To create “Blue Horizons,” SeaWorld collaborated with the entertainment industry’s most inventive and artistic experts, marrying great production value — seen in the larger-than-life set, dramatic costuming and intriguing show development — with the awe-inspiring feats of SeaWorld animals and trainers.
“Only SeaWorld could create such a spectacular concept, a type of show that can be seen nowhere else in the world,” said Stanley Meyer, “Blue Horizons” set designer and show consultant. “It sets a completely new benchmark for awe-inspiring entertainment.” Meyer, best known for his work designing the Broadway musical ”Beauty and the Beast,” created the set for SeaWorld Orlando’s “Blue Horizons,” which has been a hit there since 2005.
Using elements of the sea and sky — and a young girl’s vivid imagination — as his inspiration, Meyer designed a whimsical, yet dramatic, atmosphere with an immense rising sun, hundreds of iridescent bubbles, and an elaborate, 40-foot-high framework which envelopes the pool and balances divers and aerialists as they plunge from bungees and soar on “cloud swings.”
While these characters sway through the sky and dive off the set, the true stars of the show grace the waters below. SeaWorld’s dolphins and pilot whales leap their way into this dreamy adventure. African crowned cranes, coral bills, black vultures and other bird species soar over the audience as they ascend toward the horizon.
The stirring, original musical score for “Blue Horizons” is performed by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.
Dolphin Stadium was completely transformed for “Blue Horizons,” including an entirely new set; trusses, diving boards and bungee swings for the aerialists and divers; a new sound system; high-tech water features; and an additional 700 seats for guests.
‘Blue Horizons’ Show and Construction Fact Sheet
SeaWorld’s Dolphin Stadium has been completely renovated for the park’s new “Blue Horizons,” a spectacular show combining energetic dolphins and pilot whales, with soaring exotic birds and amazing aerialists, divers and bungee performers. “Blue Horizons” opens May 29, 2010 at SeaWorld San Diego.
In order to prepare for “Blue Horizons,” Dolphin Stadium shut down in September 2009 and underwent nine months of construction, beginning in September 2009, including an entirely new set; trusses, diving boards and bungee swings for the aerialists and divers; a new sound system;
high-tech water features; and an additional 738 seats for guests (for a total of 3,552). Initial training for the dolphins and pilot whales began at Shamu Stadium, where the marine mammals lived temporarily during the construction. Training of the birds began in behind-the-scenes areas and eventually at the renovated stadium.
Dolphin Stadium was originally built in 1971 and has been the venue of many exhibits and shows over the years, including the most recent dolphin show, “Dolphin Discovery,” which, after 13 years, was one of SeaWorld’s longest running shows.
Here’s a look at some of the “nuts and bolts” of “Blue Horizons”:
Cast of animals:
• Up to 16 dolphins
• 2 pilot whales
• 50 rock doves
• 24 Australian corral-billed parrots
• 1 green-winged macaw
• 2 black vultures
• 2 East African crowned cranes
• Up to 12 animal trainers
• 11 flying performers:
Aurora (the spirit of the sky)
6 high divers
2 aerial performers (perform on
what is known as “Cloud Swings”)
2 bungee performers (known as
Scenic and Trussing Elements:
• 13 fully-automated winches to run
performer and scenery line sets
• 2 moving backdrops and six 60-foot
ascending sun rays
• 6 technicians to run the show
• More than 400 feet of truss
• More than 1,900 feet of rope
• 40 fountain nozzles and 4
articulating fountain devices
• Diving platforms (25 feet above
• 11 automated bird releases
• Length of show: 22 minutes
• Length of time to refill pools after
they were re-painted: 30 hours
• Gallons of saltwater (pumped in from
Mission Bay and filtered) to fill six
pools: 1.4 million
• Performance pool depth: 25 feet
• 5 new Avian enclosures built to
house nearly 100 birds
• Producers: Rick Schuiteman,
SeaWorld Entertainment Director;
Scott Helmstedter and Elizabeth
Hansen, In Motion Entertainment
• Director: Roy Luthringer, In Motion
• Production Designer: Stan Meyer
• Project Manager: Darlene Walter,
SeaWorld Project Engineer
• Entertainment Technical Project
Managers: Nicole Oosterlinck and
Kevin Cook, SeaWorld
SEAWORLD’S GRAND DAME,
BUBBLES THE PILOT WHALE
BUBBLES THE PILOT WHALE
It’s hard to find an animal with a more legendary career than SeaWorld’s short-finned pilot whale superstar, Bubbles. This grande dame’s career spans more than 40 years. “I’ve never known an animal with a more impressive air spin, where she jumps out of the water and spins around at lightning speed,” says Bill Winhall, assistant curator at SeaWorld San Diego and one of Bubbles’ original caretakers at Marineland of the Pacific, once located along the coast of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., where Bubbles career first began. “So much of what we do at SeaWorld today was learned in those early days,” he adds.
Currently, SeaWorld Supervisor of Animal Training Kristi Burtis works with Bubbles. “One of Bubbles’ best traits is her diplomatic nature. Along with Shadow, Bubbles’ companion pilot whale and best buddy, she has a knack of bringing stability to the diverse mammal community.” Burtis also describes how Bubbles is fascinated with the younger dolphins and when things get a bit rambunctious in the pool, Bubbles and Shadow, “the pilot whale police,” step in to calm things down. Burtis, Bubbles’ primary trainer, who has worked with her for almost 10 years, has found that the best way to gain trust is to just spend down time with her. “During breaks, I enjoy teaching her new water-work behaviors.” Burtis says that’s it’s during these moments that Bubbles has taught her a few lessons about life. “Creativity, patience, and how to be more open to change are all important lessons I’ve learned from her.”
At approximately 47 years old, Bubbles is one of the oldest marine mammals at SeaWorld and perhaps at any park, according to SeaWorld senior veterinarian Tom Reidarson. “She definitely holds a very special place in my heart,” he says. “As a child, I visited Bubbles at Marineland many times and she quickly became my favorite animal. I can’t tell you how excited I was to become her veterinarian when I joined the SeaWorld team in 1991. Over the years, we’ve become very close.” It seems that Bubbles was born to be a superstar. As a young 12-foot-long, 1,600-pound female pilot whale, she began her expansive career at Marineland in the 1960s and was eventually given her own stadium and placed center stage. Her talent and allure made her an international superstar.Bubbles was a hit at Marineland for more than two decades. In 1987, Bubbles came to her new home at SeaWorld San Diego.
Over the next 20 years, Bubbles performed in various dolphin shows at SeaWorld, including the most recent production, “Dolphin Discovery.” The final performance of “Dolphin Discovery” took place in May 2009 to make way for a new show. These days, Bubbles and her companions are gearing up for “Blue Horizons” — a spectacular production featuring pilot whales, dolphins, exotic birds and amazing aerialists and divers — scheduled to open May 2010. After a career spanning more than four decades, Bubbles will continue to jump, dive and splash to the delight of her dedicated fans. And not to disappoint, Bubbles’ signature air spin will be the highlight of the show’s pilot whale sequence.