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SeaWorld Orlando announces new penguin, turtle attractions

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Published: November 8, 2011 at 8:09 AM

SeaWorld Orlando confirmed the rumors this morning with an announcement of a major new expansion at the theme park.

Antarctica - Empire of the Penguin will beSeaWorld Orlando’s biggest-ever attraction expansion, opening spring 2013.

Concept art poster for Antarctica - Empire of the Penguin, from SeaWorld Orlando

The expansion of the park's Penguin Encounter will involve live animal exhibits along with an interactive indoor ride through Antarctica from a penguin's point of view.

TurtleTrek will open in spring 2012 and will feature two animal habitats, one with manatees and the other with sea turtles. The highlight of the exhibit will be a 360-degree, 3D theater which will show a movie about sea turtles in their natural habitat.

It sounds like TurtleTrek might be east coast theme park fans' first chance to experience the 360/3D experience that fans on the west coast first saw at Universal Studios Hollywood's King Kong 360/3-D.

Here's the full announcement from SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, along with news of a new otter encounter at Discovery Cove.

Update: So here's the question: Do SeaWorld's new attractions, coupled with Harry Potter and everything else at Universal Orlando, move more theme park fans to consider a Disney-free Orlando vacation? If not, what more do SeaWorld and Universal need to add?

Readers' Opinions

From Andrew Mooney on November 8, 2011 at 9:39 AM
These new attractions seem really interesting. I'm looking forward to Freshwater Oasis at Discovery Cove - my favourite stop on any Orlando vacation. Wading through a tropical rainforest with monkeys messing around overhead sounds mesmerising.

TurtleTrek also sounds exciting and I hope it's like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcTFDK4AuNg&feature=related
Dragon's Theatre in the City of Dreams, Macau is also a 360 degree theatre on a much larger scale compared to the King Kong attraction. If this is SeaWorld's direction then I'm really excited to see the finished product.

Orlando looks to be getting a much needed injection that began with Harry Potter. Thanks IOA (didn't think I would ever say that) for making the other parks really up their game.

From Anon Mouse on November 8, 2011 at 10:30 AM
San Diego already has the penguin and turtle exhibits, but the new 3D show in Orlando is an improvement. These exhibits are merely filling a gap. I'm not sure they will attract new patrons.
From Dominick D on November 8, 2011 at 10:44 AM
Interesting? Yes. Something I would see? Excluding the penguin exhibit, nope.
From Skipper Adam on November 8, 2011 at 11:35 AM
So there weren't things like this already? No wonder why I never went.

But to have a Disney free trip, I would have to have parks with more to do. If you ask me, each Universal park is a "half" day park, and so is Sea World. That's 1.5 days of vacation. Disney takes at least 4 days to do most of the stuff.

From Anon Mouse on November 8, 2011 at 11:57 AM
I happen to believe that you don't need to only visit Disney when you're at Orlando. In my first trip, I did the Disney commando thing by visiting Disney for 10 whole days via length of stay pass. In my subsequent trips, I visited Disney less and less. Disney's biggest problem is WDW and Epcot are the full day parks. The other parks are half day like Animal Kingdom and Studios. However, when you compare WDW with Disneyland, the attractions are not at the same quality and quantity. I consider WDW a 3/4 day park.

Harry Potter instantly makes Universal's IOA a must see. Sea World's Discovery Cove is a compelling reason to visit, but not essential.

"What more do SeaWorld and Universal need to add?"

This is a good question. While Disney is a bit disappointing, Universal should add the Transformers. Sea World can add more predator exhibits, more dark rides, and kids friendly shows/exhibits.

From James Rao on November 8, 2011 at 5:58 PM
Quality announcements! For me it means Disney+Universal one year and Disney+SeaWorld the next. At this rate I may never make it down to Busch Gardens Tampa!
From Manny Barron on November 9, 2011 at 1:16 AM
This is great news. Can't wait for the new Penguin exhibits. They look way cool. Looking forward to more info on the Penguin ride. As for the 360:3-D turtle attraction. Anybody who has seen the epically awesome King Kong 360:3-D at USH, knows this technology is truly captivating.

It's always great to hear new attraction announcements.

From Flavio de Souza on November 9, 2011 at 5:53 PM
"What more do SeaWorld need to add?"

With the new Fantasyland, Legoland and Harry Potter, Sea World is facing a very strong competition for its main target, families with young children. So it should try attracting other demographics.

What about adult male looking for sex and violence????
I suggest a new orca nightly show “Nude trainers with Tilikum”.

Beautiful all nude* (female) trainers inside the water with the infamous Tilikum killer (grammatically speaking) whale, in a Las Vegas style extravaganza! From the same producers of Siegfried and Roy!

To honor its former owner, Sea World will offer free Buds to anyone attending the show!

*by the way, what is the difference of “nude” and “all nude”?

From Joshua Counsil on November 10, 2011 at 3:39 PM
I hope they learn from their overcrowded existing attractions and make the new observation areas larger for the animals. The exhibits at Wild Arctic are particularly cramped.
From David L. on November 13, 2011 at 6:55 AM
Wow. We Win Again! First It's Potter, then it's Fantasyland, then it's Turtle, more fantasyland, Penguins galore, then Avatar! The only way we can lose is if Disney buys Universal and Seaworld... Which isn't going to happen. As for the attractions themselves. I don't have the money to go to Discovery Cove, but in ten years, maybe I'll get a really good job or something. The attraction sounds great though. The Turtle/Manatee thing sounds great. Improved exhibits are always welcome and the theater sounds great(solid C ticket?). Antarctica sounds amazing. While the penguins were already there, the improvement(I assume more animals will be there and Better exhibits) and ride sounds great(E ticket hopeful?). It seems about on par(better if you count the Discovery Cove attraction) with Harry Potter world and almost on par with Fantasyland(Better w/DC attraction)

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