SeaWorld has been treading rough waters for awhile now, thanks in large part to the fallout from the Blackfish documentary, the US theme park chain has been facing swirling consumer sentiment and declining attendance.
In March 2016, the theme park took steps to address their predicament, announcing the end of its killer whale breeding program. Now with the park on their last generation of orcas, animals that the company built its identity upon and brand around, SeaWorld needs to evolve quickly.
So how does the national aquatic park plan on staying a float and hopefully wining back the hearts and minds of consumers? Virtual reality of course.
SeaWorld Orlando will be introducing Central Florida’s first virtual-reality roller coaster next summer, retrofitting their existing Kraken coaster with VR headsets that will have you traveling deep into the sea with mythical and prehistoric creatures.
The latest immersive addition is part of SearWorld Entertainment’s plan to spend $175 million on new attractions.
The attraction is expected to make use of modified Gear VR headsets, much like we have seen Six Flags implement at their parks, matching the turns and sounds of the physical world with the VR experience. You’ll be taken in a submarine like underwater ride, encountering sea life and of course the Kraken himself. As one of the most popular attractions at the park, we can expect many users will be experiencing VR for the first time.
Interestingly enough, virtual reality was first used on the streets outside the San Diego aquatic park by PETA to protest the treatment of killer whales. The animal empathy project had teams of volunteers passing around Google Cardboard headsets to let passerbys experience swimming with a mother orca while her offspring is ripped away and imprisoned by SeaWorld. Actress Edie Falco provided the voice of the killer whale mother in the three-minute VR presentation.