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SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

P. 276: Penguin Trek construction update!

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The long version of the construction tour featuring a more in-depth description of the TurtleTrek 3-D 360 degree dome's film has now been added to the original construction report post. I've also included a third video in which Brian Morrow discusses other projects he is working on for the SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment properties including the Freshwater Oasis, Manta (SeaWorld San Diego) and Verbolten (Busch Gardens Williamsburg).

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Thanks to this report, my interest in TurtleTrek has increased tenfold. REALLY excited about the dome theater and the fully immersive (so to speak) experience that promises. The whole concept just hadn't sunk in (so to speak) until now.


I second that. When I first heard the announcement and description of this attraction, I thought they were talking a good game but doubted that the technology would be that impressive. After seeing this...wow. While SeaWorld/Busch has always been known for great theming, excellent use of existing technologies, ride placement, etc, they haven't really been known for introducing new technology. This really looks like it will change the game for the immersive theater experience. Brian Morrow is really impressive and I am really excited about this and all of his upcoming projects.

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SeaWorld Orlando has sent us a press release regarding the park's latest rescue and release success in Florida.


SeaWorld Orlando’s animal rescue team today helped to rescue and release a young dolphin that had become tangled in discarded fishing line in the Halifax River near Daytona, Fla.


The dolphin calf – estimated to be about 9 months old – had been spotted in the river with its mother. Monofilament fishing line was wrapped once around its body and had cut into its flippers. The calf’s mother was not tangled.


SeaWorld’s team worked closely with experts from the National Marine Fisheries Service, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Hubbs/SeaWorld Research Institute. Once the teams had the pair secured, veterinarians removed the fishing line and took measurements of both dolphins. The calf was tagged with an identification marker before he was released.


SeaWorld Orlando’s animal rescue team is on call 24/7 to rescue, care for and return to the wild manatees, whales, sea turtles, birds and dolphins. Since the park’s rescue programs began, tens of thousands of animals have been rescued.



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SeaWorld Orlando has now made it's Sky Tower attraction free for all guests! I think this is awesome news, as I really like this attraction. Part of me has to wonder if they're going to have enough queue space for the busy times of the year though. This will be interesting to see!




SeaWorld Orlando has quietly made a change in its pricing for rides in its iconic Sky Tower. All theme-park guests now can go up and look around for free.


Sky Tower has had various pricing – in addition to theme-park admission – over the years. The most recent charges were $4 for guests and $3 for SeaWorld annual passholders. The 400-foot tower was constructed in 1974, one year after the park opened.


Terry Prather, park president, said the move was in response to guest surveys.


“People are looking for better value, more value,” he said. ”That was one way that we saw as a way to add value to the visit to the SeaWorld park.”


The park started the no-charge policy, without publicizing it, a month ago.


The tower features a two-deck, rotating platform that rises 350 feet. It can hold 50 passengers. A recording points out various SeaWorld landmarks, as well as its sister attractions, Aquatica water park and the Discovery Cove resort. Prather says he uses the vantage point weekly to check on the progress of SeaWorld projects, such as TurtleTrek, an attraction scheduled to open this spring.


“You can see most of Orange County and over into Lake County,” he says.


The SeaWorld operations team devised plans for slower-attendance days and higher-volume days. On busier days, a reservation system can be instituted. Quick Queue, SeaWorld’s additional-charge, front-of-line pass, will include access to Sky Tower, Prather says. The tower operates all day, but it closes under certain weather conditions, including high winds, for safety purposes.


For years, holiday lights were strung from near the top of the tower to form a Christmas-tree shape visible from Interstate 4, but that was abandoned with the addition of the park’s Waterfront area.


“We’re still looking at options for the future,” Prather says.

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SeaWorld Orlando has sent us an notice that they are hosting a special hiring event for seasonal employees starting tomorrow!


Do you know someone looking for a “splashy” job where you can meet amazing people and work in an incredible environment? SeaWorld Orlando, Discovery Cove, and Aquatica are hiring for hundreds of seasonal jobs that can last through the summer and the holidays. All three Orlando parks are looking to fill a variety of positions, including lifeguards, game attendants, park operations hosts, prep cooks, photographers, and culinary attendants.


The pay range for these seasonal positions is $8.04-$9.50 per hour. Seasonal employees are eligible for a number of benefits, such as free entry to SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica, park tickets for friends and family and access to numerous team member events.


Those interested in applying must first apply online at seaworldjobs.com, and then attend a special hiring event on Feb. 21 and 22 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at SeaWorld Orlando’s Human Resources Building, located at 6283 Sea Harbor Drive in Orlando, Fla. Remember, prior to attending the hiring event, applications must first be filled out online at seaworldjobs.com.

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The official announcement of the Turtle Trek scheduled opening date has been made : April 27th!


We know you’ve waited patiently and now we have great news to share! The grand opening of TurtleTrek at SeaWorld Orlando will be Friday, April 27.


TurtleTrek will give you a turtle’s eye view of the ocean’s wonders and showcase the challenges they face, and the things we can all do to help make a difference in our world. And, coming to life is a first-of-its-kind 3-D, 360-degree dome theater film that is completely immersive. The dome allows a hyper-realistic 3-D movie to be shown all around you and even above you – not just in front of you.


Plus, you’ll be able to see two massive naturalistic habitats, one filled with hundreds of freshwater fish and gentle manatees, the other home to more than 1,500 saltwater fish and more than a dozen sea turtles.

Let the countdown to TurtleTrek grand opening begin! Make your plans now to be among the first to experience TurtleTrek at SeaWorld Orlando. To learn more about this amazing new attraction and to watch incredible behind-the-scenes videos, visit seaworldturtletrek.com.



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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Last Friday I took part in the Travel Channel shoot on Manta (and on the Kraken shoot the day before), but I had the chance to do a quick run through to grab some photos of the latest Antarctica construction, as well as TurtleTrek, Blue Horizons and One Ocean... Oh, and of the arrival of Coca-Cola products at Shamu Stadium!


This warning was posted at the entrance of Manta (and at the entrance of Kraken the day prior) for the majority of the day.


A few themed game booths have been added to the Manta area, filling in the gap left by the loss of the former Penguin Plaza games.


Manta is still awesome as ever!


This section of the former Penguin Encounter building will be retained and reused for the construction of the Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins ride building.


I had a little bit of time to kill so I stopped by Blue Horizons to grab some photos.


Thanks to the continued ability for trainers to have in-water interactions with the whales and dolphins in the show, there's a serious level of added wow-factor here.


Some of the tricks are really fun to watch.


Seriously, who wouldn't want to do this?


The musical score for the show even features a very similar sound to that of the Superman theme as the male lead flies through the water.


Just as there are some really impressive water stunts, there are some awesome aerial acrobatics involved in Blue Horizons.


The show is overwhelming (in a great way) because of the sheer amount of activity that goes on in various ways at the same time.


And this whale ALWAYS stuns the crowd with his tricks.



Time for more awesome stunts!


So cool!



The dolphins are equally as impressive, especially in the show's finale.


*Jaw drops*


Go see Blue Horizons! It'll blow your mind and rock your socks!


Moving on to TurtleTrek...


The entrance's details are nearly finished.


These are new!


We see you Retro Tiles!


It has finally happened!


The lemon slushes were down for the day, so I settled for an awesome blue raspberry slush instead!


I know, I know. I'm addicted to One Ocean.






That's all folks!

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To go along with Adam's little Photo TR, I'll give my 2 cents on Blue Horizons and One Ocean.


First off, this was my first time back at Sea World since 2003, and Adam was kind enough to let me join him for a quick walk around the park after the Manta film shoot. I was amazed by how clean the park was kept up, and how all of the staff seemed very friendly. I was worried that things would have gone downhill, but I was mistaken! The last time I saw the dolphin show, even being little, I thought it was very tacky, trying too hard to be like Clyde and Seymore.


But then I saw Blue Horizons. Holy crap. Blew my mind! I have become accustomed to Disney quality theme park entertainment (because of me being a CP) and have become a fan of the cirque du soleil style shows. Well I would put Blue Horizons right up there with those two. Everything was amazing about the show! The Set was a fantastic work representing the beauty of the ocean life,with lots of Blues and Whites. Huge Manta rays hung high off of the set. The performers seemed to really enjoy what they were doing, and so did the Dolphins! The musical score was memorable and was not overbearing or tacky in the least bit.

The ending is just amazing and will really take your breath away. I probably looked like a dork the whole time, cause my mouth was wide open. Blue Horizons is a must Sea! (Look what I did there).


Now to a show that also exceeded any expectations or preconceived notions I had.


Last time I saw the Shamu show at Sea World was when the performers used to be in the water with the Orcas. So I was expecting a stilted performance. I was wrong. Completely wrong.


One Ocean has a huge set, with four rotating TV screens that show off the theme of the show, that we are all connected by the Ocean. Funny that the theme is connection, when the Orcas and Humans cant be together in the water. What the show lacked in the amazing human interaction stunts, it made up for with the music, use of abundant fountains, and an increased focus on the Splash Zones! The Splash has become a greater focus in the show, which I believe is great! And then the finale of the show was breath taking! I cannot believe how these huge beasts can do tricks like that. Absolutely stunning!


All in all, Sea World is a Must Do to any Orlando Area vacation. But of course you already know that!

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Trip Report Friday April 6, 2012


As many of you know, the Travel Channel did some filming @ Seaworld Orlando April 5-6. It will air sometime in mid-late July. In addition to the posting here by Indigo Films, the park did a contest through Facebook and I was selected to come on Friday the 6th. All thanks goes to my friend Kijofa who entered me while I was sleeping...lol We got up at 4am to get ready and head to Orlando from Gainesville. I think I slept for all of an hour. We left about 5 and arrived at the park just before 7. The event was scheduled for 7:15am-10am.


After filming, all those who participated were allowed to stay in the park for the rest of the day. This was nice of them as some parks will escort you out after the filming/event is over and you have to either pay or have a season pass to come back in. Parking was free for participants as well and was kind of funny not having someone greet us at the parking toll booths. Since we both have annual passes, we would get in and had free parking anyways. However we did end up parking in the preferred area, so it was nice to have a freebie upgrade (not to mention we were only feet away from the entrance...lol).


After parking and heading to the gate, we all signed our lives away. Well, for 3 hours anyway and using the footage at their discretion...Hope I looked ok...lol. Then we went into the park. I obviously edited the form above so not to show my personal info.


Today they were filming Manta for the show. They filmed Kraken the day before. After receiving some general directions on what was to take place, it was definitely a process of waiting & watching and seemed to go on forever. There were about 52 of us and several were picked for interviews, wear hand cams and/or camera harnesses during the ride. It was interesting to see and be part of filming this type of show.


Here I am just waiting to get on...I waited...and waited...


...and waited even more...lol Stuff on TV looks like it was done with ease, but all the takes, waiting and behind the scenes seems to take forever. I saw one lady reading a book. I guess she's done this before...lol.


Finally I get on! This pic was actually my second ride. The first ride I sat on the other end and got a little wet on the splash down. I like this seat better because you come real close to the waterfall and it looks like you are going to fly right through it.


Even sitting there waiting to dispatch was a waiting game....lol


Yes! Finally...Here we go! This was definitely nothing like an ERT session whatsoever. I still had a good time; even while waiting. Also it was interesting hearing others points of view about the ride experience in person vs. reading them over a forum post.


When it comes to the camera, I’m a bit shy, so I didn’t do an interview. I should still show up there somewhere giving a thumbs up and/or smiling in footage on the ride and queue areas.


My friend Kijofa however, did an exit interview. He had quite a different perspective of the ride compared to the others. You’ll just have to see the show to see what I mean...lol


Here are some other shots of Manta from around the park taken after the filming was over.


The park was quite busy even before the official opening @ 9am. While riding Manta during filming, I could see a huge group of people waiting behind the ropes at the holding area. On my last ride @ around 9:15, they had opened the queue for Manta, and I could see it backed up to the splash down effect. I was like wow. I knew it was spring break & Easter weekend, so I expected the park to be quite packed. Since this was the case, the rides that were open had long waits, and show theaters filled up quite fast. I knew I wasn't about to wait an hour (or more) for rides I've been on many times. So we just kept moving on, taking in the scenery & whatever was manageable.


I was a bit disappointed that several attractions were down for various reasons. Some were to be expected due to construction of new & updated attractions:


The Manatee area was still under construction for Turtle Trek; opens April 27…


The Penguin Encounter turning into Antarctica Empire of The Penguin; opens Spring 2013…


& the underwater viewing area for the Killer Whales was still under construction (& Dine With Shamu), so we didn’t get to see them this time. This was all to be expected since I follow several forums…no biggie.


In addition to the above, some attractions were closed due to weather and/or technical difficulties. The Skytower was closed due to high winds, so I was unable to take pics of the construction from overhead. I'm not sure if it ever opened later.


Kraken was closed for some unknown reason when we went over after filming. All they would tell us was that it was currently not in operation, but to check back later in the day. So I was a bit bummed I didn't get to ride my favorite coaster this trip. It was still not running by the time we left the park.


Since I did ride Manta during filming (the main reason for coming), it was not a wasted trip. However I do feel bad for some people who actually paid to come to the park or first timers with all these areas/attractions being closed. I even heard several complaints while walking around the park. But hey, progress is coming and things happen. Of course safety should always come first.


Even with all that closed, we still managed to find a few things to do:


Always fun to watch is Clyde & Seamore Take Pirate Island. Since I've seen the show several times, I just sat back and enjoyed it instead of taking endless pics or recording this time.


After the show it was time to each lunch. The place desired was Seafire Inn, but they had changed their menu so someone wasn't going to get what they wanted. So we ended up @ the other usual place we go to...The Spice Mill.


Then we went through the Shark Encounter. Unfortunately, unless you have a real high powered (expensive) camera, you won't get many decent pics in here. I also hate using a flash in these types of environments since it reflects off the glass, so I refuse to do so.


We also played Skeeball and won a couple prizes....Ok, so Kijofa won but I was 10 points from winning as well. I still got one....lol


Most of the animals were readily available and glad to pose for a picture or two:


Here are some of the egrets, a wood stork and harbor seals in the Pacific Point Preserve.


The underwater viewing @ Dolphin Cove is always a nice place to escape the heat and relax while you see these graceful creatures swimming and playing. The dolphin feeding was going on above. I still haven't done this, but I may next time. They had already closed for this feeding and the next one was later.


The park has a few rescued Sea Turtles on display. The poor guy on the right has been amputated. My guess is the leg was cut by a boat propeller. The park does do a great job with rescuing animals and releasing them back into the wild when they can.


Inside the Manta Aquarium is an array of sealife. Of course this lil guy on the left is not a manta ray....I didn't get any decent pics because of the lighting in there. This is a still from video footage. To the right is a Sea Urchin.


We skipped One Ocean this time. I'm sad we didn't get to see "Shamu" this go around, but we saw it in December and should still be running next time we come, as it's still fairly new. Plus I know that stadium was going to be a mad house and packed.


Instead, we opted to see the 2pm showing of my favorite show Blue Horizons before leaving the park. Unfortunately when we arrived at the theater it was already closed do to capacity. It was about 15-20 minutes early too. I've seen it more times than I can remember, so I guess that's ok. This just wasn't our day to enjoy our favorite attractions and shows, but we accomplished the objective for coming.


We left the park around 3, mainly to avoid the afternoon traffic after walking through the Waterfront shops. Despite the crowds and attraction closures, we still had a good time. We had both been to the park several times in the past and I’ve been going since ‘07. We’ll be going back after they open up Antarctica sometime next year.


A visit to the park wouldn't be complete without an obligatory photo of the lighthouse at the entrance. I usually take it when I arrive, but didn't because of lighting that early in the morning. So I just waited until we left....I almost forgot!

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Curious how SeaWorld Orlando is creating the world’s first 3D 360 dome theater experience at TurtleTrek? Want to know how the amazing film and effects are being pioneered? This webisode, the fourth in our installment, takes a look at how SeaWorld designers and animal experts collaborated with the 3D technical artists at Falcon’s Treehouse to blend together an amazing film where the stars – sea turtles and a cast of thousands – seem to be within your grasp.


Take a look...





TurtleTrek, opening April 27 at SeaWorld Orlando, will be home to two species of adult and juvenile sea turtles, as well as four Florida manatees and a stunning variety of tropical and native fish. Learn some fun facts about these exquisite creatures below and then be sure to visit the all-new TurtleTrek to view them through the floor-to-ceiling windows or gliding past you from above!


· Endangered hawksbill populations have declined rapidly due to hunting for their stunning shells that are used to make souvenirs, eyeglass frames and jewelry.

· The green sea turtle can stay under water for as long as five hours. Their heart rate slows to conserve oxygen: nine minutes may elapse between heartbeats.


· Manatees are gentle, plant-eating marine mammals… they eat 10% of their body weight, that’s up to 200 lb. of vegetation a day!

· Manatees closest living relative is the elephant; their lips are prehensile, they can use them like fingers, just like the tip of an elephant’s trunk.

· Manatees are an endangered species. They can live in saltwater, freshwater and brackish water and are found all over the state of Florida.




Take an insider's look at how SeaWorld Orlando returns a rehabilitated sea turtle back into its natural environment. Learn from turtle expert, Dan Conklin, what this sub-adult loggerhead suffered from and how SeaWorld prepared it for its return and how you, too, can help save turtles.



For 45 years, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has helped animals in need -- ill, injured and orphaned. More than 20,000 animals have been rescued by our experts. SeaWorld’s animal rescue team is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


To help protect this threatened species, make sure fishing line and trash is disposed of properly. When fishing, use new "circle" hooks - sea turtles are less likely to swallow the circle-shaped hooks than traditional J-shaped, which cause suffocation or internal bleeding when swallowed. Also, if a sea turtle’s nest is seen, please contact authorities.



SeaWorld Orlando has sent us a press release regarding today's announcement of new details surrounding Antarctica - Empire of the Penguin at the Pow Wow in Los Angeles.


At Pow Wow in Los Angeles, one of the world’s top travel shows, SeaWorld Orlando designers and marketing execs revealed more details of the park’s 2013 new attraction and its largest-ever expansion, Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin.


Details revealed included:


•Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin will include a first-of-its-kind family adventure ride that utilizes new technology for an experience that can change from visit to visit. Designers also revealed that guests will be able to choose the level of thrill they experience on the ride. Each car seats eight guests.


•Guests will be introduced to a new SeaWorld star – a young gentoo penguin. The young gentoo becomes the ride’s guide and leads guests on an exciting journey through the dangers and wondrous beauty of the Antarctic.


•Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin will get SeaWorld’s guests closer than ever - and out among - its colony of penguins including gentoos, rockhoppers, adelies and kings. How close has yet to be detailed, but designers consider the guests’ encounters with the penguins to be the first of their kind in any theme park or zoo in the world.


•Immersing guests in a colony of penguins means Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin will be the coldest theme park attraction in the world. Designers have declined comment on the engineering it will take to place SeaWorld guests among a colony of penguins whose habitat must stay in the low 30 degrees for comfort.


•The footprint for Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin is the biggest of any expansion at a SeaWorld or Busch Gardens park. Park execs consider Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin an all-new “realm,” rather than a single attraction. Antarctica’s scope includes the ride, penguin habitat, gift shop and restaurant.


Background for Antarctica - Empire of the Penguin:


Through the years, SeaWorld Orlando has taken guests to far-flung corners of the globe, immersing them in the character and feel of exotic places and introducing them to unique worlds of adventure.


But no journey is bigger -- or as incredible -- as the one to come in 2013. It’s a voyage to the bottom-of-the-world, to the coldest and windiest continent, to a place of ice more than 9,000-feet thick. It’s a journey to Antarctica and to the empire of the penguin.


Guests will be surrounded by the sights, sounds and awesome encounters found in this frozen place, embarking on a one-of-a-kind ride and an incredible, first-of-its-kind family adventure.


They’ll experience the mystery and wonder of life on the ice through the eyes of a penguin, sensing the beauty and drama of their often-dangerous habitat. Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin combines closer-then-ever animal connections with state-of-the-art interactive ride technologies for adventures that are different each time.


It’s an all-family experience that could only come from SeaWorld and can only be found at SeaWorld Orlando. “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.”


More details can be found at http://www.SeaWorldOrlando.com.


SeaWorld Orlando has also sent us a press release announcing the branding formation of SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando, encompassing SeaWorld's three Orlando parks, seven nearby hotels and much more!


SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando, including three theme parks and seven official hotel partners, is now a full vacation experience offering money-saving travel values, exclusive benefits, a convenient location and unique sea-themed adventures found only at SeaWorld and its parks.


SeaWorld’s other parks in Orlando include Discovery Cove, an all-inclusive swim-with-dolphins resort, and Aquatica, SeaWorld’s waterpark.


“SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando is the one destination in Orlando where families can conveniently connect with our parks, our animals and the rest of Orlando’s attractions, combining preferred hotel stays with significant savings and exclusive benefits,” said Terry Prather, president of SeaWorld, Aquatica and Discovery Cove.

All within walking distance of SeaWorld, the park’s official hotels include quality resorts by Doubletree by Hilton, Fairfield Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Grand Vacations, Renaissance, Residence Inn and Springhill Suites.


“This is a great opportunity for guests coming to Orlando and looking for value and a unique vacation experience,” said Bob Walsh, general manager, Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld. “We’re providing adventure, savings, and amazing extras you can’t get anywhere else.”


SeaWorld’s parks and hotel resorts are conveniently located on the International Drive entertainment corridor mid-way between Central Florida’s other theme parks and are the closest of all resorts to the Orlando International Airport.


There are sought-after benefits to staying with any of SeaWorld’s hotel partners including discounts on shopping and dining, and early entry to the parks on select dates. And “getaway package” options offer values not available anywhere else. Package options include:


–Eat FREE All Day - featuring the park’s all-day dining deal FREE with each full-paid admission to SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica

–FREE child’s admission with each paid adult admission at SeaWorld and Aquatica (limit 2 free kids)


And with any hotel package booked, guests who buy 4 nights will receive a 5th night FREE.


And as an added bonus, guests who stay in any of SeaWorld Orlando’s official hotels also have access to these exclusive benefits:


–FREE transportation to SeaWorld, Aquatica, Discovery Cove and Universal Orlando

–Access to the behind-the-scenes look at SeaWorld’s animal rescue team, “SeaWorld Rescue Tour,” free to guests of the SeaWorld Orlando’s official Hotels


To learn more or book a vacation or a getaway now, go to http://www.SeaWorldGetaways.com.

Edited by jedimaster1227
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^ Going off that concept art photo, is this suggesting it may be some sort of a Spider-Man/Indy type of ride system? The vehicles certainly look something like that, and the riders have seat belts on...so you have to assume it will have some sort of motion...


but then again...it's concept art!

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Empire of the Penguin combines closer-then-ever animal connections with state-of-the-art interactive ride technologies for adventures that are different each time.


There is no truth to the rumor that drunk Brits get to take home a real penguin.

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