Can it really be three years since Manta -- Central Florida's
first-ever flying coaster -- initially came on the scene at SeaWorld Orlando?
Copyright SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. All rights reserved
Yep. To be exact, this Bolliger & Mabillard-designed
roller coaster officially opened to the public on May 22, 2009. And ever since
then, millions of thrill seekers have made special trips to this zoological theme
park just so they could then experience what it was like to dive, twist and corkscrew
through the air while riding aboard a giant steel manta ray.
But Orlando being Orlando, there are always new rides, shows
and attractions coming along. And what
with The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opening at Universal's Islands of
Adventure back in June of 2010 and "Star Tours: The Adventures
Continue" coming online at Disney's Hollywood Studios in May of 2011 ...
Well, it was obvious that SeaWorld Orlando was going to have to come up with
something really special if it was going to stay competitive with Disney &
Universal during the Summer of 2012.
Copyright Disney / Lucasfilm, Ltd. All rights reserved
And given that Disney & Universal are both world renown
for their films and movie studios, the folks at SeaWorld Orlando decided that
the very best way to top the competition was to create a brand-new cinematic
experience unlike any that had ever been seen inside of a theme park before.
So the folks at SeaWorld turned to Falcon's Treehouse, that
Orlando-based theme entertainment company which had created Thea Award-winning
attractions like the Curse of DarKastle ride at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and
the Dragon's Treasure multi-sensory film (which has been wowing crowds at Macua's
City of Dreams Casino since September of
Inside of the Dragon's Treasure hemi-ellipsoidal theatre at Macau's City of Dream Casino. Copyright 2008 - 2012 City of Dreams. All rights reserved
In fact, it was Dragon's Treasure (which is presented inside
of a 80 foot-tall & 120 foot-wide hemi-ellipsoidal theater) that kind of
provided the jumping-off point for SeaWorld Orlando's next show. When the
creative team from SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment saw how Falcon's
Treehouse had used 15 different projectors to create a virtually seamless cinematic experience inside of this
dome-shaped theater, they then wondered: Would it be possible to present a 3D
movie inside of this same sort of space?
So the folks at Falcon's Treehouse and SeaWorld Parks and
Entertainment put their heads together as they attempted to come up with an
appropriate storyline for this brand-new 3D movie experience. Which -- like so
many of the other rides, shows and attraction found in this zoological theme
park -- had to skillfully mix education and entertainment in a way that would
then appeal to tourists. Who typically
don't like to be preached to while they're on vacation (Witness what happened
back in February when Epcot was forced to suddenly close its new Habit Heroes
interactive attraction. All because the media insinuated that this Blue Cross
Blue Shield-sponsored show was somehow demeaning to the obese).
SeaWorld Orlando employees return a loggerheadturtle to the waters just off Cocoa Beach after that theme park's veterinarians had nursed back to health. Copyright SeaWorld Parks &Entertainment. All rights reserved
The theme that Falcon's Treehouse and SeaWorld's creative
team eventually settled on was "Everyday Heroes." As in: Everyone
everywhere can pitch in and protect our oceans & the environment. All it
takes is people being proactive locally, taking a few small steps every day.
And the film that they used to then sell this concept to the
public was TurtleTrek, the world's first 3D 360 experience which just opened at
Orlando theme park this past Friday. Presented inside of a 38 foot-tall
domed theatre, this 6 minute-long CG film really has to been to be believed. It
takes you through 22 years of the life of Maya, a sea turtle. As she journeys
from being a hatchling who has to dig her way of a sandy nest and then doing
battle with a hungry crab & tern before Maya finally reaches the sea.
And then -- thanks to the 34 projectors that are working
together to throw a super-clear, seamless image up on the walls of that dome
(not to mention the 22 audio channels which help to give new SeaWorld Orlando
show a 3D audioscape) -- you really feel like you are traveling underwater
along with Maya as she journeys through the world's oceans.
Mind you, there are a few scary moments in TurtleTrek
(especially when Maya is briefly menaced by a Great White Shark while she is
hiding inside of the hull of a rusted-out old wreck on the bottom of the sea.
Not to mention when this sea turtle narrowly avoids getting caught in a drag
net that some fishermen are using). But for the most part, this new addition to
SeaWorld Orlando's line-up of rides, shows and attractions is downright
lyrical. Beautiful even.
Which is why -- once you seen TurtleTrek and then continue
on with your Central Florida vacation
-- you may eventually find yourself thinking: "Gee, that new 3D 360 film at SeaWorld
Orlando was really great. I wish that I could go back to that theme park now
and experience it one more time."
Well, if you had purchased a Length-of-Stay ticket, then
that really wouldn't be a problem. You'd have had upwards to 14 days to not
only make multiple visits to SeaWorld
Orlando and Aquatica, its companion waterpark, but you could have also
journeyed over to Busch
Gardens Tampa Bay. Where you could then experience the newish (opened in
May of 2011) Cheetah Hunt thrill-ride as well as seeing that coaster's
namesakes up-close by wandering through that theme park's Cheetah Run habitat.
Joseph "Reverend Run" Simmons and his daughter Miley visit BuschGardens Tampa Bay Cheetah Run habitat area as the Cheetah Huntcoaster looms in the background. Copyright SeaWorld Parks &Entertainment. All rights reserved
So if you think that you might be interested in having
multiple face-to-snout encounters with cheetahs over in Tampa and/or wish to
repeatedly experience the 3D 360 wonders found in SeaWorld Orlando's newest
attraction, TurtleTrek, the next time you're vacationing in Florida ... Well, I
think I know a few folks who can help you out with those Length-of-Stay