SeaWorld has hoped to replace its dated Wild Arctic simulator attraction for years. Rumors swirled of a replacement as early as 2011
, but it has persisted.
In the years following, SeaWorld faced a tailspin of problems that eventually saw the company replace nearly all of its leadership and go through multiple owners. Now with a focus on thrill rides and attendance numbers rebounding
, the Wild Arctic rumors have popped once again.
With some of the oldest motion theaters still in use, a ride on Wild Arctic is filled with shaking and sounds that likely aren't intended. In recent years the aging attraction has dwindled in popularity thanks to its uncomfortable ride experience.
An arctic-themed coaster was rumored for the Orlando park, but instead, the project was moved slightly to the west. That coaster, Ice Breaker, has been standing but not operating since the early days of the pandemic. It’s currently scheduled to open in February.
Meanwhile, in San Diego, the replacement for that version of Wild Arctic is now moving forward. SeaWorld confirmed in 2019
they were planning to close San Diego’s Wild Arctic and replace it with a new attraction. Nearby a new dive coaster themed to penguins
is readying to open early next year. Permits and leaked details point to a family launch coaster, similar to the jet-ski one
found at SeaWorld San Antonio.
It was always expected that the two Wild Arctic attractions would close around the same time. With San Diego’s now confirmed to be on the chopping block, it’s only a matter of time before similar confirmation is made in Orlando. The signage for the Orlando attraction has already been removed.
This year also saw the Wild Arctic queue and ride pre-show areas used during Howl-O-Scream for a haunted maze, Beneath the Ice
. The house has proven to be one of the most popular
for the inaugural scare event.
At other Howl-O-Scream events, house themes are used multiple years, with many of the sets remaining mostly intact during the off-season. This reuse allows the small development team to create highly detailed houses while also not being stretched too thin. This time-saving tactic will likely continue with SeaWorld Orlando’s Howl-O-Scream, with at least half of the four houses returning next year. For a park lacking in backstage storage areas, the highly detailed house found in Wild Arctic will conceivably remain until the next scare season, eliminating any possibility of the dated simulator returning before then.
It’s still too early to know what will be replacing Orlando’s Wild Arctic simulator attraction. Previous rumors
have pointed to an expansion of the Sesame Street area
next door or a flying theater attraction. An updated version of the flying theater concept, one with a 360-degree dome screen using a theater in the round design, is thought to be in development
for SeaWorld’s Abu Dhabi park.
That ride system, designed by the same company behind San Diego's upcoming dive coaster, is located in the Polar Ocean section of the indoor park, likely featuring many of the same animals as seen on the Wild Arctic simulator films. But with that park being financed by a third party, it’s unclear if SeaWorld will retain any rights to attractions developed for that park for use in their U.S.-based parks.
Not far from the Wild Arctic area, SeaWorld Orlando does seem to be moving forward with another project
. On September 17, SeaWorld representatives reached out to Orange County, stating, “We’re in the process of getting started once again on project penguin.”
Since then, permits on the project have been reactivated. These permits refer to the project as a coaster despite SeaWorld yet to confirm another coaster is in the works for the park. Project Penguin is on the west side of Bayside Stadium. The location would create a new visual weenie for guests as they enter the park and would address one of the park’s final areas not improved since the park chain has shifted its focus.
Project Penguin is thought to be the park’s 2023 attraction. That means whatever may come to Wild Arctic is still years away from happening, even if the simulators have shaken their last guest.
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