Is Busch Gardens About To Be Sold To The Owners Of Legoland?

Merlin Entertainments, owner of Legoland, is interested in buying Busch Gardens from its troubled parent company, SeaWorld Entertainment.

Merlin’s chief financial officer disclosed the interest during a conference call with analysts Monday. SeaWorld — which owns 12 theme parks and water parks, including the original Busch Gardens in Tampa and a second Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va. — released second-quarter results Tuesday morning that showed a $175.9 million loss.

SeaWorld has struggled with plunging profits after the damaging documentary “Blackfish” came out in 2013 and public sentiment shifted against the company’s handling of killer whales. Despite planning to phase out the breeding and showing of killer whales, attendance continues to decline. It has tried to shift its focus to rides and announced an end to its orca breeding program. Theatrical performances are being restaged in favor of more nature-based encounters.

Last week SunTrust analyst Michael A. Swartz said that SeaWorld could generate $800 million to $1 billion if it sold off its regional parks such as Busch Gardens.

Meanwhile, Merlin chief financial officer Anne-Francoise Nesmes said during an earnings call Monday it was keeping a close eye on Busch Gardens.

“It takes two parties to do a deal. So we do not know what SeaWorld’s intentions are, but we do believe that those assets (Busch Gardens) are interesting and we could certainly do a lot with them particularly around accommodation. So to us it’s about having the right discussion with a willing partner and making sure we have the right financial return,” Nesmes said.

Merlin, which is based in the United Kingdom, has enjoyed healthy growth in recent years at its eight Legoland theme parks around the world (including LegoLand Florida in Winter Haven) and its other tourist attractions, including Madame Tussauds, the London Eye and the recently opened Orlando Eye. In Monday’s report, Merlin said the number of visitors to its attractions increased by 6.2 percent to 29.7 million with revenue up 19.4 percent to $893 million for the first half of the year.

Recent reports have suggested SeaWorld has hired investment adviser Evercore to find a potential buyer. SeaWorld has so far offered no comment on reports by the Deal Reporter, a financial news service, on the Evercore hiring. Evercore is known as a firm specializing in mergers and acquisitions, restructurings, public offerings and private placements.

In Tuesday’s earnings report, said it lost $2.05 per share. Earnings, adjusted for asset impairment costs, were $1.09 per share.

The results topped Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 31 cents per share.

The theme park operator posted revenue of $373.8 million in the period, missing Street forecasts. Eight analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $398.4 million.

SeaWorld shares have fallen 28 percent since the beginning of the year. The stock has increased 3 percent in the last 12 months.

Bitcoin is Now Worth Nearly Three Times the Price of Gold

Gold is often seen as an investment “safe-haven” due to the long term stability of the commodity. It is also often used as a standard by which to compare cryptocurrency, especially Bitcoin. Many of the leading cryptocurrency’s major milestones have been viewed in terms of their comparison to gold.

The latest numbers are truly staggering. The price of Bitcoin reached a high today of over $3,400 (at the time of writing it stands at a similarly impressive $3,390.66), while the price of an ounce of gold is $1,260.40. This leaves Bitcoin at nearly triple the price of gold, renewing speculations about the ability of Bitcoin to become a substitute for gold.

This is great news considering the tumultuous recent history of Bitcoin that resulted in a much-dreaded splitting point for the currency. Still, Bitcoin has never been stronger in spite of (or perhaps thanks to) the upheaval.

Bitcoin also enjoyed some significant gains this weekend, crossing $3,200 for the first time in history.

Bitcoin, and cryptocurrencies in general, are enjoying an uptick in public visibility, which is undoubtedly fortifying the impressive gains being made. It will be interesting to see how meteoric the rise of Bitcoin will continue to be.

Virtual Reality ‘Star Wars’ Attractions Coming to Disney Springs

Disney is teaming up with virtual reality gaming center The Void to launch an immersive Star Wars experience at two of its sites. Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire lets you step inside the intergalactic world of the hit films through a VR headset. You’ll also be able to touch, feel, and even smell your surroundings (which may not bode well if you end up chilling with Yoda on Dagobah). Built in collaboration with Lucasfilm, the new experience hits Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort this holiday season.

For those not familiar with The Void, its gaming centres offer “hyper-reality” attractions. Essentially, you enter real rooms in groups, wearing the company’s headsets and haptic feedback vests that allow you to interact with the VR environments. Some of these are based on movies, like its Ghostbusters: Dimensions experience that lets you use virtual plasma packs to zap green ghouls.

Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire is The Void’s first partnership with the House of Mouse, since it joined its accelerator program in July. It will see the company open its gaming centres on the Disney sites — through which guests will jump into the virtual adventure.

The social VR experience could be the first of many immersive Star Wars-themed attractions at the parks, courtesy of the folks at Lucasfilm’s ILMxLab division. Just last month Disney revealed ambitious plans of building an entire hotel based on the franchise. And then there’s its upcoming Star Wars theme park, due to open in 2019 at both Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida.

U-Haul Offers 30 Days Free Self-Storage to Florida Residents Affected by Tropical Storm Emily

Four U-Haul Companies are offering 30 days of free self-storage and U-Box container usage over a wide area of Florida to residents who have been or will be impacted by flooding in the region.

Concerns of flooded streets and homes have created the need for safe and secure self-storage options where people can keep their possessions.

“This region is the bull’s-eye when it comes to rainfall and flooding,” U-Haul Company of Western Florida president Dave Thompson said. “Tropical Storm Emily has strengthened and we have been warned about flooding, wind speeds and riptides. As a longstanding and committed member of these communities, U-Haul is ready to help by offering families a dry place to store their belongings for 30 days at no cost.”

The U-Haul Companies of Western FloridaGainesvilleJacksonville and Tampa have made 28 facilities across nine cities available to provide assistance.

People seeking additional information about the 30 days free self-storage assistance or needing to make arrangements should contact the participating location nearest them:

U-Haul Moving & Storage of Amelia Island (Self-storage)

1830 S. 8th St.

Fernandina Beach, FL 32034

(904) 491-6966

U-Haul Moving & Storage at Edgewood Ave. (Self-storage)

1651 W. Edgewood Ave.

Jacksonville, FL 32208

(904) 764-2516

U-Haul Moving & Storage at Regency (Self-storage)

9411 Atlantic Blvd.

Jacksonville, FL 32225

(904) 720-1932

U-Haul Moving & Storage at Phillips & Emerson (Self-storage)

3435 Phillips Hwy.

Jacksonville, FL 32207

(904) 398-3016

U-Haul Moving & Storage of Mandarin (Self-storage)

11490 San Jose Blvd.

Jacksonville, FL 32223

(904) 292-9404

U-Haul Moving & Storage at Normandy Blvd. (Self-storage)

5481 Normandy Blvd.

Jacksonville, FL 32205

(904) 786-2424

U-Haul Moving & Storage of South Jacksonville (Self-storage)

5630 Phillips Hwy.

Jacksonville, FL 32207

(904) 731-1383

U-Haul Moving & Storage of Downtown Jacksonville (Self-storage)

400 W. Ashley St.

Jacksonville, FL 32202

(904) 358-9909

U-Haul Moving & Storage of Mayport (Self-storage)

1650 Mayport Road

Atlantic Beach, FL 32233

(904) 249-9934

U-Haul Moving & Storage of St. Augustine (Self-storage)

3524 U.S. Hwy. 1 S.

St. Augustine, FL 32086

(904) 797-3667

U-Haul Moving & Storage of North Sarasota (Self-storage and U-Box)

7850 N. Tamiami Trail

Sarasota, FL 34243

(941) 355-8535

U-Haul Moving & Storage of South Sarasota (Self-storage and U-Box)

4861 S. Tamiami Trail

Sarasota, FL 34231

(941) 921-6605

U-Haul Moving & Storage of South Ocala (Self-storage and U-Box)

5555 S. Pine Ave.

Ocala, FL 34480

(352) 368-7003

U-Haul Moving & Storage of Ocala (Self-storage and U-Box)

505 SW 17th St.

Ocala, FL 34471

(352) 867-8442

U-Haul Storage of Brooksville (Self-storage and U-Box)

15334 Cortez Blvd.

Brooksville, FL 34613

(352) 799-0591

U-Haul Moving & Storage of Spring Hill (Self-storage and U-Box)

13416 Cortez Blvd.

Brooksville, FL 34613

(352) 596-6825

U-Haul Moving & Storage at Moon Lake (Self-storage and U-Box)

10601 State Road 52

Hudson, FL 34669

(727) 856-1633

U-Haul Moving & Storage of Hudson (Self-storage and U-Box)

14906 U.S. 19

Hudson, FL 34667

(727) 862-2572

U-Haul Moving & Storage at West Waters Ave. (Self-storage)

5404 W. Waters Ave.

Tampa, FL 33634

(813) 249-9677

U-Haul Moving & Storage at Florida Ave. (Self-storage)

9505 N. Florida Ave.

Tampa, FL 33612

(813) 933-0499

U-Haul Moving & Storage at Gandy Blvd. (Self-storage)

3939 W. Gandy Blvd.

Tampa, FL 33611

(813) 832-5682

U-Haul Moving & Storage at Citrus Park (Self-storage)

6111 Gunn Hwy.

Tampa, FL 33625

(813) 962-7338

U-Haul Moving & Storage of North Tampa (Self-storage)

10415 N. Florida Ave.

Tampa, FL 33612

(813) 933-2821

U-Haul Moving & Storage of Historic Ybor City (Self-storage)

2309 Angel Oliva Senior St.

Tampa, FL 33605

(813) 247-5936

U-Haul Moving & Storage at Westchase (Self-storage)

11401 W. Hillsborough Ave.

Tampa, FL 33635

(813) 855-5976

U-Haul Moving & Storage of East Tampa (Self-storage)

5806 N. 56th St.

Tampa, FL 33610

(813) 621-9764

U-Haul Moving & Storage of West Tampa (Self-storage)

4406 W. Hillsborough Ave.

Tampa, FL 33614

(813) 873-2333

U-Haul Moving & Storage of South Tampa (Self-storage)

3826 W. Marcum St.

Tampa, FL 33616

(813) 839-2376

With U-Box containers, you can conveniently pick up our custom-designed trailer and take your U-Box with you. U-Haul also can store your U-Box container in our secure warehouses or pick up and deliver it to a location of your choice. Watch the new U-Box TV commercial here.

U-Haul stores offer needed supplies to help with recovery like boxes, tarps, propane and propane tanks. U-Haul urges customers to ensure their tanks are topped off since propane is good to have in the event of long-term power outages.

U-Haul is the industry leader in do-it-yourself moving and self-storage with more than 21,000 locations across the U.S. and Canada. In addition to its 30 days of free self-storage assistance, U-Haul is proud to be at the forefront of aiding communities during times of disaster as an official American Red Cross Disaster Responder.

 

These Kirkland Brand Products are Why You Need a Costco Membership

Let’s go ahead and establish the tone for this article right now. Costco might be the best thing to happen to the general shopping experience since the first person set up a store. Your shopping trip could easily include picking up socks, dinner, a new computer, flowers for the garden, and filling up your gas tank. Plus, it doesn’t come with all the guilt of shopping at other stores like it. Where Wal-Mart hosts food drives for its employees and actively suppresses workers’ efforts to improve their job experience, Costco is routinely ranked one of the best places to work. The company treats its employees well, has ridiculously low turnover because it actually rewards employee loyalty (and reciprocates that loyalty), provides benefits to the vast majority of workers, and voluntarily keeps markups low on products to save customers money. It’s a wholesale club with the labor philosophy of a family-owned corner store.

The company’s excellence carries into its Kirkland brand as well. Everything with the Kirkland logo on it is guaranteed to be a quality product, and that guarantee doesn’t come in the form of some corporate disclaimer or marketing stunt. It comes in the form of Costco making way better stuff than they ever needed to. Next time you find yourself in a Costco, or maybe we’ve just convinced you to start doing your weekly shopping there, make sure you give these Kirkland brand products a shot.

Booze

There are a ton of rumors flying around about Kirkland brand spirits and they’re incredibly difficult to verify. People have said Kirkland vodka is Grey Goose’s overflow and that Knob Creek and Macallan regularly supply the brand with whiskey. The prevailing theory seems to be that when high end distilleries of any number of alcohols have spirits they aren’t happy with or made too much of, Kirkland swoops in and swallows it up. Again, we can’t verify this, but if there’s truth to those rumors, it would explain a lot. For example, it would explain why Kirkland vodka costs next to nothing and doesn’t make us hate ourselves in the morning. In fact, it made us a lot more confident in vodka’s potential to be good, an opinion that’s backed up by the opinion of people who drink a lot more vodka than we do.

This isn’t a “better for the price” situation. Kirkland spirits are a high quality alternative to dropping a couple hundred bucks at the liquor store. In fact, the cult following of the brand is growing all the time and we might be saying stuff one of your friends has been saying for years. As what might be the ultimate sign that Kirkland booze is an excellent choice to stock your house, check out this post on Reddit. In a rare display of unity, every top comment is a recommendation to try their brand, and that’s if it’s not a glowing endorsement. Obviously still go ahead and get some top shelf stuff, but for everyday mixing and sipping, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with keeping a few of these bottles handy. If anything, you’re going to find out exactly which of your friends are spirit connoisseurs and which are just posing.

Barbecue Meats

The butcher at Costco is one of the more appetizing to walk through. At some locations, you can watch the butchers work and they are consummate professionals. Their cuts are clean and precise, they’re more than knowledgeable, and they’re happy to help customers, even if that means recutting or redistributing what they’ve already done. They’re great at their jobs and they clearly enjoy what they’re doing, which are the two main things we use to evaluate the people who sell us stuff.

Their product is excellent too. It’s great meat and here’s another place we won’t cheapen that sentiment by adding “for the price.” The price is great too, but neither detracts from the other and you don’t have to rationalize eating one of their generic steaks the way you might have to at cheaper grocery stores. Provided you cook it right, you and your guests will be more than happy with your burgers, sausage, ribs, steaks, pork belly, hot dogs, chicken, turkey, or whatever else you buy.

Pet Food

Here’s a personal anecdote as support for a larger claim. Kirkland dog food made my dog happier. I brought home a few sample bags on one of my trips to the store, because it was a sample bag and the lady offered me enough to feed the dog for a few days. In those couple days, the dog looked healthier, had more energy, and was generally far happier than he had been in weeks. From then on, that’s what he’s eaten and it’s been a sustained difference from the previous food.

That also taught me that maybe the people on all those TV commercials aren’t full of shit. The paragraph I just wrote could have easily been ad copy for an annoying Blue Buffalo ad. But those are the genuine results of Kirkland dog food, at least for my own personal pet and there’s also no way for me to make it sound like I’m not currently writing a couch testimonial for a shitty ad, so I’m just going to close this by saying at least take the free sample if the lady offers you one.

Sunglasses

We find it a bit weird that they don’t list their sunglasses on the Costco website. They only have two types, one athletic and one casual, but they’d be so easy to pack and ship that not listing them online seems like a missed opportunity. Especially since these are the perfect sunglasses for everyday use. They’re polarized, sturdy, and come with their own cases and microfiber cleaning cloths. The pairs we’ve seen haven’t cost more than $30, which is the perfect price for buying a decent pair for leaving in a car or by the front door. They’re stylish enough that they look like they cost more than $30. Not hundreds of dollars more, but still. More.

A Giant Wheel of Parmesan Cheese

We’ve never had the need for 72 pounds of Parmesan cheese, but now that we know it’s so accessible, we’re going to work pretty hard to find one. If we have to spend a month eating pasta and Italian soups, that’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make. Plus this isn’t a big tub of American knockoff cheese. This is genuine, imported Italian parmigiano reggiano aged for 24 months possibly in a cave. For nearly a thousand dollars, sure, but people have spent more on weirder, so we don’t think this is such a crazy thing. And when we looked around for comparable products, the best we could find was price quotes from high scale websites. Fine Italian dining is finally within grasp.

Gasoline

The attraction of this is more that it makes Costco a completely one stop shop for anything and everything you’d need in a week. You can get your shopping done, then pull the car around a corner and fill it up too. It’s probably not anything to go out of your way to get, but if you find yourself at the wholesale club and also a little low on fuel, there’s no harm in pulling around and topping up. This is going to be a specialty thing not every Costco offers, but if yours does, take advantage.

Kitchen Pots and Pans

Unless you’re one of the only families in the world to pass cast iron cookware from generation to generation in a tradition stretching back hundreds of years, everyone needs to buy themselves a set of pots and pans for their kitchen. When you do, you’ll want a set that’s durable, versatile, and affordable, all words that can be and are being used to describe Kirkland’s set. For less than two hundred bucks, you can outfit your new apartment, house, vacation home, RV, cabin, or whatever other domicile you’re furnishing with every pot or pan you’ll need for good home cooking. Plus everything can be used on the stovetop or in the oven too, so you don’t even have the limitations that cheap, plastic handled pots and pans have. In fact, we may have just talked ourselves into buying a backup set.

 

Amazon Holds National Job Fair, Looking For 50,000 Workers

The e-commerce behemoth Amazon is so keen to fill 50,000 open jobs that it’s holding a series of job fairs across the country. Most of those jobs are in its warehouses and sortation centers, and the problem Amazon is encountering is that the labor market for people who work in warehouses is becoming very competitive.

That’s because shipping centers for big e-commerce operations tend to cluster in the same areas, near airports, major highways, and with easy access to shipping hubs. In many of these areas, Amazon is planning to hold job fairs next week, with on-the-spot hiring for qualified candidates. The pay varies by region, but warehouse positions are generally full-time.

At the beginning this year, Amazon announced plans to hire more than 100,000 people in the United States, with a target date of a year from now. Out of the 50,000 jobs that it’s looking to fill now, 40,000 of them are in warehouses, choosing and packing your orders with the help of shelves mounted on very graceful robots. Most of the rest are part-time jobs in the company’s sortation centers.

“The workers that used to work in the retail stores, now we need those same workers in warehouses,” Brian Devine of ProLogistix, a staffing company in the logistics business, told the WSJ.

Now unemployment rates are plummeting near those warehouses, and the industry is starting to worry about finding enough workers to keep the places going once the holiday shopping season begins.

Scientists Say You Should Play Video Games On Your Breaks At Work

It’s no secret that our jobs — often riddled with endless to-do lists and office politics — can be a source of tension. But a short break with some video games may be one of the best ways to help us relieve stress at work, a recent study suggests.

In surveys by the American Psychological Association from 2007 to 2015, work was consistently one of the most commonly named stressors, while a separate survey suggests that 80% of Americans may be stressed at work. All of that adds up — and considering stress is linked to impulsive decision-making, lowered productivity and a higher chance of mistakes, employers should really care about how we feel at work.

To test what helps alleviate employees the most, scientists asked 66 study participants to perform computer-based work that induces “cognitive fatigue,” which is often the result of stress, frustration or anxiety. Then they asked the participants to take a break, telling them to either rest quietly in the room without a phone or computer, take part in a guided relaxation exercise or play a video game called Sushi Cat for a bit.

Participants who just sat there reported little positive results after their break, while those who did de-stressing exercises felt less negative effects, the study said. However, only those who played the video game actually reported feeling better.

“We often try to power through the day to get more work finished, which might not be as effective as taking some time to detach for a few minutes,” Michael Rupp, one of the study authors and a doctoral student in human factors and cognitive psychology at the University of Central Florida, said in a release. “People should plan short breaks to make time for an engaging and enjoyable activity, such as video games, that can help them recharge.”

Now, we just have to convince our bosses a PS4 in the office is a worthy expense.

Is Your Boss Too Controlling? Many Employees Clash With Micromanagers

Micromanagement is routinely the top complaint people have about their bosses, and in today’s good job market where workers have more options, that’s a bigger problem for employers.

People might have their own definition of when a manager crosses into being too controlling, but most people would probably agree that Marjon Bell’s former boss would fit.

On her first day on a marketing job at a Virginia Beach, Va., insurance company, Bell’s boss sent an email barring employees from bringing cellphones to the office. The email said that moms, especially, spent too much time on their phones checking up on their children.

That, Bell says, was just one of her boss’s many rules.

“If we left campus for lunch, [we had] to email her when we left and email her when we got back,” Bell says.

Predictably, few people took lunch.

The boss also monitored the instant messaging system, which displayed a green light when someone was logged in, and a yellow one after they had been idle.

“Usually you had like a 10-minute window before your light turned yellow, and then they changed it to only two minutes,” Bell says. “And I came back from the restroom, and my boss was standing at my cubicle wondering where I’d been.”

Bell says the micromanagement was systemic. Her employer offered a $500 monthly bonus that rewarded co-workers for micromanaging each other.

“If you came in five minutes late, if you left early, if you took a little bit longer at lunch, whoever reported you would get an accountability award,” she says.

It was unclear whom Bell could trust, but she says morale was terrible. A disgruntled employee ransacked the toilets in the women’s restroom, she says, “to stick it to the man.” Management posted a notice outlining “rules on bathroom use” on the stall doors in response.

Bell quit after six months.

“I did the absolute bare minimum to get my paycheck,” she says. “It did not make me want to help the company in any way.”

Steve Motenko, an executive coach in Seattle, hears stories like this all the time. Micromanagement can kill motivation, employee creativity and job satisfaction, and yet it remains the biggest beef workers have about their boss.

“That’s critically important, because it’s complaints about the boss that drive most people out of organizations,” he says.

That’s especially a problem when recruitment is a top concern for employers, many of whom Motenko says aren’t even aware of the micromanagers in their midst because departing employees often aren’t questioned about it in exit interviews.

Motenko says micromanagement can reflect several problems. A bad hire or a lack of training might force a manager to constantly intervene. A disorganized boss often creates havoc that makes teamwork impossible.

These are all understandable, if regrettable, outcomes of poor management, but may not mean the person is necessarily a habitual micromanager — and circumstances make close supervision necessary, he says.

Still, many leaders Motenko has counseled have an overactive command-and-control style of leadership that leaves little room for worker autonomy, and he argues that doesn’t fit most jobs today.

“We need employees who will do more than do what they’re told — employees who will think for themselves, who will be creative, who will try new approaches,” he says, “and all of that is squashed by micromanaging.”

Studies show lack of autonomy at work elevates stress hormones and can have other negative health effects, potentially even hastening mortality.

It certainly took its toll for Chicago resident Abby Koch 15 years ago, when she worked for a jewelry store owner.

“She would literally say things like, ‘Well, I’m not a micromanager …’ as she was standing behind me, literally looking over my shoulder,” she says.

The owner’s constant critiques eroded Koch’s self-esteem and that of her co-worker.

“The other employee ended up having to take medication just to be able to go to work and not be crippled by anxiety,” Koch says.

She lasted 18 months in that job.

“I ended up getting divorced, and I always thought my … I don’t know … lack of standing up for myself in that situation may have caused my husband to lose some respect for me,” she says.

Since then, she says she has always prized and chosen jobs that give her autonomy.

Amazon Is Already Selling Its Prepackaged Meal Kits

With news surfacing earlier this week of a forthcoming meal kit service from Amazon, it now seems that those kits are already available to some customers of AmazonFresh. Reports suggest that there are currently 17 different options available, with a wide range of food styles and dietary options taking in everything from a Veggie Burger with Harissa Aioli to Steak Au Poivre with Parmesan Fries. Presented with the tagline “We do the prep. You be the chef.”, vegetarian options come in at around the $16 USD mark with other variations reportedly available at up to $20 USD for two servings – prices that seem to stack up pretty neatly with would-be competitors like HelloFresh and Blue Apron.

With Amazon meal kits seemingly having already been available at the company’s Amazon Go store in Seattle, no concrete date for online availability has yet been announced.

Discovery Cove Announces New Shark Swim Experience

In celebration of Shark Awareness Day on July 14, guests at Discovery Cove can now take part in exclusive new animal experiences at the park. Discovery Cove has always been known for its memorable dolphin interactions, and now guests can enhance their visit with one of-a-kind, hands-on encounters with sharks and stingrays.

The awe-inspiring Shark Swim program provides closer-than-ever encounters with legendary predators. While guests have always been able to view park’s sharks, the new program takes them on a daring next step – swimming freely among five species: Pacific blacktip, reef whitetip, nurse shark, zebra shark, and a spotted wobbegong.

The immersive session is divided into two unique interactions and begins as guests meet with the park’s shark team and head into the water. Through hands-on interaction, guests learn about shark anatomy and the threats the animals face in the wild. Guests can also join the sharks in the deeper part of their habitat and embark on an exhilarating snorkel experience.

Discovery Cove works to dispel myths about sharks and to inspire guests to learn more about these mysterious creatures. As top predators, sharks play an essential role in maintaining the balance of ocean ecosystems worldwide by monitoring fish populations. Sadly, shark finning and overfishing threaten many shark species and disrupt that natural balance. Guests who take part in the new Shark Swim program will walk away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for these fascinating ocean ambassadors.

The Shark Swim experience is available to Discovery Cove guests ages 10 and older. The cost is $85 per person. For every shark swim package purchased, SeaWorld will donate 5% of the proceeds to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) in support of shark conservation and research.

In addition to the Shark Swim program, Discovery Cove has launched a new Ray Feeding experience. This exclusive opportunity gives guests the chance to feed the stingrays during a private tour of the Grand Reef. Guided by one of the park’s aquarists, guests ages 6 and older spend their session in the Grand Reef learning all about the species of rays as they hand-feed the incredible creatures. The Ray Feeding program is $50 per person.

The new interaction programs require a Dolphin Swim or Day Resort reservation at Discovery Cove to participate. Space for each program is limited and guests are encouraged to book in advance. For additional program and booking details, guests can visit www.discoverycove.com

Beginning August 1, Florida residents who book a day at Discovery Cove will also receive unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica, SeaWorld’s water park, through January 2018 – including SeaWorld’s special holiday events.