Preview SeaWorld Orlando’s Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin

Filed under: Orlando Theme Parks,SeaWorld |

Last night we got the chance to preview SeaWorld Orlando’s latest and newest attraction, Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin before the Grand Opening tomorrow. It was a fabulous tour as we took in the new ride, the new scenery and the superb new habitat that the penguins now call home.

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Most people will instantly be attracted to the new ride which sees up to eight people seated in a unique carriage that whirls you through some interesting scenery before arriving at it’s destination…the real star of the show…  the penguin enclosure.

Another thing you need to be warned about is the fact that when you arrive with the penguins, it’s cold…. very cold, icy cold!

The largest expansion in SeaWorld’s history takes visitors on a high-tech ride across an ice floe before sending them into the chilly penguin colony that houses over 250 penguins. The penguins swim in the chilly water and play just inches away from the parks visitors behind a low rock wall with absolutely no glass partition.

It adds an extra dimension for guest who can now see all these wonderful gentoo, king, Adelie and rockhopper penguins. The 6,000 square foot habitat brings nature closer than ever before and while it’s tempting to reach out and try and touch a penguin, a host of SeaWorld’s ambassadors are on hand to ensure no stray fingers and hands find their way into the enclosure.

The other temptation to to want to hang around for a long time to watch the penguins at play but before long the 30 degree chill start to takes its toll and it’s not too long before you long for the Florida warmth outside! I suppose we might moan at that… wasn’t there a way of doing this so we could stay warm? Yes, I’m kidding!

Designers created the attractions ambiance by adding faux glaciers, an underwater viewing area, the high-tech ride, a restaurant and a gift shop.The final costs of the Antarctica project are unknown but what is known is that each ride vehicle cost around $900,000 each and that means we can educate a guess that the investment was in the $40- to $50-million range.

The new ride follows the adventures of Puck the penguin and guests  are moved through a series of rooms in saucer-shaped vehicles that combine a mobile simulator platform and a trackless navigation system that ensures each ride is completely different from the last. You can also pick the intensity, mild or wild.

Surprisingly, the ride queue isn’t as interactive as most new rides these days and of concern is the expectation that the line wait will be upward of two hours. The line will snake around a scenery of 50-foot glaciers and once you step inside, it gets progressively colder as you move along. The first stop is a drying room that sucks out the humidity as you watch a two-minute movie featuring the hatching of Puck, the animated gentoo penguin.  The next room lowers the temperature farther as you choose your ride intensity.

The ride then lasts about three minutes and then you step into the empire of the penguins. And yes, it is possible to get wet as the penguins aren’t shy about creating something of a splash!

SeaWorld says the park will open its parking lot at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow morning and its front gate at 8am ready for another great day in the Orlando theme park world!

Here’s some preview photos:

More preview photos at

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