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July 30, 2013

Penguin Up-Close Tour at SeaWorld Orlando

Deb's Digest Blog

SeaWorld has added a new tour to compliment their newest attraction, Antarctica Empire of the Penguins. I recently was invited by SeaWorld to experience the tour.

The approximate 45 minute experience begins with an introduction to Antarctica and the penguins.

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Then journey backstage to meet one of the Aviculturalists and learn about the care, feeding and even breeding of the penguins. With almost 250 penguins, Seaworld keeps track of everything from who they pair up with, when they hatched, molting, and much more.

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While all the information was fascinating, I couldn't wait to get to actually see the penguins up close and actually pet one. Once inside the habitat I found it fascinating to watch the penguins, they are quite inquisitive. Our time inside the habitat was about 15 minutes! I could have stayed longer, but then I usually can when it comes to wildlife.

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If you love Penguins, be sure to include this in your schedule!

Important Notes:

You do not get to ride the attraction, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins as part of the tour.

The penguin habitat is 30 degrees Fahrenheit. I brought a fleece hat and jacket to wear (even tho it was 90 degrees outside) and was quite comfortable. Many of the others on my tour were shivering.

Seasonal price starting at $59 ages 10 and up, $39 ages 3-9 plus tax. Pass Members save 10% by booking online or calling 1-888-800-5447.

Would love to hear your thoughts once you've taken the tour!

DISCLAMIER: I was a guest of SeaWorld Orlando and did not pay for the tour.


April 18, 2013

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica Festival

Deb's Digest Blog

SeaWorld's annual Viva la Musica festival kicked off April 13 in grand style.

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

Because we arrived to SeaWorld prior to the festival opening, we explored a bit on our own. First, we had to check out the Antarctica construction area to see what progress has been made.

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

Antarctica Empire of the Penguin officially opens on May 24, 2013. You can read more in my Behind the Walls tour and also from various SeaWorld Press Releases.

From here we wandered to the Dolphin nursery, where the youngsters put on a quite a show.

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

Soon it was time for the festival to begin

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

Viva la Musica features the sights, sounds, and tastes of Latin culture at a festival for the entire family. Held each Saturday through May 4, visitors can enjoy mouthwatering foods and the sounds of popular Latin musical guests.

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica


The event area opens each day at noon with food, shopping, characters, and music. The main concert begins at 3 p.m. in Bayside Stadium.

A number of characters were out and about willing to dance with everyone as the DJs and live band alternated sets. Rosita from Sesame Street and Dolly the Dolphin were ready to samba! (You can catch a glimpse of Dolly and I in the video. )

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

After checking out the various booths, we decided to get some lunch. The one thing I had heard about Viva la Musica from previous guests was "Don't miss the food." I can tell you, the food did NOT disappoint and lived up to its reputation.

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

Chef Hector Colon developed a great menu that everyone seemed to enjoy.

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

Popular favorites were the Carne Frita ($10.49) Arroz con Pollo ($9.49), Ceviche de Pescado ($9.49), and Pincho de Cerdo and de Pollo ($8.49).

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

And here is the Churrasco con Yuca y Chimichuri ($12.49), la comida favorita de la casa! The skirt steak was tender and flavorful. The portion size was plentiful, and I couldn't finish it all.

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

But as festive the atmosphere and tasty as the food was, the real draw for the crowds was the concert featuring Daddy Yankee, a reggaeton singer.

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

People lined up as soon as the park opened for business and the lines grew longer and longer. After the stadium filled, folks lined in the grassy areas to listen. There were even monitors set up in other festival areas for folks wanting to see Daddy Yankee.

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

SeaWorld's Viva la Musica

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VIP packages are available for reserved floor seating at the SeaWorld website. These are recommended for very popular artists if you don't want to wait in line!

Remaining concerts:
Saturday, April 20 Willie Colón (salsa)
Saturday, April 27 Grupomanía (merengue)
Saturday, May 4 El Gran Combo (salsa)

The Viva la Musica concert is included in regular park admission for the day, but the food and merchandise are extra. Looking to spice up a Saturday afternoon? Head to SeaWorld by May 4!

DISCLAIMER: I was invited by SeaWorld to attend this event. I have my own SeaWorld annual pass, but I did accept the food voucher that covered my lunch. Members of the media also had reserved seating at the concert. This did not influence my coverage of Viva la Musica.

February 22, 2013

Welcome to the Bottom of the World - SeaWorld's Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins

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SeaWorld's Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins Behind the Scenes Tour!

On Monday I, along with other local media, were invited by SeaWorld for the first Behind-the-Scenes Tour of their exciting new attraction, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins.

SeaWorld Antarctica

I arrived early and took a few photos from outside the walls; what you would see in the park itself. This is on the Journey to Atlantis side of the construction site.

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica

As we entered the construction area, this was my first glimpe of Antarctica, a la SeaWorld.

SeaWorld Antarctica

Our tour began inside the “creative model room” where 2 scale working models of the project are set up to ensure the accuracy and the scale and the detail of all the ice work inside and outside the attraction.

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica

Creative Director Brian Morrow explains....

From here we went into the actual construction site and an official announcement was made of the opening date for Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins - May 24, 2013!

SeaWorld Antarctica

After the announcement we were able to walk around and explore the space. We were "inside" the realm of Antartica but "outside" the actual indoor attraction.

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica

Brian Morrow explains more about the exterior features of the attraction and additional details and has some fun with me at the end.


SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica


The Penguin Wall is a very important component of the educational aspect of the attraction. Penguins live all over the planet and all the species are represented in the attraction. Guests will be able to come right up to the penguin wall and touch the sculptures. This is a also great for someone who may be vision impaired to feel the shape of the penguins.

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica

SeaWorld Antarctica


SeaWorld Antarctica

If you want to explore even more of SeaWorld’s new adventure download the free Antarctica app, available now for iPhones, iPads and Android devices. The app can be downloaded at SeaWorldOrlando.com/Antarctica.

SeaWorld Antarctica

The app is full of create-and-share videos and photos, swim, march and dance with penguins. Put your face onto an Antarctic explorer. And the best part? All of videos and photos can easily be shared with family and friends through social media channels -- Facebook, Twitter and You Tube – and can be emailed, too.

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The app is also the place to get the facts about penguins and Antarctica, watch behind-the-scenes teaser videos about the “making of” SeaWorld Orlando’s newest attraction, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. Fans can even enter the Family Voyage Sweepstakes to win a trip to Orlando!

I'll keep you updated as we get closer to May 24th, the official opening date of what looks to be a first rate attraction!

February 12, 2013

SeaWorld Orlando Bands, Brew & BBQ

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Just what is Bands Brew and BBQ? SeaWorld partners with local restaurants for great BBQ, an array of beers and tops it off with a classic rock and country music concert.

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ


Saturday, February 9th, I attended my first SeaWorld Orlando Bands, Brew and BBQ Event (full disclosure at the end of this blog). It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies and temps in the low 70s.

This year's event is held Saturdays and Sundays now through March 17th, 2013. The event area opens at 11:30am and closes at 7pm. Concerts begin at 4:00pm. Bands, Brew & BBQ is included with your park admission.

BOTTOM LINE: I had a great time and hope to get back to see another concert and chow down on more BBQ before the festival ends!

THE DETAILS....

THE BBQ

SeaWorld partners with local restaurants such as Tony Roma’s, Cecil’s Texas Style Bar B Q and Sonny’s Bar-B-Q. In addition, SeaWorld has their own Sweet, Smokin BBQ setup! There is BBQ "row" and the vendors sell their finest BBQ!

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

Food prices ranged from $8.50 for a BBQ sandwich and side to $15 for a plate loaded with meats and sides. Believe me, there was PLENTY of food to be had and it was really good! Hot dogs and burgers were also available at some of the booths.

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ


SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

New this year was an extended area of tables in the Ports of Call Garden to enjoy the BBQ.

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

This area also had a few animal encounters during the traditional "lunch time" -- later in the day the animal encounters moved to a different location.

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

HARLEY DAVIDSON

Harley Davidson is also an event sponsor and there was a shaded area with several 2013 Harleys to check out. Photos welcome! For all the Harley lovers, when you ride your Harley to Bands, Brew & BBQ parking is free! The Harleys will be on display thru March 3rd!


SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

THE BREWS

The Craft Brew Sampler, for $21, allowed you to have 10 samples (7 ounce pours) from the 25 domestic and imported craft beefs available. Not being much of a beer drinker I passed on the sampler, but the folks I spoke with certainly got their money's worth of beer. In fact, several of them were sharing their sampler card with those in the group that didn't purchase one.

The beers included: Florida Beer Florida Lager, Vermont Hard Cider Granny Smith, Magic Hat #9, Sweetwater 420, Green Flash Hop Head Red, Point 2012 Black Ale, Stella Artois, Bass, Hoegaarden, Victory Brewing Company, and Widmer Brothers.

I was interested in trying one or two of the craft beers however individual purchases of these beers is not allowed If you wanted a single beer, visit one of the regular beer carts.


SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ


SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ


SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ


SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ


THE BANDS


There is a Festival Stage with live local bands or a DJ playing non-stop until just about 4pm. Dancers were on hand to teach you steps or simply to entertain. When the dancers took a break, SeaWorld notables such as Shamu, make that Country Shamu, Penny the Penguin and Dolly the Dolphin were on the dance floor cuttin' it up with anyone who cared to join in the fun!


SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ


SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ


SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ


SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ


SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

Concerts are held at Bayside Stadium (and also simulcast in the Ports of Call Garden).

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

The Stadium also gives you a great view of MANTA!

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

I'm not much of a Country Music fan. So when I read that I would be seeing Chris Young with Jerrod Niemann, I was clueless. However, live music is always fun and entertaining! This turned out to be a "double" concert as Jerrod Niemann was up first and played for over 45 minutes.

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

There was an intermission and then Chris Young gave a great concert. Lots of his fans were in the audience with a wide variety of Chris Young Tshirts!

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ

SeaWorld Bands Brew BBQ


Here's the list of concerts of upcoming concerts!

Saturday, February 16 The Beach Boys
Sunday, February 17 Styx
Saturday, February 23 Big & Rich
Sunday, February 24 Third Eye Blind
Saturday, March 2 Daryl Hall & John Oates
Sunday, March 3 Darius Rucker
Saturday, March 9 Michael McDonald
Sunday, March 10 Josh Turner
Saturday, March 16 Rodney Atkins with Uncle Kracker
Sunday, March 17 Sheryl Crow

PACKAGES AND DISCOUNTS

Bands, Brew & BBQ VIP Package $38 - Have the ultimate Bands, Brew & BBQ experience with reserved seating for the concert and a meal! Meal voucher includes any entrée (including its accompanying side) and any one item from a selection of side salads, side dishes or desserts and a regular sized non-alcoholic beverage.

Pass Members, book your Bands, Brew & BBQ VIP Package or Craft Beer Sampler through the Pass Member website and save 10%.

TIPS

If you want to make a full day of SeaWorld's attractions and Bands, Brew and BBQ you will certainly get your moneys worth! Arrive at park opening and enjoy some attractions before the event area opens.

OR arrive around 11:30am, and wander to the events area (guide maps have locations marked). Enjoy a nice relaxing lunch and perhaps some brews. Check out the Festival Stage with local music or experience some attractions. By 3pm (earlier if it is a very popular group), go to Bayside Stadium and for concert seating.

To make sure you are up front for the concert, purchase the VIP package.

Enjoy Beer? -- get the The Craft Brew Sampler, for $21!

A one day ticket to SeaWorld is $89 at the Gate, but if you purchase online at their website, you can save $10. For $89 a Florida resident can purchase a Fun Card good for the entire year. Sea World offers you the opportunity to upgrade your one-day ticket prior to leaving - don't miss this great deal!

In researching the event I found it began in the year 2000 and was called Bud and BBQ. Now that SeaWorld and Busch Gardens aren’t associated with Budweiser anymore the event name was changed in 2010 to Bands, Brew & BBQ.

DISCLOSURE: I was invited media at SeaWorld's Bands, Brew and BBQ. I received free priority parking, park admission, and a voucher good for a platter at SeaWorld's BBQ booth. I was also given priority seating for the concert. This was my second visit to the park (both media events) and I found I really enjoy it. Before I left I purchased my first Annual Passport to SeaWorld.

November 24, 2012

SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration - Part 2

The previous blog began our SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration experience!

To continue......

As we journeyed across the park we enjoyed the lights, decorations, and musical groups along the way.

SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration

SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration


SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration


SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration


SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration


Winter Wonderland on Ice is our next show. It is an ice skating extravaganza where Christmas comes to life through towering water fountains, magnificent fireworks and great ice skaters. As with O Wondrous Night, the ice show was beautiful! The skaters talented and we especially like how the colors and costumes of the skaters were in sync.

Here's a clip of one of the songs, followed by photographs of the show.

SeaWorld's Winter Wonderland on Ice

SeaWorld's Winter Wonderland on Ice

SeaWorld's Winter Wonderland on Ice

SeaWorld's Winter Wonderland on Ice

SeaWorld's Winter Wonderland on Ice

SeaWorld's Winter Wonderland on Ice

SeaWorld's Winter Wonderland on Ice

SeaWorld's Winter Wonderland on Ice

SeaWorld's Winter Wonderland on Ice

SeaWorld's Winter Wonderland on Ice

SeaWorld's Winter Wonderland on Ice

SeaWorld's Winter Wonderland on Ice

We remained in our seats after the ice show for the grand finale, Holiday Reflections: Fireworks and Fountains! It was a fantastic show with soaring fountains, dazzling lights, and festive fireworks, choreographed to joyous holiday musical favorites.

We totally enjoyed our evening at SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration. The experience was first rate!

We still have several shows to see including Shamu Christmas…Miracles,

SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration

Clyde and Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas

SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration


A Sesame Street Christmas, and the THE POLAR EXPRESS Experience.

SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration

Our hope is to get back on our own one night very soon. And, if time allows, we would even enjoy seeing each of the shows again!

Perhaps the best part of SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration? It is all INCLUDED in your park admission ticket for the day!

Hmm. I think I'm off to buy my Florida Resident Fun Card for SeaWorld!

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of SeaWorld Orlando to experience their Christmas Celebration. This did not influence my story, and my opinions are my own.

November 23, 2012

SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration - Part 1

Deb Wills

SeaWorld - no, your eyes do not deceive you, Deb is writing about SeaWorld!

I hadn't been to SeaWorld in, well, 20 or more years, until the other night.

Lots has changed since my one and only visit. I've been reading Kristin's blogs all year about the fun things happening at SeaWorld. So, when the invitation to visit during SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration came -- I decided I was going!

After checking in, our first stop was for dinner at Santa's Fireside Feast. As you dine, Santa, his elves, and Mrs. Clause entertain you with the classic holiday stories such as The Night Before Christmas. All of the entertainers were excellent and the elves were especially fun! Santa was great with both children and adults!

For full details On Santa's Fireside Feast, read Kristin's blog HERE.

This special holiday dinner is held on select nights in November and December -- Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays -- plus each night during Thanksgiving week and the week before Christmas. The last night is Dec. 24.

Santas Fireside Chat

Santas Fireside Chat

Santas Fireside Chat

Santas Fireside Chat

Santas Fireside Chat

Santas Fireside Chat

There was lots of shows and things to see, but we only had until park closing at 9pm, so we had make some choices.

From dinner we went to O Wondrous Night. This show tells the Christmas story told through the eyes of a variety of animals. O Wondrous Night is both funny, touching and serious with a host of angles, animals and the spirit of Christmas. The actors and puppeteers were all excellent. We would love to see it again. Afterwards, you are able to take photos with some of the stars from the show! We wanted to do the photo op, but had to get to our next show.

Here's the opening of O Wondrous Night followed by photos of the production.

O Wondrous Night

O Wondrous Night

O Wondrous Night

O Wondrous Night

O Wondrous Night

O Wondrous Night

O Wondrous Night

O Wondrous Night

O Wondrous Night

O Wondrous Night

O Wondrous Night

O Wondrous Night

O Wondrous Night

O Wondrous Night

O Wondrous Night

O Wondrous Night

There is much more! Check Back tomorrow for Part 2!

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of SeaWorld Orlando to experience their Christmas Celebration. This did not influence my story, and my opinions are my own.

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