The bad news is, Shamu Up Close is gone at SeaWorld Orlando, replaced with the return of Dine With Shamu. The good news is, that means One Ocean is back in the newly renovated Shamu Stadium. Even though you don't get to witness behind-the-scenes care and training sessions any longer, you can enjoy the park's signature show starring its talented killer whales.
One Ocean takes place multiple times daily and showcases many amazing jumps and other behaviors. You can see some of them in the photos accompanying this article. You can't help but admire the power and majesty of these animals when you watch them in action. When you come to the park, be sure to grab a map as soon as you arrive to you can see the show times and work at least one of them into your schedule for the day.
High Flying Orcas
You expect to see high-flying orcas when you visit SeaWorld Orlando, and you won't be disappointed when you see One Ocean. The park's killer whales perform jumps that are all the more amazing when you think about how much they weigh. They've got a lot of bulk to get airborne!
There's constant action in One Ocean, so keep a close watch or you might miss a jump. I like to sit all the way in the back, in the topmost row of Shamu Stadium, because that gives me a wide perspective of the entire pool. It's also a great spot to take photos, but you still have to be on your toes to catch all the action.
You never know where or when the orcas are going to pop up out of the water. If you have a camera, keep it constantly ready and watch that black blurs under the water. That will give you a clue on where they're likely to pop up next.
More Orca Action
One Ocean is only a 20 minute show, but don't let the length fool you. It may be short, but the action is non-stop from the beginning segment that introduces the conservation message to the very end when the poor souls who dared to sit in the splash zone get soaked.
Traditional jumps are always a crowd pleaser, but you'll see the killer whales perform a wide variety of behaviors, like this pop-up. Their "tricks" are actually refinements and variations of behaviors they naturally do in the wild. They quickly learn how to do those behaviors on command and add in little twists.
Upside Down Orca
Each show in Shamu Stadium is a little different, as the trainers change things up to keep it interesting for the orcas. They don't ask for the exact same behaviors in every show. That's why I like to catch it more than once in a day if I have the time and why it never gets boring for me on return visits to the park.
Many of the segments have multiple orcas from the park's pod working together. Killer whales live in pods in the wild, and they have their "family" at SeaWorld Orlando, too. If you visit regularly, you'll get to know them. I know them all by name and have loved watching baby Makaio grow over the years.
The orcas often come up on the slide outs to show off various behaviors. Imagine being in the wild and watching them zip up onto an iceberg to capture prey. Obviously they don't have to do that at SeaWorld Orlando, but their talent for sliding out of the water and onto the ledges remains.
While I enjoy the work on the slide outs, I'll admit that the jumps are my favorites. Not only are they impressive for the audience to watch, but they give the orcas a good workout. They get lots of enrichment in captivity to keep them mentally and physically stimulated.
I miss the old days when the trainers were allowed in the water with the killer whales, but you still do get to see some interactions on the slide outs. I always admire the obvious bond between the trainers and the animals. It takes a lot of trust and respect to work this closely with an apex predator.
There's a reason that the splash zone is called the SPLASH zone, as you can see. If you sit in the first rows, I promise that you WILL get wet. I think the orcas know full well what they're doing and enjoy soaking the two legged creatures that always gather round their tank.