Ever since SeaWorld Orlando opened its newest attraction, TurtleTrek, a combination aquarium exhibit and 3D experience from a turtle's point of view, I have been counting the days until I could check it out. After all, how many times in your life do you get to be a turtle -- a sea turtle no less!
I finally made the visit with my family, and I will just start by saying TurtleTrek was awesome! I have yet to meet someone who isn't captivated by sea turtles (just like us frogs!), and SeaWorld has done an amazing job of telling their story and explaining how mankind can help ensure their survival in the wild.
Housed in the location of the former manatee encounter, TurtleTrek offers several underwater viewing rooms, starting with a large aquarium featuring the majestic manatee. In the second underwater viewing room, guests can get an up-close view of the turtles. On our visit, we were greeted by Splash, a gigantic sea turtle, who was so cool. He weighs in at more than 300 pounds but still somehow has no trouble getting around!
It is here in the second underwater viewing area that the story of the sea turtles really begins. A rescue team member introduces us to a green sea turtle named Nyah, and we learn that in Turtle Trek we will experience the world through her eyes.
We also learn some amazing facts about her as well as some of the threats she faces in the modern world. Did you know that a female green sea turtle could lay 100 eggs along the ocean's sandy shoreline, but only one in 10 of her hatchlings might make it back to the ocean? One of the reasons, we learn, is because the hatchlings become disoriented by porch and street lights as they try to make their way to the sea. Thankfully, we also learned that many humans are working to make sure lights are adjusted during nesting season.
After the presenter sets up the coming journey and the guests have all had plenty of time to look at the aquarium sea turtles, guests are led into a large domed theater for the full-on, immersive TurtleTrek 3D experience.
This was, hands down, the best 3D presentation I have ever experienced! The 360-degree dome provides a fantastic view from wherever you stand in the theater, and you actually feel as if you're seeing the world through Nyah's eyes. You follow her journey from a hatchling, making her way out of the sand and into the ocean. You travel to the ocean's depths as well as to the water's surface. Along the way, you encounter other sea creatures, including jellyfish, dolphins and a fishing boat with its nets. The immersive experience means that you experience the same sights and sounds as Nyah does!
Children and adults will both love this experience, but parents should know a few of the sea creatures are truly larger-than-life (remember, you're seeing them from Nyah's perspective) and may scare young children. Lily actually buried her head in Mommy Frog's leg during several scenes, but once they were gone from the screen, she was fine.
Overall, I loved TurtleTrek from beginning to end, especially getting to envision myself as a tiny sea turtle in a great big ocean! Moms and dads may struggle with how to introduce the message of conservation to their children, but SeaWorld has done a fantastic job of making it easy to understand. What I loved about the experience is that I left feeling like I could play a part in the survival of the sea turtle just by doing little things -- like picking up trash along the beach. The message of TurtleTrek is that through small steps, each and every one of us can help make the sea turtles' journey a success!
Let us know if you've experienced TurtleTrek too!