Over Memorial Day weekend, SeaWorld Orlando opened their biggest expansion to date, and it was all dedicated to our favorite aquatic flyer, the Penguin. 'Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin' incorporates a whimsical family ride with a deeply immersive animal exhibit.
We're not here to discuss the ride; we are here to celebrate the exhibit. The space is chilled to the comfort of the birds at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Approximately 250 birds, including gentoo, rockhopper, adelie and king, occupy 6,125 square feet including a 170,000 gallon, 20' deep (amaze-balls!) pool.
The birds are treated to 20,000 lbs of snow a day blown in for their enrichment, comfort, and for experiential authenticity for the guests. The lighting is also controlled to mimic the South Pole.
While my investigation is certainly not comprehensive, I believe this exhibit may be the largest penguin exhibit in the US, if not the world. And, the pool may also be the deepest. Certainly, the deepest I've seen, and it makes for some very exciting animal viewing.
The 4-acre project also includes a themed restaurant, offering up a selection of food inspired by the countries that originally explored Antarctica, as well as a retail shop.
The rockwork is pretty stunning, including some beautiful penguin bas relief. A keen eye will spot the massive penguin hidden in the snowy rocks looming overhead...
For closer looks at the entire area, take a look at the following videos: