Beluga whales are docile creatures of the sea that almost express a serene emotion to its admirers. At SeaWorld, you get the opportunity of a lifetime to actually interact with these beautiful creatures. These attentive and very intelligent animals play and interact with their surroundings, rarely missing a beat. The Beluga Interaction Program at SeaWorld Orlando offers guests the ability of suiting up and getting in the tank with the whales to see how intelligent they can be. Guests of the Beluga Interaction Program check in with guest services to receive their medical release forms and consent paperwork. Please check in at least an hour prior to the reserved time of the Interaction. After filling out the paperwork, make your way to the Wild Arctic exhibit at the southeast end of the park. There, guests are greeted by a member of SeaWorld staff who takes you behind the scenes to a building that houses all the wetsuits and equipment utilized during the interaction.
Also located in this building are men's and women's locker rooms which also offer rest rooms and showers to freshen up after interacting with the salt water animals. After being fitted for your wetsuit and boots, you are escorted back to Wild Arctic where you go behind the scenes into the kitchen where all the meals for the walrus, beluga whales and polar bears are prepared. These animals indulge in regular, well balanced meals that are customized to each individual animal. These animals consume a total of 140 lbs of fish, and other nutritious goodies a day. That's a lot of food! After seeing the kitchen, you are escorted down a corridor that passes the dive room, which houses all of the deep diver's equipment that is used daily to clean and maintain the exhibits throughout the park. As you stop and wait for the moment of the day, you are introduced to the two handlers that will be introducing you to their whales. Each handler is paired up with two guests and each group gets a whale to interact with. They show you the animals toys which must be veterinarian approved as to not harm the animals. These toys, which are constantly being switched around and swapped out for new ones, keep the animals interested and constantly learning by bringing something new to the table.
These belugas are like little children. They love to play, they love attention, but they LOVE to be pet and rubbed, so touching is recommended, but at the instruction of the handler. As the crowd forms at the beluga whale tank, you and the other guests of the interaction make your way through a tunnel into what looks like a frozen ice land with broken remnants of an arch as decorative background. This is the site of the Base Station which is part of the Wild Arctic exhibit. Here you take a variety of vantage points at the edge of the water tank holding the belugas. At the instruction of the handler, you stand on a manmade plank that crosses the rear of the tank, kneel on a snowy glacier, or sit on a little shelf submerged under water that leaves you waist deep in the chilly arctic habitat simulated water (approx. 52F to 54F degrees). The handlers communicate with the belugas using hand gestures and body language, so at the handlers instruction, you help give hand signals to these intelligent creatures. The belugas spin in place, float on their backs to be pet and rubbed on the belly and vice versa, give kisses on the cheek, give hugs, wave, and make a variety of noises depending on the hand signal by manipulating the fat in their melon, the thick bunch of fat on top of the whale's head, and pushing air through their blow hole. This is a form of communication between the whales, but the handlers have isolated the unique sounds and associated them with certain hand movements. Once the experience is over and you exit the exhibit, you are brought back to the building containing the locker rooms and the "mud room" where you freshen up for the rest of your stay at SeaWorld.
SeaWorld is quite the source of education in conservation of animals and their habitats. Animals range from the Arctic giants like the polar bear, the walrus, and beluga and orca whales to flamingos towards the front of the park. An exhibit for manatees has been set up containing a wide range of information on these gentle giants and a large swimming area that keeps them out of harm's way. SeaWorld has rescued over 300 sea turtles ranging from hatchlings to 6 foot long adults. Here the turtles live among each other in a simulated lagoon teaming with indigenous plant life, sandy beaches, and a nice pool of water to cool off in. While at SeaWorld, take a break from the animal education and get into action physics on one of three action roller coasters and rides like Manta, the flying roller coaster that puts riders in a seat that becomes parallel with the track. Riders of Manta are sat into seats that fold up into the body of the train cart that emulates a manta ray. Navigate twists, turns, dives, and rolls as you soar towards the water on numerous occasions. Take a ride on Kraken, Orlando's tallest and fastest roller coaster and the only floorless coaster to grace the fine city. This ride will knock your socks off, but you'll always come back for more!