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SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

P. 276: Penguin Trek construction update!

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  • 2 weeks later...



Sea World is catering to people with food allergies at their parks.


The parent company for the parks, which owns Busch Gardens Tampa and a total of 10 parks across the country, announced Wednesday that they are introducing a line of allergy-friendly "dining initiatives."


These initiatives include increased safety by having guests with allergy specific needs working one and one with food preparation staff from start to finish to make sure it is allergen-free.


"Chef Cards" will be handed out in advance so that guests can write down their specific allergies, and then handed to a chef before the preparation of a meal.


The parks are also adding more menu options like gluten-free pizza and allergy-friendly Shamu shaped chocolate bars.


"We serve millions of guests each year and are committed to provide each a great experience. For families with allergen concerns, we understand how challenging it can be to safely dine out, especially while on vacation," said Jim Atchison, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment in a release.

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I noticed that Busch Gardens Williamsburg is offering prepackaged "allergy friendly" snacks at Grogan's Grill, Cafe Lulu, German Candy, Festhaus Kaffee, and Roman Frieze, as well.

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I'm nervous about the name "Empire of the Penguin." I mean, we had "Empire of the Ants," and look at how well that turned out!


Ants and humans living together! Aghh!


But, seriously, I'm looking forward to checking out Sea World's new attraction--the old penguin exhibit was looking pretty long in the tooth.

Edited by cfc
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  • 2 weeks later...

^It was nice to see the little teaser about programming the ride vehicles--and to see the Busch parks in general stretching themselves a bit (as they already have with Verbolten, DarKastle, and Cheetah Hunt).

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SeaWorld Christmas Celebration Media Day


Saturday night, Jacqi and I took the kids out to experience SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration. 

Jacqi and I have long been Sea World Annual Passholders, but we'd never ventured out to for their Holiday event. SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration is included with park admission and runs every weekend through the end of the year and weekdays during the Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks. 


While the park is decked out with lights and decorations in just about every nook and cranny, the centerpiece display is the "Sea of Trees" - a collection of over 100 lit trees that surround the lake. Three times a night, the trees come alive as their lights dance to holiday music. I got a opportunity to talk with Vice President of Entertainment, Michael Fletcher - and he explained that the show uses over 5 tons of lights and requires over 9 miles of electrical and fiber cables. The show is in its third year and has become the signature element of their celebration.


We were then whisked off to a showing of "O Wondrous Night" - their telling of "the greatest story never told" The show was a unique version of the Christmas story as told by some of the animals that witnessed the birth of Christ. Musically the show was amazing - 16 performers all mic'ed and singing. And while some of the puppet work and story lines weren't exactly my cup of tea, the nativity finale was fantastic. Live animals were everywhere - each entrance more impressive than the previous and probably the grandest nativity I'd ever seen. 


Finally, our preview concluded with Winter Wonderland on Ice, a holiday themed ice skating show - and Holiday Reflections, a fireworks and fountains show. Both took place at the Bayside Theater. Both shows were very good. The ice skating show felt more like an old holiday TV special, which was fun and the Reflections show was a nice finale for the evening. Reflections felt a bit short and most of the pyro was lower level bursts - but if all fit very well.


We didn't get to see Polar Express, Santa and his elves, the holiday Clyde & Seymour show or the Xmas Shamu show (unfortunately a lot of these things were happening at the same time and we had to pick and chose which things to take in). But there was also plenty of seasonal food and merchandise all over the place - and we seemed to run into small holiday musical groups providing atmosphere entertainment around every corner. 


Overall the park was beautiful and the entire event was a lot of fun. Its great to see Sea World continue to grow their seasonal offerings without resorting to a hard ticket/upcharge type of event. I'm eager to go back and check out all of the things we missed.


Sea World is all set for their Holiday Event.


We're in the right place. Here is our media badge.


Here is the event map. Looks pretty Christmassy.


Jacqi and the girls in front of Sea World's Christmas tree.


Holiday decorations are everywhere - even the light posts.


The park was beautiful with decorations and lights all over the place.


More holiday decorations.


Sea World themed nutcrackers, anyone?


Holiday musicians - these groups seemed like they were everywhere.


These elves were playing around too.


Entertainment vice president, Michael Fletcher introduces the Sea of Trees show to the Media.


Sarah has some company during the show.


The Sea of Trees - this picture does not do the show justice. There are over 100 trees that appear to be floating on the lake - all with animated lights that move to holiday music.


After the show, Michael took a moment to pose for a photo with me.

Edited by jedimaster1227
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More photos from the Sea World Xmas Event.


Kraken is a walk on ? Yes, please.


O Wondrous Night - these are the Herald Angels and they're going to sing about the birth of Christ and the animals that were there in the manger.


The finale of this show was incredible. There were animals and flying birds everywhere. Highly recommended.


Ice Skating!


And Fireworks!


There were lights and beautifully lit paths everywhere. The park was very sparkly at night.


Santa Shamu!


Happy Holidays from Sea World!

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^Looks like you all had a swell time. Thanks for sharing! I just love that sunset in the background of one of your photos.


As for the video that was posted a few posts ago, the motion of the vehicle was far different than what I imagined it to be. I never realized the motion would so closely resemble Transformers. Then again, I had never known until now that Oceaneering helped provide the ride tech for Transformers.

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You guys have to go back and see Shamu Christmas Miracles though! It is easily my favorite show at any theme park.




The also have some new photo areas this year. In addition to the snow globe by the waterfront that was introduced last year, they added another one by Shamu stadium. And I believe there are meet and greets with animals by the O Wondrous Night theatre.


My only disappointment was that they no longer offer the booth where you chose what type of bread you wanted and added a variety of spreads and toppings. But the smores cobbler is still there!

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Last week TPR was at IAAPA (if you haven't already, check out our huge coverage of the overall convention) to check out the latest happenings in the amusement park industry. Among those latest advancements was a special announcement from SeaWorld in regards to Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, their upcoming attraction for 2013 that will take riders into the realm of the penguin in a ride experience that combines several world's-first elements into one super attraction!


Be sure to watch the video below to see the announcement as well as to hear our interview with Brian Morrow, Creative Director of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment parks (you'll recognize him from our coverage of Manta and TurtleTrek as well), and to see some adorable penguins soaking up the spotlight at IAAPA!




And here is the official press release to go along with the announcement event, including some exciting new details on the ride system and the experience to come!


At the world’s largest theme park convention – the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions’ Expo 2012 - SeaWorld Orlando execs revealed the vehicle that will take guests on a first-of-its-kind ride to the frozen south in the park’s 2013 attraction and all-new realm, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin.


“There’s nothing else like this in the world,” said Brian Morrow, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment creative director. “Next year, this is the vehicle that will take families on an epic adventure and allow them to experience and interact with the thrills, wonders and dangers of Antarctica, all through the eyes of a very special penguin.”


Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin combines a state-of-the-art family adventure ride and closer-than-ever encounters with hundreds of penguins – kings, gentoos, Adelies and rockhoppers – to create Orlando’s must-see 2013 new attraction. Immersing guests in a colony of penguins means Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin will be the coldest theme park attraction in the world.


Designers revealed a bit more about the vehicles’ unique role in the attraction.


The cars themselves are technological marvels. Each car is a mobile simulator, with movements that allow the riders to become one with the storyline as they follow and mimic a young penguin’s adventures. The combination of experiences – mobile, moving simulators and a completely trackless ride – are theme park firsts. Guests will choose one of two levels of adventure. Designers say each level has multiple variations for a feeling of unpredictability, just like the continent of Antarctica.


“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. When he takes his first swim or barely escapes danger, our guests will feel as if they’re right there with him,” Morrow said.


Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin is the biggest expansion in company history. Park execs consider the attraction an all-new “realm,” rather than a single attraction. Antarctica’s scope includes the ride, penguin colony, gift shop and restaurant.


It’s an all-family experience that could only come from SeaWorld and can only be found at SeaWorld Orlando. “We’ve taken our guests and fans on astounding journeys,” said Terry Prather, SeaWorld Orlando’s president. “But no one has ever experienced what we’re bringing to Orlando in 2013. The first-of-its-kind ride, the cold, the wind, the thrills and danger of Antarctica and walking among penguins in a massive habitat is something only SeaWorld could do.”


More details can be found at SeaWorldOrlando.com.


And if you haven't seen it already, here is some video of the Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin ride vehicle in motion!




Today we're here for some kind of unveiling...


Hosted at the Oceaneering booth, it was clear we'd be seeing the ride vehicle in person! Oceaneering also make the ride vehicle for Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Curse of DarKastle attraction.


Park President Terry Prather started off the event by reminding us that SeaWorld Orlando is committed to making new waves in the industry, and Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin is that new wave!


Brian Morrow was on hand to share new details about the ride...


And here is the ride vehicle!


Totally trackless, this ride is also an EMV with full motion control (similar to DarKastle and Spiderman) which will allow for a ride experience that can feel extremely real.


Wonder how you'll get it?


Wonder no more!


Note: The bottom step is there for evacuation purposes. During normal operation load and unload procedures will have guests entering and exit at level with the seats, not the step.


Brian was happy to give us a closer look at this awesome new vehicle!


How about going up?


Looks pretty great!


Okay, this is really awesome!


A behind the scenes look at the making of our interview with Brian Morrow! Check it out for inside info about the ride, including Brian's favorite detail you can find inside!


Special thanks to Brian Morrow for taking the time to share with us and to give us a special interview inside of the Antarctica ride vehicle!


Drooling yet?


Jake made a new friend on the show floor!


We also got the chance to interview Mike Boos, VP of Zoological Operations for SeaWorld Orlando (you might recognize him from our coverage of Cheetah Hunt)!


It wouldn't be an Antarctica event without a look at the stars of the attraction!


Who doesn't love penguins?


And to close, here's a look at the ride vehicles as they'll be used in the ride when it debuts later next year!


Special thanks to SeaWorld Orlando, Terry Prather, Brian Morrow and Mike Boos for hosting us at this special event!

Edited by jedimaster1227
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That looks really interesting. I love it when ride vehicles roll on the floor by themselves. It's so creepy yet cool!


The front outer seats seem like they would have your legs facing inwards though, possibly squishing them with whomever is sitting in the two middle seats. I only observed this through the 11 photo from the top.

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