Saturday, February 10, 2024

Sea World, San Diego

I have scans from Sea World in San Diego! I went to Sea World a few times when I was a kid, and enjoyed all of the typical marine mammal shows that we are familiar with today, with orcas, sea lions, and dolphins (or are they porpoises?) leaping and performing tricks.

I love this first view of the entry structure and ticket booths, with the large A-frame building giving off a tiki vibe. This one is from October, 1972. Incidentally, the sign clearly says "Sea World", but apparently the park is now called "SeaWorld'.

Wikipedia sez: SeaWorld is located on San Diego's Mission Bay. SeaWorld was founded on March 21, 1964, by four graduates of the University of California, Los Angeles. Although their original idea of an underwater restaurant was not feasible at the time, the idea was shifted into a 22-acre marine zoological park along the shore of Mission Bay in San Diego. After an investment of about $1.5 million, the park opened with 45 employees, several dolphins, sea lions, and two seawater aquariums. It hosted more than 400,000 visitors in its first year of operation.

This next one is interesting (from August, 1968); King Neptune, formerly holding court over at Pacific Ocean Park, is now glowering at guests in Sea World! I like to put my chair in the water too, so in a way I am very much like King Neptune. POP closed less than a year before this photo was taken (in October of 1967), and all of the rides and props were auctioned off to the highest bidder. I wonder how long King Neptune was on display in San Diego?

I scrounged two publicity photos of King Neptune when he was in his Courtyard at POP. While I am distracted by the leggy babes, there was an impressive scene with many denizens of the sea surrounding the King.

It's clear that King Neptune had some work done by the time he lived in San Diego, presumably so that he would be suited for outdoor display. Hey, another pretty gal - it's good to be the King!


Nanook said...

I had no idea 'ol King Neptune moved south upon his retirement from POP. I undoubtedly saw him luxuriating in his throne on my one and only visit to Sea World back in 1972.

Thanks, Major.

walterworld said...

It looks like he got 'pissier' in his Sea World incarnation, sadly...

JB said...

That tiki-ish A-frame really grabs your eye, doesn't it. Which of course, it is meant to do. Lots of interesting '70s fashions here. Maybe the couple on the right, closest to us, are part of the photographer's group; they're the only ones looking at us. Near the entrance there is a woman wearing a sailor-type outfit. "Well helloooo sailor!" (Apologies to Melissa.)

That's an impressive King Neptune. I don't see any trashcans but I do see at least eight turtles. I wonder if the turtles nibble at Neptune's toes?

As you noted, Major, quite a few changes have been made to King Neptune in his transition from POP to Sea World: Clothing, beard, trident, crown, turtles instead of leggy babes.

A nice Saturday Travelogue, Major. Thanks.

TokyoMagic! said...

I hope Neptune still exists somewhere out there. His head is in a different position was it adjustable, did they detach it and reattach it, or was it animatronic and able to rotate 360 degrees like the Matterhorn's Christmas star?

I'm assuming those are all real turtles in the pond below Neptune (in the Sea World pic).

Thanks for the vintage trip to Sea World, Major!

Lou and Sue said...

Interesting images today!

Mike, didn’t you create a model using that building as an inspiration??

It looks like our last gal has an unusual purse….a porpoise purse??

Thanks, Major.

TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, good catch! It looks like the purse might be in the shape of an angelfish. But I bet the model posed with that purse on porpoise.

Lou and Sue said...

You’re right, TM! From this angle it DOES look like an angelfish purse.

TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, I bet the photographer recommended that she not pose with the purse, but she did it anyway....just for the halibut.


I grew up going to Sea World having lived in San Diego. The King Neptune statue was over at the ATLANTIS RESTAURANT- it’s across the bay from the park and housed the opposite station of the BAYSIDE SKYRIDE . My grandfather’s company Teledyne-Ryan Aeronautics used to have their company Christmas party at the ATLANTIS and after guests had access to the rest of Sea World. SOMEWHERE I have a picture of me with my youngest uncle and grandmother standing in front of KING NEPTUNE … around 1972 / 1973 but statue is finished to look like a marble statue and is on a pedestal in a fountain inside a interior courtyard . In the picture the fountain is lined with potted poinsettia plants being around Christmas . I think by 1975/1976 the King Neptune statue was removed from the restaurant or at lest relocated . A 1977 Christmas part shows a modern looking Christmas tree in the center of the lobby (??) fountain. The Atlantis restaurant building still stands with its “modern - an ancient” stylized Greek classical sculptured sea theme walls but it’s now an oceanographic research facility. The Von Roll skyride still operates and the same station at the Atlantis remains but it’s used only as a turn-around point.

Sue ; I did a series mid century architectural models that included two Tiki themed 60’s Bowling alleys “Aloha Lanes” and “Tahiti Bowl” both had entry’s inspired by several San Diego locations some still standing - some long gone , including the Sea World 1964 entry bridge.

JG said...

King Neptune shows us all, he has a porpoise in life, and is dedicated to his task, not just getting his feet wet.

We visited Sea World once, in 2013, I think. We were fortunate to live near a similar park in Vallejo, so our kids got the requisite dose of cetacean shows there.

Fascinating reporpoising of the artifact, Major. Thanks for the pictures and memories too, everyone.


K. Martinez said...

I went to Sea World San Diego when it first opened in 1964 and never returned after that. All I remember was an underwater theater with a "mermaid" show like those in Florida and my mom getting a pearl from one of the pearl divers.

Also remember having a tin-toy seal with spinning "ball" on its nose from that visit. That's long gone.

The A-frame entrance is very nice.

Thanks, Major.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, nowadays King Neptune works at Hotdog on a Stick, and he looks great in the uniform.

walterworld, I can’t tell if they just put “angry eyebrows” on him, or if is whole face was redone.

JB, I do like that impressive A-frame, and miss the days when the tiki aesthetic was more popular. The 1972 fashions are surprisingly neat and tidy, I guess the crazy 70s stuff didn’t really come along until later? It makes me a little sad to see King Neptune evicted from his original undersea kingdom, but at least he was still around.

TokyoMagic!, it would be amazing if King Neptune is out there somewhere, but my guess is that sitting out in the elements probably ruined him eventually. I also wondered about his head, and if it moved, but I have no idea really. The turtles look real, just like the ones at a local botanical garden.

Lou and Sue, does that woman keep sand dollars in her porpoise purse?

TokyoMagic!, you know more about fish than Jacques Cousteau.

Lou and Sue, sure, fish purses are great, but what about fish HATS?

TokyoMagic!, OUCH.

Mike Cozart, it’s weird to think of King Neptune repainted to look like a marble statue - somehow it feels like he suffered yet another indignity. As I said to TM, my guess is that they had to redo him because he was faded or weathered from being out in the sun. They should have covered him with a specially made tarp each night! I’d love it if you could find the photo you mentioned. And now we know he was there until the mid-1970s, which is interesting. I haven’t been to Sea World in decades, San Diego is just a bit far for me to go. Weirdly, I went to Marineland when I was younger, but have more vivid memories of that park.

JG, those puns are painful! I feel like Sea World is the kind of place you would go to if you had kids, but otherwise… maybe not? We saw people in the “spash zone” for the Shamu show, and my friend said, “Don’t they know there’s whale pee in that water?”. I’d never thought about it, and now I can’t unthink it.

K. Martinez, nice to hear from you! I didn’t know that Sea World ever had mermaid shows, so that’s a new piece of information. They had pearl divers at Japanese Deer Park, and you could also buy an oyster in a sort of tuna can, the oyster was guaranteed to have a pearl. We bought one of those, took it home, and when we opened the can, the smell just about killed all of us.


Major: the “mermaid & dolphin” show was the in a massive modern - Japanese esque theater with giant swooping roof that wa painted a light blue and resembled a 4 sided wave. know I’ve described this theater before on here but here goes: it was visible from almost ever part of the original park up until the park’s post 1976 expansions. The building had a giant performance tank in the center and three sides of the building featured sloped seating in a theater where guests sat on small round pedestal stools bolted to the floor. The walls were made to look like stone with relief sculptures of dolphins very 60s stylized in the fake stone. The three theaters looked into their own side of the tank the backside or the fourth wall. What is the support area for the performers and Tank mechanics. The theater to my recollection I had always performed the same story of a group of mermaids who played with dolphins if you look closely in parts of the tank, they were pipes, and now, and then the mermaids would swim by our over and suck air from the tubes to continue performing underwater. At one point in the story, a giant Hook comes down with jewels and pearls hanging from it because a sailor wanted to trap one of them mermaids, and she goes for the bait, and then a cage lowers down in the water and traps one of the mermaids. I think her name was Ella. The story might’ve been Ella and the dolphins, and then eventually the dolphins rescue. Ella and she gets to return to swim with them and the other mermaids that was the base suggest of the story. It was sponsored by Starkist tuna, and all the guests waiting in the courtyards at the entrance of each of the three theaters got to meet and greet a costume character of Charlie the tuna I remember in the mid 80s or late 80s the absence of StarKist and Charlie the tuna and the theater no longer had a specific story with music and narration but just some kind of dolphin encounter. These were smaller dolphins not the same ones from the bigger dolphin show that was performed outside near the bay that had the bigger traditional gray type dolphins performing on the tropical island with a pirate ship, and that cheeky with the flames story that was a Different Attraction at some point that theater was demolished, but it was one time kind of the marquee building of original Seaworld.


When I was in high school, I was selected from my architectural crafting class to partake in a high school work experience program that was only like two weeks, but it was at the architectural firm in San Diego that designed and built the sea world. Penguin encounter building, but this architectural firm was a current version of a previous architectural partnership that had designed and built some of the later buildings for Seaworld in the late 60s and 70s and they had on display some architectural renderings that were beautiful of some of the later structures built at sea world, I wonder what happened to that artwork as the architectural firm seems to no longer exist . Anyway, they had a storage room filled with old architectural magazines and blueprints etc. but they also had magazine file folders filled with annual reports for Seaworld company from the 60s and early 70s and I was allowed to take some one of the ones I have is from 1868, possibly 67 I don’t have it on hand and it shows expansion plans for sea world, including, the sky tower, the sky ride and the new sky ride station for a Hawaiian punch Tiki Village at Seaworld but also it shows plans for a amusement park in Valencia, California and it appears to be what magic mountain became. Did the Seaworld company build Magic Mountain however, in this animal port, it is not called Magic Mountain and there is no mention of six flags, but it does show a drawing with the tower on top of the hill with the park surrounding it the Seaworld company also built some themed restaurants around airports that were combinations of restaurants, bars, and aviation museums. Both seemed to world war one one of them still exists in San Diego, but I cannot think of its name at the moment it is designed to look like a French ch√Ęteau that has been temporally occupied by British and American World War I aviators the other one had been located near Lindbergh airfield, and it was called trench Richards, but it seems to have been demolished or removed .

Anonymous said...

Mike...that sounds so familiar with the 94th Aero-Squadron restaurants, one of which inhabited Orange County Airport in the 70s and 80s. Happy memories as was Sea World in the late 60s. An early drive down I-5 for a full day's adventure and back home to Costa Mesa in our '67 Ford. Probably met Neptune himself but have no memory of it...nor when I visited POP. KS


Architectural DRAFTING ( not crafting) like my work experience at the architectural firm my friend Joel who was studying graphics got sent to CENTRAL GRAPHICS … a photo lettering type foundry ( as in font type) WED enterprise used Central Graphics company many times when local LA photo lettering foundries were overloaded . Anyway Joel gave me sheets of 1983 period screenprinted letting decal sheets used for DISNEYLAND’s Casey Junior Circus Train directional signs…. When regular silkscreening couldn’t be done onto an elaborate or think sign base they made screenprinted lettering to be attached to the odd shaped signed … these were unused overt prints left in a junk room. It makes me wonder what other disneyland things were in there . Places like central graphics and other type setting and photolettering foundries eventually became obsolete with computers and desktop publishing. They created the printing films for silkscreening , metal etching and lithographic printing.


KEN: THAT’S IT!!! 94th Aero Squadron!!! A location still operates in San Diego …. At one of the smaller airports … we go there for bunch … but I know during Covid they had stoped doing this. The restaurant still has all its theming .. and the outside terrace looks out onto the runway and diners can watch planes land and take off from there and the bar. The outside and interior at sun is themed to a French farm being utilized by British , French and America WW 1 aviators … the bar and lounge has pilot photos and plane models and propellers inside of what looked like a chateau’s former library etc. the dinning rooms all are themed to French farm and chateau . Sone full-size bi planes sit out front and out near the rear terrace … I’m not sure if they were real planes backdated to look 1914 or just fabricated prop. Real plane props were once very common around San Diego since the city had been manufacturing real planes since the early 1900’s.

Chuck said...

We had a 94th Aero Swuadron at the St. Louis airport for many years. There was also one at the Columbus, Ohio, airport in the 70s and 80s. My parents usually asked me where I wanted to go to dinner on my birthday, and when I was in sixth grade I asked to go to the 94th Aero Squadron at the St. Louis airport, which was about a 45 minute drive from our house. The next year we moved, and when they asked me where I wanted to go to dinner on my birthday, I said the 94th Aero Squadron. So we drove an hour and a half to the one in Columbus. My parents are pretty cool.

Oh, yeah - Sea World looks very nice.

Nanook said...

In 1968 Newhall Land and Farming Company entered into a joint venture with SeaWorld Co. to build Magic Mountain - which opened on May 29, 1971. It was sold to Six Flags in 1979.

Major Pepperidge said...

Mike Cozart, now that I am thinking about it, I believe that I know the building you are talking about (for the mermaid & dolphin” show). It sounds pretty cool! When you say “three theaters”, do you mean that they all looked into one tank? Just slightly different angled views? The mermaid part of the show sounds VERY much like the ones in Florida, complete with the breathing hoses. If I was in charge, I’d demand that they learn to breathe without air hoses! Performing those roles sounds surprisingly grueling, I’d imagine that not many would be able to do it, even if they were good swimmers. I’ve always loved Charlie the Tuna, so I’d be thrilled to have my picture taken with him! It’s a shame that the theater was demolished, I guess those sorts of shows had run their course - it’s like watching an old TV show that was hugely popular way back when, but is now a slog to get through.

Mike Cozart, you had an “architectural crafting” class in high school? Jeez! Amazing. What a great thing! I think it’s safe to assume that the artwork is long-gone, though of course I would love to be wrong. That file folder sounds neat, I’m glad you have it; a little bit of theme park history that is in the right hands. Wow, interesting that there were plans for some other amusement park in Valencia! I’d love to know what that museum is in San Diego!

KS, huh, the 94th Aero-Squadron, that’s a new one to me. Sounds pretty cool!

Mike Cozart, oh, ha ha, architectural drafting makes more sense! Wow, I remember going to type foundries when I was still in school, you had to be very precise about what you wanted, and then if you were lucky the turnaround was maybe a day or two, but sometimes it was more. If you were under a time crunch, it could really cause anxiety! I remember when one job got their first Mac, and we could do our own typography, it was a real game-changer. Even though it was primitive by today’s standards.

Mike Cozart, very neat, my brother was really into old war planes - mostly WWII, but some WWI as well. Because he was my big brother, I was also interested, but never knew anywhere near as much as he did.

Chuck, huh, I wonder how many other 94th Aero-Squadrons there were around the country?? I’m amazed that there was one, much less two. Maybe there were lots of them! I always wanted to go to the city dump for my birthday, but that’s another story.

Nanook, great info! Thanks!

Melissa said...

The funny thing is that most of the ancient statues we think of as being plain white marble were colorfully painted like the first picture of Neptune back when they were new.