WFTV gets sneak peek of SeaWorld's Empire of the Penguin



ORLANDO, Fla. - Friday will be the grand opening of SeaWorld Orlando's Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, and Thursday, WFTV reporter Deneige Broom got a sneak peek.

Broom said once she got to a certain point inside, it was cold, but it was also very colorful during the ride portion.

The room was created to emulate Antarctica on a warmer day, at about 30 to 32 degrees.

Corey Oxman said she has been to the South Pole and said the room mirrors what she experienced, right down to the lighting.

The lights dim and brighten at very specific times to mimic the current habitat in Antarctica for penguins and guests.

"It's computerized. Every day, it changes based on what the lighting is in Antarctica," Oxman said.

About 250 penguins from four species swim through the 45-degree water and waddle their way through the habitat.

Twenty-thousand pounds of snow are dropped each day, giving explorers as much of the icy South Pole as they can handle.

At 4 acres, the attraction is the newest and biggest addition to SeaWorld.

Riders get up close to the penguins, and even though there is no petting allowed, visitors can see them swimming, jumping and playing.

The ride spins guests on a journey with the featured penguin, named Puck.

Creative director Brian Morrow said designers did a lot of research to try to make people feel like they're at the South Pole. He also said the paint they used and the way they painted the area outside makes it all look icy at night.

"They'll actually get to make a choice of ride experience they'd like to have, either wild expedition or mild expedition," Morrow said.

Broom asked SeaWorld's president, Terry Prather, about competition the park is getting from Disney and Universal's plans for expansion.

Prather said he didn't think about it in terms of competition, but it terms of what the park does.

"We've always had this mission of connecting people with the natural world," Prather said.

SeaWorld officials didn't want to go into details about how many more people they hope the Antarctica attraction brings in, but they did say they hope it increases their numbers.


WFTV.com will have continuing updates and instant breaking details on Eyewitness News at 5.