SeaWorld Orlando’s beat-the-heat strategy takes a page from the dance-party book. The theme park has introduced Summer Soak Party. It’s the kid-magnet splash-pad concept, turned upside-down and set to music.
The limited-time Summer Soak Party is basically a large tented area rigged up with sprinklers on the stage of Bayside Stadium, which has been home to concerts, an ice-skating rink, Halloween events and “Wheel of Fortune.”
The tarp is a good 20 feet off the ground. Underneath are gadgets that distribute water in a variety of ways, from swirling action to basic squirting to tumbling sheets of mist. It’s not terribly intense — nowhere near the splashy Shamu-show level — but if you’re under the roof, you’re going to get wet. Linger, and you’ll be doused. Just standing along the edges you may get splattered enough to worry about your electronic devices. You’ve entered the sprinkle zone.
Some folks taking the plunge last weekend simply took off running or spinning below the sprinklers. There also were SeaWorld Orlando team members, garbed up in rubber waders, on the scene to organize games such as “Red Light, Green Light” and incorporate props such as hula hoops.
It’s a little odd to be there with hundreds of empty stadium seats staring back at you. SeaWorld has broken that view up with tables and umbrellas, a concession stand and a couple of retail opportunities for people who didn’t pack a beach towel or dreaded-yet-essential swim diapers.
There was a live DJ in a dry location who was taking requests. He was playing today’s hits and thankfully not limited to a “Splish, Splash” theme. He also tried to lure visitors on the lagoon’s boardwalk. From over there it looks like something fun’s happening … but what is it? A short wall, decorated with cartoonish sea creatures, makes it more difficult to know.
Beware, the Summer Soak Party is cranked up from noon to 6 p.m. only. If you’re saving that damp feeling for the end of the day, that shut-down time doesn’t get you to park close. SeaWorld is open until at least 8 p.m. every night for the next few weeks.
Soaking will continue daily through Aug. 14, then shift to a weekends-only schedule through Labor Day.
In the zone
I enjoyed another escape from the heat during a recent visit to Legoland Florida. It was my first time in the Winter Haven theme park’s remodeled Imagination Zone, where the AC is definitely, blissfully, on.
The real selling point is that there are more Lego-based activities in there. Some of the walls are Lego ready, meaning you can make artwork from the blocks. Lots of kids spelled out their names, and I, a grown man, admit that’s tempting.
There are building zones where racing is encouraged and another area for Lego video games.
The space, still fronted by the large Lego’d head of Albert Einstein, now includes an eatery that serves paninis.
Friends texted me this week with a cool find, literally. They were waiting for “Circle of Life” at Epcot, and they found the air-conditioning working very well along the wall and benches. “It’s much colder than the rest of the building,” I was told, although they ranked it below Innoventions West for chilliness.
It made me rethink my theme-park cool-down list. Among my choices:
•Haunted Mansion, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Pirates of the Caribbean at Magic Kingdom.
•Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Islands of Adventure.
•American Adventure hall, Mexico pavilion at Epcot.
•Tower of Terror, Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
•Dolphin Cove, SeaWorld Orlando.
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