SeaWorld Orlando is a hugely popular marine life park that opened in 1973 as the third in a chain of SeaWorld Marine Parks. Its sister parks are located in San Diego and San Antonio, Texas, with a former location in Aurora, Ohio. SeaWorld, Orlando is owned and operated by Busch Entertainment Corporation, and is the most visited of the SeaWorld parks, hosting nearly 6 million guests in 2008.
Orlando SeaWorld is a combination amusement/theme park and aquarium/zoo that features exciting rides and attractions alongside animal exhibits that feature seals, orcas, penguins, manatees and other aquatic life. Covering over 200 acres and incorporating dozens of rides, attractions and exhibits, a visit to SeaWorld Orlando will easily occupy several days of a vacation itinerary.
Easily one of the best known and most popular exhibits at SeaWorld Orlando is the Shark Encounter, a 60 foot long acrylic tunnel with a moving floor that takes visitors through an enormous tank of - what else? - sharks!
On the flip side of the sea-scare scale, an equally popular exhibit features the cuddliest sea denizen - dolphins. Dolphin Cove at Key West features a pod of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in two of the largest interactive dolphin pools in the world. Visitors can interact with the dolphins both above water and below, through the underwater viewing ports.
The family-friendly Stingray Lagoon introduces visitors to an unexpectedly friendly and docile sea creature - the much maligned stingray. At the Lagoon, visitors are invited to see, touch and feel the velvety creatures as they swim by and interact with their viewers.
In addition to the sharks, stingrays and dolphins, visitors to SeaWorld Orlando will also get to meet penguins, seals, manatees and orca, the killer whales. Each of the exhibits features viewing areas, feeding exhibitions and opportunities to learn about the residents of those exhibits. The Manatee Rescue exhibit was named Best New Exhibit in the country by the American Zoological Association in 2008.
The animal exhibits are only part of the fun at SeaWorld Orlando, though. Your admission to the park also gains you admission to a collection of some of the most famous amusement park rides in the world. From the kid-friendly amusements at Shamu's Happy Harbor to the wild excitement of Journey to Atlantis and the Kraken, SeaWorld Orlando features heart-stopping entertainment combined with education and pure fun. The newest amusement park ride at SeaWorld is the Manta, billed as the world's "next generation coaster'', a flying coaster that combines close animal encounters with a heart-pounding thrill ride.
Orlando SeaWorld offers many special events and interactive programs, including a shark dive and an interactive adventure with beluga whales, as well as educational outreach programs in conjunction with area schools and various special tours that spotlight dolphins or penguins, or take VIPs behind the scenes.
SeaWorld Orlando is open daily with seasonal hours. There are many levels of admission prices, including annual passes. To find out about admissions and hours, contact SeaWorld Orlando at 1-800-55-SHAMU.