SeaWorld’s TurtleTreking Along To Spring Opening Date

Filed under: Orlando Theme Parks,SeaWorld,Vacation Tips |

This morning I wandered along to SeaWorld to take a preview of the new, first of its kind attraction, Turtle Trek. It was an interesting visit that lasted around 45 minutes as I took a look at the new state of the art dome that will house the animated film that guests will no doubt come to love and enjoy.

The fully domed theater has a powerful stereoscopic projection system and that allows for a seamless, 3-D virtual environment that goes all around the dome, including over the heads of guests. A fine silver coating on the dome allows each screen to focus the projection light back toward the guests and each fleck of silver is like a tiny mirror.

The 3D/360 degree film will showcase the epic journey of one sea turtle. No animal’s life journey is more extraordinary than that of a sea turtle. From hatching on a beach and then making a mad dash to open waters to the dangers and hazards they face as they mature and return to the very same beach where they lay their own eggs, their tales of life underwater have in the past been very difficult to tell.

In the same way that Sea World brought attention to the plight of the manatee, the park will showcase the vulnerable sea turtle when the attraction opens in the spring of 2012. The animated film will play its part in this and it goes well beyond the concept of high definition or even virtual reality as each frame of the film has approximately 26 million individual pixels … more than 13 times what is normally considered “high-definition.” The film will be shown at 60 frames per second which is twice as fast as the human mind can register movement and combined with the dome and the powerful projection system, the result will be one of the sharpest and most spectacular 3-D films ever created.

The movie began on the artist’s drawing board and every movement of every creature was animated independently, from our hero, the sea turtle, to thousands of fish right down to the smallest anemone. More than 12 species of sea animals will be brought to life in the movie and the astonishing thing is that the movie is actually two films that run together simultaneously to create the 3-D effect.

The six minute movie really will be incredible and you won’t find it on Netflix anytime soon… as it is nearly 950GB and would take you nearly three months to download even if you had enough storage space available. In fact, to give you some idea of how huge it is, if you were to try and create a full length film at this resolution and complexity, it would take you nearly five years to download!

34 projectors and 360,000 lumens of light will fill the 3-D, 360 degree movie dome and that’s more than 15 times a typical digital movie theater projection system. Nearly a kilometer of fiber optic cable carries the video date to the projectors and the sound system includes 22 discrete audio channels that will be mixed on site. This then allows for 3-D sound and pinpoint placement of audio effects.

Pretty neat eh? Well consider this, your own surround system at home will usually be a 5.1 arrangement with 5 sound channels and 1 channel for low frequency effects… the sound system at TurtleTrek is 18.4 and is rated at an amazing 32,000 watts!

So that’s the dome and the movie but it’s only part of the allure of TurtleTrek as the whole experience will feature two massive, naturalistic saltwater and freshwater habitats which will be the home to both sea turtles and manatees. Turtle Trek will become home to a variety of adult and juvenile sea turtles, including hawksbill, Kemp’s, loggerhead and green sea turtles. Guests will be able to view these exquisite creatures gliding past them from above or from a below water window. The manatees, believed to be four West Indian manatees to be housed in the location, can also be seen from above or below the water as they swim or graze on a leafy snack. Each of the gentle giants in the exhibit will have come from the SeaWorld rescue program.

Sea turtles are truly a global species found in temperate and tropical seas worldwide and they have survived in the seas for over 200 million years. The TurtleTrek residents though, have been deemed non-releasable by the Florida government, due to genetics, illness or being orphaned. Since 1973, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued, cared for and returned hundreds of endangered manatees and since 1980 it has returned more than 1,200 sea turtles back to their natural waters.

It really is a fantastic effort and SeaWorld is determined to continue educating the public while  helping ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned animals in need. To date, over four decades of SeaWorld activity has seen more than 20,000 animals rescued by the park’s animal experts including whales, dolphins, sea lions, manatees, sea turtles and birds… essentially, the equivalent of helping one animal a day, everyday, for 45 years. It’s why we at Florida Leisure are proud to support SeaWorld and their incredible staff. It’s also why we emphasize a visit to SeaWorld Orlando as both adults and children benefit from the experience. Not only is it fun, but it is very educational and you can’t help but learn something about the world we live in.

We look forward to the opening of TurtleTrek and look forward to bringing you more news and stories from SeaWorld Orlando… so keep checking back on this blog every week!

Here’s some video of construction progress:

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