What Do You Do With A Blackfish?

Feed it to a shark! Recently Sea World Orlando had enthusiasts screaming ‘YES!!’ as apparently somebody upstairs has finally gotten their head screwed on and figured out that the best way to draw attention away from the Blackfish repercussions with a big ass rollercoaster. And it looks beautiful.

Mako (named after one of the world’s fastest sharks) will be the tallest, longest and fastest coaster in Orlando when it debuts next year (although how long it will hold that title remains to be seen). It’s a B&M Hyper coaster so the folks whose coaster palate usually extends no further than the Florida state line will finally get to experience the majesty of floater airtime. And the thing looks gorgeous. Sticking with Sea World’s colour wheel of blue, turquoise and pink Mako’s colour scheme portrays that of a tropical reef without taking itself too seriously and having a little fun along the way. And the entrance plaza looks stunning. I’ve heard it talked about already as potentially the best in the world (clearly this person hasn’t been on Wodan at Europa Park). So all in all, good reactions all round.

So what does this say about Sea World’s future as a theme park? I’ve said since the whole Blackfish debacle happened that somebody needs to build a giant as coaster to cast a shadow over the whole unpleasantness, and thank god we’ve seen this happen now, but for a while Sea World’s answer was a refurb of the Shamu arena, you know, to draw more attention to the problematic creatures. Whilst nobody can deny the concept art for this overhauls looked great it just had me cringing at home much Sea World just weren’t getting it.

I’ve always been a fan of Sea World. For some reason in the enthusiast community the Orlando park takes a lot of flack that I’ve never understood. To me the park is gorgeous, an enjoyable and chilled out environment to spend my day in with an ever-growing number of ride attractions complemented by some innovative sea-life exhibits. But then there were the shows, which as years went by had more and more of an effect on me. I’ve been to Sea World a bunch of times now and on my last visit to the Orlando park in 2013 my family and I looked at each other during the Shamu show and expressed our discomfort at watching this now.

And this was BEFORE Blackfish was a thing. We just know (or suspect) too much about the fate of these animals, where they came from and how they have been treated (mostly in the past) to simply sit and digest the shows as mindless entertainment. For audiences now the Shamu show isn’t shrouded in awe and wonder, it’s framed with a backdrop of political and animal activism and…guilt, I suppose is what I’d describe it as. I felt it niggling away as I sat there watching the whale do its thing in 2013 and it hit me smack in the face like a wave in the Soak Zone when I visited the Texas park last year. It’s the same as circus animals or even as far back as bear baiting, what was once acceptable now isn’t, and it was uncomfortable that in 2013/14 Sea World were choosing to downright ignore the facts.

I don’t feel bad for having once enjoyed the shows. It was all experienced in innocence, we simply were naive and didn’t know any better other than to sit there wide-eyed enjoying the spectacle. But I do think it is important to realise since we are now aware there is no longer a space for audiences to enjoy this kind of entertainment guiltlessly. Which is why I will go back to Sea World and will continue to do so as long as they keep investing in some world class thrill rides and exhibits that are humane and educational as opposed to cruel and exploitative.


  1. Totally agree that this is a better direction for SeaWorld. Their conservation efforts need to take more of a front seat, especially in the times we now live in, along with rides like this which tie in to their brand.