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Zancos – A Detour Worth Taking at SeaWorld Orlando

The best laid plans can often go astray. And theme park vacations are no exception to that old adage. We’ve all experienced an impromptu change in itinerary when an alarm clock doesn’t sound, a ride isn’t running, or a little one gets hungry well before that 2:30 lunch reservation. But the beauty part is, those derailments can also send us stumbling headfirst into something wonderful that we might never have experienced otherwise.

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Lucky for us, Sea World has those built right in, with “street” performances at different intervals and locations throughout the day. Case in point: Zancos, the stilt walking musical group, entertaining daily in Shamu’s Happy Harbor.

The group emerges from behind the scenes and begins a beat amid the quickly forming crowd: There’s a trio on drums and high “big foot” stilts—one fellow works the snare, one mans the toms and one brings the bass—while two more, albeit a skosh lower in spring stilts, join in the noise by encouraging claps from onlookers.

The costumes, with streamers in varying shades of green and blue encircling ankles, crawling down spines and sprouting from helmets, present a vibe that is equal parts aquatic and native, with a dash of punk rock sprinkled in for good measure. Throw in the dark sunglasses and you’ve got yourself five cool customers. In fact, “cool” somehow manages to be a perfect descriptor and a tragic understatement for this show’s review.

There’s a strangely relaxed demeanor among the group, considering the activity. The guys skip, flip and keep a beat all while balancing precariously on slim pieces of aluminum. But their laid-back, almost surfer attitudes take nothing away from the show’s stunts—the energy is there without it appearing forced, which makes for a much more enjoyable experience for the viewer.

And for the fellas, too: Likely the best part of the whole performance is how natural the whole thing appears. They smirk and high-five each other after tricks. The snare tosses his drumsticks high in the air and catches them. At one point, one of the jumpers even appears to be dancing “The Carlton,” of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air fame. It’s silly, and it’s endearing. And the fact that the group isn’t the least bit afraid to do their thing—and let us know they’re having a good time doing it—separates Zancos from most of the live entertainment options out there.

One minor drawback: The show could benefit greatly from some vocal amplification, as it was hard to hear their jokes and calls for crowd participation. But overall, Zancos is a detour worth taking.

By Samantha Sandburg

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