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Live Active Cultures

Ultimately, these flaws don't prevent TurtleTrek from being a first-class example of what's digitally possible. Unfortunately, in the end, it just didn't engage me emotionally with the same depth as its predecessor. I met fellow audience members who found TurtleTrek an evocative, even tear-inducing experience. To me, though, something essential has been lost by making the actual animals a mere prelude to an encounter with their artificial avatars. SeaWorld attractions formerly leveraged theme park trappings to frame nature's majesty, but this addition literally reverses the emphasis.

The disconnect continues in the post-show, where many kids appeared too engrossed by the Wii-like Be a Turtle video games to take a gander at the real things swimming steps away. I understand the need to evolve technologically along with an increasingly ADD audience, but until it gets the budgets to beat Disney and Universal at their own game, SeaWorld is better off putting their namesake strong suit at center stage. Next year, SeaWorld's elaborate Antarctica project will remake the old-school penguin habitat with an innovative indoor dark ride. I just hope guests won't be pushed past the authentic frigid fowl in the rush to see their virtual versions.

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