Turtle Trek opens at Sea World Orlando!

On Friday I was lucky enough (to head to Sea World Orlando for the Opening of their new experience called Turtle Trek! It is SUCH an amazing attraction. Probably one of the best ones I have seen in a while. It is not a ride, it is a total experience and let me tell you, it is top notch!

From the Desk of Sea World:

TurtleTrek, SeaWorld Orlando’s newest attraction, comes to life with SeaWorld’s unique blend of up-close encounters with manatees and sea turtles and state-of-the art entertainment, making for a real adventure and a first-of-its-kind 3D 360 degree dome theater film that is completely surrounding and immersive.

Guests first visit two massive naturalistic habitats, home to gentle manatees and gliding sea turtles, learning what makes each species so precious. Families then enter a domed theater and what happens next has never before been seen and is a first at any theme park in the world.

Inside the dome, they’ll be surrounded by a hyper-realistic, 3D 360 degree film that takes them on the amazing life journey of a special sea turtle named Nyah. The experience is all around guests and even above them – not just in front of them or only on one screen. It’s this all-new and immersive way of showcasing a sea turtle’s epic adventure that is the heart of TurtleTrek. And for the first time, SeaWorld guests are given a turtle’s eye view of the ocean’s wonders.

 

So when you walk into the Queue you go right into the underwater viewing area for the Turtles, Manatees and Fish! All around you see everything floating and living and eating and it is AMAZING! The view is crystal clear and you can see EVERYTHING!

After you go thru there you are brought into the Egg shaped Dome where the 3D 360 Show takes place. You Put on your 3D Glasses and you become Nyah the baby sea turtle and we follow her on her journey through her life. We are in the egg and we hatch with all of our brothers and sisters. Because the dome is egg shaped you really do feel like the baby sea turtle. From there You have an encounter with a Crab and a Seagull, You swim with your family in the ocean thru coral. You meet Manatees and bigger gliding turtles and sting rays. You swim in the coral with the Jelly Fish in a sunken treasure ship. You meet up with Sharks and dolphins. You get caught in a net but because of the special release net, you escape. The whole thing happens around and above you and makes it a one of a kind movie!

Once you exit the attraction you get to go to the top of the 360 degree viewing area and see the animals at the very top of the habitat. You also get a chance to play ” Race for the Beach” video game that plays out on massive video screens. It teaches people what and how Turtles eat and what kinds of dangers await them in the ocean.

This Attraction is such a wonder. It is a story that everyone needs to be part of. With the Grand Opening of this event Sea World has decided to eliminate plastic shopping bags. The eco-friendly move will save an estimated 4 million plastic bags per year from both entering landfills and impacting wildlife. SeaWorld routinely rescues marine wildlife such as endangered sea turtles that sometimes mistake plastic bags for a favorite food such as jellyfish.

Please make sure that visit Turtle Trek on your next visit to Sea World Orlando to learn all about These wonderful animals and how they live their lives!

Thank You to Sea World President Terry Prather for the opportunity to compliment him on such a fantastic attraction and snap a picture, Todd Faison Manager of Human Resources for taking the time to ask me my opinion and Dustin for letting me take a picture of his T shirt!

 

 

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An afternoon at Kidani Village

The other day I found myself with a few extra hours before I was supposed to meet up with friends for dinner and decided to go exploring. Not actual exploring, like at the polar ice caps or anything (for anyone who knows me, I don’t do cold), but one of my favorite types of exploring: at Disney resorts. After some brief investigative work a few weeks ago, I made a list of some lesser known activities around the parks and resorts that I’d like to highlight here or at least try out for myself. So, back to the other day, I chose to spend a few hours at the Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village.

This resort opened back in May of 2009 and I had my first stay there several months later. One of my favorite things about the resort, aside from the animals, of course, is their restaurant Sanaa. The food has always been great, featuring flavors of African and Indian influence in a setting that has, in my opinion, one of the best views to be found from a restaurant anywhere on Walt Disney World property. When I learned that there was a free Cultural Tour of Sanaa, I knew I wanted to learn more about one of my go to restaurants. On the activities guide at the Animal Kingdom Villas, the description is listed as “Discover the inspiration behind this unique location through the eyes of one of our Cultural Representatives.” Based on this, I was expecting something similar to the Cultural Safari that takes place at the Animal Kingdom Lodge in Jambo House in the evenings.

Seeing that the tour was scheduled for 4pm, I opted to get to the resort with plenty of time to see the animals on the savanna before I needed to check in at the restaurant’s podium. I started my adventure in the library at Kidani Village, which is probably my second favorite rooms at a resort in which to relax. After a short while I went downstairs to Sanaa to make sure that they knew I was there for the tour. Sometimes these tours are not very well known, to the point where not many guests show up, so it is best to announce your presence if you don’t see any other people around, which was the case this time.

My host, Vincent, was from Botswana and kindly gave me a private tour, which was really cool since it was more like us just hanging out and having a conversation as opposed to a typical lecture style tour. We started at the entrance to the restaurant where he explained that the word Sanaa means “works of art” in Swahili. The restaurant is decorated accordingly with various works of art from tribal drums from different African nations, to gourds used as drinking vessels, coffee pots, clothing, light fixtures and wall hangings.

During the tour, Vincent explained how the restaurant was setup into areas reminiscent of the boma, roughly translated to a hearth or safe area for gathering. There is usually a boma found in each home, and then also a larger boma in the village for everyone to gather together. After pointing out a couple of hidden Mickeys, in the restaurant, one of which I’d never noticed, Vincent led me to the lounge area of the bar. He advised me that the chef would be coming out to greet me with the bread service that is typically on the menu as an appetizer. This was an added bonus that I wasn’t aware of previously: free food!!!

Chef Johnathan came out and described the process the restaurant used for making the bread in the tandoor oven and how they only use fresh herbs and spices and grind them there at Sanaa to ensure consistency. The bread service consists of several pieces of naan and three dipping sauces: a coriander (more commonly known here as cilantro) chutney, a mango chutney, and a cucumber raita. While I’m not a fan of cucumber at all, unless it is in the pickled form, I decided to be an adult and try what was served to me. The sauce was creamy, being yogurt based, with only a hint of cucumber if you didn’t actually eat the chunks of cucumber mixed in, which I didn’t. The mango chutney was typical, but with some peppers mixed in and it was a bit more liquid than what I’m used to. My favorite of the sauces was definitely the coriander chutney, which by taste, is very similar to a sauce that I make based on a recipe that used to be used at Jiko. I love cilantro, but if you are not fond of it, you may want to skip this one. I enjoyed this so much I went back and asked for and received a copy of the recipe to take home.

The tour and tasting took me about half an hour, which was just about perfect since I had the place to myself. I would gladly take this tour again, especially now knowing that there is a snack at the end. It was a great way to spend a part of my afternoon and think it would be fun with a group of friends maybe even ending the tour at the bar with an adult beverage. If you go, say hi to the bartender Kat. Have you been to Sanaa? Did you take the tour? Have you taken any other tours? I’d love to hear your feedback.

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