Each year, marine resort SeaWorld in Orlando welcomes over 5 million animal lovers and thrill seekers. This is hardly surprising since the park comprises almost 20 different shows starring various animals, an endless number of exhibits, more than 10 rides (three of which are particularly exhilarating) and much more. There really is too much to see in one day alone!
But what if you do only have the one day to explore the park? What attractions just have to make it into your itinerary? I would imagine at least a couple of my following top five SeaWorld attractions will tickle your fancy…
Kraken Roller Coaster
Kraken – named after a mythological sea creature of the same name – is the first of two roller coasters to appear on this list of top SeaWorld Orlando attractions. Regularly topping “World Best Roller Coasters” lists constructed by ride enthusiasts around the globe, the ride comprises a vertical loop (119 ft), diving loop (101 ft) and a zero gravity roll, as well as a cobra roll, brake run and flat spin. That might not mean too much to you if you are unfamiliar with the anatomy of ‘coasters but all you really need to know is that this ride is extremely thrilling!
Kraken was the first floorless rollercoaster to be installed in the south of the United States and once held the title of the longest ‘coaster in Florida (now Expedition Everest in Disney’s Animal Kingdom). This really is a must for anyone planning to experience Orlando holidays!
Dolphins Up Close Tour
Many people adore dolphins (which are often referred to as the “clowns of the sea”) because they are intelligent and simply love to interact with humans. This means that many SeaWorld visitors will choose to attend a Dolphin Cover Exhibition but those who are willing to shell out a little more cash will experience an extra special encounter with these delightful ocean mammals.
For just $50 (correct at time of article publication and in addition to the standard park entry fee) guests of the marine park will learn how members of staff care for SeaWorld’s dolphins and they will even get to touch one (or several!) as part of an exclusive training session. This training session will see participants learn how to ask the playful creatures to perform simple tricks, using designated hand gestures. Those wanting to be involved in a Dolphin Up Close Tour should book in advance of their visit to the park, since places sell out incredibly fast.
Pets Ahoy Show
Starring four-legged friends such as dogs, cats, birds, ducks and pot-bellied pigs, this show has been produced to demonstrate to visitors what the encouragement-based training practices developed by SeaWorld’s experts can achieve. Have you ever seen a feline acting as if it were a canine? How about a hog riding a dune buggy? Thanks to the training skills of Joel Slaven (who worked with the animals that starred in the Hollywood blockbuster Ace Venture: Pet Detective) now you can!
Other tricks you’ll see performed as part of the Pets Ahoy show include high-wire walking and skipping rope jumping. The show makes for 25 minutes of comedic action which should see your entire family laughing together. In addition, all of the animals which star in this show were rescued by the park from both local and more-distant animal shelters.
Manta Roller Coaster
The second rollercoaster on this list is Manta which is a smooth yet fast and breathtaking ride designed to mimic the way that mantas and rays appear to “glide” their way through the ocean. Before riders climb aboard the manta-shaped carts (in which they are positioned so that their spines align with the track) they experience many up-close encounters with 3,000 different species of rays, sea horses, sea dragons and tropical fish – standing in line has never been so much fun!
This flying ‘coaster starts with a head first, face down, inverted nosedive before continuing its way around its 3,359 foot track which both soars high above the park and close to low waters, which appears to be skimmed (timed water jets help to create this illusion). The track also comprises four inversions, a pretzel loop, inline twists, a helix and several corkscrew turns. With an average speed of 56 miles per hour, this is two minutes and 35 seconds that SeaWorld visitors won’t be forgetting too quickly!
First established in 1974 when the park first opened, the Sky Tower is an iconic feature of SeaWorld. This observation tower stands at a height of 400 feet which its passenger capsule leisurely ascends to provide guest with a fantastic bird’s eye view of the park and wider Orlando.
Rides up the tower cost $4 (on top of the standard fee for entrance to the resort). Those who purchase SeaWorld ‘Quick Queue’ passes are eligible to ride up the tower free of charge. During the Christmas season, the Sky Tower is decorated with thousands of light to transform it into the largest Christmas tree across the entire south-eastern region of the US.
Our guest author, Katie Matthews, regularly goes to SeaWorld in Orlando and plans to once more during her Florida holidays in 2012.