Yesterday, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom proudly announced that Bella, a nine year old Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin, gave birth to her first calf. It is not yet known if the calf is male or female – though it is surmised that it is female, the first time one has been born at Discovery Kingdom since Bella nine years ago.
As it is her first calf, Bella will be closely monitored in the first few weeks of life.
“For a first time mother with no prior experience, we are very excited that Bella is demonstrating her maternal side in a big way,” said Michael Muraco, animal care director. He added, “…the first 30 days will be critical to the young calf’s long term survival.”
“Our technology to monitor and track the calf’s progress is much more advanced than in the past, but ultimately, it is up to mother and baby,” he said.
The birth has attracted significant attention in the animal research field, as Bella may have been communicating with the calf in utero – similar to how we as humans play music for our new arrivals in the womb. Bella’s behavior could help us better understand our own development, in addition to the groundbreaking research on dolphins.
But, don’t plan to visit the park and expect to go see Bella and the newborn just yet. While the park is now open year-round, Bella and the calf will be secluded away from park guests while animal staff members care for the two during this, the most critical days of it’s life.
An announcement will be made when the calf will be able to be viewed by the public. For now, get ready for the bottlenose baby shower!
Yesterday evening, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom was kind enough to invite Great American Thrills™ out to the park for an exclusive preview of their latest entertainment offering – “Cirque Dreams – Splashtastic.”
This program is unlike anything we’ve experienced here at a Northern California park – it’s very glitzy and the production value is VERY high. If you were a fan of the “Marriott Era” of entertainment offerings at, say Great America, or the quality of shows that Disney parks offer – then this show will bring back good memories for you.
It also sets a very high precedent for entertainment offerings in the coming years at all the Bay Area amusement / theme parks. (I.E. You’re on notice!) Unlike many other shows at parks which are produced in-house, Cirque Dreams – Splashtastic is a partnership between Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Cirque Productions.
If you’ve ever been to a “cirque” style show before, you’ll see many of those elements in the program (we can’t really call this a show – it’s much more than that). The program features a showcase of talents, that as the park says, “…combines the grace, power and agility of our bottlenose dolphins and the amazing spectacle of of true performance artists…”
As you would expect, the entire program is themed with an aquatic flair to it. Costumes mimic sea life, actors are adorned with prosthetics to give them a more “fishy” quality and the entire amphitheater (formerly Dolphin Harbor Stadium) is adorned with colorful graphics strewn about the facility.
There are seven parts to the show in all, each with their own featured characters and skills on display. During pre-production of the show, nearly 300 acts auditioned to be one of those seven featured performances.
The pace is good and the program keeps moving for the most part with no real lag time. During the human performances, the dolphins show off their stuff as well, including a particularly entertaining dolphin hula hoop behavior that you’ll simply have to see for yourself.
The show was created, produced and directed by Neil Goldberg, an acclaimed Broadway director who also founded the Cirque Dreams troupe over 20 years ago. In other words, this guy knows what he’s doing.
“Our goal was to complement the personalities of the dolphins and performers through playfulness…and unparalleled showmanship,” said Goldberg. “It will be one of those unique, memorable entertainment attractions rarely experienced.”
I’ll be posting a full, exclusive interview with Goldberg later this week.
The only thing that I can find wrong with the show, is that it has a limited run – just from Memorial Day Weekend though August 11th. But in a way, that works – it makes it a limited engagement, so the performances are better and more special to those who witness them as spectators. It’s quality over quantity, and something that most parks would not think twice about.
I’ll be posting a full interview with the Creator and Director of Cirque Dreams Splashtastic, Neil Goldberg, later this week.
For now – get your plans in now and get out to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom to experience this one of a kind piece of amusement park entertainment – it’s certainly worth the trip.
As always, Great American Thrills™ would like to thank those who made this post possible: Neil Goldberg, Nancy Chan, Lee Munro as well as the entire staff and crew of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Cirque Dreams – Splashtastic!
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