Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is selling its new "Cirque Dreams Splashtastic" as "the Most Amazing Show Above H2O," a production that blends the talents of acrobats, aerialists and other skilled (human) entertainers with performances by bottlenose dolphins.
It sounds like Cirque Du Soleil meets the traditional dolphin show, a hybrid concept that is kind of hard to wrap your head around.
Indeed, I had a hard imagining how the whole thing would work.
Well, as it turns out, it works very well. During a recent visit to the Vallejo theme park, I caught "Splashtastic" -- which opened to the public in late May -- and enjoyed the production.
The performance runs a little over a half-hour, which is roughly twice as long as many of Discovery Kingdom's shows. It was nonstop action from start to finish.
"Cirque Dreams" consists of seven parts -- an entertaining prelude, a nice opening segment, four diversely appealing acts and a satisfying finale.
Each of the acts focuses on a different theme, such as physical strength or balance. The themes are tackled by both dolphin and human -- and it's really hard to say which is more impressive.
The first two acts are high-flying affairs, with entertainers spinning and doing acrobatics above the water. As the performers twirled and spun above the tank, I kept thinking how glad these aerialists must be that the producers had designed this show around dolphins -- not sharks or gators.
My favorite bit, however, came on dry land, as a woman worked an amazing number of hula hoops. I can't even keep one hula hoop going, yet this woman had so many spinning, all up and down her body, that she looked like a human Slinky.
I also enjoyed the balancing act, where a man kept building, and then mounting, a ridiculous tower from the most teetering of tools. This guy must have drove his parents crazy as a kid.
Of course, the dolphins, with their sheer power and grace, were amazing -- they always are.
"Cirque Dreams Splashtastic" was created by acclaimed Broadway director Neil Goldberg, who founded the acclaimed Cirque Dreams entertainment group. Goldberg's organization has produced many touring productions as well as several shows for theme parks and other sites.
"Cirque Dreams" is just one of two new dolphin shows at the park. The second is the appropriately named "Drench!" You will likely get wet at this show, especially if you sit in the first few rows of the "splash zone." Of course, that might be just the thing on a hot summer day.
Splashing fans was once the calling card of Shouka, the famed killer whale. She was relocated to SeaWorld in San Diego in August so that she could enjoy the company of other killer whales.
Details: Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is at 1001 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo. 707-643-6722; www.sixflags.com/discoverykingdom.
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