|by Brad Tuttle||Amusement and Theme Parks, Disney, Florida, Orlando||1|
The biggest-ever expansion at SeaWorld Orlando includes an entire new section devoted to penguins and Antarctica.
There's no shortage of competition in the Orlando theme park market. Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened last year, to much fanfare. A new Legoland park launched in central Florida just weeks ago. Oh, and there's that other theme park giant that's always growing and adding new features.
With all the other attractions in the Orlando area, it's easy for Shamu & Co. to get lost in the mix. It's also not surprising that ticket sales at both SeaWorld Orlando and SeaWorld San Diego have declined three years in a row.
To jumpstart interest in the Orlando park, SeaWorld has announced its biggest expansion in history. According to the Orlando Sentinel, two new attractions will open next spring: TurtleTrek, featuring a 3-D movie theater and aquariums filled with sea turtles and manatees, and Freshwater Oasis, a swimming area SeaWorld's Discovery Cove where guests can relax in their bathing suits in close proximity to river otters and tiny marmoset monkeys.
In 2013, the really big new attraction opens. Called "Antartica, Empire of the Penguin," it'll be an entirely new "immersive themed land" meant to look and feel like earth's southernmost continent. In early designs, guests will be able to board a sit-down ride that'll show the world through the eyes of a small penguin.
SeaWorld designers are promising that it'll be cool, but also (wink, wink) the "coldest theme-park attraction in the world."
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