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Seaworld: From Free Willy to Blackfish

Aquariums are incredible. They let you see a world above ground that most people would never be able to see otherwise.

SeaWorld is one of the largest aquariums organizations in the world. They have facilities in Orlando, Tampa, San Diego, San Antonio, Williamsburg and Philadelphia. SeaWorld reported having more than 22 million visitors in 2014.

So how has SeaWorld gone from being a “Must See” to a “You support SeaWorld?” company?

Free Willy

Free Willy Poster. Image Courtesy of imdb.com.
Free Willy Poster. Image Courtesy of imdb.com.

This original film was release in 1993. The incredible story of a young boy and his unbelievable connection with a killer whale led to the film grossing almost $78 million in theaters and another $36 million from rentals.

The boy is a foster child who, after breaking into the local aquarium, is required to spend time doing community service at the aquarium. Willy, the killer whale, learns from the boy and is eventually saved from being killed by escaping into the wild.

The film ended with a number that viewers could call to donate to the Save the Whales Foundation. This number was able to raise $20 million in donations.

SeaWorld saw a large increase in visitors, both adult and children, who wanted to see the large black and white whales in person.

Jason James Richter, who played the main character Jesse, has had quiet a bit of fun posting images and reminders of the film, which later had three more sequels.


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