Off to Seaworld today, using our free entry which comes with the Discovery Cove tickets. This gives you 14 days entry to Seaworld in addition to your Discovery Cove entry, as well as Aquatica, so it’s pretty good value I think.
Our first stop was to go to the aquarium which is underneath Manta, which is a pretty hairy ride and not one you will find me on!
The aquarium is a little hidden but well worth a visit. There is a very large tank full of fish, rays and sharks.
And a tank full of clown fish which you can stick your head into.
New since our last visit is the Empire of the Penguin ride and the whole of the Antarctica section. The ride comes in mild or wild and we picked mild (which had a much shorter queue as well). The ride was okay but nothing amazing and unfortunately you have to ride it to get to see the penguins.
They are at the end of the ride and very noisy, and smelly.
We had some lunch in the Antartica cafe and then went over to see the Manatees. This area has changed since our last visit as well (when you couldn’t see the manatees at all) and there is now a 360 degree film as part of the experience.
Took a quick break to have an ice cream, and of course you can’t not have a Shamu ice cream at Seaworld.
The Seamore and Clyde show had been changed a bit for the Christmas holidays and we went over to see this. The pirate ship was all decorated and the show was all Christmas themed.
Finally for this day we took a walk around the walk. Seaworld had really been decorated up for the holidays with lights and trees pretty much everywhere.
And in the middle of the lake was the Sea of Trees, which were a huge number of trees all lit up and periodically the lights would go to the music.
Our treat this trip (again) was a visit to Discovery Cove. This is a limited entry park (think it’s 1000 people per day) which is run by Seaworld and is just across the road from the main park.
We had some breakfast once we had checked in and then got into our wetsuits to swim.
Rosemary loved playing with her mask and snorkel, although we didn’t think she was really old enough to use the snorkel in the water itself.
The lazy river was a lot of fun and it had changed a lot since our last visit with the addition of otters and marmosets. Couldn’t get any pictures of the marmosets on my waterproof video but the otters were fun and you could swim up to the front of their enclosure.
For this trip we decided to visit all four of the Disney parks, and bought a 5 day ticket. So to kick off our visits we decided to go to Hollywood Studios (we had also tried to plan out visits using one of the crowd planners so we would be at each park on quieter days). We’d never been here before, so this would be our first visit.
The park is all 1950’s Hollywood themed and there is a entrance street running up from main ticket entrances. There are really tall palms on most of the streets to add to the California look.
At the top of the street is the Mickey Sorcerer’s Hat which forms a stage and most of the rest of the park radiates out from here.
We decided to go into the Art of Animation area first which is where there are a number of character meets and greets. Rosemary had never done one of these before so we weren’t sure how she would react. When we visited Peppa Pig World she was a bit freaked by the Peppa there (as she was “bigger than I thought she would be”). While waiting to see Mickey we weren’t too sure.
But when she actually got there everything was fine.
After seeing Mickey we really wanted to see Minnie as well. Initially we were really confused as to where she was. Mickey was in the hall and there was also Mr Incredible and Frozone in the hall (although we didn’t meet them). But no sign of Minnie anywhere. We asked a cast member and were told where to go, which was a queue by a door. Turns out Minnie has her own dressing room to meet guests in which was really lovely and meant it was really private as well as it was just you in there.
After we left we went to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show which was just outside. This is a live action show which whizzes through the film at some speed. Was a good show though.
And then we went onto the Backlot Tour. This starts off with some stunt effects which you watch. There are a lot of water effects and felt sorry for the volunteers as they got drenched.
The tour then goes onto a tram which takes you round some exhibits including cars and planes from movies, and a couple of props from Star Wars.
We stopped for a snack at the Writers Stop, Mickey gingerbread man for Rosemary and coffee for us.
We had hoped to get Fastpasses for the Buzz Lightyear Midway Shootout but they were basically gone by the time we got there. But we did catch a few more shows during the day, including the Muppets 3D.
And we got a few more Meet and Greets in as well. Queues weren’t too bad, although took sometime to see Mike and Sulley.
Goofy was great and loved my t-shirt, calling over the photographer and “minder” to see it. It was great that he was all dressed up for Christmas.
We continued our walk around the park, including seeing the AT-AT near the Star Tours ride. Rosemary was too small for that so we’ll do it another time.
We got something to eat at Rosie’s All American Cafe (seemed appropriate) and then went to see the Beauty and the Beast show. This is a big production with lots of singing and dancing. Rosemary loved it.
And finally we headed back to the Streets of America where the Osborne Family Specticle of Dancing Lights was on. This was really amazing, with Christmas lights absolutely everywhere.
There are a couple of videos of it on my Flickr page which can be found here and here.
The lights are also meant to work with the new Mickey hats which have light up ears and the ears and meant to sync together. Couldn’t really see this happening and they all looked like they were flashing independently, but they were nice.
And with that it was time to leave as it was getting very late and we were all pretty exhausted.
So first day out on our trip and something that was for me as much as Rosemary, with a trip to the Kennedy Space Center.Was really looking forwards to this as we’ve not visited since the Space Shuttle exhibit opened and having missed out on seeing a launch (it is STS-125 which was the Hubble service mission, which got scrubbed at the time we were there and ended up happening months later) I was looking forward to seeing Atlantis.
Anyway, we headed out on the road for ~1hour drive to the Atlantic coast at Titusville.
There were quite a few Christmas decorations about including a giant NASA bauble.
Our first part of the day was to head out on the bus tour which takes you past the launch pads and onto the Saturn V hall. As you leave they take some green-screen photos which we’ve never even bothered to look at before. But this one of Rosemary was so cute we couldn’t pass it up.
A lot of work was going on around the pads as NASA closes down the Shuttle programme and sets up as a commercial launch facility with companies like Space-X. One of the Shuttle pads had completely gone and was being replaced with the equipment needed for other rockets etc.
I suspect though that I may have been the only one who was finding that interesting though. But we did see some wild manatees in the rivers and streams around the Space Center. There were at least 3 and possibly 5.
After watching the recreation of the Apollo 8 launch in the firing room we went through into the main hall. Rosemary was instantly pretty blown away by the size of the Saturn V. It is after all the size of a skyscraper.
After looking around for a little while we stopped to have sum lunch at the Lunch Pad underneath the Lunar Lander. We carried on looking around afterwards seeing some thing which probably didn’t mean as much to Rosemary, including Jim Lovell’s flightsuit and the Apollo 14 command capsule.
We did get to touch the moonrock that is on display.
We got the first, of what turned out to be many, pressed pennies. She could spot these machines from miles off and every quarter and shiny penny we got in change ended up being saved back for them.
And finally before leaving we “excited through the giftshop”.
After leaving the Saturn V exhibit hall we got the bus back to the main complex and went to visit the Space Shuttle exhibit. They have Atlantis on display here (the others are at other museums now) in an orbit position in a large hall.
As part of the exhibit they have a mock up of the cockpit which you can play in. Unfortunately the controls don’t actually do anything, which would have been a nice touch.
There are also some tunnels which you can crawl through which are part of the International Space Station exhibit in the hall. I crawled in with Rosemary but we both freaked a bit when the tubes became clear and decided to head back the way we came. A bit of camera trickery made it look more impressive than it was.
After this there wasn’t a specific thing we wanted to see but we noticed that you could meet Santa. Expecting a huge queue we decided to take a look and were a bit surprised that there was absolutely no one there. We spent about 10 minutes with Santa and Mrs Claus and he got us to take all sorts of photos with him, which was a lot of fun.
It was getting a bit late and we were hot so we stopped for ice cream, with Space Dots (frozen strawberry balls).
We just about had time to look around the Rocket Garden and try out the various capsules. How they got into these with all their gear I don’t know. Must have been hugely claustrophobic.
A final look around the Rocket Garden and then we drove back to Orlando.
Time to go to Florida again and this time we’ve got a little more time (14 nights compared to just 10 the first time) so we can pack a bit more in and see some more things while we are there.
So we left home and headed to Gatwick. As we had planned ahead we were travelling this time with a car seat which I’d bought off eBay for the grand sum of £5. Hiring one in the States ran to about $16 a day and as it is part of a child’s luggage allowance it seems like a sensible thing to do. So I dropped Julia and Rosemary off at the front of the terminal with some luggage which could be loaded onto a trolley. I then went and parked the car up in the long stay parking at the North Terminal and got the bus to the terminal with the rest of the luggage.
After checking everything in (including some confusion over the carseat, which the check in lady had put the wrong name onto somehow) we went through customs and security and got some breakfast. Fruit and pancakes seemed like an appropriately American breakfast.
We had only a little bit of looking around and it was already time to head to the gate.
And unlike our first trip, this time Rosemary got her own seat. Which was a relief as she was really a bit big to sit on my lap for 9 hours the first time.
The flight was super uneventful and we watched some movies and in no time at all we landed in Orlando. We had a bit of a wait going through the immigration lines (I think another flight had arrived shortly before us) but eventually made it out to pick up the car and head to the hotel. Of course they asked us to upgrade and of course it turned out that they had no economy or budget cars available when we got into the parking garage. But we ended up with a nice VW Jetta, which was very nice to drive.
We had booked a suite room at the Residence Inn at Seaworld through the British Airways sale. At the time of booking the 2 room suite was cheaper than than the 1 room suite so of course this is what we booked for our stay. We started to get a bit worried at check-in as it was taking a little while and we thought our booking had been lost. Turned out that the check-in clerk couldn’t believe we’d got the room so cheap. So looks like we got a good deal for our stay!
The room was really nice with 2 bedrooms, one with 2 queen sized beds and the other with 1 plus we had 2 bathrooms so there was never a queue in the mornings. We had a good kitchen but the only problem was there was only 1 sofa so I can’t image staying there with 6 (or 8 people which is possible if the sofa is used as a bed).
Although it was quite late by this time we were all a little hungry so we went downstairs to the hotel bar and next to it was a little Pizza Hut and we got ourselves a pizza. Pretty sure I was more tired than Rosemary was.
And after that, straight to sleep having been up for about 18 hours.