Days 61 & 62 - Seaworld and a day of rest!

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October 31st 2011
Published: November 2nd 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

Yet again, another 2-day blog update... I know - We're slacking

We woke up pretty early yesterday, originally planning to be awake in time to catch the shuttle bus from our hotel to Seaworld at 8:35am. However, due to a weird daylight savings bug in Emma's phone, we thought that we were about 10 minutes early, we were actually 50 minutes too late! (USA doesn't change it's clocks for another week). This, of course, meant that we had missed the shuttle, so we instead caught the I-Ride trolley down to Seaworld, arriving there at around 10:30am.

As we arrived in the car park, the driver said that it would be a busy day (as we could see from the full car park) due to it being the last day of the Halloween event that they have on there, which is more aimed at kids than the one at Universal! We used our passes that we received from Discovery Cove the previous day to gain entry into the park, and picked up a map just after the turnstiles. Assuming that, as the park was busy, the two roller coasters would have pretty large queues, we decided to watch one of the shows first. We checked the show times and saw that there was a 'Pets Ahoy' show at 11am, so we headed to the building that this took place in.

We found a seat (it was already quite full in there) and waited for the show to start, which we read would consist of "cats, dogs, birds and even a pig performing high-action feats". The show started, and it was fairly similar to the Universal Animal Actors show, with different animals running onto the stage and performing various tricks (some without a trainer on the stage at all, which was pretty impressive by itself). As is common with this kind of thing, it is hard to explain exactly what the show involved; it was basically a lot of dancing, jumping, and climbing, mixed with funny skits to connect all of the different stunts that the animals were performing, such as a dog driving a car, a cat jumping on stepping stones above the audience, a dog skipping over a skipping rope (with one end held by a trainer and the other end held by another dog!) and plenty of birds swooping low over our heads! We didn't take any pictures of the show as we were watching it and didn't want to miss anything, but we will try and get some if/when we return to Seaworld over the next few days! We left the show very impressed by the animals, especially as we learned that all of the animals in the show were adopted from rescue centres.

Once out of the building, we decided to check what the queues for the rides were actually like, noting that a lot of the people there were with fairly young kids (lots of whom were dressed up in various halloween costumes!), and so most would probably not be able to ride anyway. We went first to Manta (another inverted, flying roller coaster) and saw that the queue time was 35 minutes, which was much shorter than we thought it would be! We joined the queue, which went through an aquarium full of lots of different types of rays, making it much more interesting than just standing there, shuffling along every now and again. The queue actually only took around 20 minutes, and we were soon on the ride. Like the flying coaster that we went on at Six Flags, this one also had a diving loop, which also felt very strange, but pretty cool! It was really smooth as it went round the track, and we had great views of the trees and water around us as we flew around, on occasion 'skimming' the water as we went low over it, causing spray to shoot up around the car.

We left the ride and had another look on our map at the show times. We noted that there was a killer whale show at 1pm, so we decided that we would head over that way and get something to eat before the show started. We walked over a bridge over a large lake over to 'Shamu Stadium', stopping off at a cafe to get some chicken tenders and fries for our dinner. We got our seats around 20 minutes before the show started, sitting right in the centre of the stalls with a great view of the pool below us (we didn't go too far forward, as there was a splash zone, meaning that if we sat any further forward, we were likely to get very wet!). The show started, and the killer whales entered the main pool, performing various jumps, spins, splashes (some of which completely soaked the entire front section of the audience!), flips and sliding along the platforms on the edge of the pool, receiving plenty of fish during the show from the trainers instructing them! The trainers never actually got into the water with them (we assume that they stopped doing this after a trainer was killed by one of the whales last year), but the show was still pretty amazing.

After the show had finished, we noticed that there was a 'Blue Horizons' show starting at 2pm at the whale and dolphin theatre, so we headed there next. Again, it's very hard to explain exactly what the show consisted of. The booklet says: "Venture beyond the horizon where dolphins, birds and spirited performers meet", and that's exactly what happened. The show was absolutely full of high energy stunts by both animals and the performing actors - who were dressed as birds and were suspended from high above the pool - with dolphins doing their usual flips, spins, splashes, pushing the trainers with their noses, letting the trainers ride stood up on their backs etc. There was so much going on at any one point that it was impossible to take it all in, it was pretty amazing and the finale was awesome. Pretty much every person, dolphin and bird in the stadium were doing their stunts all at the same time, couple this with the background music and lighting and it was a great end to the show.

After leaving the stadium, we decided that we would have a ride on the other big rollercoaster at the park - Kraken. It took us about 10 minutes to actually find the entrance, imagining that there would be a bit of a queue with a show finishing quite close near by, but when we actually got there we pretty much jumped straight into a seat. This ride is absolutely brilliant, it's reallllyyy smooth but still very fast, with what seemed like endless, continous loops and twists that really got your adrenaline pumping. After coming off, and agreeing how good it was, we went straight back around to the entrance and rode it one more time.

At this point it was about 3:15pm, and we knew from our map that in about 1 1/2 hours time there was another show we wanted to see starting, so we had some time to kill. We used this time to take a look around the park and have a look at the other animals they had on display. We walked past some alligators (all of which were rather smaller than we expected!) and went down to the underwater viewing area for the dolphins, where we watched as they swam past the window, some of them playing with/chasing each other as they went past. We then went to the 'Penguin Encounter' area, where we saw puffins and penguins standing around and swimming in the water. A few of the larger penguins were covered in fluffy feathers, which we learned as we listened to the member of staff giving a talk that they shed in a very short space of time once a year, leaving the smooth, black feathers that we are more familiar with!

Once we left the penguins, we were close to the sea lion stadium, where the next show would take place, however we were still too early to get a seat. Instead, we went around to a pool which contained sea lions and seals, some of which were swimming in the water, whilst others were lazing around in the sun on the rocks around the pool. We noticed a tiny baby sea lion feeding from his mother, and another slightly older one attempting to feed from its mother but instead was kind of pathetically rolling around, hitting its mother and making some very strange noises in the process! We moved around further and noticed that people were feeding them fish - you could buy a small tray of fish for $5, but as we didn't bring much money out with us today (we didn't bring a bag as you had to pay for the ride lockers), we decided to just watch others feed them. There was one particularly noisy one who was pretty much shouting at the people to feed him, and there were plenty of birds around who were trying to quickly swoop in to catch the fish before the sea lions could!

By around 4:15pm, we went back around to the entrance to the stadium so that we could get a seat ready for the show, which was called "Clyde and Seamore take Pirate Island'. As we waited for the stadium to fill up, a mime artist came out to entertain the crowd, and he mimicked/mocked/followed people as they entered the area. He was actually HILARIOUS (usually mime artists are just a bit silly really), and had us in stitches at one point as a woman in a wheelchair stood up to walk up the stairs, and he dropped to his knees looking up at the sky, mouthing "thank you"s and "it's a miracle" as the woman, oblivious to this, took her seat. The show eventually started, which took place on a ship which had marooned onto an island. There were two main sea lions who were the main stars of the show, but there were also a few otters that made appearances, at one point holding a little sword, chasing a female pirate around whilst making little squeaking noises! There was also an appearance from a large walrus near the end of the show, who did a little dance as he wiggled his bum to the music! The show was pretty funny (made more funny by the many mistakes made by the trainers in it - the sea lions were doing a better job!), and although it was quite obviously more aimed at kids, we still enjoyed watching the sea lions perform their tricks.

Once we were out of the show, we headed around to the 'Wild Arctic' attraction; the only main attraction in the park that we had not yet done (other than the water ride which we didn't do today as Craig had the camera/our money in his pockets). We queued for around 10 minutes as we wanted to take the helicopter simulator ride that would 'take us' to the base station to observe the animals there. We took a seat in the room (which was set up like the inside of a helicopter) in front of a large screen and were told to fasten our seatbelts. The ride started and it really felt like we were flying over the arctic snow, with the seats moving to make it seem even more realistic. We then hit a storm and it got ROUGH! We were literally being thrown forwards and side-to-side as we crashed through the mountains - it's a good job those seatbelts were there else we really would have gone flying, it was really not expected! We eventually safely 'landed' at the base station, and we exited the simulator to the exhibits. Here, we saw a polar bear, who was just lying around looking pretty tired - his eyes were just about open! There were also some walruses swimming around in another pool, and some beluga whales in another pool, although we couldn't get any decent pictures of either of these as it was so dark in the room!

Thankfully, we didn't have to get a helicopter ride back (we weren't sure if we could take another battering from a return journey!), and we walked out of the building back into the park at around 6pm. We knew that the shuttle bus would be turning up at around 6:30pm to take us back to the hotel, so we headed towards the exit, taking a few pictures on the way out of the Seaworld lighthouse with the park behind it. The bus turned up right on time, dropping us back to our hotel by around 6:45pm. We spent the night watching TV and playing on the netbook, eventually going to bed at around 12:30am.

Today, we didn't really have anything planned, other than having a more relaxing day and giving our feet a bit of a rest. We did our usual thing and didn't bother setting an alarm, although some roadworks seemed to start ridiculously early (6:45am!!!) and woke Craig up - Emma stayed asleep for another few hours. As we said, there was no plan for today, so we didn't rush to get ready, instead we ate our breakfasts in bed and lounged around until dinner time watching T.V. When we started to get hungry again (literally like 1pm by this point), we dragged ourselves out of bed and got ready to find somewhere to get dinner. Craig had seen a couple of adverts on TV that said that the 'McRib' sandwich was back at McDonalds, and fancied trying one, and since we knew there was a McDonalds about a mile up the road, settled on heading in that direction. It took us a little while to get there, and we were definitely ready for food, so went straight inside - by the way, this McDonalds is huge, it's even got it's own video arcade and gourmet sections! Craig ordered the McRib combo, with Emma having the McRib sandwich by itself and used a free medium fries coupon from the monopoly promotion to get her side. We shared the re-fillable drink and split the costs - about $5 each in total, not bad really!

After eating, we made our way back down International Drive towards the hotel, stopping in pretty much every gift/souvenir shop along the way to get a few ideas for gifts - also stopping to get a sandwich each for later from Walgreens. We finally reached the hotel at about 3:30pm and went back to the room. Rather than sit inside for the rest of the day, we thought we should make the most of what sunshine was left and go outside to the pool area and take a dip. We got changed into our swimwear and went around the corner from our room to the entrance of the pool. There were one or two people sitting off to one side, but nobody actually in or around the pool, which was cool because it meant we had the entire thing to ourselves (it's not that big so a lot of people would have crowded it quickly). We set our stuff down on some sunbeds at the side, and dipped our toes to check the temperature... BRRRRR! It felt pretty damn cold in the pool, so Emma peer-pressured Craig into jumping in first to "get used to it" and then tell her "what it's like in the water" - it turns out it was absolutely bloody freezing and Craig almost died of shock! lol. Emma joined in shortly, and after about 5-10 minutes in the water we soon got used to it. We swam around for a bit, doing some lengths and widths, before getting out and lounging on the sunbeds soaking in the rays. When we'd had enough, we came back to the room to check our e-mails, Facebook etc but unfortunately our in-room internet seems to have completely broken and won't connect. Craig took the laptop out into the lobby to try and get it to work there, staying long enough to upload the photos from yesterday and watch a couple of videos, before noticing the battery was getting low and coming back to the room. Emma was relaxed on the bed with her DS and that's basically the way we've stayed for the rest of the night; just watching TV and playing on the DS. Tomorrow we've got an early start as we need to be at Universal by 8:30am to catch the shuttle bus to Busch Gardens down in Tampa Bay!

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