Seaworld’s Antarctica: Empire Of The Penguins

As far as the Penguin Post is concerned the hottest new penguin attraction in the world will melt your penguin loving heart, but the chilly Antarctic conditions are perfect for the cutest penguins this side of the South Pole.

SeaWorld’s Antarctica: Empire Of The Penguin is home to 250 of the birds and it’s the closest that most of us will ever get to experiencing the South Pole.

This exciting, clever attraction takes you on a -1°C journey through a frozen wilderness to join the colony of penguins which you can watch as they waddle and glide on snow and dive and soar through the water. The brilliant ride, which opened on Friday, begins with a choice — taking one of the “wild” or “mild” saucer-shaped vehicles which seat eight people. You get the same experience in both — the wild just spins around faster and rocks — so I’d go for the shorter queue.

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The innovative trackless cars shimmy along one of 32 paths through 50ft glaciers and frozen waterfalls, with video of Antarctica seen through the eyes of an animated penguin called Puck.

It gets colder and colder on the three-minute-50-second journey to the penguins, all to a musical score performed by a 65-piece orchestra.

And then your vehicle turns you round to see the stars of this magnificent show.

Four penguin species — king, Adelie, rockhopper and Puck’s gentoo — live in this state-of-the-art empire which mirrors their real home. Ten tons of snow fall on the birds daily and the light cycle follows that in the southern hemisphere, so it changes from sunrise to sunset and springtime light to wintertime dark. Once you’ve seen the penguins, heard them and been splashed by them, you can watch them underwater in a 16ft-deep pool from a three-level viewing area with floor-to-ceiling windows.

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Antarctica: Empire Of The Penguin superbly combines the thrill factor of a ride with teaching families about penguins and their habitats. Three years in the making, it is the brainchild of creative director Brian Morrow.

At the launch he told me: “It is overwhelming to see the result, it has exceeded all expectations.

“This is Antarctica at its best and the attraction is so full of wonder and emotion, you actually come away believing you’ve been to that frozen world. Everyone loves penguins and people of all ages can take this big adventure. That’s why we created two ride experiences, so no one is excluded.”

Simon Veness, author of Brit Guide To Orlando, told me: “It’s freaky good, with the accent on freaky. The effect of entering Antarctica is truly surreal and, because the ride vehicles have no tracks, you have no idea where you are going. It’s unique and the exit to the penguins is stunning and magnificent.”

 

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