On Tuesday February 19th, SeaWorld Orlando opened construction wall doors to MiceChat for a sneak peek hardhat tour of their biggest expansion project ever, Antarctica! This expansion is unprecedented in SeaWorld’s history, so the park is justifiably proud of what they will soon open to the public. We think you’ll be impressed with how the project is coming together.

MiceChat columnist, Eric Davis, prepares to take us to SeaWorld’s newest glaciers.

After receiving hardhats to explore the construction site, we were invited to visit the “creative war room.” This is where the models, sketches, blue prints, concept drawings are all on display, to assist the creative and construction teams to turn concept into reality.

Brian Morrow shares the exterior models in the “Creative War room”.

A close up of the exterior models gives us a sense of what it will look like to walk through the new area.

During the three and a half year process of developing Antarctica, SeaWorld creative, scientists, and engineers developed new systems and processes so that park guests would be able to walk in a penguin habitat that is cold enough for penguins, but not too cold for humans!

Brian Morrow action figure sold separately.

Thankfully, they also have developed brand new ventilation systems that will prevent any unwanted odors from the pungent penguins. There will also be an underwater viewing area with a 16 foot tall viewing window that will allow guests to appreciate the super-hero like underwater flying penguins are known for.

Now let’s go out into the construction area to see how things are coming along.

Through a new process developed by SeaWorld the giant ice glaciers will be made out of rock, fiberglass and acrylic so that during the day the ice will glow with the sun light and at night their lighting package will make the ice glow from within.


There is still quite a bit of rock work to finish up.

While SeaWorld is still being tight lipped about what exactly will transpire on the ride portion of the Antarctica experience, from what we can see of the exterior of the attraction, the restaurant and the gift shop, guests are in for an incredibly immersive environment where you will feel dwarfed by the intense size of the rock work and ice.

At the end of our tour, SeaWorld announced that Antarctica would open Friday May 24th 2013.

We were also honored to interview Brian Morrow, SeaWorld Creative Director,  who brought us Manta, Turtle Trek and now Antarctica. We were able to inquire a bit deeper to find out more about the man behind these incredible attractions.

Creative Director, Brian Morrow, shares Antarctica

MiceChat:  What was the creative process like when you were creating Antarctica?

Brian Morrow: The Process is very fluid and very dynamic.  We knew that the marching orders had to do with penguins and we had guests who would come out of the penguin encounter who didn’t know they were test studies.   We would take them, and have them meet a penguin, and put them in the penguin habitat, and we would have scientists study them, and monitoring their body positions to determine when it got too cold, so we could come up with the magic number of the cold tolerance for all the different ages and demographics.  You just can’t go build something like this and not know that people might be irritated and uncomfortable the whole time.   So we did that stuff first.

The creative first steps were related to what is the story of the animal? Do we want to tell a black and white story? Do we want to tell a “aren’t they fun and cute?” They [penguins] have a great heart so we brought our zoological team in and our educational team in and we really talked deeply about the story of the penguins. We had to figure out what story of the penguins we wanted to tell.  We got to the point of the surviving and thriving in the harshest climate of the planet, and love and connection between the species of penguins.  That allows us to put those things together, which makes the connectivity, which SeaWorld is so known for, you aren’t going to run away scared.

MiceChat:  Looking at the newest attractions, Manta, Turtle Trek and Antarctica, what is your vision for SeaWorld?  What is SeaWord’s soul?

Brian Morrow:  Our guests will leave more fulfilled than when they came in.  They will be fulfilled with knowledge, with the sense of purpose and that they can make a difference, that it is possible to help and that it feels good.   Once you do one bit of good you feel great.  If we can impart that to them, it is amazing.  We do it through the stories we tell, through rides and shows.  When guests walk away from SeaWorld Orlando we want them to know that you have the power to make a difference and here are the tools to do it.

MiceChat:  What was your first SeaWorld moment?  What made you fall in love with SeaWorld?

Brian Morrow: the one I can barely remember is coming to the Penguin encounter when I was 9 years old, standing under the misting structure in the very 80’s architecture.

The moment that I knew this is the place I wanted to come work, was when I first saw Blue Horizons. I had goose bumps on my arm, a tear in my eye, and I saw that this was happening to everyone around me. I knew that this this was a place with heart and soul and where I wanted to work.  That was my ah-ha moment.

We cannot wait for this new land to open at SeaWorld Orlando! What about you?!

Please join us in thanking SeaWorld for allowing us to share these photos and access with all of you. Your likes and shares on Facebook and Twitter are very much appreciated, along with your comments below.

  • lighttragic

    This looks like it will be an amazing addition to Sea World its signature family attraction… Great reporting Eric.

    • Eric Davis

      It is going to be incredible having a family attraction that everyone can ride together!

  • Trumpet

    Great Update Eric

    It is great that yesterday, you showed us the great projects of USO, and today Antartica is looking great. It is amazing how the land will look like when it is finished. All this work in the parks show that Summer 2013 will be good years for USO and Seaworld, while WDW have nothing really original, and it takes along time to build a minecoaster.

    Thanks Again Eric. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into allof ypur updates. Thank you for taking us behind the work walls for a close up of this exciting new land. I can’t wait to visit it when it is completed.


    • Eric Davis

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment Trumpet! I really appreciate it! It is crazy how much work is being done in Orlando by SeaWorld and Universal. I just love it!

  • Country Bear

    Great report Eric, thank you for sharing. Although this was largely a big tease (I want to know whats going to happen inside all the buildings!) I assume those details will come in the next few months so I’ll just sit quiet till then. Thanks for the great report and pictures.

    • Eric Davis

      Oh it was a tease. Trust me there were LOTS of questions about the interior, that went unanswered… sigh… but soon enough we will know! I CANT WAIT until May!

  • BestBeatingHeart

    Pretty sure you mean it opens May 24, 2013, not 2012 😉

  • CreepyMonkey

    I am so excited for this to open! I can’t wait. I intend to be one of the first people in line!

    • Eric Davis

      We will be inline together!

  • mainejeff

    Can’t wait to ride this in November………can’t wait to visit USO also. Disney?……meh. Hopefully, they’ll finbish the mine coaster before I die.

    • Eric Davis

      you comment made me laugh out loud. lol

  • jcruise86

    Is Sea World Orlando crazy?
    They’re spending a lot of money
    to build the coolest attraction they can,
    and it’s not based on a movie?!

    I wish they’d put in a couple of working Yetis
    just to make sure they got the attention of Disney & WDW guests.

    • Eric Davis

      Imagine that?

      They are creating a cute character named Puck, who will be a character you can meet, and will tie the entire experience together.

  • Not only does the exterior theme look great, but the trackless motion platform ride technology is a first of its kind in the US. SeaWorld knows they have something special in the works and I hope the crowds show up for them.

    Can’t wait to see it!

  • daveinfontana

    They’er doing a fantastic job. the pictures make me cold just looking at them.

    • Eric Davis

      It will be surreal to be in Antarctica in summer here in Florida because it will look so cold! lol

  • Gregg Condon

    As a Penguin lover I simply can’t wait for this. Time to get back to Orlando!!!

    • Eric Davis

      Well I think we will have to plan a MiceChat meetup for when this opens!

  • Illusion0fLife

    It’s kind of depressing and, quite frankly embarassing that SeaWorld is getting a really neat new Antarctica section while Disney is left scratching their heads trying to hold together the pieces of a completely misguided Avatar Land that’s crumbling in their hands.

    This is the kind of experience that Disney should be doing with Animal Kingdom. Not Avatar. Good on SeaWorld. When I finally manage to get out to Orlando to see Wizarding World of Harry Potter I’ll have to give this a look as well.

  • lighttragic

    I only wish the california coastal commission would lighten its stance on the height of new attractions so Sea World in San Diego could build something equally as impressive. Manta was a good start but I believe California has great potential… Sea World in San Diego is turning 50 in 2015 , it would be nice if they did something spectacular and refreshing

    • I hope the theme park gods are listening to you!

  • MickeyFickey

    Nice scoop, Dude! Great pics…looking forward to checking it out this fall when I head down for Halloween Horror Nights! Since I didn’t make it down in 2012, there’s going to be several major fun things for me to experience!

  • almandot

    The interview with the designer worries me, because it sounds like the ride portion of this will be following in turtle trek’s steps with its storytelling. I’m quite excited for the ride, but if it reminds me of turtle trek I might have to write an angry letter. 😛 As it is, has turtle trek been open long enough to talk about maybe changing the movie out yet? Pleaaaaaase? =D

  • dlpostcardguy

    Can’t wait to see this. I have never visited Sea World Orlando before even though I have been to WDW many times. 1 day at Sea World plus 2 days at Universal = 3 less days at WDW. You need to step up your game Disney. Cars Land aint going to do it for me since I have the original 10 miles away from my house.

  • Baloo

    Great update, I Am so excited about the recent additions in theme parks. These new mini lands that engulf the guest into the experience is so much more visually stunning.

    I do hope that with all the great work they are doing with this new attraction that they kept in mind. Couple visual intrusions that were visible in the pictures. A few more pieces of glaciers and rock placed in strategic points would really help block the view of the coaster and sky tower which really pull you out of the realism of Antarctica