Before we start this very interesting update, we want to make sure that everybody understands that, as of today, this is strictly a rumor, since we are not expert on this subject, and we do not claim to know that what you'll see from the following pictures is actually a raising floor, even though it doesn't look like a normal floor.

That being said, yesterday we had the opportunity of visiting SeaWorld, and we had a couple of really interesting surprises. One was about the Manatee Rescue exhibit (but we'll discuss about that in a separate update), and the other one was about the work being done in the tank where killer whales have interactions with guests in the Dine with Shamu area. Indeed, walls have gone down in that area - which has been closed since the terrible accident that involved the death of the trainer Dawn Brancheau - , and it looks like they're working on installing their first "raising floor." Take a look:




As you can see from these pictures, the bottom of the tank is not visible. Instead, there's a double floor, with a lot of openings. One of our Facebook fans commented saying that "it makes sense to have the 'doors' so certified scuba-mechanics can access the components of the floor." That could be the reason why these openings are located all around the floor. On the other hand, some have speculated about this floor being only temporary, while workers are refurbishing the bottom of the tank:



Just to give you an idea of how these "raising floors" work: according to SeaWorld, the installation of these new floors will both give the trainers the opportunity of having safe interactions with the animals and also please the OSHA, as the floor could be raised in just a few seconds, in case of an underwater accident. But, wouldn't the killer whale suffer in such a situation? No, as SeaWorld would also install some underwater lights and sounds to distract the orca, while probably only a section of the floor would raise to take the trainer out of the water quickly and safely. The park should release more information about this very soon, if they have really installed one. Unfortunately, there seem to be no signs of mechanisms to make the floor work:





In addition to that, it seems like they've added a new glass fence all around the pool:



By the way, the walls on the back of the Dine with Shamu area are still up, but all the signs that hinted to a reopening of the experience have disappeared, and now there's only one sign, which advertises the nearby "One Ocean" show. This may mean that they have had a lot more work to do than what had been originally planned:




Now, it is time to give your own opinion. If these are really the raising floors, we might have a pretty major scoop, don't you think? Please, share your comments! Thanks in advance.

Please, do not copy these pictures onto your own blog or site without OTPN's consent. Thank you.

10 Comment(s):

Jason said...

I'm sorry, but I don't understand what you mean by "raising floor". Do you mean it would go and down like an elevator? I didn't see any sign of a lifting mechanism for that.

As for the hatches that open, I don't understand why they would need so many if it is for SCUBA swimmer access. I don't mean to rain on your parade, but I think it may just be a temporary safety floor that will be removed after the refurbishment is complete.

You may be right, Jason. That is why I asked our readers their thoughts. It sure looks like a temporary floor, but it still unusual to see this area closed for such a long time (it has been more than a year now!). Who knows if UNDER this temporary floor they are installing something...
Also, what kind of refurbishment are they doing? The pool was in good conditions when they closed it.

Jason said...

Very true Sam. I guess we'll have to wait and see! ;-)

Thanks again for your comment, Jason!! And, I agree, only time will tell (unless anyone has some insider's information)...

Jeff said...

The floors are permanent and are designed to safely raise trainer and whale to the surface in case of an emergency. The main pool will also receive a similar set up early next year which will result in no shows for about 6-8 weeks. Below are some quotes"

SeaWorld says it has made changes to improve trainer safety, including guardrails around pool ledges and quicker ways to deploy safety nets. The theme park plans to install fast-rising floors in the tank that can rapidly lift trainers and whales out of the water.
http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2011-03-30/entertainment/os-seaworld-tilikum-back-20110330_1_tilikum-dawn-brancheau-seaworld-orlando-trainer

"The upgrades range from custom-designed, fast-rising pool floors in large show venues to underwater vehicles that can distract an out-of-control killer whale with pulsing lights and whale vocalizations." The upgrades are expected to make the working conditions safer for the trainers.

"The upgrades range from custom-designed, fast-rising pool floors in large show venues to underwater vehicles that can distract an out-of-control killer whale with pulsing lights and whale vocalizations." The upgrades are expected to make the working conditions safer for the trainers.


Read more: http://digitaljournal.com/article/304010#ixzz1YvjHOKxe

Paul said...

I guess the reason for so many vents would be to let the water go under the floor as it rises quickly or it surely would push all the water out of the pool as it rises, that would make sence.

Jason said...

Thanks for link to the article. This is very exciting because it should mean that trainers will be returning to the water! That's even bigger news than the rising pool floors.

From an engineering perspective, I'm a little surprised they wouldn't use some type of grate that would let the water through as the floor rises. Even with those hatches all open, I would think it would take a long time for all that water to drain through. If a trainer were really in trouble, you'd think you'd want the floor raise in seconds. That must be millions of gallons of water...

Anonymous said...

Those hatches are now covered in giant airbags that will inflate and instantly raise the floor. I was there last week and saw them

Blake said...

I think all of those 'doors' are not just used for divers, but for when the floor rises. They are going to need somehow get that floor past all of that 6.7 million gallons of water, so I have a feeling that when the floor rises, those flaps will swing down allowing all the water to 'drain' through as the floor lifts up.

Anonymous said...

This floor looks as though it will react the same way as the stage at 'O' in Vegas. Same principle, larger passengers.

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