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SeaWorld announces plans for orca-free theme park in Abu Dhabi

SeaWorld has finally confirmed the location for its Middle Eastern attraction, announcing a partnership with Miral to develop SeaWorld Abu Dhabi – a first-of-its-kind marine theme park on Yas Island.

Dubbed the “next generation” SeaWorld, the new attraction will integrate up-close animal experiences, attractions and a world class aquarium with the latest technology in visitor engagement, as well as being SeaWorld’s first theme park not to include orcas. The park will also include the UAE’s first dedicated marine life research, rescue, rehabilitation and return centre, as SeaWorld continues on its mission to create “experiences that matter”.

Speaking to Attractions Management in July, SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby revealed the firmed up plans for a Middle Eastern expansion, promising “really big ideas” in place of the company’s iconic and now controversial orcas.

“Right now our parks are kind of built around large animal stadiums – dolphins, whales, sea lions etc,” he said. “We’re adding in an expanded ride mix with things like Mako, which we just launched in Orlando. We’re also looking at virtual reality to bring in animals that can’t be brought in live or to go behind the scenes with animals you can’t get near. We’re broadening the entertainment mix so we’re not just about animal entertainment venues, we want to be a caring animal company that’s really fun to visit but not just about animal entertainment.”

The addition of SeaWorld Abu Dhabi, which will open by 2022, will help Yas Island – a US$40bn (€36.8bn, £32.8bn) development project – achieve its goal of doubling visitor numbers to 48 million by 2022.

The island’s development first started in 2006, initiated by Abu Dhabi-based Aldar Properties, with the aim of turning the island into a multi-purpose leisure, shopping and entertainment centre. The investment is planned over multiple stages, the most recent groundbreaking for a US$1bn (€919m, £820m) Warner Bros theme park – the latest in a series of major developments to be operated by Farah Leisure, which include the already established Ferrari World and Yas Waterworld, and now SeaWorld Abu Dhabi. Yas Island also recently launched a new business strategy and brand identity to establish the development as “the world’s ultimate leisure destination.”

"Abu Dhabi is becoming a first choice destination for regional and global travellers by combining culture, heritage and unique leisure experiences into one compelling proposition. SeaWorld Abu Dhabi further strengthens Yas Island's position as the global tourism destination," said Miral chair, Khalifa Al Mubarak.

"Abu Dhabi continues to build sustainable partnerships that deliver on its strategic 2030 Vision, to transform and pioneer new destinations that are recognised for world class quality, authenticity and innovation on every level.”

SeaWorld  orca  killer whale  blackfish  visitor attraction  theme park  aquarium  Abu Dhabi  dolphin 
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SeaWorld has finally confirmed the location for its Middle Eastern attraction, announcing a partnership with Miral to develop SeaWorld Abu Dhabi – a first-of-its-kind marine theme park on Yas Island. Dubbed the “next generation” SeaWorld, the new attraction will integrate up-close animal experiences, attractions and a world class aquarium with the latest technology in visitor engagement, as well as being SeaWorld’s first theme park not to include orcas. The park
TAW,VAT
The park will also include the UAE’s first dedicated marine life research, rescue, rehabilitation and return centre
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