SeaWorld Brings Antarctica To Florida

SeaWorld

SeaWorld Orlando is expanding with their largest-ever project. Continuing a travel industry focus on making all things experiential, Antarctica-Empire of the Penguin is the anchor to a host of new offerings set to open in January. The new ride will have a family adventure theme that utilizes new technology for a unique experience that can change from visit to visit, allowing guests to choose their thrill level.

“Only SeaWorld and its parks can take you on these journeys or bring these experiences to you,” said Terry Prather, SeaWorld Orlando’s president. “We’re excited about what the future holds for our parks and our fans.

First, guests will meet SeaWorld star, a young gentoo penguin and the ride’s guide who leads guests on a journey through the Antarctic. Casting the park’s colony of penguins, including gentoos, rockhoppers, adelies and kings, guests’ experiences with the penguins will be a theme park and zoo first.Getting an authentic feel for Antarctica, guests will experience life on the ice through the eyes of a penguin via closer-then-ever animal connections with state-of-the-art interactive ride technologies for unique, personal adventures that are different for everyone.

Empire of the Penguin will be the coldest theme park attraction in the world with the temperature set to the low 30 degrees to maintain the penguin’s natural habitat. Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin is the biggest expansion in SeaWorld history, hosting the ride, penguin habitat, a gift shop and a restaurant. It is so big that it is considered an all-new “realm,” rather than a single attraction.



[Photo Credit: Flickr user Rita Willaert]

5 Free Things To Do In Orlando That Are Not Theme Parks

things to do in orlandoTravelers planning a trip to Orlando usually have plenty of things to do – for a price. Central Florida attractions draw millions of visitors every year spending billions in travel dollars. Often saving up for years to make a magical Florida vacation reality, families visit the Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios, Sea World and others. But while there is no shortage of attractions charging a hefty admission fee, there are quite a few that are free, many of which are close by the expensive Orlando attractions.

Wekiwa Springs State Park is one of many parks in Florida with no admission fee. This one is less than an hour from most Central Florida attractions. Wekiwa Springs State Park lets visitors take a break from the busy, loud theme parks and enjoy a picnic or take a swim in the cool spring. Canoes and kayaks are available for rent and 13 miles of trails are great for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding.

Lake Eola Park
is a popular downtown destination that has many people taking advantage of the beautiful surroundings, perfect to walk at lunch or the evenings. Admission is free but renting swan-shaped paddleboats or electric gondola boats will cost $30 per hour. Visitors feed the live swans, see a free concert or play in the Walt Disney Amphitheater or just enjoy a spectacular view of Orlando’s skyline.

Winter Park Farmers Market happens on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and features everything from fresh produce to local handcrafted gifts and artwork. Also in Winter Park, is the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens featuring world-class sculptures and paintings and the Cady Way Bike Trail, a 3.7-mile greenway joining Orlando and Winter Park. Bike, walk, roller blade, stroll or run seven days a week.Ocala National Forrest is a year-round recreational option. There are huge springs, twisting streams and lakes for fishing and water skiing. The cool crystal-clear waters of Juniper Springs, Alexander Springs, Salt Springs and Silver Glen Springs draw snorkelers. Canoeing, kayaking, hiking and boating are available every day and secluded cabins are available that will hold up to 12 people.

Snowhill Mountain Bike Trail is located in the Little Big Econ State Forest. Snowhill trail has single pine needle-layered trails, some sugar-sand parts and river crossings by suspension bridge, as well as some steep drops. Admission is free here too.

Why Visit Orlando, Florida


[Flickr photo by erin leigh mcconnell]

What Goes On At Sea World At Night?

Sea World, one of nation’s top destinations, is known for being one of the heaviest trafficked, family friendly places. But not when the gates close at night, the park transforms.

Over on Reddit there’s an ongoing Q & A with “hghost,” a graveyard worker at Sea World. Here is a cross section of some of the best questions posed by users and answered by the worker. Note, quotes are taken verbatim.

Q: What is your job? Security? looking after the animals?
A: The official title is “night ops” basically janitorial work.

Q: Any crazy, aquatic tales of the night life? Or is it just creepy? Its creepy that’s for sure.
A: At about sunrise the dolphins and whales go crazy. Every night at about the same time the dogs will wake up and start barking and howling. Same with the sea lions

Q: Do you know why?
A: From what I know of the whales and dolphins is that they don’t sleep. Unlike us, they have to think of breathing to actually breathe. So every morning they, like most of us, are well rested and have energy to burn. As for the dogs, I’m not sure. That’s what dogs do I suppose.Q: Are those outdoor penguins kept outside overnight? If so, are they as awesome at night as they are during the day? Or are they mostly sleeping? When I was there last, I saw them getting tummy rubs from an employee and had I recorded it, it probably would have been worth like a million karma.
A: They’re out all night in their exhibit usually sleeping. Every so often there’s one or two pulling an all mightier walking around their exhibit quietly. At about 530 or 6 every morning they start to wake up and sound like they’re singing to each other. One will start it and then the others repeat. Reminds me of the music numbers in happy feet.

Q: Do you bond with Shamu? Can you put in a good word with him for me?
A: The whales as well as some other animals learn to recognize you and will usually come up and greet you or try to “talk” to you. He’s too big of a star. Maybe Dolly or O.p

Q: What’s the worst incident that you’ve had to deal with?
A: Having trash bags rip spilling trash all over the place including on my clothes. Smells bad

Q: Do you take dates to Sea World or can you not stand the place?
A: Yeah, I have in the past. Its a fun place, I enjoy it there so I like to go on my time off usually. I like the educational aspect of the park. Manta is amazing too. So that also helps…

Q: Dude how creepy is it by the tanks w/ no lights? Oh my god, just thinking about being by a shark tank in the dark just makes me want to cry!
A: Yeah the creepiest tank to be by is the killer whale one. Because down in the under water viewing it is near pitch black darkness and all you can see is the big white spot of the killer whales “eye patch” swim by slowly as it watches you. The sharks that I see aren’t so bad. I think its just the massive size of the whale.

Q: What’s your favorite of the animals you encounter at work? Why?
A: I’d probably have to go with the dolphins, because they never sleep so tend to watch us work when we’re around their tank. They will learn to recognize what you look like and come up and greet you and follow you around their tank. Here are some watching me sweep up. They’re fascinated by a lot

Q: Do you ever come across animals that just up and die in the middle of the night, and need to fish them out, or are the sickly ones identified well enough in advance that you don’t end up with floaters?
A: I personally haven’t but each of the main animals get full medical exams and vitamins and all that daily so they are kept under close watch. If they’re looking sick they go to the veterinary area of the park

Q: Are you ever afraid you’ll get murdered there in a Scooby-Dooesque manner?
A: No because I know creepy Mr Jenkins wanders around in his Bigfoot costume. There are parts I try to avoid when the lights get shut of and the parts of the park turn to near pitch black.

Photo of the Day 4.21.10


Your body language sends a million signals. Happy, sad, mad, afraid, overjoyed, or in the case of this seal, incredibly proud. Roymartin grabbed this shot of a posing seal at Sea World in San Diego, Calif., and just looking at it makes me want to sit up straighter and ring a bell for my butler.

Marine biologists at NOVA have confirmed that seals are among some of the smartest mammals in the sea. This photo not only makes a statement, but shows the true intelligence of this beautiful animal by its stature and body language.

Have a photo of an animal (sea or otherwise) that shows some fun human characteristics? Upload it to the Gadling Flickr Pool and we might just choose your photo as our Photo of the Day.

See Shamu and all of SeaWorld from the comfort of your desk

Everyone takes a lot of pictures when they go to SeaWorld, but Google Maps recently went and documented every street at SeaWorld parks in Orlando, San Antonio and San Diego, as well as Orlando’s Discovery Cove and Aquatica for their Street View feature.

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“Now, no matter where you are, you can enjoy an online experience of our parks including seeing their scope and diversity while planning your vacation. The only thing missing is getting splashed by the real Shamu or taking on the best roller coasters in the world,” says Joe Couceiro, chief marketing officer for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.

Street View, which Google started using in 2007, is coming soon to more of SeaWorld’s ten parks. If you happen to be at Busch Gardens and see someone pedaling the 250 pound Trike Google uses to capture its 360 degree images, you’ll know what’s up. Watch the video above to see what it looks like!

A virtual visit to SeaWorld may not be as exciting as the real thing, but it’s a fun (and free) way to get pumped for an upcoming trip. Click here and search “SeaWorld” to zoom in on Shamu, the roller coasters, and anything you like from the comfort of your desk.

Video courtesy of SeaWorld.

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