As many of you know, SeaWorld Orlando’s newest attraction, exhibit and area, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, opened to much fanfare back in May, and we were very excited to get to experience this one-of-a-kind attraction. Now that it’s been open for several months, we wanted to offer a few tips for enjoying Antarctica with the lowest possible wait times.
Now, there has been a lot of talk surrounding this attraction, and I would just like to say that overall Antarctica is one of the most immersive and authentic experiences we’ve ever encountered in a theme park. Back in May, Tad listed the top 5 things he was most looking forward to at Antarctica. Getting up close with the penguins was no. 1, and he was right on the money.
There is something incredible about fully immersing yourself in the penguins’ world with its snow, its ice and — of course — its very chilly 30 degrees! The penguins are incredibly cute, and do indeed seem to have very distinct personalities. You can even watch them underwater in a separate viewing room that is not kept below freezing. Tad is especially fond of the daredevil penguins that dive into the water at impressive speeds!
The theming of Antarctica the land is also incredibly impressive, right down to the mess hall-style Expedition Cafe and the surrounding “camp.” The icy glacier walls of Antarctica shimmer in the daylight, much as you would expect the sun to reflect off the ice in the real Antarctica.
Empire of the Penguin is still seeing peak times of more than two hours, which means you either need to get smart about your touring strategy or bring a book to pass the time. Since the latter isn’t easy to pull off with little ones (and believe me, I have tried), here’s what we suggest:
- Get in line for Empire of the Penguin at park opening: Get to the park early, so that when the gates open you can head straight to Antarctica. When you enter the park, you’ll want to head toward Manta and then hang a right once you pass it. (No matter how tempting it is, do not stop to ride Manta!) Take your first left and look for the glaciers — you can’t miss them!
- Wait until the sun goes down: Take advantage of the longer summer park hours, and head over to Antarctica after dark. You should find shorter waits, and you’ll get to take in the spectacular views of the glaciers lit up in the dark.
- Purchase Quick Queue: This pass gives you front-of-the-line access to a number of attractions, including coasters Kraken and Manta, and SeaWorld just added Antarctica to the list!
- Buy a SeaWorld Orlando & Aquatica Combo ticket or a SeaWorld Orlando & Busch Gardens Combo ticket: Both of these ticket combinations allow unlimited admission to the stated parks for 14 consecutive days AND give you early park entry, which would allow you to get in line for Empire of the Penguin first thing.
- Stay at one of SeaWorld’s partner hotels: You get a number of perks for staying at a partner hotel, including early entry to SeaWorld and Aquatica on select days (the actual early-entry days vary by season, so be sure to ask when you book your hotel). Additionally, guests can pick up complimentary limited Quick Queue access (subject to daily allotments). We stayed at the Hilton Grand Vacations Suites at SeaWorld during our visit in May, and it was top notch! Tad and Lily were quite taken with the enormous whirlpool spa, and the only things that seemed to rival that for their attention were the pool waterfall and the gators that could be seen in the pond below the pier!
Do you have a tip for saving time at Antarctica or SeaWorld in general? Be to share it in comments below!