The Wild Arctic simulator attraction at SeaWorld Orlando is currently closed, as it prepares to be transformed into the Polar Express Experience for the duration of the park's 2010 Christmas Celebration events.
Wild Arctic will be closed from November 1-11, with the Polar Express Experience returning for the fourth year running. SeaWorld Orlando will also run five special Christmas shows during the events, which will take places on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from November 26 through December 12, and daily from December 17 through January 2.
The Polar Express Experience, based on the popular Warner Bros movie starring Tom Hanks, features a three-minute pre-show video that establishes the backstory. A young boy, who has lost his faith in Christmas, is awoken by a mysterious train. The Wild Arctic simulator is then used to recreate many of the scenes from the movie, which features several scenes designed for IMAX theatres that translate well into the simulator experience.
When guests "arrive" at the North Pole (actually the "base" of the standard Wild Arctic attraction), they can walk through Santa Town which includes a giant Christmas tree, Santa's sleigh and Father Christmas himself. Wild Arctic's beluga whale, polar bear and giant walrus exhibits are also included in the themed area.
In addition to the return of the Polar Express Express, a special Sea of Trees attraction will also operate over the Christmas period. Guests are able to walk through a line-up of Christmas trees which are arrayed around water, with lights on the trees creating "dancing" reflections in time to holiday tunes.
The five shows running at SeaWorld over the Christmas period are:
- Winter Wonderland on Ice - an ice-skating show at the Bayside Stadium.
- Clyde and Seamore's Countdown to Christmas - a special seasonal version of the sea lion's standard comic show.
- A Sesame Street Christmas - starring the Muppets from the children's TV show.
- Shamu Christmas...Miracles - returning from previous years, starring killer whale Shamu.
- Holiday Reflections - a special Christmas version of SeaWorld's popular fireworks show.
There is no additional fee to experience any of the additional attractions or shows during SeaWorld's holiday events. However, the park does offer a selection of special dining options and VIP tours during its Christmas Celebration. These include:
- Santa's Fireside feast - an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring traditional Christmas dishes such as ham, homemade stuffing and sweet potato casserole. Santa himself joins guests for the experience, with seating times from 11.30am - 2pm. Reservations can be made via SeaWorld Orlando's website.
- Christmas celebration VIP Tour – a 7-hour guided tour featuring front-of-the-line access to The Polar Express Experience and Manta, reserved seating at Christmas shows, a holiday dinner menu at Sharks Underwater grill and the chance to feed sea lions and dolphins. Park admission is not included in the price of $125 plus tax for adults and $100 plus tax for children aged 3-9.
- Family Fun Tour at Christmas – includes front-of-the-line access to The Polar Express Experience, reserved seats at popular shows, a light meal, the chance to feed dolphins and sea lions and to touch a penguin, plus a visit with Santa. Park admission is not included in the price of $65 plus tax for adults and $50 plus tax for children aged 3-9.
For full details of SeaWorld's Orlando Christmas Celebration, see the event page on the park's website.