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Orlando Parkhopper

Turtle Trek 4D Opens at SeaWorld Orlando, Universal's Minions, Fantasyland

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by , 04-30-2012 at 08:05 PM

Turtles, turtles everywhere! Yes, this week Orlando Parkhopper was in attendance at the grand opening of SeaWorld Orlando's brand new Turtle Trek 4D. We have a full review of this amazing new attraction along with interviews from the attraction creators. Next up, we check in on Universal Studios Orlando as they continue to put the finishing touches on Despicable Me: Minion Madness. We find Disney World still working on their Fantasyland expansion. Finally, we get wonderful news from Busch Gardens Tampa about a set of rare lemur twins. It's two much fun in today's Orlando Parkhopper

MiceChat's world famous Gumball Rally is about to roll through Disneyland once again. This fan favorite event is a race through the happiest place on earth to find out who can complete the most attractions at the park in a single day. But whether you come in first place or last, you are always a winner when you are riding attractions with friends and family in Walt's original Magic Kingdom.

May 19th, 2012
Where: Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California
COST: $29.99 per person
How Do I sign up?: MiceChat Events Store Gumball Rally Sign Up
How Does the Rally Work?: Rally Information Page

Act fast folks, this event is nearly sold out for this year!

On April 27th, SeaWorld Orlando unveiled its newest addition, Turtle Trek 3-D! MiceChat was invited to participate in the opening ceremony of this attraction, where the message is becoming an "Every Day Hero" and helping to create awareness for endangered marine life. MiceChat's Eric Davis, was among the press invited to be at the opening ceremony for this impressive new attraction.

The entrance just before the grand opening ceremony.

We'll give you some ride stats to start and then tell you what we think of Turtle Trek 4D:

Official Web Site
: Turtle Trek 4D - Sea World Orlando
Ride Length: Approx 30 minutes minutes long
Height Restrictions: None
Theater Specs: Fully domed theater, seamless, 3-D projection, all around the guests, and over head.
Dome Screen: A fine silver coating on the dome allows each screen to focus the projection light back toward the guests. Each fleck of silver is like a tiny mirror.
Film: Each frame of the film has approximately 26 million individual pixels (more than 13 times what is considered “high-def”)
Frame Rate: 60 frames per second.
Projectors: 34 projectors and 368,000 lumens of light to fill it with a 3-D, 360-degree movie.
Sound: 22 audio channels that have all been mixed on-site. 18.4 arrangement and is rated at an amazing 32,000 watts.

Turtle Trek 3-D is a 360 Degree domed adventure where guests get to see the world from the point of view of a Sea Turtle. When this attraction was first announced, the 360 Degree 3-D seemed like just another 3D attraction ... Oh how I would be pleasantly surprised. The attraction enters through the old Manatee habitat exit. The entire area looks brand new. The queue is now broken into sections. You are first let into the first room, which is the Manatee Exhibit. Here you get to spend time watching the Manatees swim, and be adorable.

Then you are moved into the pre-show room, which is also the brand new Sea Turtle exhibit. Here, a SeaWorld Edutainer describes the plight of the Sea Turtle and sets up what is about to become our journey!

Then it is onto the Theater!
The domed theater is impressive, and uniform. Once inside you feel small, and as the show begins you feel vulnerable like a hatching baby turtle.

Turtle Trek takes you on the life journey of a Sea Turtle, so on your trek, you encounter dangers on your way to the ocean like Crabs and Seagulls. Once in the water, you encounter dangers natural and man made like sharks, nets, plastic bags, and more. In this attraction, you'll find yourself spinning around, looking up, looking around trying to take in your surroundings. Descriptions, pictures, videos, just will not do this attraction justice, this technology MUST be experienced first hand! at the end of the show, you will learn what an "Every Day Hero" is and how you can be one.

How to be an everyday hero.

Upon exiting the show, you go up the old entrance ramp, and you can see the Manatees and Sea Turtles from above the water line. Tou can also play a new interactive video game called "Race to the Beach" which is sure to be a hit with young and old alike.

The Turtle Trek adventure continues into the gift shop where you can become an "Every Day Hero" by making contributions to the conservation fund (5% of all sales in the Turtle Trek gift shop go to the Conservation Fund) you get a special spot light, music, and interaction with a video Sea Turtle or Manatee! This is an amazing way to make shopping interactive, and a unique experience.

This journey is a larger than life adventure, the technology is impressive, and jaw dropping at times. Once you complete your Journey on Turtle Trek you will likely feel inclined to get right back in line.

The inspiration behind TurtleTrek is that no animal’s life journey is more incredible than that of the sea turtle. From hatching on a beach and making the mad dash to open waters to the dangers and hazards they face as they mature and return to the very same beach to lay their own eggs, their tales of life underwater have been difficult to portray. And no theme park in the world is better equipped than SeaWorld to share that journey with millions of people.

  • In the same way SeaWorld brought attention to the plight of the manatee – the park’s attraction, “Manatee Rescue,” created interest that helped to save the species – at TurtleTrek, the park showcases the vulnerable sea turtle and asks everyday heroes across the globe to help make a difference in saving animals in the wild.
  • In the nearly 50 years since SeaWorld’s rescue programs began, more than 20,000 injured, orphaned or ill animals have been rescued, cared for and in most instances, returned to the wild. That’s more than one animal per day since 1964.

The real-life animals that live at TurtleTrek
A one-of-a-kind 3-D/360-degree movie is only part of TurtleTrek’s allure. It’s also two massive, naturalistic saltwater and freshwater habitats, home to sea turtles and manatees, some of them rescued and cared for by SeaWorld’s animal team.

The attraction’s sea turtle residents have been deemed non-releasable by the Florida government (due to genetics, illness, or being orphaned) and have found a permanent home at TurtleTrek. Since 1973, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued, cared for and returned hundreds of endangered manatees, and since 1980 returned more than 1,200 sea turtles back to their natural waters.

Sea Turtles

  • Sea turtles are truly a global species found in temperate and tropical seas worldwide. They have survived in the seas for more than 200 million years and are among a small group of reptiles that depend on the sea for survival.
  • TurtleTrek will be home to a variety of adult and juvenile sea turtles, including hawksbill and green sea turtles. Guests can view these exquisite creatures gliding past them from above, or through a below-water window.

  • Florida's tropical waters are home to a great diversity of life and perhaps none are more rare and endearing than the manatee. All manatee species can be found in warm tropical and subtropical waters in North America, South America, and West Africa.
  • At TurtleTrek, four West Indian manatees can be seen from above, or below water as they swim by or graze on a leafy snack. Each gentle giant in the exhibit was previously rescued by SeaWorld – the global leader in rescue and rehabilitation of manatees.

  • More than 1,500 Caribbean-native fish live in the saltwater habitat. The tropical varieties guests can view within the sea turtle habitat include angelfish, surgeonfish, file fish, butterfly fish, and many more.
  • Approximately 200 freshwater fish will accompany the manatees in their habitat. There will be fish native to Florida such as large-mouth bass and bluegills; and exotic fish that can be found in Florida waters such as pacu and red-tail catfish.

The story behind the story and what SeaWorld does on a daily basis to create awareness of animals – and nature – in need

Animal rescue programs

  • SeaWorld parks have helped animals in need (ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned) for more than four decades. The majority of rescued animals are successfully treated by SeaWorld veterinarians, rehabilitated and returned to the wild.
  • To date, more than 20,000 animals have been rescued by the park’s animal experts including whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, manatees, sea turtles and birds. This is the equivalent of helping one animal a day, every day, for 45 years.

The SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Conservation Fund
  • In addition to direct support of hundreds of environmental, research and conservation projects, the company provides millions of dollars in cash, support and human resources to the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. A registered non-profit conservation foundation, the Fund has granted $7 million in support of more projects around the world in more than 60 countries.
  • The Fund also provides an outlet for visitors to the parks, as well as the general public, to do their part to help protect wildlife. The Fund commits 100 percent of donations to on-the-ground wildlife conservation.

Education programs
  • Education is a cornerstone of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. Half a billion people have passed through the gates of a SeaWorld park since 1964, and each has benefited from educational experiences intended to inspire a deeper understanding, respect and desire to protect all wildlife.

  • SeaWorld’s educational impact extends into homes and classrooms across the world through innovative programs such as instructional field trips, national awards programs, classroom resources, and one of the largest and most used animal databases on the Internet. In addition to that remarkable figure are the countless informal teaching experiences inside the parks: educators, show and exhibit narrations, and interpretive and interactive graphics.


Paper or plastic? Soon there will be just one choice at the 10 theme parks of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment: paper. The company will eliminate plastic shopping bags within the next year. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment will be the largest theme park operator to make this commitment.

Park gift shops will offer paper bags made from 100 percent recycled paper or guests can choose to purchase reusable bags.

Construction continues on the first part of the CityWalk promenade. From the concept art we've seen, it looks like it will be a happening adult venue.

A new parade gate is being constructed.

The Despicable Me: Minion Madness attraction is getting closer to opening. Along with the brilliant facade recreation of Gru's home, we now see hilarious Minion Billboards along the exterior of the show building.

The entry house is really cute.

We LOVE Star Wars Weekends. Such a fun change of pace for the Studios park. The annual event takes place each Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 18-June 10, 2012.Here’s the scheduled celebrity lineup for Star Wars Weekends 2012 (subject to change):

Weekend 1 (May 18 – 20)
• Ray Park – (Darth Maul – Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
• Jerome Blake (Rune Haako/Mas Amedda – Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
• Dee Bradley Baker (voice of Clone Captain Rex and Clone Commander Cody – Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Weekend 2 (May 25- 27)
• Andy Secombe (Watto – Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
• Ray Park (Darth Maul – Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
• Tom Kane (voice of Yoda – Star Wars: The Clone Wars)

Weekend 3 (June 1 -3)
• Jake Lloyd (Anakin Skywalker – Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
• Silas Carson (Nute Gunray/Ki-Adi-Mundi – Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
• (Star Wars: The Clone Wars voice talent – currently TBD)

Weekend 4 (June 8- 10)
• Michonne Bourriague (Aurra Sing – Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
• Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett – Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi)
• Daniel Logan (Boba Fett – Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones)
• Nika Futterman (voice of Asajj Ventress – Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Activities & entertainment (subject to change)
• “Hyperspace Hoopla”: This high-energy, one-of-a-kind show is a chance to see some of the famed Star Wars characters performing like never before. It will take place on a stage in front of the Sorcerer Mickey hat on Hollywood Blvd., and is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. each event evening.
• Autograph Opportunities: As always, there is no additional charge for the celebrity autograph sessions at Star Wars Weekends.

The autograph lines will once again be handled via a FASTPASS-type system. The meet-and-greet session/autograph opportunities are extremely limited, so guests need to arrive early to receive a FASTPASS. Please refer to this link, which will take you to the official Star Wars Weekends event page on There, you’ll find more detailed information under “Celebrity Autographs.”

• Star-Studded Event: Keep in mind, autograph opportunities are not the only place to see the celebrities. Star Wars stars take part in fun throughout the day in Star Wars-themed talk shows, behind-the-scenes presentations, the gala “Legends of the Force” parade and more.
That is all that we have so far. The weekend events and appearances can change at any time so please check back for more updated info as the events get closer.

The two wildly popular Disney Channel cartoon characters will be joining Magic Memories and you. Be sure to catch the new, 10 minute show on May 25th that will have the characters venturing to a variety of places including The beach, the jungle and even under the sea.

Progress continues at the Fantasyland construction site. more supports have gone up around the Seven Dwarfs Mine coaster and animals have been added to the Casey Jr Circus Train.

The walls leading to the outer forest.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster

More of the Storybook Circus is coming together.

Animals have now been added to the Casey Jr. Train.

The Cinnamon Bun on the little Mermaid facade in the foreground, with Beasts Castle in the background.

The second spinner at Dumbo is starting to come together in a more recognizable way.

Now through June 30, passholders can get a $20 discount on admission for family and friends.
Go to the BGT site for specific rules and details

Earlier this month, Busch Gardens witnessed an uncommon event: the birth of mongoose lemur twins. On Friday, April 6, the two babies were born to 17-year-old mother Rosalita and 18-year-old father Guillermo. Rosalita’s first baby – a male named Duggan – was also born at Busch Gardens and moved to another zoo for breeding.

Congratulations go to RossMidlane for guessing last week's Hidden Parkhopper by posting..."The 'Universal' theming on the barges of Cinematic Spectacular."

Good job! Let's try this again. Look into the magnifying glass below and see if you can figure out where the park hoppers are this week. Post your guess in the comments area below. If you are the first to answer correctly, you will be featured in next week's update. GOOD LUCK!

Want to meet up with other Disney fans while at Disney World?
Several of the Orlando Parkhopper team members are part of a group that meets every weekend. Find out more about the weekly meets (often hosted by Kevin Yee) on Facebook HERE

Please join us in thanking the fantastic and talented crew of writers, photographers and news contributors who worked so hard this week to bring you the latest information from the parks.

This week's team included:
- Aimster
Eric M. Davis (King Eric)
- Kevin Yee
Editors this week: Fishbulb, Dustysage

Thank you for reading, we hope you have a wonderful week and are inspired to explore the amazing variety of attractions on your next visit to central Florida. We'd love to hear your comments below.

If you appreciate this column, share this page with your friends and don't forget to click that Facebook thumbs up button at the top of the page (it give us the encouragement to bring you even bigger and better updates)!

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  1. TheHopper's Avatar
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    The hidden parkhopper looks like the hair of the Leemurs
  2. DisneySarah's Avatar
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    Great article! Turtle Trek sounds amazing, and I will definitely need to add Sea World to my itinerary next time I visit Florida.

    And holy mackerel, those manatees and turtles and lemurs and Minions are adorable!
  3. WDW1971's Avatar
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    SeaWorld is really becoming a nice little park. I think that SeaWorld may be alittle bit more fun than Animal Kingdom.

    Universal Minon Mayhem should be great. The exterior looks really good (even though it does not even match the theme of the land)
  4. ahecht's Avatar
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    Hidden Parkhopper is the 3rd Lemur picture (7592BG-Mongoose-Lem.jpg), and is the portion of the adult Lemur's fur to the left of the head just after the fur transitions from grey to brown (at about the same height as the adult's eyes).
  5. TravisMT81's Avatar
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    Isn't the Universal premiering on the 5th? Wonder if they will have any unannounced previews.
  6. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Great update.

    It's really up to Universal with Despicable Me and SeaWorld with Turtle Trek to pull in visitors to Orlando this summer. Disney has sort of dropped the ball.

    I'm really disappointed that Epcot doesn't have a major E-Ticket opening this year for the 30th anniversary. It was really a missed opportunity.

    Wouldn't you think that with 4 major parks and two water parks, that Disney would have at least one major new attraction opening EVERY year to keep people coming back? This lull seems strange (the new Fantasyland attractions really don't hit until late this year or early next). And even then, Mermaid and Seven Dwarves aren't the sort of blockbuster attractions which cause people to book vacations.

    They are spending billions on next gen queues and fastpass but aren't churning out the one thing which really draws people to the parks . . . RIDES!

    Oh how I wish that someone with vision would take over the operations and planning for WDW for just a few years to get them back on track!