Another day and another trip to a water park. This time to Aquatica, the entry for which was included with our Discovery Cove ticket. So we are managing to squeeze quite good value from that with a trip to Seaworld as well.
We started off with a little float down Loggerhead Lane in our rings. I find this lazy river to be a bit shallow and usually end up walking along the bottom. But it’s nice as you go through the big aquarium and also get to see the Commerson Dolphins in the tank where people come shooting down the tubes (down Dolphin Plunge).
After going around a few times we thought we would try out Roa’s Rapids, which we’d never been into before, and turned out to be huge fun. The water pulls you round so fast that it’s actually difficult to stop and get out. After a very short time in the water we decided that the easiest thing was to grab lifejackets and let them do the work so we could just float and whizz around.
Literally had to pull Rosemary out, partially as she wanted to carry on going around it and partially because she nearly got carried away by the water at the exit point. Very cool though and as close as you can get to flying in water.
After getting out we had a look around the shops.
We spent a bit longer at the park and played around Cutback Cove, which is the beach area at Aquatica and has a wave machine which comes on periodically. But after a while we decided to get dried off and changed.
Before we went we did go and watch the Comerson Dolphin’s for a little while.
As there was still some time that evening we visited the outlets, eventually managing to park up as it was so busy, and did spend about $2 buying a Space Slug hand puppet at the Disney outlet….I mean why wouldn’t you.
As as we hadn’t done quite enough swimming for the day, Rosemary decided to take a night time swim at the hotel. The water was way too cold for anyone else but she didn’t seem to mind!
Off to SeaWorld today. Having been to Discovery Cove we have our lanyards and this entitles us to access to SeaWorld and Aquatica for 7 days after visiting Discovery Cove. So at least we didn’t have to pay for our tickets. We did pre-purchase the all-day-dining tickets though so we headed there for opening time to get breakfast and then see how much we could actually eat by the end of the day. We assumed that it was a challenge!!!
We went to breakfast and got standard type food (eggs, bacon, pastries etc) at Seafire Grill.
After that we wandered through the park and first went to the dolphin nursery. There were a couple of small ones in there and the mums were starting to teach them to jump. There was one quite small one but couldn’t get a photo unfortunately.
We wandered round a little more with the plan to catch the next performance of the Blue Horizons show, which was the next thing we wanted to see. Also wanted to make sure we saw an early show because we wanted to have time for both the Clyde and Seamore show and the Christmas night time Shamu show. Show was good as usual, although felt a little cut short so not sure if the dolphins weren’t co-operating fully and they had to shorten it (which I know has been the case in the past).
After the show we thought we’d hit our all-day-dining option again and this time went to get lunch at the Expedition Café in the Antarctic.
We then went to see the manatees, which are a favourite animal as they’re so gentle and get a really hard time from inconsiderate boat owners. Like they haven’t go enough to worry about without being hit by a speed boat!
It was lunchtime when we got there (although it’s probably always eating time for them) and they were chowing down on some lettuce.
As you go underground to see the manatees this is also the turtle show, Turtle Trek, and as you wait to go into this there are the underwater viewing areas. Next to the manatees are the sea turtles and fish, and Rosemary got badly photobombed by a particularly inquisitive fish.
We walked over the Shark Encounter, where there are lots of really good aquarium exhibits, but Rosemary got eaten!
Unfortunately they had removed a shark which used to hang from the ceiling and we had taken a similar picture each time we had visited. So were quite disappointed not to get one this time as it was a nice record of the different visits. The previous ones are shown below.
We never really go to Seaworld for the rides but did go a few in Shamu’s Happy Harbour. Rosemary did insist on getting the manatee on the carousel.
We really wanted to get the shows in but had to head back across the park to the Sealion Theatre to see the Seamore and Clyde Christmas Show. Very good show and as always the mime was extremely funny.
It was completely dark this time and we spent a while in the Christmas Village area looking at the decorations and Christmassy stuff that was for sale, although we didn’t buy anything. Rudolph was there meeting and greeting but the queues were very long.
I seem to remember having dinner at Mango Joes using our wristbands and then went to see the Shamu night time show, Shamu’s Christmas Miracle. This was also probably the last time we would see a show like this as (quite rightly) they are stopping the Orca shows and by the time we come back they wont be going on anymore. It’s sort of disappointing to know we’d never see this again but at the same time it’s good to know that the animals will be able to behave more “naturally”.
And that was pretty much the end of our day at Seaworld. We did spend some time watching the Christmas Trees and the Sea of Trees show where the lights all go in sync to the music.
We made one last use of our all-you-can-eat wristbands at the Seafire Grill and then it was time to leave.
Rosemary’s favourite thing today, a visit to a waterpark!
Seems strange to be going to an outdoor water park just a couple of days after Christmas! But it was a beautiful day with bright blue skies, so it seemed like a really good idea and out first water park of our trip.
We whizzed into the park really quick with our Magicbands.
We got changed and went to find a locker for our stuff. The system for lockers had changed since our last visit and it is now done on a touchscreen. Bit confusing and took us a couple of goes to get it right but got sorted in the end. So grabbed the GoPro and we headed for to the beach area. Blizzard Beach allows inflatable rings into the main beach, Melt Away Bay, and there is a wave machine running quite a bit of the time.
After bobbing around for a bit on the rafts Rosemary decided to grab a life jacket and do some swimming about. We headed into the deeper area closer to the cliffs so we could really get hit by the wave machine.
After a good while swimming about we went exploring around the park and spent a little time in Tikes Peak, where there are some kid friendly stuff and Rosemary tested out some of the rides.
The ring ride was quite popular with her and she had a good few goes on that, but the waterslide was a complete failure and apparently the slowest, most boring slide she’d ever been on. She had to shuffle off the end of it just to make it all the way down….
There was also some cargo nets which you use to cross over some “ice bergs” which was quite challenging.
The lazy river at Blizzard Beach is called the Cross Country Creek and we spent some time in that as well. As the theme of the park is that it snowed in Florida and melted quickly there are water falls round the river, which are really cold. Rosemary did find a way of avoiding them though.
We had a very chilled (no pun intended) day although unfortunately towards the end of the day we had got changed and were just getting some drinks and doughnuts when I checked my phone only to see that Carrie Fisher had died. Rosemary was very upset by this as she had dressed as Princess Leia at a recent Star Wars show. Took the shine off our day a bit.
We had dinner at Perkin’s Diner that night and treated ourselves to deserts.
Boxing Day and not such an early start, but breakfast at the hotel and then heading out to Hollywood Studios for our first visit there of this trip. There was lots of work going on there and a lot of parts were closed off so we were only doing 1 trip there this holiday and we were going to do everything we wanted on that day.
We started off with a visit to Goofy, who was still in his Santa outfit.
We then headed to the Star Wars Launch Bay. Hadn’t been in here before and there were a lot of props and a couple of meet-and-greets.
First we met Chewie who was very pleased to see Rosemary wearing her Star Wars dress and I was wearing a Chewie t-shirt which made him laugh.
After seeing Chewie we went to see Kylo Ren. Slightly different attitude shall we say! He was being particularly moody that day apparently and wasn’t please to see my shirt. He posed for 1 photo and then sent us on our way as he didn’t want to conspire with filthy rebels.
We then had a look round at some of the props and the little scenes you can have your photograph taken in. I don’t think any of the models or props were screen used ones and were most likely recreations for the area.
Rosemary played a bit of holochess, and she did let the Wookie win.
As we were leaving we got accosted by a Jawa, but we sent him on his way and didn’t look like he stole anything.
We had booked a few Fastpasses for the day and first one was the Great Movie Ride. We’d never done it before and glad we did (especially as now writing this ages later the ride has now closed and is gone forever). Don’t think Rosemary was that bothered by it but we both liked it.
We then caught the Star Wars show which runs on the stage with all the characters. Very good and managed to get in quite near the front.
In what was turning into quite a Star Wars day we then used our second FastPass to go on Star Tours.
The ride was quite different from last time we were on it and the sequences we got were all different. And included the section on Jakku with the shuttle following the Falcon through the wrecked Star Destroyers. Coming out the ride we squeezed onto the Speeder Bike (despite it being really crowded there due to closed walkways and lots of people just milling about).
And our final FastPass was for Toy Story Midway Mania. Lots of fun as usual but no ride photos as the 3D means nothing comes out in any case.
We did some shopping after this, had some snacks/food and just took it easy for a bit. There were 2 fireworks shows that evening and we wanted to see both. The first was the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Fireworks show. We thought we wouldn’t get to see this as it had been stopped to make way for the Christmas themed show. But that had been getting some bad reviews and they fortunately reinstated the Star Wars show a few weeks before we came. Was really good and the projections onto the Chinese Theatre worked amazingly.
I managed to get the whole show on video and will upload that eventually onto YouTube.
At the end of the show we decided to visit the Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream display, which is something we’d never been into before. We actually didn’t even realise that Moana was in there doing a meet-and-greet. So took the opportunity and the very short queues to see her.
The second fireworks show was due to start by this time and we headed back onto Hollywood Boulevard. We were quite a way back this time though. The show (Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!) was OK but I can see why they brought back the Star Wars fireworks as it wasn’t nearly as good.
And that pretty much brought our day to a close. We got everything we wanted to do achieved but look forward to all the closed off areas reopening so that the park is back to it’s old self.
Yeah, Christmas Day and we are spending it at Epcot. After a lot of research we concluded that Epcot would be the least busy of the parks and also provide the most stuff to do which might not have long wait times. Magic Kingdom is meant to be packed and they often close access to the park within a few hours of opening because of the crowd levels.
We had some breakfast at the hotel and then headed down. Crowd levels weren’t too bad and we parked up quite close to the entrance, so no need to wait for the tram and just walked to the entrance. We had a few FastPasses booked for the day just in case lines were long but first we discovered that we could see some of the Pixar characters (quite hidden away really) and there was virtually no queue.
So first up we met Baymax.
Then we met Sadness and Joy in the control room.
Our first Fastpass was to meet the Disney Pals, Mickey, Minnie and Goofy. We were hoping they might be in Christmas clothes but they were just in their normal outfits.
Our second Fastpass was for The Seas, so we headed over to there as it was just next door anyway. Great ride and we got straight onto it. After going to the ride we went round the aquarium areas and met Bruce and Chum.
After going on the ride and looking round the aquarium we started to head out round the World Pavilion. Lots of photos but will only post a few below.
As we were walking round and it was sometime until lunch we decided it was snack time and got a caramel apple (I think from the shop in Germany).
When we got to the American pavilion we got some family photos done by the Photopass photographer.
And as Santa had finished his duties for the year, his chair was free and we could use his chairs for a photo.
For our Christmas Day lunch we had fully tradition and had booked Tepan Edo in the Japan pavilion. Was absolutely delicious and cooked in front of us. We shared a table with 2 other families (a couple and a 3) which was nice and we had a great lunch. Rosemary thoroughly enjoyed it and loved having it cooked in front of us and the tricks the chef did, making a volcano out of onions.
The lunch I booked was a package so we could get seats for the Candlelight Processional which runs just in front of the American Pavilion and has a celebrity narrator, and is really a church service/carol concert. For Christmas Day the narrator was Jodi Benson. Not a name I instantly knew but she did the voice of the Little Mermaid and Barbie in the Toy Story movies. Was an excellent “performance” with lots of Christmas carols.
After the show we got as far as France and got an ice cream. By this time it was already getting dark.
By this time we started to head back towards the areas around the entrance. We still had one Fastpass left (which was late in the day but the only time I could get one) which was for the Frozen ride in Norway. The queues were quite long when we got there as we found out the ride had been down earlier in the day. But we didn’t have to wait too long (about 20 minutes?) and had our first ride on it. Unfortunately the ride photo never came through. It’s on a clever system which picks up your Magicband details and is meant to add it to your account. But clearly failed that night, which is a great shame.
We didn’t wait around for the fireworks because we wanted to get back to the hotel so Rosemary could open her Christmas presents.
While at the Christmas Tree me and Rosemary got a Turkey Sandwich as an evening snack. It was great, massive amounts of turkey, mashed potato and cranberry.
And that was pretty much the end of our Christmas Day at Epcot. We headed back to our hotel so Rosemary could open her presents.
Back to Magic Kingdom today, and Christmas Eve already.
The weather today was amazing with bright blue skies and very warm. So different to experience weather like this so close to Christmas when we would normally have grey skies and probably rain in the UK. So we definitely were going to make the most of it. Plan was to stay all day and see the fireworks at the end of the day, so we didn’t rush down to the park. We were a little concerned about how busy it would be but it actually wasn’t too bad at all considering it was Christmas Eve.
Rosemary was wearing her amazing Christmas dress.
On the way in we grabbed some more photos in front of the tree, making the most of that free Photopass.
We had a little browse through the shops on Main Street. And found a giant rice crispie cake to add to our “Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head” series.
We had Fastpasses sorted during the day but first we went into Country Bear’s Jamboree. An attraction we’d never been to before. Sorry no pictures (they didn’t come out well). But after that we used our first Fastpass for the Jungle Cruise. For Christmas everything is rethemed as the Jingle Cruise and the puns are absolutely as terrible as usual.
Afterwards we were in the Adventureland area and decided to visit the Tiki Room and watch that. Didn’t want to exhaust ourselves as we were planning to stay late, and it was a good chance to sit down in the cool. Think we might have been our first time actually going into the show.
After that we used our second Fastpass to meet some Princesses. Elena and Cinderella this time.
We had lunch reservations but had a bit of time before that and could hear something going on around the castle. We went to investigate and it was a dance party. So we stopped to watch and Rosemary joined in a little bit.
What was good was the different characters in the parade, including those from Zootropolis.
By this time we could go for our lunch reservation at Jungle Cruise Canteen.
This was a new restaurant from our last visit (I think) and although the food was OK it wasn’t that impressive and thought it was a little pricey for what it was. Was nice though and a good experience. Just not sure I’d worry about it again.
When we had finished with lunch we tried to catch the Christmas parade but were a little stuck on the Adventureland side with a lot of people in between. So it was a bit further away than would have been ideal, but we did still get to see Santa before he goes off on his busy night.
Our next Fastpass was for Pirates of the Caribbean, so we headed back into Adventureland. Stopping on the way to visit the Robinson’s Treehouse. Rosemary was a bit unimpressed. No ride features or animatronics.
And then onto Pirates! No photos from the ride as it was so dark. Great ride and that drop at the start still catches me out.
We then had some time to wander around the park and do some browsing in the shops. The rides were pretty busy but honestly we weren’t that worried and it was just a good opportunity to see the park at night. We thought the castle looked amazing all lit up at night.
But when all the lights came on it was even more amazing.
We weren’t feeling that hungry but wanted a snack so headed to Gaston’s, which was really quiet. We got warm cinnamon rolls and coffee. And the coffee is still the worst ever.
The cinnamon rolls aren’t quite as big as your head but are pretty big.
Gaston’s looked really good at night. We’ve not spent that much time at the parks after dark because Rosemary would get tired and we’d head back. So it was really good to see things.
We bumped into one of the Photopass photographers by the Little Mermaid ride and got this great photo.
We checked out the store at Storybook Circus and Rosemary had a short play in the water bit there.
Julia really wanted to see the Hall of President’s (again something we have never done) and it would give us a little break while we sat down. Photography and video isn’t allowed in the hall and so just this picture from the lobby with the Seal of the United States. Interesting show, although some of the animatronics were a bit creepy.
By this time it was nearly the start of the fireworks show so we headed back towards the castle. The position we ended up in wasn’t ideal but we still got a great view. The light show on the castle is great and the fireworks were excellent.
By this time it was getting really late so we headed out of the park (along with pretty much everyone else) to head back to the hotel. We had a busy day the following day so wanted to get as much sleep as we could.
Back at the hotel it was just time to hang up things ready for Santa.
Off to Discovery Cove today and big day for Rosemary as she is going to get to swim with a dolphin. May be an understatement that she was quite excited by this.
We got there nice and early, well before the pools had opened up, so we could complete our check-in and have some breakfast, and then we would have an absolutely complete day for all the activities.
While at checking we met a very nice sloth.
We were allocated a mid-morning swim with the dolphins which was just perfect, and then went and got some breakfast. Nice buffet selection and didn’t skimp on the portion sizes.
By this time the swim areas were opening open and we got some wetsuits and went to the river to do a little snorkeling.
We stopped for a quick drink and then went for out dolphin swim. Although this was not Rosemary’s first time at Discovery Cove it was her first time in the water with the dolphins, as you have to be over 6 to do that. It was an amazing experience with feeding the dolphin, petting them and also being pulled along by them in the water. We spent time with Thelma and Lunar. We obviously bought the photos which the professional photographers took as it was the only way to get them, plus we then got pictures of us all together.
After our encounter we went for some lunch (everything is included in the day including all your food, snacks and drinks). Sitting outside having just swam with dolphins 2 days before Christmas was a bit surreal, as it was freezing cold at home.
After lunch we visited the Grand Reef.
The river is maintained a really warm temperature but since there are the fish swimming in the reef the temperature is much lower, and it’s quite a shock when you first get into it. We snorkeled around for a while looking at the fish and following the rays around.
We also spent some time looking into the shark area, which is all behind glass but you sort of forget it’s there which makes the experience that much better.
But it was still quite chill being in there and Rosemary was getting quite cold after a while.
Julia decided to go and get showered and I went with Rosemary for a few final goes round the river area. Virtually had to drag her out of the water.
And unfortunately that was the end to our day at Discovery Cove. An awesome day.