Tuesday, 9 July 2013

SeaWorld, Orlando

We awoke in good time on Saturday morning.  Initially we had no intention of doing any theme parks over the weekend.  After 4 days of Disney, we needed a break on the Friday. 

We got to SeaWorld for about 9.30, paid our usual parking fee of $15 and drove on in.  We parked quite near the entrance, so it was very easy to walk.  We picked up our tickets, and headed straight into the park.  We knew there was a Shamu show starting at 11, so we decided to take a leisurely walk round.  On the way we stopped to apply sunscreen.  We realized we were near the dolphin nursery, so we stopped and had a look

They were absolutely beautiful.  There were about 7 dolphins in this tank, and there was one youngster, who was very small.  It was absolutely amazing to watch them.  They came up real close to where we were standing.  

We carried on on our walk to Shamu.  SeaWorld is such an immense park, with lots of walking, and it was hot, real hot.  We parked the buggy up and headed into the show.  As we got there pretty early, we were able to get seats just inside the splash zone, near the end of an aisle.  We still had a good 30 minutes to wait,  so gave the boys iPods to keep them occupied.  The show began, loads of video of the world on the big screens.  Then the whales came out.  I still get a tingling feeling when I think about it, it nearly made me cry (and it takes a lot to get me emotional!!!).  They were so beautiful, graceful and BIG!!

Paul got some excellent photos, which I will put on Instagram or Facebook once I get home.  There were 5 whales 'performing'.  I know animals performing like this can get quite a few people's backs up. I felt a bit funny about it, but still enjoyed the show.  Before we left for Orlando,  I did a bit of research on SeaWorld and the killer whales and the other animals in captivity.  This did a bit to alleviate my thoughts.  It's a very sensitive subject.  SeaWorld Orlando has been through a few hardships with regards to their trainers.  A female trainer was killed a few years ago, and because of this, the trainers are not allowed to get in the water with the killer whales anymore.  I think this is a wise decision.  At the end of the day, these are wild animals, albeit most where born in captivity.  Opens up a whole big debate on nature vs nurture.  Any who, I digress

So Sebastian really does not like shows.  We think he may be claustrophobic, or does not like not knowing where the next whale was coming from.  But he made the show quite unpleasant, particularly for the people sitting around us.  I can only apologize profusely to those who may have been near us.

The show lasted 30 minutes, and the boys really enjoyed it (except Seb).  They particularly liked being splashed by the whales.  Luckily we had sat far enough up the splash zone, that we did not get too wet.  

We went outside, and decided to get an early lunch.  We had, included in our admission ticket an all you can eat plan.  So we headed to the nearest eatery.  This happened to be Mango Joe's, a Mexican based place.  Paul got a mixed meat burrito, while I went for the burrito bowl.  The boys had kids meal in a special Shamu box.  It was needed, and did not taste too bad.  

After lunch we headed to Wild Arctic.  This was a walk through aquarium/exhibition, supposed to be like you are an Arctic Explorer.  We entered as there were people having a close encounter with the beluga whales.  This was amazing to watch.  People feeding these whales, then the interaction between the whales and the trainers was beautiful.  You could feel a real relationship. Unfortunately, we did not get any good photos, trust me it was great. From there we headed to the polar bear.  He was asleep.  Then on to the walrus.  Again, what an absolutely massive creature, yet so graceful under water.  We were able to see all the animals from above the surface and below.  Amazing 

From here, we headed to Shamus Happy Harbor.  This is an area designed for kids.  Paul and Oliver were ale to go on the Shamu Express, a kiddies roller coaster with no queue.  The rest of us walked around in the shade, staying under the water misters.  There is a splash area too, but we managed to bypass it, and headed to the Seven Seas Railway, a train ride for kids, where everyone except Paul rode.  Oliver and Isaac even went on without any adult supervision.


From there, we walked up towards the Shark Encounter, pausing in the Sea Garden on the way.  The Shark Encounter was ok, it has one of the longest under water tunnels in Florida, with plenty of sharks swimming over your heads.  You are even able to feed them from the top, if you are prepared to pay.  There is also Sharks Underwater Grill and Bar to eat in, if you fancy an upmarket meal.  You get to eat with the sharks.  Unfortunately our wristbands did not cover this, such a shame, as the kids would have loved it.  

By the time we got out, it was nearly 2pm.  We got some drinks, it was so hot.  We realized we were near the Sea Lion and Otter theatre, and the show was about to start.  We thought we would risk it with Seb.  Mistake.  We were able to go in, just after the show had started.  We got ok seats.  But Seb was not happy.  Paul took him out, and Oliver, Isaac and I enjoyed a very humorous, well performed show, with a strange looking walrus........

We then attempted to go through the new Antarctica exhibit.  It was heaving, stupidly busy.  There was a 120 minute wait just to go in and see the penguins, so we quickly bypassed it.  We were all roasting hot, and absolutely shattered by now.  We headed to the Jewels of the Sea Aquarium, conveniently hidden beneath the Journey to Atlantis log flume ride.  Man, I wish the kids had been old enough to ride it, would have been good to cool off.

It's funny, up until we hit the Antarctic area, the park has seemed quiet.  After that,there just felt like there was people everywhere. That could have been down to the time of day.  It was nearing 3pm, and we were all starting to wilt.  We made the executive decision to leave fairly soon.  None of them had slept, although they all needed.  We headed out via Dolphin Cove.  We started off in the underwater viewing area.  Again, absolutely magical, and air conditioned.  We enjoyed cooling off, and the boys loved watching the dolphins 


We ended up walking out via the dolphin feeding area.  Again, of you are prepared to part with some more cash, you can feed the dolphins.  We declined to do this, and instead headed to Stingray Lagoon, to watch the stingrays.

We wanted to eat on the way out, but could not find anywhere that accepted the bands.  So we thought, screw it, and stopped at Cypress Bakery on the way out,  2 coffees, 1 refill of our big drunks cup, a large half chocolate dipped cookie, and a humongous rice crispie cake later, we all felt rejuvenated, and ready to face the sweltering hot, but short walk back to the car. 


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