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Building Penguin Paradise
A Very Hot Lunch
March 2014 - Building Penguin Paradise airs March 18, at 8:00pm on NatGeo Wild

Building Penguin Paradise airing March 18, at 8:00pm on NatGeo Wild tells the behind-the-scenes story of SeaWorld Orlando's construction of the most ambitious penguin attraction in the world. SubZero was subcontracted to help create the manmade habitat that includes 45-foot-high ice cliffs, freezing conditions, closer-than-ever animal encounters and a palatial home for more than 200 penguins.

”Antarctica is a huge, vast and sometimes alien world that most humans have never seen in person, nor will they ever get to,” says Brian Morrow, senior director of attraction development and design at SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment. So with painstaking detail, SeaWorld has replicated it.

Once inside the ride area, things start to feel much more frozen tundra and much less hot, humid Florida. It's all thanks to a sophisticated system that zaps the moisture from the air and cools the space. Guests are slowly acclimatized to the real cold of Antarctica via air chilling, air movement and air recycling as they move through decreasing temperature chambers that prep them for the chilliest temps at the end of the ride. Then guests hop aboard an eight-person, circular-ride vehicle that takes them past giant fake ice droplets dangle from the ceiling. A rainbow of pastels reflects off nearly every surface. And an original score of infectious orchestral music pumps through the speakers. When guests step off the ride, they are smack-dab in the middle of a drafty penguin habitat. To add to the chill factor, about 5 tons of snow is pumped in daily. Plus, the room next door has space for visitors to gawk at the birds from a different angle: A 144,300-gallon tank gives the penguins plenty of room to dart about. Every last detail has been carefully orchestrated — even the lighting will mimic that of Antarctica, letting the penguins know when it's time to breed. The exhibit opened in May of 2013.