Turtles, turtles everywhere! Yes, this week Orlando Parkhopper was in attendance at the grand opening of SeaWorld Orlando's brand new Turtle Trek 4D. We have a full review of this amazing new attraction along with interviews from the attraction creators. Next up, we check in on Universal Studios Orlando as they continue to put the finishing touches on Despicable Me: Minion Madness. We find Disney World still working on their Fantasyland expansion. Finally, we get wonderful news from Busch Gardens Tampa about a set of rare lemur twins. It's two much fun in today's Orlando Parkhopper

MiceChat's world famous Gumball Rally is about to roll through Disneyland once again. This fan favorite event is a race through the happiest place on earth to find out who can complete the most attractions at the park in a single day. But whether you come in first place or last, you are always a winner when you are riding attractions with friends and family in Walt's original Magic Kingdom.

May 19th, 2012
Where: Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California
COST: $29.99 per person
How Do I sign up?: MiceChat Events Store Gumball Rally Sign Up
How Does the Rally Work?: Rally Information Page

Act fast folks, this event is nearly sold out for this year!

On April 27th, SeaWorld Orlando unveiled its newest addition, Turtle Trek 3-D! MiceChat was invited to participate in the opening ceremony of this attraction, where the message is becoming an "Every Day Hero" and helping to create awareness for endangered marine life. MiceChat's Eric Davis, was among the press invited to be at the opening ceremony for this impressive new attraction.

The entrance just before the grand opening ceremony.

We'll give you some ride stats to start and then tell you what we think of Turtle Trek 4D:

Official Web Site
: Turtle Trek 4D - Sea World Orlando
Ride Length: Approx 30 minutes minutes long
Height Restrictions: None
Theater Specs: Fully domed theater, seamless, 3-D projection, all around the guests, and over head.
Dome Screen: A fine silver coating on the dome allows each screen to focus the projection light back toward the guests. Each fleck of silver is like a tiny mirror.
Film: Frame Rate: 60 frames per second.
Projectors: 34 projectors and 368,000 lumens of light to fill it with a 3-D, 360-degree movie.
Sound: 22 audio channels that have all been mixed on-site. 18.4 arrangement and is rated at an amazing 32,000 watts.

Turtle Trek 3-D is a 360 Degree domed adventure where guests get to see the world from the point of view of a Sea Turtle. When this attraction was first announced, the 360 Degree 3-D seemed like just another 3D attraction ... Oh how I would be pleasantly surprised. The attraction enters through the old Manatee habitat exit. The entire area looks brand new. The queue is now broken into sections. You are first let into the first room, which is the Manatee Exhibit. Here you get to spend time watching the Manatees swim, and be adorable.

Then you are moved into the pre-show room, which is also the brand new Sea Turtle exhibit. Here, a SeaWorld Edutainer describes the plight of the Sea Turtle and sets up what is about to become our journey!

Then it is onto the Theater!
The domed theater is impressive, and uniform. Once inside you feel small, and as the show begins you feel vulnerable like a hatching baby turtle.

Turtle Trek takes you on the life journey of a Sea Turtle, so on your trek, you encounter dangers on your way to the ocean like Crabs and Seagulls. Once in the water, you encounter dangers natural and man made like sharks, nets, plastic bags, and more. In this attraction, you'll find yourself spinning around, looking up, looking around trying to take in your surroundings. Descriptions, pictures, videos, just will not do this attraction justice, this technology MUST be experienced first hand! at the end of the show, you will learn what an "Every Day Hero" is and how you can be one.

How to be an everyday hero.

Upon exiting the show, you go up the old entrance ramp, and you can see the Manatees and Sea Turtles from above the water line. Tou can also play a new interactive video game called "Race to the Beach" which is sure to be a hit with young and old alike.

The Turtle Trek adventure continues into the gift shop where you can become an "Every Day Hero" by making contributions to the conservation fund (5% of all sales in the Turtle Trek gift shop go to the Conservation Fund) you get a special spot light, music, and interaction with a video Sea Turtle or Manatee! This is an amazing way to make shopping interactive, and a unique experience.

This journey is a larger than life adventure, the technology is impressive, and jaw dropping at times. Once you complete your Journey on Turtle Trek you will likely feel inclined to get right back in line.


The real-life animals that live at TurtleTrek

Sea Turtles
  1. Sea turtles are truly a global species found in temperate and tropical seas worldwide. They have survived in the seas for more than 200 million years and are among a small group of reptiles that depend on the sea for survival.
  2. TurtleTrek will be home to a variety of adult and juvenile sea turtles, including hawksbill and green sea turtles. Guests can view these exquisite creatures gliding past them from above, or through a below-water window.

  1. Florida's tropical waters are home to a great diversity of life and perhaps none are more rare and endearing than the manatee. All manatee species can be found in warm tropical and subtropical waters in North America, South America, and West Africa.

  1. More than 1,500 Caribbean-native fish live in the saltwater habitat. The tropical varieties guests can view within the sea turtle habitat include angelfish, surgeonfish, file fish, butterfly fish, and many more.
  2. Approximately 200 freshwater fish will accompany the manatees in their habitat. There will be fish native to Florida such as large-mouth bass and bluegills; and exotic fish that can be found in Florida waters such as pacu and red-tail catfish.

Animal rescue programs

  1. SeaWorld parks have helped animals in need (ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned) for more than four decades. The majority of rescued animals are successfully treated by SeaWorld veterinarians, rehabilitated and returned to the wild.

The SeaWorld/Busch Gardens Conservation Fund
  1. In addition to direct support of hundreds of environmental, research and conservation projects, the company provides millions of dollars in cash, support and human resources to the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. A registered non-profit conservation foundation, the Fund has granted $7 million in support of more projects around the world in more than 60 countries.
  2. The Fund also provides an outlet for visitors to the parks, as well as the general public, to do their part to help protect wildlife. The Fund commits 100 percent of donations to on-the-ground wildlife conservation.

Education programs
  1. Education is a cornerstone of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. Half a billion people have passed through the gates of a SeaWorld park since 1964, and each has benefited from educational experiences intended to inspire a deeper understanding, respect and desire to protect all wildlife.


Paper or plastic? Soon there will be just one choice at the 10 theme parks of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment: paper. The company will eliminate plastic shopping bags within the next year. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment will be the largest theme park operator to make this commitment.

Park gift shops will offer paper bags made from 100 percent recycled paper or guests can choose to purchase reusable bags.

Construction continues on the first part of the CityWalk promenade. From the concept art we've seen, it looks like it will be a happening adult venue.

A new parade gate is being constructed.

The Despicable Me: Minion Madness attraction is getting closer to opening. Along with the brilliant facade recreation of Gru's home, we now see hilarious Minion Billboards along the exterior of the show building.

The entry house is really cute.

Weekend 2 (May 25- 27)

Weekend 3 (June 1 -3)

Weekend 4 (June 8- 10)
Activities & entertainment (subject to change)
That is all that we have so far. The weekend events and appearances can change at any time so please check back for more updated info as the events get closer.

The two wildly popular Disney Channel cartoon characters will be joining Magic Memories and you. Be sure to catch the new, 10 minute show on May 25th that will have the characters venturing to a variety of places including The beach, the jungle and even under the sea.

Progress continues at the Fantasyland construction site. more supports have gone up around the Seven Dwarfs Mine coaster and animals have been added to the Casey Jr Circus Train.

The walls leading to the outer forest.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster

More of the Storybook Circus is coming together.

Animals have now been added to the Casey Jr. Train.

The Cinnamon Bun on the little Mermaid facade in the foreground, with Beasts Castle in the background.

The second spinner at Dumbo is starting to come together in a more recognizable way.

Now through June 30, passholders can get a $20 discount on admission for family and friends.
Go to the BGT site for specific rules and details


Congratulations go to RossMidlane for guessing last week's Hidden Parkhopper by posting..."The 'Universal' theming on the barges of Cinematic Spectacular."

Good job! Let's try this again. Look into the magnifying glass below and see if you can figure out where the park hoppers are this week. Post your guess in the comments area below. If you are the first to answer correctly, you will be featured in next week's update. GOOD LUCK!

Want to meet up with other Disney fans while at Disney World?
Several of the Orlando Parkhopper team members are part of a group that meets every weekend. Find out more about the weekly meets (often hosted by Kevin Yee) on Facebook HERE

Please join us in thanking the fantastic and talented crew of writers, photographers and news contributors who worked so hard this week to bring you the latest information from the parks.

This week's team included:
- Aimster
Eric M. Davis (King Eric)
- Kevin Yee
Editors this week: Fishbulb, Dustysage

Thank you for reading, we hope you have a wonderful week and are inspired to explore the amazing variety of attractions on your next visit to central Florida. We'd love to hear your comments below.

If you appreciate this column, share this page with your friends and don't forget to click that Facebook thumbs up button at the top of the page (it give us the encouragement to bring you even bigger and better updates)!