On Tuesday, SeaWorld Orlando announced details of what park officials are calling the biggest expansion in the park's history.
Three new attractions will open at SeaWorld and its Discover Cove over the next two years, including TurtleTrek and Freshwater Oasis set to open in the spring of 2012.
TurtleTrek stays true to SeaWorld's unique blend of nose-to-nose animal encounters and state-of-the art entertainment. The new sea turtle habitat will feature two massive naturalistic habitats and a domed, 360-degree 3-D movie experience.
At SeaWorld's companion park, Discovery Cove, Freshwater Oasis will allow guests to come face-to-face with marmosets and Asian otters, all while swimming under a rainforest canopy.
Discovery Cove is a limited-admission, all-inclusive day resort where you swim with dolphins, hand-feed tropical birds in a free-flight aviary, snorkel among thousands of colorful fish and rays and relax on pristine beaches.
In 2013, SeaWorld plans to open an expansive new Antarctica-themed penguin habitat, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. Park president Terry Prather said the penguin area will be the park's single largest expansion project since SeaWorld opened in 1973. It will also be the park's coldest attraction.
Empire of the Penguin will replace the park's 24-year-old Penguin Encounter habitat.
The new attractions will be unique to the Orlando park and are not planned for SeaWorld parks in San Diego and San Antonio.
Park officials did not disclose a price tag, but it is clear that SeaWorld hopes to gain back some of the ground it's lost to Walk Disney World in the past two years, and particularly, to Universal Orlando, which opened the extremely popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter in 2010.
In 2010, SeaWorld Orlando's attendance fell an estimated 12 percent while Orlando's overall visitor count soared above 50 million for the first time ever.
SeaWorld officials hope that the new attractions will help drive up the numbers once again.
Mark Johanson is the travel editor at the International Business Times. He has traveled to and written about more than 30 nations and territories on every continent except...