Last week we met Puck the penguin and explored Antarctica with him. This week let’s hear a few words from SeaWorld’s creative team who brought the attraction to life. At the forefront is Brian Morrow, Director Creative Development, who described the inspiration for some of the ride’s key elements. “The shapes you see are real icicles we found in Antarctica, which we blew up to beyond-human size. We want kids to be inspired by what they see; to be engaged by something that’s not technology, it’s something in the real world.”
SeaWorld’s VP Zoo Operations, Mike Boos, focuses on the animals’ well-being. “It took several weeks for the penguins to get used to their new environment. We needed to make sure temperature controls worked, all the life support was up, and once we felt it was safe we brought the penguins in to get acclimated. We made sure there was no more construction going on, and removed all the variables we could, then we slowly added in lights, music, and finally, guests.”
Five ice makers crank out 20,000 pounds of ice per day to keep the penguins’ empire realistically ice-cold and suitably snowy, and lighting is adjusted to replicate the South Pole’s daily and seasonal cycles, creating as realistic an environment as possible. But there is one authentic penguin colony experience SeaWorld thoughtfully omits: the smell. The habitat is washed and new snow spread around four times daily because, as Boos says, “Fish goes in, stink comes out!”
31 years ago to the day of our media event, the first Penguin Encounter opened in San Diego. It was therefore fitting that the man who pioneered the first successful penguin breeding programme was on hand for Antarctica’s opening. Because of his specialised knowledge of penguins, Frank Todd, who was with SeaWorld for 16 years, was chosen as the attraction’s consultant. “My goal all those years ago was to get a self-sustaining colony going. Penguins have to act like they would in the wild, and you can’t create a colony from two or four animals. You need fifty or more. But everyone loves penguins. They get immersed in them.” Frank was standing in front of the underwater viewing area as we spoke, and he turned to watch, saying, “I’ve been to Antarctica many, many times, but this is what we don’t see.” He did admit he’d had glimpses of penguins under water during the few times he fell out of his boat, though.
Toni Caracciolo, VP Sales and Marketing, was also on hand during the media preview, and shared her excitement about the attraction. What makes it special for her? “It’s when you look an animal in the eye. You realise you’ve made a connection and you walk away changed. People are just like penguins in that we both form colonies; we both thrive and survive together.” Toni was wearing magnificent sunglasses, and in complimenting her bling she revealed they can be purchased at the Waterfront. Ladies (and gentlemen with a lady on their Christmas shopping list), I think you’ll agree this is the must-have souvenir to remember your day at SeaWorld.
So that’s a snapshot of Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin’s preview presentation. We’ll see you on Friday, where we'll be taking over the Attraction Tickets Direct Friday Theme Park Round-Up!
Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin is exclusive to SeaWorld Orlando, to experience this thrilling and chilling new attraction check out Attraction Tickets Direct's range of SeaWorld tickets