SeaWorld, Disney World announce new details on festivals
Image via AP.

Nostalgia-inducing bands are a staple.

On a recent weekend evening in 2023, the band Hanson played its 1997 hit “MMMBop” at SeaWorld Orlando’s Bayside stadium while throughout the rest of the park, employees dished out Pei shrimp fritters and smoked jerk chicken sliders.

That’s a good recipe for drawing a crowd at a theme park these days: Bands bringing back nostalgia and a food festival with international cuisine. To that end, SeaWorld’s Seven Seas Food Festival and concert series is now running on select days through May 7.

This week, the park announced the rest of its concert series lineup which includes rock band Creed’s frontman Scott Stapp performing April 30. On May 6 attendees can watch R&B singer Ne-Yo, who was known for a slew of hits in the late-2000s, followed by country singer Martina McBride on May 7. The concerts are included in the price of a regular admission.

Meanwhile, Disney World is also getting ready for its next festival to draw in visitors. The resort announced this week that the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival begins July 27 and runs through November 18. Returning alongside several favorite dishes will be the Eat to the Beat Concert Series, Disney said in a parks blog post.

“Stay tuned to the Disney Parks Blog for more details about this year’s lineup,” read the post from Disney.

SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Marc Swanson has often brought up how important the theme parks’ events — as well as new rides — are in bringing guests out to the parks and for the company’s financial growth.

“We are very excited about our plans with an exceptional lineup of new rides, attractions, events and new and improved in-park venues and offerings,” Swanson said late February at the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call. “Given the investments that we have made, and will be making … we continue to expect meaningful growth and new records in revenue and adjusted EBITDA for 2023.”

During the Hanson performance, SeaWorld Orlando’s parking lot was full. Spring breakers and Hanson fans packed the food stands selling food from Ireland, the Caribbean and all over the world, as well some guilty pleasures like boozy cupcakes.

Some of the fan favorites for this year’s food festival are the Korean corn dog, the Picanha Steak at the Brazilian market and the Italian Beef Arancini at the Italian food stand, said SeaWorld Orlando’s Chef Jomar Rios.

“We added some new items in honor of Seven Seas food festival and the Grilled Chicken and Shrimp Tagine is one of those delicious and unexpected items that combines Mediterranean and Moroccan flavors that just really stands out.”

Gabrielle Russon

Gabrielle Russon is an award-winning journalist based in Orlando. She covered the business of theme parks for the Orlando Sentinel. Her previous newspaper stops include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Toledo Blade, Kalamazoo Gazette and Elkhart Truth as well as an internship covering the nation’s capital for the Chicago Tribune. For fun, she runs marathons. She gets her training from chasing a toddler around. Contact her at [email protected] or on Twitter @GabrielleRusson .

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