It's a Celebration

SeaWorld, at 50, gets spiffy

SeaWorld Orlando has gussied itself up for its 50th anniversary celebration, and some of it looks downright trashy.

That's by design. SeaWorld commissioned four sculptures that are made of beach debris. You'll probably see the sea horse one first. It's close enough to touch and examine the many kinds of plastic goods. It's fascinating to look at but depressing to think of that junk on our shores and in the water, causing injury to sea life. That's kind of the idea, right?

The colorful sculptures were created by the Washed Ashore Project, an environmental art group. Octopus, parrot fish and sea anemone reef pieces join the sea horse in the park's revamped Sea Garden. This space, home to some up-close animal interactions for guests, is adjacent to the building many folks still call "the free beer place."

Evidence of SeaWorld's 50th Celebration, which also is referred to as a "Sea of Surprises," is springing up throughout the park. There have been enhancements to the signage at the parking lot's entrance and a new look for the lighthouse at the park. The two-level seating area that scales the Sky Tower now has a stylized Shamu and bubbles on it.

The bubbles are a recurring theme. They even appear on construction walls ("Pardon our bubbles …"). A "Bubble Blowout" vehicle is in action in Shamu's Happy Harbor.

A giant representation of the 50th anniversary logo serves as a photo op near the front entrance of the park. (Tip: Sit, don't stand, for your picture taking or you'll block the "Sea of Surprises" part.)

The logo incorporates a big 5-0 with a sleek Shamu image, plus waves and splashes. The usual SeaWorld blue color palate has been joined by lime green and lemon yellow. That scheme is appearing in other spots of the park, such as flags and banners, freshening the park's look.

I didn't bump into the prize patrol last weekend, but there's still time. SeaWorld will be celebrating the anniversary through early September 2015, and we've been told to expect additions throughout the months. A new nighttime show, "Shamu's Celebration: Light Up the Night," is set to debut June 21.

Yoo-hoo, it's Ihu's

Ihu's Breakaway Falls is under construction at Aquatica water park, but it's already making its presence known.

The dramatic-drop slide was topped with a roof around the 100-feet-high mark last week, making it even more noticeable from outside the park. Ihu's, going up next to the wave pools, is actually near the International Drive entrance.

Inside the park, guests can see the elaborate knot of tubes being placed. The four enclosed slides have straight-down stretches followed by twisting paths to splashdowns. Each slide will be a different experience, SeaWorld officials say.

The grand opening of Ihu's (say it like "EE-whose") is scheduled for May 9.

'Passion' at Holy Land

Holy Land Experience will have three free screenings of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" on Easter weekend.

The 2004 film will be shown on a 60-foot by 20-foot high-definition screen inside the Church of All Nations, the circular building seen from Interstate 4. The auditorium holds about 2,000 people, and seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

Show times will be 6 p.m. on April 18 and April 19, and 3 p.m. on April 20.

dbevil@tribune.com or 407-420-5477

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