In the planning stages of this trip I took the decision to buy two Quick Queue passes for SeaWorld Orlando, as flight schedules meant that we would not be able to stay for the entire day. Megan's cancelled flight left me with a ticket that I couldn't use, so rather than let it go to waste I called into Guest Services on my way into the park in the hope that they could pass it on to a deserving home on my behalf. Instead, and without my requesting it, they voluntarily refunded the cost back to my credit card, showing a wholly unexpected commitment to guest satisfaction.
My first stop was at Empire of the Penguin, a technologically impressive dark ride using trackless vehicles that was added to the park last year. Passengers are taken through a number of dark ride scenes before finishing up in a room full of real penguins, a premise that on paper at least sounds like it has the makings of a major attraction. Unfortunately, the implementation falls flat; the actual ride portion is very short, and consists mostly of mediocre projections rather than the high quality scenery that one might have hoped for. Furthermore, while guests have the choice of mild or wild experiences, the latter doesn't come close to being wild, and barely scratches the surface of what the vehicles should be capable of. The end section with the live penguins was certainly neat, but zoo exhibits don't typically have wait times exceeding one hour!
My lap on Kraken didn't disappoint, but to my surprise, my lap on Manta did; the flying coaster was rattling quite badly today, and that combined with the overly intense pretzel loop left me with a mild headache. Rather than ride again, I headed indoors to TurtleTrek, a 360° dome theatre film added to the park in 2012. This really didn't do much for me, to be honest, but the target audience of young children loved it. One small warning for readers; while it is true that one gets a good view of the show from anywhere in the auditorium, most of the action takes place on the wall opposite the entrance door. Plan accordingly!
Wandering around the park brought me to Shamu Express, and I figured it'd be rude not to take a quick lap. After disembarking, I made a journey up the Sky Tower, where I was able to get some great overview shots thanks to the sun being in exactly the right place. By the time I got back to earth it was time for the A'lure show, a twenty minute Cirque du Soleil equivalent that was definitely the highlight of my day.
There was time for one final lap on Kraken before heading for the airport.