SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Parks Say Good-bye to Plastic Bags

In a press release earlier this week SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay released the following information.

Paper or plastic? Soon there will be just one choice at the 10 theme parks of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment — paper — as the company eliminates plastic shopping bags within the next year. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment will be the largest theme park operator to make this commitment.
Park gift shops will offer paper bags made from 100 percent recycled paper or guests can choose to purchase reusable bags.
 
“This is a significant change for our company, one we hope will provide a model for our industry overall,” said Jim Atchison, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. “Eliminating plastic bags is an important statement about our commitment to the environment, as well as the need to help protect marine animals from debris. It also allows our guests to play a direct part in making a difference on our planet.”
 
This move will keep an estimated 4 million plastic bags from entering landfills and the environment each year. Approximately 1.4 billion tons of trash, including plastic bags, enters the ocean annually. Wildlife such as endangered sea turtles often mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, one of their favorite foods.
 
The company began exploring the concept at SeaWorld San Diego in 2011, when the park discontinued the use of plastic gift bags to mark the opening of its new Turtle Reef attraction. SeaWorld Orlando is eliminating the bags this month in conjunction with the opening of its new attraction, TurtleTrek.
 
Opening April 27, TurtleTrek combines naturalistic habitats (sea turtles and manatees) with the world’s first 3-D, 360-degree dome theater film. The film immerses guests in a sea turtle’s extraordinary journey.
 
Another Refreshing…and Renewable Change:
Also adding to the ways park guests can consume responsibly, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment and The Coca-Cola Company introduced paper cups for guests made with 85 percent renewable resources as part of a new 10-year partnership. Guests use more than 13 million paper cups each year throughout the 10 parks.
 
About SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
The 10 parks of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment inspire 23 million guests a year to celebrate and conserve the natural world. Through up-close animal encounters, educational attractions and innovative entertainment, each guest leaves with a heightened sensitivity to the world around them and an awareness of the plight of animals in the wild.
 
The company, headquartered in Orlando, Fla., owns and operates SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Antonio, SeaWorld San Diego, Busch Gardens Tampa, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Discovery Cove and Aquatica in Orlando, Adventure Island in Tampa, Water Country USA in Williamsburg and Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pa. near Philadelphia.
 
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment also is a global leader in animal care and conservation. The company has rescued more than 20,000 orphaned, injured or ill animals over the past four decades and contributed more than $50 million to conservation worldwide. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a portfolio company of Blackstone.
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The SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay PreSchool Pass Is Back!!!

Children ages five and younger can now explore the wonders of Africa and the depths of the ocean for FREE with the new Busch Gardens & SeaWorld Preschool Pass. Little ones will experience kid-size thrills at Busch Gardens’ Sesame Street Safari of Fun and SeaWorld’s Shamu’s Happy Harbor play areas, get up close to their favorite furry and feathered friends, and see new shows brought to life.

The pass is valid for all of 2012 at both SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Kids are welcome to experience all there is to do for the preschool set, including seasonal events such as Summer Nights at Busch Gardens, SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular and festive holiday events at both parks. New this year, Busch Gardens will delight guests with its biggest ice show ever, Iceploration, premiering Feb. 2. And SeaWorld is introducing an all-new festival this year, “Just for Kids!” featuring concerts by Lazy Town, Max & Ruby, the Doodlebops and Choo-Choo Soul, along with plenty of family-friendly fun and activities on Saturdays Jan. 14 through Feb. 4.

Parents and older kids can join in on all the excitement with a Fun Card, which invites guests to pay for a day and play all year through Dec. 31, 2012, with no blackout dates.

The Free SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Preschool Pass is an online-only offer, available here. It is exclusively for Florida residents ages 5 and younger and is valid for unlimited admission – with no blackout dates – through Dec. 31, 2012 at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and SeaWorld Orlando. The Preschool Pass does not include parking or Premium Passport discounts or benefits.

After registering through either park’s website, registrants can pick up the Preschool Pass for their child by bringing a printed confirmation and a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate to any ticket window at Busch Gardens’ or SeaWorld’s front gate.

“Must-see” preschool attractions at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Preschoolers will delight in Sesame Street Safari of Fun, a sunny, funny play land, filled with moments that your family can share for the first time — like a first coaster experience aboard Air Grover. And everyday smiles can be repeated again and again: clapping along to original shows, splashing in an expansive water play area and enjoying kid-size rides.

Also available in Sesame Street Safari of Fun, families can Dine with Elmo and Friends on select days and enjoy special event dining experiences with the characters to mark holidays, character birthdays and more. Beginning in March, opt for the Family Fun Buffet, offered on select days. It’s the perfect way to feed your hungry family during your busy day and not miss out on any of the fun! Enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet along with the chance to meet beloved Sesame Street characters between 12 and 4 p.m. on select days in the Sesame Street Safari of Fun Dining Pavilion. Reservations are not required.

In February, children’s imaginations will go wild when Iceploration takes the ice. The all-new, 30-minute show combines ethereal ice skating, larger-than-life puppets, amazing costumes and even animal stars. Iceploration opens Feb. 2, 2012 with shows daily in the Moroccan Palace Theatre. Another family favorite at Busch Gardens is “Critter Castaways,” in which a cast of unlikely characters – including dogs, cats, parrots and exotic animals –  come together to create a side-splitting show with surprise twists that will have the whole family laughing.

There are plenty of animal encounters and pint-sized rides for families with young children to enjoy as well. In Jungala, families can connect with the jungle through a three-story play land, enjoy a water play zone and come face to face with exotic and endangered animals. At Jambo Junction, guests can have up-close interactions with animals such as flamingos, lemurs and sloths. And in Timbuktu, a carousel and other junior rides will delight those not ready for the major coasters. And what preschooler doesn’t enjoy a train ride? You and your little one can journey across the Serengeti Plains to view zebra, rhino and giraffes aboard the Serengeti Express.

Some additional features that Busch Gardens offers families with young kids include stroller parking and reduced prices on kids’ meals in 2012.  Parking spots are available within our preferred parking area designated strictly for guests with strollers, so they can bypass the tram. No additional fee is required, and spaces are available on a first-come, first-served basis to guests who request them at the parking tollbooths. At the park’s restaurants, kids’ meals are now just $5.99, including a drink, making it even more affordable to not only entertain, but also feed your little ones at Busch Gardens.

SeaWorld loves kids, too

And don’t forget that this awesome new FREE Preschool Pass also includes admission to SeaWorld Orlando. Just a short hour’s drive away, SeaWorld’s littlest guests can enjoy the wildly popular 4-acre play area, Shamu’s Happy Harbor.  It’s a kid’s dream come true, complete with kid-size rides, a 4-story net climb, and a great place for parents to relax in the shade. The park’s first family-oriented roller coaster, Shamu Express, can be found here, along with many other kiddie rides to explore.

And that’s in addition to all the wondrous animal encounters at SeaWorld. Your family can meet penguins, dolphins, fish, rays, sharks, and, of course, Shamu!

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SeaWorld Orlando and Discovery Cove Expansions for 2012 and 2013

Earlier this morning SeaWorld Orlando had a HUGE announcement about new attractions and experiences coming to both SeaWorld and Discovery Cove in 2012 and 2013, and I cannot tell you how excited I am about them!!!

These new attractions represent the biggest attraction expansions in the history of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, the parks’ parent company.

Terry Prather, president of the company’s Orlando parks, SeaWorld, Discovery Cove and Aquatica, said, “With TurtleTrek at SeaWorld Orlando and Freshwater Oasis at Discovery Cove, travelers will have all new reasons to visit Orlando. What we’re creating will take you places you’ve never been before, places only SeaWorld can take you.”

 

 

While creating TurtleTrek (opening at SeaWorld Orlando in spring 2012), designers stayed true to SeaWorld’s unique blend of nose-to-nose animal encounters and state-of-the art entertainment.

Guests first visit two massive naturalistic habitats, one filled with hundreds of freshwater fish and gentle manatees, the other home to more than 1,500 saltwater fish and more than a dozen sea turtles.  Many of the manatees and sea turtles were rescued by the park’s animal team.  Since SeaWorld Orlando’s rescue programs began, the team has cared for and returned to the wild nearly 240 manatees and more than 1,200 sea turtles.

Moving on from the habitat, guests enter a domed theater, and what happens next has never before been seen and is a first at any theme park in the world.

Coming to life is a first-of-its-kind 3-D/360-degree dome theater film that is completely immersive. The dome allows a hyper-realistic 3-D movie to be shown all around guests and even above them – not just in front them or on only one screen. It’s this unique and immersive way of showcasing a sea turtle’s epic and astounding journey 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.

TurtleTrek is as inspirational as it is astounding. There’s a call-to-action at the end of the experience:  SeaWorld calls on guests to join them in conserving the world we share. “Do a little, do a lot, but join us and do something to help the world and its animals,” said Brian Morrow, the attraction’s chief designer. “TurtleTrek is about the everyday heroes who can make a difference in nature.”

 

Opening at Discovery Cove in spring 2012 is Freshwater Oasis, an all-new attraction featuring swimming and wading adventures and face-to-face encounters with playful otters and curious marmosets.

Designed with a rainforest canopy above and sparkling-clear springs below, Freshwater Oasis is a natural fit within Discovery Cove’s tropical vibe. Guests can relax at the In-Water Relaxation Station and explore in the unique water ways and water-filled trails to discover marmosets and playful Asian otters. No matter where they turn, they’ll find endless discoveries.

Admission to the Freshwater Oasis is included with admission to Discovery Cove, a limited-admission, all-inclusive tropical resort where guests swim with dolphins, hand-feed tropical birds in a free-flight aviary, snorkel among thousands of colorful fish and rays and relax on pristine beaches.

 

 

Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin

Also announced was SeaWorld Orlando’s biggest-ever attraction expansion, Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin, opening spring 2013.

Through the years, SeaWorld Orlando has taken guests to far-flung corners of the globe, immersing them in the character and feel of exotic places and introducing them to unique worlds of adventure.

At the park’s “Wild Arctic” guests ride a simulated jet copter to the frozen north, into a habitat of polar bears, beluga whales and huge walruses. “Key West at SeaWorld” sets guests down in the funky ambience of the Florida Keys, with dolphins, stingrays and colorful birds. The rocky northern California coast is found at “Pacific Point Preserve,” with dozens of seals and sea lions. The park’s other attractions take guests into the worlds of sharks, sea turtles and manatees, or let guests soar like a ray on the Manta roller coaster or ride the back of a mythical beast, the Kraken.

But no journey is bigger — or as incredible — as the one to come in 2013. It’s a voyage to the bottom-of-the-world, to the coldest and windiest continent, to a place of ice more than 9,000- feet thick. It’s a journey to Antarctica and to the empire of the penguin.

Guests will be surrounded by the sights, sounds and awesome encounters found in this frozen place, embarking on a one-of-a-kind ride and an incredible family adventure.

They’ll experience the mystery and wonder of life on the ice through the eyes of a penguin, sensing the beauty and drama of their sometimes-dangerous habitat. Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin combines closer-then-ever animal connections with state-of-the-art interactive ride technologies for adventures that are different each time.

It’s an all-family experience that could only come from SeaWorld and can only be found at SeaWorld Orlando. And, it’s safe to say Antarctica – Empire of the Penguin will be the coldest theme park attraction in the world.

A year-and-a-half from opening at SeaWorld Orlando, details are few. For now, SeaWorld Orlando’s Antarctica will stay as mysterious as its namesake continent. “Only SeaWorld and its parks can take you on these journeys or bring these experiences to you,” said Prather. “We’re excited about what the future holds for our parks and our fans.”

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Happy Halloween From Around Orlando!

Happy Halloween!!!!

I thought I would share a few of my favorite pictures from around the parks and Celebration today!

I hope that you have more treats than tricks!!!

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Halloween Spooktacular at SeaWorld Orlando

Last weekend we spent two great days exploring all that SeaWorld had to offer for Halloween.

It was a ton of fun!!!

We took several trips on the Halloween trail, The Underwater Fantasea Path, to collect candy and pictures with unique characters (included in the price of admission), to decorate cookies, and to have a fun time at the park.

Zoe especially loved Abby Cadabby’s Halloween Adventure! The highlight of this area was an interactive maze that makes use of all your senses to help Abby find her wand.

Our second morning in the park began with an early character breakfast at Count Von Count’s Spooktacular Breakfast. Talk about a great value!!! Adults are $18 ($16.20 for Passholders) and Children are $16 ($14.40 for Passholders), and included is a buffet breakfast, Shamu cup, a short show, and exclusive meet & greets with your favorite Sesame Street friends.

We also visited the Seaport Theater to watch “Sesame Street’s Countdown to Halloween”, which featured Count Von Count, Elmo, and other friends from Sesame Street in a cute musical about Halloween time fun.

Afterwards we had a lot of time to check out the park before the Halloween area opened at noon. We are now super fans of “Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island” and all of their slapstick antics. If you haven’t seen it…YOU MUST!

It was definitely a great weekend!!!

I hope that you enjoy the pictures!!!

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Visit Key West and Feed the Stingrays at Sea World Orlando

Upon entering the five acre section of “Key West at Sea World” from the main entrance, you will come upon Stingray Lagoon. The brightly colored shacks and vibrant music let you know that this is going to be a fun and quirky experience!

The Lagoon is home to over 200 rays that are all waiting to be viewed, touched, and most importantly fed! Also part of the area is sectioned off from the larger rays and humans to showcase stingray pups as they learn to interact with the world around them.

A Stringray near the feeding/touching ledge.

Stingray Lagoon is usually super busy, but there is always a Sea World expert on hand to give you tips, answer questions, and to help give an extra boost of confidence as you think about putting your hand in to touch and feed the rays.

Hey....Feed Me!!!

First things first, you will notice that these guys (and gals) are NOT shy. They will swim right up to the ledge and start flapping it with their fins to let you know that they are ready to play. You will definitely want to be careful, because their tank is filled with salt water which is super harmful to electronics!

They will splash A LOT!!!
If you want to feed the rays you can purchase a tray of five small fish from a nearby counter. The first tray costs $5.00, and you get a discount if you buy more trays.
They look super gross in this pic, but they really weren't that bad to touch.

The best way to feed the stingrays is by placing the small fish between your fingers and submerging your hand under the water so your fish is jiggling above your fingers. (Yes, jiggling is a purely technical term! J ) You want to feed them like this for two reasons. The first is that their mouth isn’t where you think it is, because they are bottom feeders their mouth is on the underside of their body. The second is that there are always a ton of birds around waiting to grab fish out of your hand. And the birds are definitely the most aggressive thing that you will find around Stingray Lagoon!!!

Don't feed 'em like this...but it does make for a cool picture!

These stingrays are super docile, and feel like a velvety sponge. At first little ones may be weirded out by the idea of sticking their hand elbow deep in water to feel this oddly shaped animal, but after they get their first “high five” they’ll be hooked.

We absolutely loved watching, feeding, and touching these beautiful and friendly stingrays! It is definitely something that we will do again!!!

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Sea World for Beginners

I haven’t had the opportunity to visit Sea World since I was young,  so I decided it was time to take a stroll down memory lane and visit one of my favorite childhood parks. It was definitely a good decision! Sea World  is a beautiful park that is more of a destination than a place to see a “whale show”!

I’ll be posting more about the shows, experiences, and rides that Sea World has to offer in the upcoming week. But right now I want to talk about a few things that you should take into consideration when planning your trip to Sea World, from someone who didn’t plan anything! 🙂

When you arrive at Sea World, the first shocker for me was the photographers jumping in front of you trying to take your photo. I know it is their job, but seriously! If I don’t look interested in stopping, please don’t even try!

But I did find one photo op that I couldn’t pass up…

 

The Shamu character photo op as you enter the park.

 

 

Zoe and Shamu!

 

Now for the awesome news….They have a Starbucks in the Park! Now lines in here can be just as long as some of the attractions, but the rides don’t taste this good!

The most important thing to consider while you are at Sea World is their “loose items” policy. Now while you can bring your backpack or purse onto most rides at Walt Disney World, this is DEFINITELY not the case here. They will not allow you on any ride with a “loose item”, but they do provide lockers throughout the park for you leave your items in. For us it was an issue, since we don’t typically use a stroller in smaller parks and I am so used to carrying snacks and drinks in for Zoe.

 

When they mean loose articles, they mean NO LOOSE ARTICLES!

 

The shows are amazing, and you really need to show up about 30 minutes in advance to avoid the “Splash Zones”! Now while there have been a lot of tragedies lately, you can definitely tell that the trainers at Sea World have a true love for what they do and the animals that they work with.

 

Zoe and one of the trainers from "Believe"

 

Sea World had definitely earned a spot in our theme park rotation! They offer great & unique animal experiences, have some great coasters, and have show that capture the magic and love that we all have for nature and its inhabitants.

If you haven’t considered a visit…you might want to!

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