Can’t Afford Trip To Antarctica? Maybe A Simulated Experience Will Do

trip to antarctica
Sam Howzit/ Flickr

The idea of a trip to Antarctica is a bucket list item that few travelers have checked off. Tourism numbers are rising as Antarctica welcomes more visitors, but the cost to get there can be prohibitive. Now, Cruise ships head south to visit Antarctica more than ever before. But a luxury cruise ship is surely not a cheap ride. Still, a new theme park attraction might just have the fix needed or at least count as research for the eventual expedition.

SeaWorld Orlando’s largest-ever project, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin takes guests on a simulated voyage to Antarctica, complete with a colony of over 200 penguins in their natural habitat. Getting an authentic feel for Antarctica, guests will experience life on the ice through the eyes of a penguin. Via new state-of-the-art interactive ride technologies, visitors get a unique, personal adventure that is said to be different for everyone.

“When our little hero penguin learns to waddle and slide, we’ll feel what it’s like as the car moves and reacts to the storyline,” said Brian Morrow, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s creative director, in a TravelPulse article.Like a slow roller coaster, the ride rocks along gently through a re-creation of Antarctica, making a case for environmental education along the way and ending in an icy penguin habitat.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/05/23/3413794/seaworld-introduces-antarctica.html#storylink=c
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/05/23/3413794/seaworld-introduces-antarctica.html#storylink=cpy

“When he takes his first swim or barely escapes danger, our guests will feel as if they’re right there with him. On this adventure, we learn that we’re a lot like penguins. We’ll find we need each other and our families to survive,” added Morrow.

Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin is the coldest theme park attraction in the world with the temperature set to the low 30 degrees to maintain the penguin’s natural habitat. The area is so big that it is considered a “realm” rather than a single attraction. It also includes a gift shop and a restaurant – two venues travelers are not likely to find on an actual visit to Antarctica.

Check this video for more on Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin.


SeaWorld prepares to put trainers back in the water with killer whales

One Ocean at SeaWorld - Killer Whale ShowA year after the fatal accident involving trainer Dawn Brancheau, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has announced that they are preparing to put trainers back in the water during their killer whale shows. Trainers have not been permitted in the water since the incident involving their largest orca named Tilikum.

SeaWorld will not give an exact date of when in-water performances will resume, but they are laying the groundwork. The company plans to spend millions of dollars on a number of safety devices aimed at preventing another tragic incident. Some of the safety measures include: the installation of fast rising pool floors, remote-controlled underwater distraction devices, and outfits with emergency air supplies.

For now, the trainers will only interact with the orcas in small medical pools already outfitted with false-bottom floors. So, SeaWorld’s new show, “One Ocean”, will not feature trainers swimming with the killer whales right away. Trainers will conduct the show entirely from the stage. “One Ocean” is set to begin in April at SeaWorld Orlando, on Memorial Day at SeaWorld San Diego, and in June at SeaWorld San Antonio. The Orlando Sentinel has more.


Tommy Lee wants to make SeaWorld sex tape

Tommy Lee continues his campaign against SeaWorld's whale breeding practices

Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee has thought a lot about whale masturbation this week.

Lee contends that to obtain sperm for breeding purposes, SeaWorld has someone “masturbate” Tillikum, a killer whale at the theme park who was responsible for the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau earlier this year.

Lee says it is “sick and twisted,” and that it violates SeaWorld’s own policies regarding trainer and whale interaction, which were revised after Brancheau’s death.

On Wednesday, SeaWorld responded to the rocker’s letter complaining about whale breeding practices by saying that Lee needs to “spend more time checking his facts.”

So, in a second letter — which PETA sent to Gadling today — Lee suggests that the best way to check his facts would be to come to Orlando and see the collection of whale semen for himself.

“To settle this, how about PETA and I come to SeaWorld and videotape the process, and then people can decide how natural it is?” Lee writes.

“It might make your dramatic news releases about a new orca pregnancy or birth less appealing, but the public deserves to know. And they’ve undoubtedly never seen a sex tape like this.”

Manual stimulation of animals is a regular breeding practice used with livestock and with some species at zoos and aquariums.

[Image credit: Flickr user Bread & CBG]

Rocker Tommy Lee angered over whale masturbation *UPDATED*

tommy lee whale

Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee is angry — really angry — about the way Shamu is being treated at SeaWorld.

In a letter to SeaWorld Orlando, Lee complains about the methods used by the theme park to obtain sperm from Tillikum – the orca responsible for the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau this spring.

Tillikum was brought to SeaWorld Orlando specifically for breeding purposes in 1998. He continues to appear in Shamu shows there and to be used in killer whale breeding programs.

PETA, an organization which Lee has long supported, has called for the whale’s release back into the wild.

Lee calls Tillikum SeaWorld’s “chief sperm bank.”

“We know from SeaWorld’s own director of safety (as well as videos on the web) that the way you get his sperm is by having someone get into the pool and masturbate him with a cow’s vagina filled with hot water,” Lee wrote in the letter obtained by TMZ.

“Even in my wildest days with Motley Crue, I never could’ve imagined something so sick and twisted.”

As bizarre as it may sound, manual stimulation of animals is a regular breeding method used by zoos and aquariums for certain species.

Thomas French’s 2010 book Zoo Story documents the manual stimulation of a bull elephant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to obtain the sperm used to impregnate a female elephant at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa.

UPDATE: SeaWorld Orlando has responded to the breeding methods mentioned in Lee’s letter, and they say he’s got it all wrong.

Fred Jacobs, vice president of communications for SeaWorld told E! News that 25 of the 27 orca calves born at the theme park were conceived naturally, and the process of collecting semen for the two calves born through artificial insemination is similar to that used in breeding livestock or in programs at zoos.

Lee “contends that semen is collected from Tilikum using a ‘cow’s vagina filled with hot water.’ This is beyond ludicrous. Whatever his views on SeaWorld, Mr. Lee would be wise to spend more time checking his facts,” Jacobs said.

[Image credit: Flickr user Hyku]

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, SeaWorld Orlando raise ticket prices

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay increased its ticket pricesBusch Gardens Tampa Bay and SeaWorld Orlando have announced price increases at the Florida theme parks.

The new ticket price at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is $83.45, including sales tax. You will pay $72.75 for kids ages 3-9.

At SeaWorld Orlando, tickets are now $85.19 with tax included, $74.54 for kids.

By comparison, a 1-day, 1-park ticket including tax at Walt Disney World is $87.33. Disney’s most recent price increase was in August.

Those prices don’t take into account the myriad of discounts available, including savings on multi-day tickets, combo tickets that include admission to other theme parks and/or water parks, and online-only deals.

And Florida residents are also eligible for special pricing. For example, a Florida resident who pays full price for a 1-day admission receives a “Fun Card” that gets him or her in free for the rest of the year.

As the Miami Herald reports, only 1/3 of theme park patrons actually pay full price for a 1-day admission into the parks.

[Image credit: Flickr user LaurenKates]