The Parkz Update: Sea World's Carnivale was a mixed bag
As Carnivale wraps up its inaugural season at Sea World, a combination of noticeable omissions, basic food offerings, average drinks and limited rides makes the 2017 event an enjoyable night but a shadow of its former Movie World self.
A bit of rain and wind didn't stop the crowds from descending on Sea World for the final night of Carnivale. After three successful years at Warner Bros. Movie World during the cooler months, for 2017 it took over Sea World's summer.
Entertainment at Sea World Carnivale
The ability to successfuly curate such a wide and varied collection of musicians, performers and entertainers has been one of the best qualities of Carnivale in recent years. Sea World's incarnation isn't different; it successfully replicates much of what made it great at Movie World, save for a few noticeable omissions like the lack of a parade.
It very much feels like a case of repurposing everything they could fit into Sea World – it is afterall a theme park with a unique layout that brings considerable logistical challenges – and simply leaving out the rest. You can't begrudge Village Roadshow Theme Parks for not simply making a carbon copy of Movie World's successful event, but it is particularly noticeable that no real efforts were made to play to Sea World's strengths.
The front half of Sea World features the ski show terrace seating, the sea lion stadium and a grassy knoll overlooking the dolphin pools that was used as casual seating for many shows over the years. There's even a stage central to Carnivale in Nickelodeon Land. These facilities sat conspicuously dark on nights filled with lights, music and entertainment.
There is surely enough creative nouse within Village Roadshow Theme Parks to develop some kind of unqiue headline experience that plays to the Carnivale theme. Something that is more worthy than the Who's that? lineup of musicians they assembled to close out the night on the stage shoehorned in between Penguin Encounter and Creatures of the Deep.
Sea World Carnivale's food offerings
Carnivale might not be able to compete with the likes of NightQuarter, Eat Street Markets or Miami Marketta – unless they bring in outside vendors – but it seems severely limiting to reduce the selection to a tiny handful of uninspiring offerings that included run-of-the-mill noodles and curries. At Movie World, Carnival made itself all about cuisines as much as entertainment, the culling of much of the range really loses some of the magic of this great event.
Rides at Sea World Carnivale
Sea World is in an unenviable position with its ride roster seriously reduced. While there's valid arguments that better long-term planning might have seen a more seamless transition from rides that reached end-of-life to new replacements, ultimately Sea World have to work with what they have right now.
It's curious then that Sea World made the decision to leave one train off Jet Rescue and have Storm Coaster not running at peak capacity. Each ride's queue building was full for the entire night and it was was a solid 1.5 hour chunk to get through both rides. With a three hour event designed largely around selling food and beverage, it's surprising that the rides aren't operating at maximum capacity to reduce these waits. Less queuing means more time to explore and spend money, or so Disney would tell you.
Carnivale was consistently inconsistent; it's hard to see the event returning in 2018 without some serious retooling. It's a great concept and one that definitely has a place on the Village Roadshow Theme Parks' events calendar, but just needs an injection of the same creativity that shaped the nearly flawless Movie World event.