Theme Park | Aquarium | Oceanarium | Resort Design

As head of animal operations at SeaWorld Orlando, Frank Murru oversaw operation, design and construction and served as general manager of Discovery Cove, the world’s first luxury interactive marine park featuring dolphin swims and other animal interactions in a tropical resort environment.

Discovery Cove was a massive undertaking, combining habitat design, aquarium design, oceanarium design, engineering and animal acquisition and care, with business planning, marketing, construction, merchandising, guest relations, hiring, training, staff development, permitting and regulatory compliance. Murru had previously drawn on all of these disciplines, in designing dozens of new and innovative animal habitats and aquarium exhibits, including most of SeaWorld’s most popular exhibits, including: Shark Encounter, Penguin Encounter, Stingray Lagoon, Dolphin Cove, Manatee Rescue, (…The Last Generation), Pacific Point Preserve, Turtle Point, Wild Arctic, and Shamu Stadium. Discovery Cove took animal interactions to the next level, changing the traditional high-volume theme park model by limiting daily attendance to a thousand guests per day and tripling the price of gate admission to deliver an intimate, high-end, unforgettable immersive guest experience.

Discovery Cove was profitable in its first year, and with proof of concept came worldwide demand for resort-based animal interactions, particularly dolphin swim experiences, led by Kerzner International, which hired Frank Murru in 2004 to develop and manage marine habitats, water parks and aquariums, including the popular dolphin swim programs at Atlantis, Paradise Island, in the Bahamas; and Atlantis, The Palm, in Dubai.

Science, technology, regulations and best practices are constantly changing. And then there are location-specific challenges that must be addressed.

“Every project comes with its own unique challenges,” Murru says. “For Dolphin Bay at Atlantis in Dubai, we had to build enclosed holding pools to protect the dolphins from Dubai’s harsh sand storms and hire hundreds of employees from twenty-five different countries.”

Murru & Associates offers a full spectrum of design review services to help you move forward with confidence, knowing you’ve covered all the bases. Our extensive network of designers, architects, engineers, and operators is unmatched.

Give us a call at 954-655-6507