I loved Sea World San Diego when I visited earlier in the year, I had been to Sea World Orlando a few times before with the last time being in 2012. Since 2012 not much has been added except the new Antarctica section with the penguins. I was eager to see how Sea World’s top park compared to the San Diego one and previous visits.
We’ve arrived at Sea World Orlando!
Let’s go in shall we?
Right in the entrance plaza there’s a massive Christmas tree.
Sea World’s 50th Anniversary sign and Manta in the background.
Manta navigating it’s course.
Manta graces the entrance plaza very nicely, it’s a great sight to see.
We’ll be returning later to go for a ride, but let’s check out the aquarium first!
The manta rays of the Manta aquarium.
A creepy looking sea horse.
A neat spot for the kids where they can climb in and pop their head up in the glass bubble into the aquarium.
First ride of the day was the Sky Tower.
There it is. These are always fun to take aerial photographs from….
…problem was because of the 50th anniversary wrap around the tower this is how they look. Blah…. bad move Sea World.
After getting off the Sky Tower we checked out the Pets Ahoy show.
There’s the usual pet shenanigans with the cats going across the rope…
A few dog jokes…
And that’s a wrap.
In typical Sea World parks fashion they remind you to check your local animal shelters first when looking for a pet.
Now it’s time to check out the new area.
Antarctica which contains Empire of the Penguin.
Empire of the Penguin is the big E Ticket ride that accompanied the new Antarctica section. Let’s see how it is!
The pre-shows introduce to the world of the penguins.
Puck our penguin host we take us on the journey of the penguin.
The ride maneuvers in and out of a few scenes and the ride vehicles are actually very neat. They can spin and wobble just like a penguin.
The finale of the ride is an area where there’s a movie playing that shows the penguins and then…..
…. the screen lifts and there’s real penguins! A really cool finale but the rest of the ride really lacked. They could have done so much more with those vehicles. Really felt like a half finished ride.
A close up of a penguin.
The penguins walking around in their nice environment.
Antarctica is a nice display but the silly thing is to see the penguins you have to ride the ride. There’s no way to skip the ride to check out the penguins, that doesn’t make any sense. Who wants to wait in a 30 minute wait to ride a pointless ride just to see the penguins. It’s fine for the first time but after that there should be an option to skip the ride.
Next up was Blue Horizons my favorite Sea World show.
Blue Horizons is a show that has everything… but it’s main focus is still the dolphins.
There’s a few neat tricks with the trainers that that they can’t do anymore in the Shamu show.
There’s a lot of dolphins in this show so something is always going on.
After the beginning part of the show they introduce birds and acrobats.
There’s the birds…
..and there’s the acrobats.
After not too long they start diving into the water.
The dolphins are back!
The finale has so much going on… birds, flags, water jets, but the main star is still the dolphins.
A wide look at the finale, in which you can see one of the birds flying around.
Blue Horizons was an excellent show as always, and the Orlando version is the best version of the show. Every single one of them is good though, and it’s definitely the number one show that you don’t want to miss outside of the Shamu show. I actually prefer it to the Shamu show but I know I’m in the minority on that, both shows are good though.
Manta is still soaring as we exit the dolphin stadium.
There’s that evil 50th anniversary wrap on the tower that prevented anyone from getting good pictures up there.
It was time to ride Journey to Atlantis!
Journey to Atlantis is a fun water coaster filled with a decent dark ride section and a few surprises along the way.
Doesn’t look like there will be a long line today….
Next was the Kraken.
Kraken is an amazing floorless coaster that has plenty of force and some great elements.
Release the Kraken!
Kraken gliding along.
Here comes the Kraken!
Climbing the lift of Kraken gives you a great view of the park.
The first drop is a great drop that gives you the speed to blast into the 7 inversions.
The cobra roll of the ride.
Hands up and legs out!
Kraken really is a great looking ride.
Posing with Kraken one of my all time favorite coasters.
The best part about the Kraken plaza is the Kraken eggs…
…and the sign that says do not disturb the eggs.
Kraken is an incredible floorless coaster and as I said earlier it’s one of my all time favorites. It’ll be interesting to see how Rougarou compares when it opens at Cedar Point in just a few weeks. For now though Kraken is still my favorite floorless coaster.
Our next destination took us across the central lake of the park which had this fountain in it. Pretty nice looking.
The One Ocean show is where we ended up.
From our view in the stadium you can see Kraken off in the distance.
And here comes Shamu!
Shamu doing backflips.
It’s feeding time.
Shamu also likes to show off just a bit.
Another cool shot I managed to grab.
Now two of the whales want to show off.
Just saying hello.
There’s definitely a lot of splashes created in this show.
And that is One Ocean.
One Ocean is a good Shamu show, but it’s just not the same without the trainers getting in the water like they used to. It’s still a sight to see these amazing animals up close and see the power that these whales truly have. It’s still an essential part of any day at Sea World but I’m sure I didn’t have to tell you that. 😛
Hey weren’t we just there? 😉
This was a pretty aesthetically pleasing area.
Clyde and Seamore were getting a new show, so no Clyde and Seamore today. 😦
Checking out the dolphin nursery for a little bit.
We stopped out at the car for a quick second and it gave me an opportunity to take another picture of the lighthouse at the entrance.
Here’s some flamingos for you. 😛
Stingray Lagoon was our chance to pet some stingrays.
Touch pools are always a hit with guests, it’s a great way to feel closer to the animal.
Manta soars off in the distance.
Dolphin feeding was going on when we visited the dolphins so naturally…..
…they were very active.
The underwater viewing area also provided some great views of the dolphins.
Time to check out Turtle Trek.
There was of course sea turtles in the aquariums in the pre show area of Turtle Trek.
There were also manatees as well.
The main show of Turtle Trek is a 360 degree 3D movie that shows the journey of a baby sea turtle through the eyes of the turtle.
The movie gets a little preachy but yeah don’t trash where you splash!
Outside you can see the aquariums from the top, and there’s that sea turtle again.
The pearl divers were putting on quite a show in hopes to get people to buy a pearl that the diver will pick out.
Let’s go check out some sharks.
The shark tunnels always have difficult lighting to really truly capture the sharks.
Outside however they were a few more sharks swimming around in a shallow pool.
Some interesting red Christmas trees.
Best park about the Sea World parks is the beer choices. 😛
Next up was to explore Shamu’s Happy Harbor and the nets.
These are always a fun aspect of Sea World.
New coaster credit!
The Shamu Express looks like your standard mine train coaster but there’s a giant long train which makes it a somewhat unique experience.
The other unique aspect of the ride was there was these fins that rested in between your legs for riding. Very weird aspect of a coaster train.
And there’s the Shamu Express as you can see how long the train really goes back there.
Outside the Shamu Express was a little bit of street entertainment. Something that I haven’t seen at Sea World before.
The Polar Express experience which had a very long line at the moment. We’ll return here later.
The Sea of Trees was starting to light up.
Next destination Manta?!?
Some fun facts about the Sea of Trees.
Before arriving to Manta we ran into some more street performances. This time they were a slapstick comedy in the vein of the Three Stooges and the theme was wrapping presents for Christmas time.
Wait so it’s in the shark?
The kids were especially unhappy when he started taking apart stuffed animals looking for stuff.
They were a lot of fun and especially funny to watch. Definitely one of the better street performances I’ve seen.
One of Manta’s coolest features is that it climbs the lift right over the pathways.
Manta is ready to soar… When Manta was being marketed and talked about they said a flying coaster would be perfect so that you can truly feel like you were a manta ray swimming along and pulling off crazy maneuvers. I’d say they succeeded, Manta is a great experience. (Though I still prefer the other Manta in San Diego 😛 )
The pretzel loop of Manta is the most intense part of the ride, and the part that my Dad did not like. It’s a very different feeling if you’ve never been on one before. All the blood rushes to your head at the bottom of the loop where you’re basically doing a hand stand. After a few seconds though you come out of the loop and everything is back to normal, it’s definitely a very intense experience.
An area of the park that was closed during the day has now opened up! Let’s go check it out.
There was a very neat model train display in the area.
There was also a group singing some Christmas songs by the…..
…the fire pit of course! How very cool.
It’s getting darker and darker as the trees begin to light up.
To kill some time we saw the Elmo’s Christmas Celebration show, it was a typical kids Christmas show nothing too exciting.
There was more street performances in the way of moving statues. Another very cool thing.
Now that its dark the Sea of Trees really shows, with Kraken lurking in the background
The fire pit is more active now that the sun has set and it’s getting colder.
Ice skaters were out practicing preparing for the ice skating show that was a little bit later.
The park sure did have a lot of Christmas lights.
Now that the line was down we checked out the Polar Express experience which allowed us to see some of Wild Artic.
See told you… Wild Artic.
The Polar Express experience was an overlay of the Wild Artic ride that was decked out for Christmas.
So we still got to see some Walruses.
We took our seats in the Bayside Stadium to see Christmas Wonderland on Ice as well as Holiday Reflections the nightly fireworks show.
To keep the crowd entertained as the ice skaters got ready there was a pre show with an A Capella group.
There was also an acrobat as well as part of the pre show.
And it looks like it’s time for the show to begin….
And we have ice skaters.
Of course the show was filled with a bunch of Christmas fun.
There was no shortage of crazy tricks.
Then there was the skating in tandem.
And that’s a Winter Wonderland on Ice another good ice skating show from Sea World parks.
From our seats in the Bayside stadium we had a perfect view of Holiday Reflections the nightly fireworks show.
Holiday Reflections used water jets as well as fireworks for the show.
And a variety of colors.
Notice how even the Sea of Trees lights up as well.
And that’s Holiday Reflections.
Sea World Orlando is a fun time, however I am still partial to the San Diego park. I thought some of the animal exhibits at the San Diego park had better viewing areas. The Orlando park has a slight edge though with the rides Manta, Kraken, and Journey to Atlantis are all winners. Now Antartica: Empire of the Penguin seems like a missed opportunity that could have been so much better. Again I still love Sea World and hope that as a company they can refocus on what makes the park successful because I want to return to Sea World for years to come!