The first international SeaWorld park opened May 24, 2023 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. InPark Magazine Chief Correspondent Joe Kleiman was present for the grand opening and asked the park’s developer/owner, Miral Experiences five questions about this innovative marine life park in a box.
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How does the park highlight Emirati culture and achievements?
Through the park’s immersive experiences, SeaWorld Abu Dhabi showcases Emirati values, maritime achievements, and advances environmental stewardship, honoring Sheikh Zayed’s legacy. The Abu Dhabi Ocean realm at SeaWorld Abu Dhabi immerses guests in Emirati culture with authentic architecture, design, and décor, including traditional geometric motifs, dhows [traditional Arabic sailing vessels], palm trees, touch pools with local fish, and mangroves. At Al Naham Theater, shows celebrate pearl diving traditions and the profound connection between the UAE and the sea, offering glimpses into the country’s rich Bedouin history.
How does the park help reinforce Abu Dhabi as a leader in both tourism and animal stewardship?
When it comes to animal care, SeaWorld Abu Dhabi employs hundreds of highly-skilled and passionate zoologists, marine biologists, veterinarians, and animal care specialists that devote their lives to caring for all the animals at the park. The park ensures that animals are provided with the highest standards of care, with systems like the Animal Acclimation and Life Support Systems in place to simulate the animals’ natural habitats, ensuring their health and wellbeing. SeaWorld Abu Dhabi is the first facility in the Middle East and North Africa region to be certified by Global Humane. Our habitats are specifically designed to meet the needs of each species. We continually invest in our animal habitats to ensure safe, enriching and engaging experiences for the animals and also to guarantee that they meet or exceed the highest zoological standards.
SeaWorld Abu Dhabi seamlessly integrates into Yas Island’s award-winning theme parks, such as Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, and CLYMB, enhancing the overall guest experience with its distinct entertainment offerings. With a strong emphasis on marine life and conservation, the park underscores Miral’s commitment to creating magnetic experiences for guests and aligns with the company’s vision to position Yas Island as a leading tourist destination.
PGAV Destinations acted as creative consultant and animal habitat designer for the park. Why were they a good fit for the project?
With a longstanding relationship spanning over 30 years, they have designed the majority of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s major attractions. This deep-rooted association has given them an intimate understanding of the brand, allowing them to efficiently contribute to its evolution. Their multidisciplinary team brings expertise in architecture, landscape design, theming, storytelling, and more, ensuring a comprehensive approach to creating world-class attractions. These qualities, combined with their familiarity with the brand and their ability to seamlessly integrate our vision into their designs, make PGAV the perfect design firm for SeaWorld Abu Dhabi.
Education has been part of the SeaWorld experience since the 1960s. How does SeaWorld Abu Dhabi interface with local educators?
SeaWorld Abu Dhabi actively engages with the community to provide enriching and inspiring educational experiences. The park hosts local schools, welcoming students on trips where they can explore the park and learn about marine life firsthand. Educators are present throughout the park, offering valuable insights and explanations about the animals, fostering a deeper understanding of marine conservation. In addition to school visits, SeaWorld Abu Dhabi hosts educational talks and seminars, promoting further engagement and learning opportunities.
Additionally, Yas SeaWorld Research & Rescue offers diverse programs for learners of all ages that aim to engage, educate and foster the next generation of marine biologists. These programs expose students to the rescue and rehabilitation efforts undertaken by the team of subject-matter experts, as well as the research side of things. Through these programs, students learn about ocean literacy topics such as the ocean’s support of a variety of life, the role of microscopic organisms as primary producers, and human dependence on the ocean for life. The programs also delve into the human impacts on the ocean, including overfishing, ghost net entanglements, and pollution. In some instances, learners engage in simulations of veterinary teamwork, practicing essential techniques. Students explore various ocean samples in the wet lab classroom, utilizing scientific equipment to deepen their understanding of marine ecosystems.
How does SeaWorld Abu Dhabi expand upon the concepts presented at the SeaWorld parks in North America?
In developing the park, Miral recognized the significance of certain elements from the American SeaWorld parks that were crucial to include in Abu Dhabi. One such element is the establishment of a research center, located adjacent to SeaWorld Abu Dhabi. This center, part of a network of three facilities in the United States, builds upon SeaWorld’s remarkable legacy of 40,000 animal rescues to date and nearly 60 years in research, rescue, rehabilitation and conservation.
In line with the educational focus of SeaWorld, Yas SeaWorld Research & Rescue offers various programs that educate participants about research, rescue, and rehabilitation efforts, as well as the impact of human activities on the oceans. These educational initiatives aim to provide a deeper understanding of marine life conservation and foster a sense of responsibility among guests.
Additionally, animal encounters with diverse marine species are an integral part of the Abu Dhabi park, enabling guests to engage and connect with these magnificent animals. By bringing subject-matter expertise and experience from the American SeaWorld parks to the UAE, SeaWorld Abu Dhabi ensures a world-class marine entertainment experience that draws upon the legacy and success of its American counterparts and ensures the safety and wellbeing of the animals.