SAN DIEGO (CNS) - SeaWorld San Diego began its 50th anniversary celebration Friday morning with the opening of Explorer's Reef -- the new visitor's entrance.
The opening ceremony was hosted by "Good Morning America" correspondent Cameron Mathison.
Visitors will now enter the park beneath a sculpture of a wave crashing into a reef, and can visit four freshwater and saltwater pools with sharks, rays, and fish that they can reach in and touch.
The celebration comes amid controversy over keeping orcas in captivity, which has been heightened by the documentary "Blackfish."
Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, has introduced a bill to ban shows involving killer whales. Bloom said the legislation was inspired by "Blackfish."
Tuesday, the City Council proclaimed March to be SeaWorld San Diego month in honor of the theme park, which first opened on March 21, 1964.
Since then, more than 156 million visitors have passed through SeaWorld gates in San Diego. The mayor said the theme park has employed 93,000 San Diegans over the years, conducted research on marine life and generated large sums of tax revenue for the city.
SeaWorld plans an 18-month celebration of the anniversary that will include its other two parks, in Orlando and San Antonio.
Visitors at all three locations will get more up-close animal encounters, interactive experiences and new shows, according to SeaWorld. The parks will also have "Surprise Squads" out each day that will hand out prizes to patrons, like special ride access, behind-the-scenes experiences, reserved show seating, T-shirts or Shamu-themed merchandise.
The sea of pink continued Sunday with 2,200 people marching in the name of breast cancer research funding on the third - and final - day of the Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day.
Five people beat to unconscious a 37-year-old man and then took his cell phone at the Horton Plaza in San Diego, a police officer said Sunday.
A non-injury fire Sunday completely destroyed one unit and damaged another in a Rancho Penasquitos apartment complex, displacing two families.
Pancho Segura, who rose from poverty to win six U.S. Pro singles and doubles championships and was one of the world's top amateur players in the 1940s and professionals in the 1950s, has died. He was 96.
A mistaken bump led to a man getting bit and cut with a knife near the Ocean Beach Pier, police said Sunday.
A man died after his body caught fire, police said Saturday. At 11:30 p.m. Friday, police received a call regarding a person on fire in a field near 5200 Pacific Highway in Mission Bay Park, according to the San Diego Police Department.
The San Diego Rescue Mission opened its doors to the homeless community on Saturday for its annual Thanksgiving celebration.