SeaWorld Orlando has introduced a new tour designed to give guests even more interaction with its animals. The Killer Whale Up Close Tour just debuted, and already fans of the park are giving it positive reviews on social media channels.
The new tour begins each morning with the participants meeting their tour leader at the Dolphin Nursery at 9:45 a.m. From there, the group heads to Shamu Stadium, which is where the entire program takes place. There is no behind-the-scenes component to this program; it all happens around the show pool.
When the group arrives at the stadium, they head down to the lower bleachers and choose a seat to hear the educator talk about the orcas. Then, it’s time for what they have been waiting for — interacting with the killer whales. A trainer divides the tour group into three smaller groups, each of which is assigned to an orca. Trainers teach each group simple hand signals and each participant is allowed to use several with the orca and watch the results. Visitors do not feed or touch the killer whales during this experience, which is different from other up-close tours at SeaWorld.
Next, a SeaWorld photographer takes images of individuals and families with the whales “posing” underwater in the tank and some with the majestic animals jumping behind them. Visitors may also use their own cameras.
Then the tour moves to the slideout, which is the shallow area set slightly above water level where the orcas slide out of the tank. A trainer discusses training and husbandry, and participants have the opportunity to ask questions. Finally, a group photo is taken in front of the slideout with all three orcas up and out of the pool.
The Killer Whale Up Close Tour lasts about an hour, and the price ranges from $79 to $99 depending on the season. The pass member discount of 10 percent can be applied. Admission to the theme park is not included in the price of this tour.
SeaWorld Orlando also offers another opportunity for guests to get closer to its beloved orcas: Dine With Shamu. If you’re trying to decide between the Killer Whale Up Close Tour and Dine With Shamu, here are some things to consider:
** As the name indicates, Dine With Shamu includes a meal for the human participants. It’s a buffet full of delicious, sustainable foods and kid favorites.
** Dine With Shamu takes place adjacent to one of the behind-the-scenes pools, so if getting a glimpse of something the public doesn’t see is important to you, this might be the choice for you.
** The Killer Whale Up Close Tour allows participants to directly interact with the orcas, and Dine With Shamu does not. Although you will be just as close to the tanks, you will not be giving the whales hand signals during dinner.
** Both presentations are educational with demonstrations but not choreographed shows.
** Both the Killer Whale Up Close Tour and Dine With Shamu last about an hour.
** Dine With Shamu costs between $26 and $34 per adult, depending on the season.
To learn more about Dine With Shamu, please read my blog about my family’s experience at the event.
If you’ve tried the new Killer Whale Up Close Tour at SeaWorld Orlando, tell us about it in the comments.