Shamu heads East

Filed under: Business,Entertainment,Florida News,Leisure,Theme Parks,Walt Disney World |

Shamu heads EastSo SeaWorld and Busch Gardens are expanding eastward — to Dubai. Dubai intrigues me, I haven’t been there yet but several people I know have and all of them love it.

This news, released yesterday by the Anheuser-Busch Companies and Nakheel, a major Dubai real estate developer, is sure to send shockwaves around Central Florida, San Diego and San Antonio where Sea World houses its other parks.

But the news doesn’t just stop there, it’s not just Sea World that’s setting up base on Palm Jebel Ali, the complex is also going to include Aquatica, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove.

Apparently the theme parks will occupy an island shaped like a killer whale (what else would you expect in a place that boasts an indoor ski slope?), and is part of a project that includes isles shaped like palm trees and the map of the world.

The World

The first phase, including the parks, is due for completion in 2012. Plans also call for hotels, shopping and restaurants.

SeaWorld Dubai (others are in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio) will include killer whales, dolphins and sea lions, plus marine-themed rides. Busch Gardens, already near Williamsburg, Va., and Tampa, will offer its trademark thrill rides and there will be plans for a Discovery Cove similar to one in Orlando that allows visitors to swim with dolphins and stingrays.

So, exciting times in Dubai…but where does that leave us? Frankly, we at Florida Leisure welcome competition like this as its sure to make the other big players tighten up their act. I’m not sure that Disney has similar plans but it wouldn’t surprise me and you can be fairly certain that they’ll be wondering how they can improve things in Florida to attract visitors here instead of there!

Personally I’m of the opinion that for a long time we’ve needed to better our marketing as an area and now the opportunity is here. The OCCVB’s “Say Yes to Orlando” campaign just doesn’t cut it… what does it mean for a start? Say yes to crime, say yes to unemployment, say yes to drugs? It could be mistaken for any of those things that big cities have and if the news of Dubai becoming a bigger attraction for tourist dollars makes those in charge of spending all our money on marketing Orlando realise they’ve been getting it wrong for so long, then it will be a good thing.

It’s time we got back to basics. Back to realising that people want to be treated properly. That they want to feel welcome, that they are valued and above all, that we really care about them having a great time.

My company gets this… we have nearly 50% of our past guests return year in, year out. Why is that do you think? Simple. We treat them right and we look after them before, during and after their stay. We value them and we care greatly that they have a great time.

That’s how you treat people. Not like the experience so many from Europe get when they enter the USA. Interrogations, finger prints, assumptions they are terrorists, etc… for too long the politicians in this country have deliberately scared the people to death. They’ve led us into situations we didn’t ask to be led and they’ve then dumped us with worse life experiences than when they came into power. And here’s me thinking Government is supposed to make people’s lives better!

So, Shamu in the East… bring it on. Maybe then the people in power will realise we need to concentrate on real people and make sure we deliver the experiences they want in life. I can but hold my breath!


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