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SeaWorld unveils ‘Ocean Explorer’ attraction to replace killer whale show

SAN DIEGO -- After a soft opening over the holiday weekend, SeaWorld San Diego officially unveiled its newest attractions to replace the park's "Shamu" killer whale shows Wednesday.

"Ocean Explorer" features a submarine ride and aquariums, while "Orca Encounter" presents killer whales at a venue with a Pacific Northwest backdrop and 140-foot video screen.

Theme park executives decided to discontinue the "Shamu" shows after facing years of pressure from animal rights advocates, politicians and adverse reaction to the documentary, "Blackfish," which accused SeaWorld of mistreating its orcas.

SeaWorld also pledged to stop breeding orcas in captivity and provide a more educational experience for park visitors.

Despite the changes, some protesters demonstrated outside SeaWorld over the weekend, demanding that the killer whales be released to the wild.

More than 160 first-grade students from Valencia Park Elementary School in San Diego and Flying Hills Elementary School in El Cajon are scheduled to take part in the grand opening and explore the new attractions, according to SeaWorld.

A third new park area, called "Electric Ocean," is scheduled to debut on June 17.