Frustrating visit

Yankeelaw

Earning My Ears
Joined
Dec 21, 2019
I was at Seaworld on Sunday with my wife and three children and wanted to share some info for others who are planning visits (short version: don't trust online schedule and don't assume things will be open as advertised). To be clear, we all really enjoyed nearly everything we were able to see and do there. Unfortunately, we were able to see and do much less than we hoped.

As background, we were unable to get to the park until after lunch, so we needed all the time we could get - and should have had enough with the park scheduled to close at 10pm.

First, on Saturday (the day before), I used the online schedule to plan out the day. When we got to the park, important things had changed. Most notably, one of the later ice skating shows was gone, and the killer whale Miracles show was moved an hour earlier to where it overlapped with other things.

Second, we arrived at the final Pets Ahoy show two minutes late and were refused entrance. We were late so it was our fault, but it was extremely disappointing - there were no later shows, and we missed the earlier ones because they overlapped with other shows that weren't repeated later. I never got inside the theater so I don't know whether it actually would have made a difference if we went in two minutes late, but, regardless, FYI to everyone: zero tolerance at Pets Ahoy for lateness. We also missed the sea lion show because of how the shows overlap and end around 5p-7p.

Third, and worst of all: They announced they were closing at 9pm instead of 10pm around 7pm or so, and said it was because of weather. The weather had been awful most of the day, but nothing had to be canceled or delayed because of the rain - and it had actually cleared for a while before they made this announcement and was mostly clear after. A guest services rep was kind enough to not BS me: she admitted that they did this because attendance had dropped below a certain number and it wasn't worth it anymore for them to leave the park open. This is completely indefensible.

This announcement cascaded across the park. Shows like Miracles were canceled. Nearly everything along the pathways between rides/theaters seemed to shut down immediately. Voyagers closed at 8pm or earlier when it should have been open until 9pm, as did all but one of the restaurants -- this directly impacted the value of our all day dining plans. I had planned to deal with PhotoKey later in the day (we did a Dolphin Up Close earlier), but once the announcement was made, all the kiosks closed and I couldn't do anything and lost the chance to get the photos (I'd love to be corrected because I still have the card, but it seems like they are gone if an acocunt isn't created onsite that day).

Two other annoyances. First, something malfunctioned at Infinity Falls while we were on the line and we had to wait around 30 minutes without receiving any updates or explanations. Second, I needed to move our Dolphin Up Close tickets from 3:30p to 1:45p; I called Seaworld early that morning and had to deal with a representative who insisted it would cost me $178 to make that change because they could only cancel/rebook and I had Black Friday prices that couldn't be replicated. Eventually they recognized how insane this was and made the change, but not without a lot of wasted time and a lot of self-praise at how they were doing me a favor by making exceptions.

I expressed my frustations at guest services at the end of the night and, to their credit, they gave us passes for entrance and all day dining for a future visit within a year. We aren't local and won't be back within a year, so it will probably be worthless, but the rep was polite and up front and I expected much less.

Again, we all loved what we were able to see and do - I do recommend the park. I wish our schedules allowed us to get there earlier or on another day, or that they simply would have followed their advertised schedule, but such is life.
 

CAPSLOCK

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 22, 2017
Sounds frustrating, but at least you were able to do some things and see a few shows, despite the difficulties.

I wonder why they changed the show schedules last minute?
 

FLOIR

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
I wonder why they changed the show schedules last minute?
My guess - due to the weather there was not a large crowd in the park, and when it started to rain late in the afternoon that made more people leave. At that point the park probably decided to make the early close and the show schedule change. Not ideal by any means if you are one of the ones that stayed, but understandable if caused by weather.
 

Yankeelaw

Earning My Ears
Joined
Dec 21, 2019
I think CAPSLOCK was referring to the change from the online schedule on Saturday to the printed schedule on Sunday.

As for cancellations and early closing on Sunday, I disagree that it is understandable. Or maybe it is semantics. I 'understand' that a lot of people leave when it rains, leaving fewer people to buy concessions and souvenirs, making it less profitable to keep the park open. That doesn't make it acceptable or excusable. It is hard to think of another business that gets to advertise a service, accept your money, decide it is not profitable to provide the service, and keep your money.

The weather is a red herring - nothing was cancelled or closed because of safety or logistics caused by the rain, and the weather and forecast was much improved when the announcement was made. It wasn't the weather, it was the drop in attendance caused by the weather.
 

jaceraden

Ringleader to 3 kids in a Disney loving family
Joined
Apr 19, 2010
I'm sorry you had a frustrating day. A lot of your issues could have been avoided if you had been better prepared and managed your expectations. Weather is always a wild card and it"s a bummer when things don't go our way.

Noted for future: start day earlier or accept you will have a rushed day. Check schedule day of. Arrive prompt for shows (this is applicable in many parks/shows). Add slush time in your schedule for unexpected stuff that can derail your timeline. Try to adopt a positive attitude when the weather literally rains on your parade.

Cheers to you in 2020!
 

Yankeelaw

Earning My Ears
Joined
Dec 21, 2019
That is an interesting (victim-blaming) response. As I wrote, everything would have been fine if the park operated as advertised (except for seeing Pets Ahoy, which I conceded fault for arriving two minutes late). I wish we could have gotten to the park earlier, but we couldn't, and I adjusted our plans and expectations accordingly. You are really saying I should have been "better prepared" for the chance that SeaWorld might decide it wasn't sufficiently profitable to fulfill their end of the contractual park/guest relationship.

That sure is convenient for them: they get to do whatever they want, and I need to better prepare for the possibility that they will do whatever they want (and "manage my expectations" -- i.e., not expect that they won't do whatever they want). I didn't think I was asking too much here: if you sell a ticket for park admission through 10pm, you should not close earlier than 10pm for business reasons. Everything inside the park shouldn't close even earlier than that for business reasons.

You advise to "Check schedule day of" -- obviously I did this. Everyone at the park did this. SeaWorld didn't follow the schedule, that's the whole point. You said I should have been better prepared, yet you excuse SeaWorld's failure to follow that schedule as well as their failure to follow their online schedule published the prior day, or the park hours when they sold us the tickets. Again, it is clear that you view my true failure as not preparing for SeaWorld to do whatever it wanted.

"Weather is always a wild card and it"s a bummer when things don't go our way. . . Try to adopt a positive attitude when the weather literally rains on your parade" -- First of all, again, to be clear, this has nothing to do with the weather. The park remained open throughout the bad weather, announced the closing after it had mostly cleared, and guest services conceded it wasn't about the weather. Second, we did have a positive attitude!! This is literally how I ended my post: "Again, we all loved what we were able to see and do - I do recommend the park. I wish our schedules allowed us to get there earlier or on another day, or that they simply would have followed their advertised schedule, but such is life."

Ah well.

I'm sorry you had a frustrating day. A lot of your issues could have been avoided if you had been better prepared and managed your expectations. Weather is always a wild card and it"s a bummer when things don't go our way.

Noted for future: start day earlier or accept you will have a rushed day. Check schedule day of. Arrive prompt for shows (this is applicable in many parks/shows). Add slush time in your schedule for unexpected stuff that can derail your timeline. Try to adopt a positive attitude when the weather literally rains on your parade.

Cheers to you in 2020!
 

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