Antarctica was a large disappointment after a long wait, which according to the sign varied from 40 to 80 minutes throughout the course of the day. We waited until after 6:00, thinking that the lines would have eased, instead we waited 70 minutes against the posted 60 minute wait. On the plus side, they did allow people to stay in line and do the attraction even after the 7:00 park closing, we finished after 7:30.
Antarctica - Empire of the Penguin it's branded, but you won't see much of the empire branding in the park.
I have never seen a more clueless, disorganized staff at any attraction at any theme park anywhere, even though this has been up and running for weeks now. The crowds inside the "iceberg" are fairly dense as well, with somewhat claustrophobic passages as you wait endlessly while staff tries to figure out what to do with a significant lack of well defined waiting areas, confusion over the mild vs. wild rides (both operate side by side intermingled) and the feeling that it is organized and operated by middle schoolers.
Staff MIA at multiple points, there are 4 small rooms that look like elevators but aren't, we were directed to number four, inexplicably without a number label like 1-3 and then abandoned there. Eventually the door opened, we decided that we should enter, sat there with the door open for many minutes, no controls, call button, any safety features of any kind evident. Eventually more guests arrived, weren't sure if they were supposed to enter also, thought about it, decided against it, eventually the doors closed, did I mention the shortage of staff direction?
Then after a very short movie, a minute or so the other door on the elevator like room opens and we enter a weird round vehicle in a cosmic inspired room, again no signs, controls, direction. A staff member did show up here to make sure our seatbelts were fastened and eventually our group of 8 set off on a weird cosmic bumper cars short ride but with no bumps or contact. The mild and wild are together, the wild seems to be composed of weird bouncing and shimmying of the car occasionally for no perceptible reason. All of this happens automatically, there are no controls. After a minute or two the car heads off down a passage to another room, with LED lighting effects that can only be described as being designed by someone on a bad acid trip. Weird, fantastical cosmic inspired with no relationship to anything there and certainly not related to the penguins where we arrived after a couple more minutes, preceded by the sharp fishy odor.
Then, we saw what the attraction really was, a nice, somewhat extensive penguin colony exhibit set in a natural type of habitat including the temperature, it was cold. Did I mention the cold? It was really, really cold for the guests in shorts and T-shirts covered with a sheen of sweat from the long hot outdoor wait and the tight crowds.
Here, amidst the nicely done live penguins standing around bored on the ice, several different types with helpful signs are many, many staff, all warmly bundled up in nice parkas and gloves while the guests freeze and hug themselves against the cold, probably 40 degrees F but felt so cold after the hot wait. There's not much going on with the penguins but it's a large group and you are quite close to them, perhaps 10 feet at the edge but you can't stay long because of the cold, again, did I mention the cold? To their credit they do warn you about the cold, but only after you've waited 45 minutes or more and there's no turning back, plus we have no jackets to get.
So, you soon exit through large rotating doors clogged by large families from Miami who insist on all cramming into one rotating section bringing it to a halt,
Anyway, to sum it up, very long wait, terrible organization, bizarre inexplicable "ride" followed by very nice but bitterly cold penguins exhibit on foot.
One other new Sea World note, the dolphin feeding has become very popular and expensive, no more walking up, buying food and feeding them. It's now a scheduled activity 5 times a day (on your show schedule, look below the big shows). If you don't arrive to wait in the long snaking line early you may not get to participate, it's $7 for access and the food. You can stand at the wall in the non roped off section for free when you want but the dolphins are smart and they won't come to you if you don't have food, while they move down along the wall taking the food assembly line style from each person in sequence. Still, it's nice to get to scratch their chin and maybe pet their side. If you want a great Dolphin experience I recommend the Dolphin Research Center in the Florida Keys but most of these guests aren't making it past Orlando.
A note on lines, we visited Friday, June 13 2013, these were weekday lines, expect weekend to be more due to the large number of Florida Resident Fun Passes outstanding. We arrived early, waited at the gate for the 8:30 entry into the parking lot and then the 9:00 release of the rope inside the park where we were allowed to run to the rides. My son rode Kraken first, all by himself, but even though there wasn't another single soul there they still require him to do a chinese fire drill, run out, through the long line, completely empty and back through the entrance before being allowed to ride again. They would rather send the ride off empty, which they did, than let the kid ride even though _not one single person_ was there or waiting. Not nice, Sea World! The crowds arrive and fill up quickly so use the early quiet minutes wisely.
Also, the new front of line quick pass feature is done poorly. At Kraken, for example, the roped off Quick Queue $14 pass line runs empty even while people wait in the regular guest rows, Each train for Kraken has 8 rows, when they run rows empty they cut down the overall ride capacity significantly, making all the guests wait longer, trying to strong-arm people into buying the Quick Queue pass I guess. (photos of all of this documented) Again,l not nice, Sea World, and not particularly honest to intentionally reduce ride carrying capacity to then charge more money for buying back access once inside the park.
On rides, my son loves coasters but didn't want to do Manta after one ride due to the strapped in feeling at the end waiting to be freed.
On the plus side Shamu show jazzed up with extra water cannons to make up for the no more trainers in the pool, the kids loved it but when they say you will get soaked up front pay attention, it really means it. The sky tower is no longer an extra charge and a nice ride and view for the short 10 minute ride.
A couple of random entertainments in the park for the crowds, a French acrobatic comedy group and a band on tall stilts, nice little extras.
Sea World is still a fun full day for the family but a bit marred by some organization and rule issues that need fixing.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.