I haven’t been to SeaWorld since they filmed “Jaws 3” there. Under-rated movie, by the way. Also, it was in 3-D, which was a BOLD cinematic move at the time. And what’s not to love about Leah Thompson and Dennis Quaid?
This is where they filmed some scenes.
Anyway, SeaWorld has gone through a major transformation, with impressive shows, exhibits and rides. Since I’m not a roller coaster girl (see that insanity in tomorrow’s blog), I signed up for the Behind the Scenes tour, a 90-minute peek into the aquatic care and rescue efforts by SeaWorld throughout the Florida area.
We met manatees that were injured by boat propellers, sea turtles caught in nets and a pilot whale named Hundy, whose tail was permanently bent into an L-shape after beaching herself on the Florida coast a few years ago. Hundy gets physical therapy every day, and it’s working for her. Her tail is slowly, but surely, getting straighter.
We also met Josh, who I developed a serious crush on because he was the most enthusiastic guide ever. That dude LOVES SeaWorld and its 41,000 animals. By the way, the Behind the Scenes tour is $29 extra per person, but 10 percent of the ticket goes to SeaWorld’s conservation fund.
Inside the park, Shamu usually steals the show, but the manatees were my favorite. They play and swim in the park’s observation tanks. Sarah and Charlotte, weigh in at 2300 lbs. Then there’s Oakley, who, apparently, is doing really well on Weight Watchers, because she’s a slim 1700 lbs.
While they eat 9 percent of their body weight every day in restaurant-grade lettuce, they only have 2 percent body fat. Which means this manatee is in better shape than you.
SeaWorld’s newest attraction is Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, a family-frendly ride that whisks you away from the 90 degree heat of Florida to a 30-degree habitat for penguins, which are so close you can almost touch them. (Don’t. It's not allowed.)
Turtle Trek is a 3-D 360 experience in the extraordinary journey of the sea turtle, from shell to sand to sea to shore again. You think your life is hard? These little guys have to schlepp out of a sand cave to the ocean, all the while avoiding hungry sea gulls, snappy crabs and dangerous debris from littering beach bums. And that’s just Day One.
Also, plastic bags from the grocery store look like the sea turtle’s favorite snack, jellyfish. And when the sea turtles try to eat them, it’s fatal. So use your recycled cloth bags at Shaw’s, please. For the sake of Grandma.
Check out my blog tomorrow for my afternoon at Disney’s newly renovated Fantasyland and see me FREAK out on a pretty tame ride.
But before you go, here’s a pic of a Flamingo Walk. They surrounded me... I think they liked my shirt.
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