Disclaimer: This experience was provided to my wife for review purposes and I attended as her guest. Opinions, as always, are my own.
Did you ever imagine that you, or your kids, could mingle with penguins up-close and personal? Well, now you can hang with penguins without having to travel to Antarctica – although it will still be cold!
Sea World offers a Penguins Up-Close Tour that my family and I experienced recently in Orlando, Fla. The tour itself requires admission to Sea World, which is not included in the price of the tour. It’s only available for small groups each day so make your reservations in advance to reserve your spot. Once in the park, you are issued a time and rendezvous point to meet with your tour guide. Even though Florida is the state of endless summer, I recommend you bring warm apparel for you and the kids because you will be in the climate of the penguins: a not-so-balmy 30° F, but after being out in the sun it felt good.
Our tour guide started the tour by making sure we scrubbed our shoes on a soapy rubber mat, as to not introduce foreign invaders in the vertically-challenged birds’ dwelling. With the hygienic welcoming, it was immediately clear that the health of the penguins was of paramount concern – kudos. We learned about how penguins only live south of the equator. They also showed us where they care for the newly born penguins – a nursery, if you will.
We learned that they care for 270 penguins. The oldest penguin in their care is 32 years old, which is ancient since their lifespan is 15-20 years in the wild!
After the education session, we entered the dank cave where the penguins reside. The lighting was dim because they mimic the sun, as it hits the southern hemisphere. We visited in August, which is winter in their hometown so they had limited artificial sunlight. Our tour guide entered the gated area to find the “people friendly” birds, and escorted them out to the visitor section where we stood with bated breath (probably due to the cold).
The boys were probably more nervous to meet the little penguin then the reverse. The penguin, named Puck, seemed completely comfortable walking right up to us without hesitation. Our boys, on the other hand, proceeded with trepidation because we spoke with them about being gentle and to pet them with the same care that they pet their kitties back home.
The boys immediately lit up and were so excited to meet these Antarctic cuties. I must admit that their excitement was not limited to just them, as my wife and I shared the joy to learn about penguins and see how they live first-hand.
Make Plans to Meet Penguins
- Requires admission to Sea World Orlando, as admission is not included in the penguin meet tour
- Cost starts at $59.99 for ages 10 and up, and $39.99 for ages 3-9. Children under 3 are free with a reservation and paid adult (duh)
- Bring a jacket or sweater, especially for the kids or they’ll freeze and complain about it (trust me on this one)
- Reservations are required, plan for about a 45 min tour experience
- A good time to go is in December, near Christmas when they start to hatch egss
Also, read 12 More VIP Tips for SeaWorld Orlando.