SeaWorld is one of my personal favorite parks. I go to Disney and Universal a lot, however there are times that I want to slow down the pace, and enjoy the beauty that Orlando has to offer. This park has a lot to offer from thrilling coasters, amazing animal shows, top of the line animal enclosures, and of course amazing interaction programs! Jason from Orlando Fun and Food recently had the chance to participate in one of these amazing interaction programs! All of the pictures come from the actual encounter, but there was so much more (however pictures could not be taken backstage!).
We started our journey to the changing rooms where we were sized for our wetsuit, and our shoes. We were told previously to bring our swim wear, so we changed and got ready to head out to the Wild Arctic exhibit. Once we were done with a safety briefing we headed over to the backstage area! We first saw some EED (Environment Enrichment Devices) that were used to keep the animals busy, happy and engaged! After that we entered into the backstage area where we saw the harp seals (there was a baby seal that day), and learned about their behaviors and their habitat.
After watching the seals, we saw the backstage pool for the four beluga whales. They explained that sometimes the animals wanted to be off exhibit for medical reasons, because they didn’t want to be bothered, or they just wanted to be outside. This pool that attached to the main pool allowed all of these things to happen. After we saw the backstage pool, we were taken to the prep area to see where the animals of the Wild Arctic had their meals prepped! I had no idea that it took so much time and food to feed these amazing animals! I also didn’t know the the seafood given to the animals, was more fresh than the seafood that is sold at the grocery store!
After having our pictures taken by the Wild Arctic sign, we were separated into two different groups. I was introduced to my animal trainer and was given another short safety briefing. Before I knew it I was “on stage” with the belugas and the guest watching everything we did! My first thought was looking at all the people thinking how awesome it was that I was on the other side of the barricades! Then looking down I got to see a beluga whale close up! They were one of the most amazing animals that I have ever encountered! They were so powerful, yet gentle! I couldn’t believe that I got to actually touch these animals!
My group started out in the 55 degree water! (yes I did say 55 degree, yes it is cold, and no the wetsuit doesn’t keep out all of the water!) We sat on the ledge and was immediately introduced to Klondike. Klondike, one of two male beluga whales was moved to Orlando from Marineland in Canada a few years ago. Even though we got to interact with three of the whales, Klondike was my favorite! He was very loving, playful, full of energy, and loved to “talk” to us by vocalizations, clicks, and whistles out of his blowhole!
On the ledge we did an interaction session, starting off with a full rub down. We learned about these animals, their power, and their likes and dislikes. We had Klondike give us hugs, kisses, spit water at us, do behaviors that would be found out in the wild on cue, as well as tell us secrets. (watch my video below, as Klondike told me a secret, then proudly squealed with joy!) After a bit in the water, we took a standing position and did more training with the 3 whales.
Through the entire time we had professional photographers who were taking our pictures. We were not allowed to bring a camera to this interaction, however most families had someone in the exhibit taking pictures, videos, and more! The pictures could be viewed at the exit of the park and could be purchased for a fee. You can also have your pictures placed on a CD, and could own the rights to print them as you wish! I highly recommend this option as you want great professional pictures of this experience! After what seemed like a short time, the interaction was over. We were taken back to the locker rooms, were given towels to shower in our private shower, then were escorted out of the backstage area.
I must say that I loved every bit of this interaction. It is always nice for me to get backstage and see how parks work from the inside out. I also loved the look at the animals up close. By far however, I loved spending time with the beluga whales. They were so beautiful, playful, and fun that I could have stayed in that water as long as my body could have taken it! I highly recommend this tour to any animal lover! There are some restrictions that the official SeaWorld website has, and I will post those below! This tour was a once in a lifetime thing for me, and I will always remember the time that I hugged a beluga whale, got splashed in the face, and was told the secrets of the sea by Klondike, the 2,500 lb beluga whale!
- Participants must be 10 years of age or older. Participants under the age of 14 must be accompanied by a paying adult.
- In order to ensure everyone’s safety, participants must be able to comprehend safety-instructions in English.
- Please note that the water in the beluga whale habitat is 55 degrees F. and the area can be difficult to maneuver.
- SeaWorld park admission is required and is not included in the Beluga Interaction Program price.
- Poolside interactions include touching and feeding beluga whales and assisting trainers in communication with the whales through hand signals.
- Participants must bring swimsuit to wear under wetsuit provided.
- Wetsuit and full changing facility are provided.
- Participants must check in the park’s Information and Reservation counter at least 30 minutes prior to the program start time.
- Late arrivals may miss program components or may not be accommodated due to limited program availability.
- Program times, pricing and components are subject to change.
- Program cancellation within 24 hours will not be refunded.
- Please note: Photographers will be available to take photos of your experience at an additional cost.