Tuesday, May 28, 2013

SeaWorld Orlando Opens New Antarctica Attraction

Over Memorial Day Weekend 2013 SeaWorld Orlando opened their latest section of the park. Antarctica is home to the Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin ride and animal exhibit, a gift shop (Glacial Collections), and a counter service restaurant (Expedition Café).



While initial reviews on theming of the new land seem to be great there are issues with the show building being visible from behind the ‘ice’ and very visible from other sections of the park. The ride itself is the central focus of the new land. While most reviews are great opening day was bit of a mess. Wait times for the ride topped 5 hours at some points while the ride more than once broke down. Many turned to Twitter to express their shock at SeaWorld not having a soft opening before than grand opening, a practice that other local theme parks do.

The ride uses a unique trackless system (similar to Pooh’s Honey Hunt in Tokyo Disneyland or the Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disneyland). The three minute or so ride though oddly only uses this trackless system to its advantage in two of the five show scenes. The impressive set design is quite impressive, especially for SeaWorld who only has one other dark style ride (Journey to Atlantis). The sets though have very little focus in the ride that instead uses video screens for most of the story telling. With both a mild and wild (which spins) option the ride is a good family option in a park that has few true themed rides, especially indoor rides.

   




The main focus on the new land though is the penguins, who now have a massive new home with deep swimming holes. Guests can now get closer than ever to the penguins in the new exhibit. A little too close actually as the penguins have been hopping out of the exhibit and into the guest area. SeaWorld says that the penguins will eventually be trained to not hope out of the exhibit but some have pointed out that the penguins getting loose are actually a great experience for tourist who won’t soon forget it.
Images via SeaWorldParks.com

Images via SeaWorldParks.com
The restaurant has an exciting menu of American, Asian and Italian (the three major signatories of the Antarctic Treaty) cuisine in both quick service and made to order options. A hydroponic garden produces fresh herbs that chefs incorporate into the menu. Outside seating is available under shade cloths and two Quonset-type huts provide seating. A new exclusive beverage, South Pole Chill, is available in the new land. The flavor has been described as Sprite with Cream Soda flavors.  Coke Freestyle Machines give guests over 100 different drink choices on top of the new flavor.

Also new at Antarctica are souvenir cups created by SeaWorld and Coca-Cola®. The Cup That Cares is a refillable cup program that uses a RFID chip embedded in each cup interacts with software at Antarctica’s Coca-Cola Freestyle dispensers to calculate CO2 and tell guests how they are being more environmentally responsible by choosing to refill and reuse. SeaWorld will donate $1 from each Cup That Cares purchase to the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens® Conservation Fund, a not-for-profit foundation that helps protect wildlife around the world.


Guests may build their own personalized penguin-shaped character cup by choosing from more than 40 accessories such as eyes, hair, glasses, hats, bow tie, necklaces and even miniature Shamu ice cream bars and SeaWorld shopping bags. The Create A Cup That Cares will be sold in the Antarctica gift shop, and includes a free first fill at the nearby Antarctica beverage stations. Create A Cup That Cares experience starts at $15.95 with the option to add accessory items.

Overall the new land is a great addition to SeaWorld Orlando, especially for families with smaller kids who cannot go on the thrill rides at the park. The new area is a major move forward for SeaWorld.

Check out our other posts on SeaWorld's Antarctica:


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