SeaWorld breaks ground on multimillion-dollar attraction

SAN DIEGO -- SeaWorld San Diego began construction Wednesday on a multimillion-dollar attraction that park officials say will take visitors on an exploration of the Earth's seven seas.

Ocean Explorer is scheduled to open in the late spring next year on the southeast side of the theme park, where the Animal Connections exhibit and Circle of Flags currently stand. According to SeaWorld officials, it will combine multiple aquariums, rides and digital technology aimed at providing guests with a sense of adventure while inspiring them to protect the oceans.

Ocean Explorer will consist of a series of undersea research bases housing aquariums and interactive activities displaying unique and elusive ocean animals.

"The one I’m most excited about is the Giant Pacific Octopus," said Mike Price, Assistant Curator of Fishes.  "We’ll have a pop up bubble so you can pop up in the middle of the octopus habitat."

Educational displays, technology and graphics will be key components of each section, according to SeaWorld.

On one of the four rides planned at the three-acre attraction, visitors in chairs suspended from tentacles will fly through thousands of bubbles. A mini-submarine ride is also planned.

"You might be bumping into a jelly swarm or you might be entangled in a kelp bed," said Price.

“This newest, fully immersive attraction at SeaWorld San Diego is the next chapter in creating experiences that can create both wonder and curiosity for the oceans,'' said Brian Morrow, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment's vice president of theme park experience design. “Park guests will trek through sea- base stations, make special connections with incredible animals and discover how they too can take action to protect the oceans.''

"Ocean Explorer will give visitors a chance to “come eye-to-eye'' with giant octopuses, spider crabs and dozens of moray eels, some of which have never been seen at the park before," said Price.  "Guests will be able to see the animals and their habitats from multiple vantage points."

About the same time Ocean Explorer makes it's debut, doors will also open for the new Orca Encounter.

"It will be less theatrical more natural and certainly a new way to experience the killer whales here at Sea World," said Marilyn Hannes, Park President, Sea World San Diego.

Of the two new attractions, PETA released the following statement.

"The only thing that kids learn from watching captive animals is the anti-educational lesson that it's somehow OK to deny them everything that's natural and important to them, just for human amusement. Until SeaWorld empties its tiny tanks and sends these animals to coastal sanctuaries, PETA will continue to call on the public to avoid such exploitative places, and as always, we ask people to choose entertainment that doesn't abuse animals."
"Everything we do is going to be connecting ours guests inspiring them to protect the ocean," said Hannes.  "I think it’s really true to who we are and who we’ve always been, but we’re just putting it out front again."
Hannes said the construction of Ocean Explorer is expected to involve some 30 subcontractors, generating more than 100 jobs.