Florida Guide > Sea World
Sea World.............a history.
Sea World is one of Orlandos original parks and it first opened its gates as long ago as 1973.
However, to understand the history of this charming park we have to go right back to 1964 when a group of university graduates determined to open an underwater restaurant.
They could not get this scheme off the ground but undaunted they decided to open a marine park.
The humble beginnings of Sea World were in San Diego which with its near perfect climate was an obvious choice. The park cost just half a million dollars and at the start they had just 2 aquariums and some dolphins and sealions.
Despite the modest nature of the original park they decided to add a second park in Ohio. Of course, rather than the perfect climate of the Californian park the challenging conditions in Ohio meant that the park was closed from october to april.
As a result they turned their ambitions to Florida which with its 352 days of good weather and the already succesful Disneworld operation looked a safe beet. And so it was.
H. B. J are a publishing house that specialise in school books and rather inexplicably they turned their eyes to acquiring Sea World. And acquire it they did in 1976.
They poured millions of dollars into expanding the park to satisfy an increasingly demanding public and they also added Circus World, Cypress Gardens and Stars Hall of Fame.
During the 80s the fortunes of H. B. J. took a downturn and they were forced to sell off the theme parks to keep their heads above water.
Anhauser Busch thought Seaworld would sit very nicely with their already popular Busch Gardens but they were forced to buy all 4 attractions in order to acquire Seaworld.
It was Busch who added the thrill rides and installed the iconic Shamu Stadium.
The next development in this story is perhaps the most exciting and was the decision to build a dolphin swim experience that they called Discovery Cove.
And then came Aquatica, a water park that out did the Disney duo. Both these parks have proved to be very popular.
In the meantime a 4th park was added in Texas (1988) and a 5th planned in Dubai. Since the recession hit the Dubai one has been shelved.
I am always surprised that guests nominate Sea World as their favourite park since it does not have the high profile of its other big boy neighbours.
However, each time I visit I am reminded anew of what a super day out it is and long may they continue to expand and delight us!
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Page added on: 20 March 2011
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