A new behind-the-scenes tour at SeaWorld Orlando features its killer whales, up close and personal.
The 45-minute Killer Whale Up-Close Tour, announced Tuesday, includes talks from the park’s whale trainers, face-to-face (but behind glass) meetings with the whales and other interactions.
“You’re going to get right up close with them and really understand who our whales are, their personalities and how we care for them and what they most enjoy doing,” said Susan Storey, a spokeswoman for Orlando-based SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
Tour buyers are close, but not close enough to touch the animals, she said. That’s left to SeaWorld’s whale trainers, the same workers seen in the theme park’s killer-whale shows.
The tour’s price varies but starts at $79. An admission ticket to SeaWorld is required but is not included in that price.
During the tour, based in Shamu Stadium, trainers share stories and information about the whales, demonstrate how the whales participate their own health care, feeding and additional topics.
The experience includes whales with trainers on the slide-out portion near the front of the pool, where their health care is explained.
The tour, which holds 20 people, is broken down into smaller groups of three or four people, Storey said, for more personal interactions and instruction from the trainers. From in front of the glass partition on the ground level of the stadium, visitors can signal for whales to do a tail wave or send them off for jumps, she said.
Photography is allowed, selfie lovers.
“They’ll mug with you,” Storey said.
“The whales are right there to engage with our guests, who get to see the whales as who they are … not just in the show, watching from seats that are far away,” she said.
The tour starts at 10 a.m. daily.
SeaWorld also has “Up-Close” tours revolving around its dolphins and penguins. Another tour covers the attraction’s animal-rescue efforts. The Dine With Shamu program, which includes a meal, remains for sale.
The new offering continues SeaWorld’s renewed emphasis on experiences, education and conservation. The park recently remodeled its Dolphin Nursery, which is open to the public, and replaced the “Blue Horizons” show with “Dolphin Days.”
The SeaWorld park in San Diego introduced an “Orca Encounter” show this spring. It features the animals in the tank and educational matter but no trainers are featured.
For more information or reservations, go to seaworldorlando.com
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