SeaWorld San Diego marked its 50th anniversary Friday with the opening of Explorer’s Reef, the new visitor’s entrance, and promises to have special prizes for park-goers throughout more than a year of celebration.

The opening ceremony was hosted by “Good Morning America” correspondent Cameron Mathison.

Visitors will now enter the park beneath a sculpture of a wave crashing into a reef, and can visit four freshwater and saltwater pools with sharks, rays, and fish that they can reach in and touch.

More than 156 million visitors have passed through SeaWorld gates in San Diego. SeaWorld plans an 18-month celebration of the anniversary that will include its other two parks, in Orlando and San Antonio.

Visitors at all three locations will get more up-close animal encounters, interactive experiences and new shows, according to SeaWorld.

The parks will also have “Surprise Squads” out each day that will hand out prizes to patrons, like special ride access, behind-the-scenes experiences, reserved show seating, T-shirts or Shamu-themed merchandise.

SeaWorld celebrates its anniversary amid controversy over the recent documentary Blackfish, and legislation challenging the use of killer whales in shows.

– City News Service

Show comments