SeaWorld Orlando Reveals Details of 2013 Expansion “Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin”

In 2013, SeaWorld Orlando’s newest attraction will take guests on 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 the empire of the penguin.  In this family adventure, guests will be surrounded by the sights and sounds of this frozen place, embarking on a one-of-a-kind ride.  Continue reading for more details on SeaWorld Orlando’s largest ever expansion Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin.

From SeaWorld Orlando’s Press Release

“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.”

  • 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 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.

In other news, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment will become the largest theme park operator to eliminate plastic shopping bags at all 10 of its theme parks.  Park gift shops will offer paper bags made from 100 percent recycled paper or guests can choose to purchase reusable bags.

“This is a significant change for our company, one we hope will provide a model for our industry overall,” said Jim Atchison, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.  “Eliminating plastic bags is an important statement about our commitment to the environment, as well as the need to help protect marine animals from debris.  It also allows our guests to play a direct part in making a difference on our planet.”

This move will keep an estimated 4 million plastic bags from entering landfills and the environment each year.  Approximately 1.4 billion tons of trash, including plastic bags, enters the ocean annually.  Wildlife such as endangered sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, one of their favorite foods.

The company began exploring the concept at SeaWorld San Diego in 2011, when the park discontinued the use of plastic gift bags to mark the opening of its new Turtle Reef attraction.  SeaWorld Orlando is eliminating the bags this month in conjunction with the opening of its new attraction, TurtleTrek.  Opening April 27, TurtleTrek combines naturalistic habitats (sea turtles and manatees) with the world’s first 3-D, 360-degree dome theater film.  The film immerses guests in a sea turtle’s extraordinary journey.

For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.