01 FEB 2013: Ricky Martin was not in the house but the hyper hippy action of one fuzzy, bouncy slinky ferret-looking animal aptly dubbed “Ricky Marten” sure was. Boy was this one a hit.

An American Pine Marten alongside Pete and Penny Penguin and three other critters from SeaWorld’s Animal Ambassador Programme had a roomful of media and industry types attending TMAC Ontario’s monthly Munch’n’Mingle in stitches.

The evening held in the posh Windsor Ballroom of the King Edward hotel was hosted by SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment alongside Canada’s new PR team, Access Marketing’s Joanne Scalamongna who relayed some hot business developments in 2013.

Mention SeaWorld and the iconic mascot Shamu and the thrilling Manta ride and you have big time crowd pleasers.

Now for more fun thrills:

SeaWorld Orlando

For starters: baby it’s cold outside. In spring, SeaWorld Orlando debuts its hotly anticipated Antarctica - Empire of the Penguin, arguably the coldest theme park attraction in the world. The company’s largest expansion in SeaWorld’s history to date, promises not to disappoint. “This will be like nothing else. It is what we do best,” said SeaWorld’s Randy Anger, director for Canada.

This first-of-its-kind family adventure ride uses new technology that constantly changes making a unique visitor experience. Choose your ride experience and get ready to hit the world of the Penguins.

Discovery Cove Orlando
At this reservations-only paradise, head to the newest attraction Fresh Water Oasis and get up close to Asian River Otters. At the Grand Reef which opened last year swim close to rays. Dozens glide through the water.


Here’s some added value – there’s a feeling, said Randy, of walking on a sea floor surrounded by fish when you visit SeaVenture. Come eye-to-eye with sharks through a full, 8-foot-tall, 21-foot long panoramic window. Plus there are plenty more surprises.

What opened last May has literally made the thousands who venture there rethink the life of a turtle. In the world’s first 3D 360 degree dome theatre, explore the intricate turtle world in this riveting film. There are real life animals that live at TurtleTrek too.

Tampa Bay: Busch Gardens

Several expansions have happened. An hour’s drive from SeaWorld Orlando, crowds can’t get enough of the SheiKra and Cheetah Hunt, a rollercoaster ride, Randy chuckled “We call it zero to cheetah - it goes very fast.” Iceploration is a Broadway style ice show that “takes you across the world and explains animal interactions,” he said.

But his ultimate fave is last year’s opening of the Animal Care Centre. “Guests can get up close and learn about the animal and even see animal surgeries.”

For animal loving clients and those with a penchant on sustainable initiatives, Randy explained one of the park highlights has been the Animal Ambassador program. “In four decades we have helped 22,000 animals: ill, injured, and orphaned. We have over 350 animal ambassadors we bring out to the park and to events like these.”

Imagine that’s more than one animal per day since 1964 that’s been helped through this very special animal rehab programme.

Special Canuck deals:

SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa have a limited-time promotion for Canadian residents. It’s a free all day dining deal with the purchase of any single-day park admission at www.SeaWorld.ca . The offer is a $32 value and is valid now through April 30, 2013. Guests can add a second park to their visit for just $50 more.

Canadians looking for a special Florida vacation also can take advantage of a limited-time Discovery Cove offer with a free upgrade to the “Ultimate Package.” Now through February 23, 2013 guests making reservations with their travel agent or tour operator can get a free upgrade to the Ultimate Package and save up to $80 for a party of four on the package that includes unlimited visits to SeaWorld, Aquatica and Busch Gardens during their stay.

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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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