AlexB

My latest Sea World trip

8 posts in this topic

I had occasion to visit Sea World yesterday for an extended family outing. Here are my thoughts...

For reference: 4 adults, 4 kids, (all over 90cm).

First up (and I know we've discussed this elsewhere) but whatever happened to Kirby's promise to have 'everything open' ?

We were meeting family in park, so we decided not to detour to McD's on the way, and pick up something for breakfast \ brunch when we got there.

On arrival, we climb the steep hill to the top, only to have a disinterested, corporate (VRTP) branded staff member casually observe our membership cards in hand, before lazily raising an arm in the direction of the alternate entrance saying 'oh, you've already got your tickets - this way'.

There's something about childhood memories... of walking up that hill, with the blue dolphin looming overhead, quick stop for mum to frame a photo of the kids under the dolphin before a quick stroll through the ticket booths before opening up onto the lake proper...

These days, this 'alternative entrance' which is dark, dingy, clearly not set up as an entrance, and appears to be primarily set up in this way so as to allow the greenscreen upsellers to make a buck, isn't really the best way to welcome people into the park - even if they hold annual passes, and have 'been there, done that'... especially as you then channel them out the doors towards some 'temporary' ticket booth scanners. It fucks with the flow. All guests inbound to the park should flow in one direction - unfortunately these two entry points cause contra flow - so a dingy, shitty look, and poor pedestrian flow = bad.

Ok - we're in. Now for food - Lakeside happens to be right next to the 'alternative entrance'. Its shiny, clean and fresh looking, with some big TVs advertising a really nice bacon and egg burger, for under $10 - sounds delicious...

except - theres a small A4 sign saying they're closed... and that you can be served at another outlet 30 metres away... which is fine - except there's nobody staffing that outlet either (they're all clustered around the espresso machine madly trying to serve all the coffee orders). We ask if the lakeside menu is available through the other outlets - No. We ask when will it open? They think 10... or maybe 10:30... but then one girl remembers that they'll be a bit later to open today because so-and-so was late.

Oh, but did I mention, if you'd like to order Ice Cream at 9:50am on a frigid wintry morning - you can certainly do that...

We decide to head to the plaza. They have a village bean, and a few other outlets... Maybe we'll have better luck there? Fat chance. even the Village Bean isn't open. Its 10:10. Bathroom break, ride the carousel, decide to head back to Lakeside for food.

Staff were busily setting up sippers\drink bottles. the sign was still up. heat lights were on in the kitchen which was at least a positive. No communication except that damn A4 sign.

Eventually, one of the staff told me they'd open in 5 minutes. 20 seconds later, the other staff member removed the A4 sign. 30 seconds later the first staff member took my order... and about 5 minutes later my burger shot down the chute of the food warmer.

...2 minutes later the original staff member put down the box of sippers they were packing and handed me the burger....

The burger was good. For theme park pricing, it was about what i expected, but it was hot, and the egg was runny (which was a surprise, but luckily no mess and thoroughly enjoyed it). It was tasty, and I probably would have gotten the same thing down the road for only $2 less, so value wise it was pretty good, and everything was fresh.

So then we're finally off into the park. The park has a popup 'experience' desk just past the front building, offering 'dolphin pat and a seal hug, with photo for $xx'. It was a good combo deal, but it just repulsed me that the experience would be reduced just down to the 'pose, smile, click, get out' structure - SW's many animal experiences have for years been about much more than just the photo - and it seems like they'd boiled it down to 'how can we get as many paying people through as possible' - more focus on the revenue than the animals and the preservation messages, which to me just made it seem cheap \ pet porpoise pool style - not really suited to sea world at all.

The helicopters were kept busy all day with asian tourists - this doesn't really impact anyone else and if someone wants to pay a fortune to enter a park to pay another fortune to fly over it, then thats just less people in my next queue...

The seal show had an early 10:15 showtime, which was a great start to the day, except there was no signage or anything directing people up to the stadium. it was quite empty - we passed on this on our earlier walk-through. I have wanted to see it since it was re-done, but what little I caught as I walked past struck me that I probably didn't need to see anymore.

Storm was closed, and with Vikings gone, it leaves a real hole in the park's 'central energy'. With the kids we spent a lot of time around Nick Land, and the kids got through a few rides.

By now it was nearing 12pm, and it was time to checkout the Paw Patrol show, which Master Two usually goes crazy for. In terms of this, I'm just going to say that they've got two pup suits, and a banner, and the show consists of about 15 minutes of dancing with some audience involvement. It has about as much to do with Paw Patrol as it does to do with Sea World, and you could literally pick ANY intellectual property, get two suits, with two 'human' hosts alongside, and the show would be the same, provided the 'pup'-language was changed to suit whatever the IP was. It was generic, and even Master Two was bored.

We checked out the polar bears - Mishka wasn't on exhibit, and then headed to Ray Reef. For me, I thought it was lacking, which is to say that there seemed to be a lot less Rays than there used to be. The fact that 'feeding' is not currently available is probably more an indicator of this as the rays aren't encouraged to interact with guests, rather than there being any change to population. There was also a maintenance worker in the tank scrubbing the sides - who was pleasant enough to interact with, but it struck me as odd for this sort of task to be done during park opening hours.

We moved onto Shark bay whilst the older kids headed to Jet Rescue. Shark Bay also seems to be lacking some of the life it used to - I feel like there used to be more variety of shark and fish in the 'reef' side - I did however note the 'big shark' side had a turtle in it - something i'd never seen before.

By this stage, we were getting closer to the time for the Jet Ski show. Deciding it was time for a (late) lunch, and not really having much interest in the Jet Skis, we decided to leave, and pick up a cheaper lunch elsewhere.

Yes, this trip wasn't really about rides (for me) but it is really a stark contrast just how little there is to 'do'. There's plenty to 'see', but there is so much about our day thatcould have been better with very little effort.

I can't imagine we'd have ridden storm had it been open, nor would we have done vikings, battle boats, or the splash play area, as it was just too damn cold. Little wonder there was nobody in the water for animal experiences either. The park has lots of summer things to do, but it's missing the land-based stuff that keeps a winter guest happy.... like hot fresh food first thing in the morning.

We've discussed VRTP standards in detail, but I do feel that much of that discussion has centred around Movie World, with very little about SW or WnW - but it is just as apparent to me that SW is worse off than MW is - because at least one could stay busy all day at MW. We could easily have left SW by midday had it not been for certain showtimes, and there was little to occupy us in between.

Forget the standards at MW right now - Sea World needs urgent help... NOW.

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1 hour ago, AlexB said:

I'm just going to say that they've got two pup suits, and a banner, and the show consists of about 15 minutes of dancing with some audience involvement. It has about as much to do with Paw Patrol as it does to do with Sea World, and you could literally pick ANY intellectual property, get two suits, with two 'human' hosts alongside, and the show would be the same, provided the 'pup'-language was changed to suit whatever the IP was. It was generic, and even Master Two was bored.

Just on this - on our most recent trip I would have just about gone to Sea World because I also have a young lad with a weakness for the pups.  With that said, my guess was two of the pups come out with Ryder (?), he talks for a bit, the pre-recorded mayor calls and says something about some event they are doing later and that it might be ruined, they call for volunteers from the audience to join the paw patrol, and then they do that god-awful pup-pup-boogie thing a few times.  Sound like a good guess?  If so, it's because we saw an identical show at what basically amounts to a dead shopping mall in Melbourne, and if that's the case to think that one of their key entertainment shows is that grade... well... yeah, forget it.

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Sadly its not just recently that VRTP has gone the "cheap and tacky" shopping centre route for their shows and entertainment, it's been getting worse and worse with every new "show" that pops along. 

Thanks for the review @AlexB. It has been a few years since we have visited Sea World, your review tells me nothing has changed. How sad.

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16 hours ago, webslave said:

Just on this - on our most recent trip I would have just about gone to Sea World because I also have a young lad with a weakness for the pups.  With that said, my guess was two of the pups come out with Ryder (?), he talks for a bit, the pre-recorded mayor calls and says something about some event they are doing later and that it might be ruined, they call for volunteers from the audience to join the paw patrol, and then they do that god-awful pup-pup-boogie thing a few times.  Sound like a good guess?  If so, it's because we saw an identical show at what basically amounts to a dead shopping mall in Melbourne, and if that's the case to think that one of their key entertainment shows is that grade... well... yeah, forget it.

No - we don't even get Ryder.

Theme song starts show and revs crowd.

Two girls come out and dance. Rev the crowd and encourage everyone to shout out to call Chase and Marshall.

Comic ensues when pups briefly appear but the girls don't see them. (pantomime - "he's over there!" style talkback)

Crowd calls again, pups enter to theme song.

Talk about how no other pups are there. They're off doing something. No missions for Chase and Marshall at sea world... only having fun. (repeat this line several times, just in case people at Sea World aren't having fun)

demonstrate dance steps.

pick audience members

give audience members silly paw gloves to wear.

Don't fit them properly, so some audience members (kids) spend their entire time on stage trying to get the paws on properly

ignore them, whilst encouraging them to follow along with the dance.

mixed results - mostly no kid follows along

cheer. take paw gloves off kids and usher them off stage.

final windup. pups leave

host girls wrap up show. theme song.

SCENE.

 

 

I'll admit, when I heard PP had a show at SW, it was actually a reason for me to want to take the little guy along to see - but he was just as unimpressed as I was.

What could have made the experience a little better was if they had a photo opportunity on stage after the show. I realise for costumed dancers, all they wanna do is get backstage and cool off, but after a few minutes cool down they could easily come back out for some photos. good revenue for the park and a pleasant experience \ memory for the kids. I know they have a meet and greet stage nearby but it's not really suited to the pups. the stage, with the PP backdrop is.

Edited by AlexB

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They used to do just a pure photo op, in summer. Time window went for about 30 minutes.

The suits are like Tweety at Movie World, there is a fan in the top.

Even drag racing now has Paw Patrol at their events, seems like the IP owners are milking it for what's left in it.

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'a fan at the top' doesn't magically make them comfortable. On hot days, the airflow simply evaporates their sweat faster, dehydrating them quicker.

Costumed characters go through hell. I've seen characters get backstage and literally collapse in a heap of sweaty plush, red-faced and all, after only 'sitting' in position for photos for 20-25 minutes.

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