When I visit new locations I always like to try to take at minimum one tour. You always learn things you wouldn’t know from reading a guidebook or website. And often you get to see and experience some things that normal guests would totally miss!
Check out all the Sea World Information I have put in one place for you!
Here we are in the penguin area with clearly no idea where the camera lens is.
In February 2018 a friend and I took a girls weekend to Orlando and decided to visit SeaWorld. While I have a long list of things I love to do there (do NOT miss the Penguin Encounter) I wanted to add an official tour to our itinerary.
Behind-the-Scenes Up-Close Tour at SeaWorld Orlando
After checking out the options on the SeaWorld website I decided to go with the Behind-the-Scenes Up-Close Tour at SeaWorld Orlando. It was only $20 per person so I figured if it was a flop no big deal. The tour is about an hour so it is some time out of your day but we decided to prioritize it over some other things we might have done.
We met our tour guide in the front of the Shark’s Underwater Grill.
She let us gaze at the sharks in the big tank until our entire party arrived and then we headed behind the scenes!
The first place we went was sort of a shark education room. I have always been impressed on my visits to Discovery Cove Orlando and SeaWorld how protective they are of sharks. They spent some time educating us on how misunderstood they are and the very little threat they pose to people on the scale of other creatures (like mosquitoes for example).
Inside the tank was this little guy and I was super excited we were going to get to touch him! His black spot is actually a protective measure- it’s used to make predators/prey think it’s his eye when they are much closer to the front of his page. So if he is attacked there it doesn’t actually hurt him the way other animals would think.
He got a nice back rub from me. I also discovered the outside of him was covered in something that felt like little hairs- so if you rubbed back and forth it was like a cat where the hairs stand up. Our guide told us it’s actually a form of teeth on the outside of his body for protection.
Once we left the shark room we headed over to the area I was most excited about- THE PENGUINS! If you look below you will see pictures from the ride Antarctica which has TONS of penguins. It turns out that the penguins in the area we were visiting are from a different part of the world and like warmer temperatures. So the room was a reasonable 50 something degrees instead of the 32 in the other area.
You guys I could talk about penguin cuteness for HOURS. They were completely adorable and had so much personality. Because they can handle warmer temperatures these are the animals they take to do public appearances. Many have been on tv!
This little guy watched us like a hawk as we came in! He wanted to see what was going on!
This is Santiago the penguin. He was the one we were allowed to pet! His girlfriend’s name is Victoria and believe it or not he has penguin arthritis due to his age. He takes Cosequin to help with his discomfort and his trainer said it was has made a world of difference in his activity level. He was super sweet and you could tell he was very comfortable while we petted him.
I have petted a penguin before but never one that was wet. Dry they feel like a bird- very feathery. Wet they feel more like rubber on the outside- their feathers definitely protect them from the effects of the cold water! Santiago was a true gentleman. When she put him back on the ground he ran right over to Victoria!
I also wanted to show you this guy. I can’t remember his name for the life of me but he had penguin cataract surgery! His trainer said his eye sight had improved by over 80% and he was living a much fuller life! As you can see he loves her and hung around her feet the whole time. The trainer did say some of the penguins run to the door every morning to greet her when she walks in. I almost died from the cuteness.
My conclusion was that the tour was absolutely worth it- as long as you have time during the day. Giving up an hour in a theme park is a big deal so just be sure you have your list of priorities before you book anything!
Others Things You Shouldn’t Miss
This is new since my last trip- a Dolphin Nursery. They keep the babies there with their parents and allow them to grow and learn some skills they need.
There were six dolphins in the tank- two little ones and their parents. They were OBSESSED with the broom the employee was using. It reminded me of a laser pointer and a cat. She would move it around and they would follow it everywhere. They were so cute and friendly!
Following the broom!
My friends always take better pictures than I do! Look how sweet!
Dolphin Days is my favorite show at the park. It showcases the incredible relationships between the dolphins and their trainers.
They are such beautiful animals and so strong. It’s inspiring to watch them swim.
The show also has parrots and the girl they were flying to was right next to us! I had never seen a parrot fly to my knowledge- they were beautiful with their wings outstretched.
Do not miss the Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin ride. We rushed to this ride as soon as the park opened so we could go on it first.
It’s a cartoon type journey that follows this little guy- Puck- as he grows up and learns the lessons of being a penguin. You sit in a small car with 8 people and it shuttles you around for about five minutes looking at various scenes.
Then a door opens and you see THIS. All these real life cute, smelly animals are right in front of you- sometimes staring back at the humans going by.
Once you exit the ride portion you are basically in their penguin habit. There are penguins EVERYWHERE doing all kinds of activities- sleeping, swimming, eating, preening, and pooping. Now if you have never seen a penguin poop let me tell you- it is PROJECTILE. Up to four feet. So it’s fascinating to watch in a weird way.
Behind this slightly cloudy glass are the babies- they were so cute and fuzzy!
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