The History of Australia's Sea World

Australia?s Sea World

SeaWorld is one of Australia’s premier attractions, drawing tourists from all over the world out of their cosy furnished apartments. SeaWorld is located on the Gold Coast, a prime piece of real estate full of attractions, both manmade and natural.

But how did SeaWorld get started, and who were the people that were instrumental in its establishment? Here is the abridged history of Australia’s SeaWorld.

In the Beginning

The history of SeaWorld begins with Keith Williams in 1958. A local businessman, Williams purchased a large tract of land along the Gold Coast with the intent of developing a tourist attraction that would draw people to Australia.

Calling his venture the Ski Gardens, the early days of SeaWorld were devoted to showcasing Williams’ love of water skiing as a tourist attraction. Indeed, this legacy lingers on with the heavy emphasis on water skiing exhibitions for audiences. Ski Gardens also attracted international attention and hosted several events for water skiers from all over the world.

As Ski Gardens blossomed and grew, so did the crowds. Looking to expand, Ski Gardens relocated down the Gold Coast, a short distance from its original site in 1971. The original site was then utilised for other pursuits until 1972 when Williams built a marine auditorium for sea lion and dolphin shows in order to broaden the appeal of his investment.

This decision led to the incorporation of SeaWorld, taking the various small enterprises owned by Williams that were scattered around the Gold Coast and bringing them under one roof.

The Next Step

SeaWorld took a giant step forward in 1976 when its main competitor, Marineland, was purchased by Williams. The famous aquatic performers were transferred to the swelling SeaWorld, cementing its place as the premier aquatic attraction in Queensland. Adding to the amusement park in 1978, major rides were built, including the Viking's Revenge Flume Ride and Castle. The biggest bump to SeaWorld’s reputation came in 1982 when the ‘Corkscrew’ opened. Crowds flocked to take a ride on the roller coaster, including government officials such as Joh Bjelke Petersen.

Williams, now looking to focus his attention on building Gold Coast-based luxury resorts and serviced apartments, sold SeaWorld to a consortium in 1984. The sale in 1984 provided a fresh injection of capital for SeaWorld.

Global Marketing

Effective marketing to a more international crowd led to record rates of attendance in the late 1980s and mid-1990s. Tourists flocked from across the globe to see the rapidly expanding SeaWorld.

A true windfall occurred in 1999 when SeaWorld secured the sponsorship of the Cartoon Network. A portion of the park was dedicated to the network’s cartoon characters, which attracted even bigger crowds.

Recent additions to SeaWorld include housing endangered polar bears in the early 2000s and the expansion of educational programs that entertain while also informing the public of the fragile nature of Earth’s aquatic habitats.

Throughout its history, SeaWorld has consistently entertained flocks of tourists. The future looks bright for this Gold Coast mainstay.

Kushal Tomar

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