For anyone looking to get up close and personal with the animals at SeaWorld Orlando, check out the behind the scenes and animal interaction tours. These special tours allow guests to go behind theme park walls and experience SeaWorld from a trainer’s perspective.
There is a Sea Lion Up-Close Tour, a Dolphin Up-Close Tour and a Beluga Whale interaction program, as well as a general behind the scenes tour. We took the behind the scenes tour and enjoyed viewing the backstage look, as well as a few surprises.
Our tour began with a look at the SeaWorld Orlando animal rescue area. We learned that SeaWorld recues approximately 20,000 animals a year, including 523 sea turtles. We got a look at the trucks used to transport dolphins and other large animals and I felt like I was prepping for a scene in Dolphin Tales or Free Willy.
Our next stop included a lesson on sharks, and we were able to touch a small shark. It’s skin is smooth when you run your fingers down his back, but feels like sandpaper when you go back up.
We then boarded a bus and took a ride to the other end of the park where we were treated to an unexpected walrus viewing. Walrus aren’t normally on the tour, but this IS backstage, so you never know what you’ll see. Garfield the walrus was one of the largest and strangest animals I’ve ever seen. I still can’t get over how BIG he was.
Our Garfield sighting was on our way to the polar bear den. Unfortunately we didn’t see a polar bear. There are no guarantees on the tour. However, we did get to meet and touch Edward, a Magellanic Penguin. These penguins live in warm areas along the Equator all the way south to frigid Antarctica.
Tours are approximately 90 minutes long. There is a bit of walking, but for longer jaunts you take an open-air bus. Theme park admission is required for the tours and is not included in the tour price. However, 10 percent of tour admissions are donated to the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund to support conservation projects around the world.
My family was given media passes to SeaWorld Orlando. All opinions are our own.