing that it is cruel and stressful to keep such complex creatures inside enclosed tanks. A bill authored by Assemblyman Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) in 2014 proposed to outlaw orca shows in the California state legislature but was sent back for further study. In response to the outcry, SeaWorld announced that it would build larger environments for the captive whales, a measure which was approved for SeaWorld San Diego by the California Coastal Commission (CCC) in October 2015. However, while the CCC approved tripling the size of the enclosures SeaWorld San Diego uses to hold orcas, it simultaneously banned the breeding of the whales that would live in them. This move has been applauded by animal welfare groups who believe this will ensure that no more orcas will be condemned to live their lives in captivity, at least at SeaWorld San Diego. What’s more, the government of Ontario, Canada introduced legislation in March, 2015 which makes it illegal to allow orcas to be put in tanks for show, a move seen as a symbolic victory for captive orcas everywhere.