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SeaWorld’s New Show!

I asked my dear friend/former co-worker/SeaWorld killer whale trainer, Shanen Cox, to share her insight and experience working on SeaWorld’ newest show, Shamu Celebration: Light Up The Night! Shanen is a killer – killer whale trainer (<— see what I did there?) at SeaWorld San Diego. You may remember her from my eBook, Wear a Wetsuit at Work! She has worked with a variety of marine animals including; penguins, sea lions, dolphins and now killer whales! She is a great behaviorist and awesome trainer!

I haven’t seen Light Up The Night, but I have heard from guests and trainers that the show is AWESOME! The show is filled with amazing energy, a great educational component, and showcases these amazing animals like never before.

During my career I was lucky enough to be a part of implementing new shows. What I loved most about the process was the positive response from the animals. Wether it was with penguins or killer whales, creating these novel shows was highly stimulating and reinforcing to the animals.

Okay, enough about me! Let’s hear from Shanen!

(And remember, if you have seen Shamu’s Celebration: Light Up The Night, leave your comments below! And thank you Hannah Grace for some of these great images and video!)

Shamu’s Celebration Light Up the Night!

By: Shanen Cox

Nothing screams summer at SeaWorld quite like an evening Shamu show followed by an awesome firework display.



Shamu’s Celebration: Light Up the Night is no different, and is presented as Shamu’s biggest party in over 50 years. It is one that showcases everything guests look for in a night show- fun music, beautiful lighting effects, a D.J., and of course the most amazing creatures at the park showcasing their athleticism and strength.

I never realized how much effort went into putting in a new show. You have to plan what behaviors will go well with what parts of the song, and then know at what time to send that behavior in order for it to happen at the right musical timing. You have to maintain behavioral criteria, train new repertoires of behavior for certain parts of the show, and still have great showmanship and energy while on stage presenting these incredible animals and behaviors.


Light Up The Night – San Antonio

A new, fun aspect of this show is the addition of an upbeat DJ getting the crowd excited for the show. The DJ helps get the crowd dancing to some fun music before the show begins, in addition to holding an interview with one of the Shamu trainers before the show. The interview allows the trainer to showcase their story of how they got to where they are in their career, what they’ve learned from working with such amazing animals, what the park has learned from whales over the past 50 years as far as research, and then is able to pinpoint exactly when the crowd will see the trainer again with their whale companion. It’s truly a fun way for the crowd to see the trainer as a real person who worked hard to achieve their dream, and then see said trainer living the dream in the show.

After the interview the stadium goes dark and in a few short seconds, music starts, a whale starts swimming out from the back and goosebumps appear on everyone’s body when said whale completes a spectacular aerial behavior with that perfect musical timing mentioned earlier.

The show continues in 4 total segments with incredible behaviors throughout, DJ participation, a ballet segment showcasing the relationship and bond shared between trainer and animal, followed by more upbeat music and of course, with a final “splishale” (splash time and finale). After an incredible finale, staying in your seat provides the best seat in the house for the firework spectacular.



Overall, the show has a new level of energy and excitement, perfect for the celebration of 50 years of excellence. SeaWorld has really brought a “Sea of Surprises” to their summer this year, but the icing on the cake is this new Shamu show. With spectacular lighting effects, spunky DJ, new upbeat music and incredible animals showcasing their athleticism this show is without a doubt a celebration that indeed lights up your night.


Light Up The Night – SeaWorld San Antonio



San Antonio Killer Whale Trainer – Light Up The Night




Photo Credits: Hannah Grace