Posted in Florida 2012

22nd March 2012 (Day 11): Seaworld and Leaving

SeaWorldUnfortunately it’s our last day in Florida and before our flight in the evening we used our tickets again to visit Seaworld.  So we packed up the hotel room and got everything in the car before heading down to Seaworld.

Really wanted to make sure we saw the Seamore and Clyde show as we missed it on our first visit.  So we headed straight there.

The Mime
The Mime

The Mime is a great part of the show and comes on for the period before it starts.  He’s got a lot of tricks like starting to show people to seats and then just leaving them or trying to dance with them.

Seamore and Clyde
Seamore and Clyde

The show itself is really funny and Rosemary really enjoyed it with the antics of the sealions and the naughty otter who comes and steals things.

Seamore and Clyde
Seamore and Clyde

The shops were packed with Shamus.

Shamu
Shamu

And we had another trip around some of the aquariums.  The fish and sea creatures are just amazing.

Anemone
Anemone

And finally a picture with the lighthouse as we were leaving.

Seaworld
Seaworld

And very unfortunately that was pretty much the end of our trip.  After this we headed back to the airport and dropped off our hire car before going into the airport itself and checking in for our flight home. At the airport we had a burger at Burger King (not much in the way of decent places to eat to be honest) and had an uneventful flight home with a tired out little girl who will need some time to recover I suspect.

Once home we got this shot of all the things she’d been bought while there.

Swag
Swag

And now to start planning our next trip.

 

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Posted in Florida 2012

21st March 2012 (Day 10): Magic Kingdom

magic-kingdom-logoHeading towards the end of our trip and we took a trip to visit the Magic Kingdom.  We had just bought a 2 day Disney ticket, having used our first day at Animal Kingdom, and this was the second use of that ticket.

Magic Kingdom seemed to be a long way off and driving in we finally got a hint we were going the right way.

Magic Kingdom
Magic Kingdom

Though of course even once you park your journey isn’t at an end and you still have to get the tram from the parking lot to the entrance and then the boat or monorail into the park itself. But we eventually made it just when there was a Dance Party happening.

Dance Party
Dance Party

After that we took a few posed pictures in front of the castle.  Think Rosemary was happy to be here.

The Castle
The Castle

We weren’t planning many rides but thought that one ride was a must, which was “It’s a Small World”.

It's a Small World
It’s a Small World
It's a Small World
It’s a Small World
It's a Small World
It’s a Small World

We had a spot of lunch at the Cheshire Cat Cafe and had some cereal which went down very nicely.

Cereal for lunch
Cereal for lunch

After that we had a walk around the park taking some photos and seeing the sights.  Particularly liked this one of the balloons.

Balloons
Balloons

We caught the afternoon parade which was a lot of fun and got a really nice viewing spot just opposite the Hall of Presidents.

Parade
Parade
Parade
Parade

We did a spot of shopping and trying on some ears after the parade.

Minnie Ears
Minnie Ears

After that Rosemary flaked out and we decided to call it a day at the park.

Asleep Again
Asleep Again

For dinner we headed back to Red Lobster and had a very nice started of Lobster, Gruyere and Spinach dip which went down very well with the red tortilla chips.

Hmmm....Dip
Hmmm….Dip

Julia was more keen on the giant cocktails! Unfortunately I was driving….again!

Giant Cocktails
Giant Cocktails
Posted in Florida 2012

20th March 2012 (Day 9): Aquatica and Universal City Walk

Aquatica_Logo_640Heading towards the end of our trip to Florida and we used our Discovery Cove tickets to go to Aquatica, the waterpark by Seaworld.  It hadn’t really been very high on our list of things to do but proved very wrong and we had a great time.

 

The main beach/pool has a wave machine which goes off every 15 minutes or so.  When it does there is a bit of a rush for the water.  This was a lot of fun for Rosemary being bounced up and down in the waves.

Wave Pool
Wave Pool

The other area we spent time in was the part set aside for smaller children (Kata’s Kookaburra Cove).  This has a number of water jets, props and small slides.

Kata's Kookaburra Cove
Kata’s Kookaburra Cove

The only other bit we went on was Loggerhead Lane which is the lazy river. This is pretty cool as it takes you past some transparent waterslides, the Commerson’s Dolphins and through an aquarium.

Even though it was a hot day Rosemary had been in the water for quite some time by this point and was starting to get a little chilled, so we spent the rest of the afternoon playing in the sand.

The beach
The beach

And looking at the Commerson’s Dolphins which spend a lot of their time swimming upside down.

Commerson's Dolphins
Commerson’s Dolphins

Once we left Aquatica we headed for Universal Citywalk.  As we arrived later in the afternoon the parking was half price, but you still have to pay to park there.  Slightly annoying but you have to pay for parking pretty much everywhere. Think the only place you don’t is at Downtown Disney.

We headed to the Bubba Gump restaurant to have dinner.  Had a short wait but not very long.

Bubba Gump
Bubba Gump

Rosemary slept through some of the meal but woke up to have a bit of dinner.

Bubba Gump
Bubba Gump

Afterwards we had a quick walk over to the entrance to Universal Studios.

Universal Studios
Universal Studios
Posted in Florida 2012

19th March 2012 (Day 8): Busch Gardens

Busch GardensOff again to Tampa to visit Busch Gardens this time.  Nice journey over to the Gulf Coast and this time we didn’t need to drive through Tampa itself, so no city driving which was nice.

We visited Busch Gardens many years ago when we first went to Florida and made the mistake of going on a weekend, and it was really, really busy with local people.  Fair enough they probably get a good value annual ticket and can go in whenever they want.  But this time we planned to visit on a weekday and so went on a Monday.  It was certainly a lot quieter but there were still long queues for some of the rides (not that we were going on any) and things like Rhino Rally, which we thought Rosemary was too little for anyway.

While getting our bearings and working out where to visit first we saw the crocodiles.

Crocodiles
Crocodiles

We started off by visiting the Myombe Reserve where there are Gorillas and Chimps.

Chimps
Chimps
Watching the Gorillas
Watching the Gorillas
Gorillas
Gorillas
Gorillas
Gorillas

The grounds are really nice and the enclosures are pretty big (not as big as a jungle obviously) but give the animals lots of space to roam and hide away.

Myombe Reserve
Myombe Reserve

As it was getting towards lunchtime and we took a break and went to the Kenyan Kanteen in the Nairobi area and got some chips (sorry fries) and a funnel cake.  This is a fried dough, bit like a doughnut, but sort of swirled into the fryer so you get thin pieces all joined together.  Was really nice and Rosemary wanted it.

Want it!
Want it!
Enjoying some fries
Enjoying some fries

We then headed into the Curiosity Caverns and Animal Care Centre where there are some smaller animals and some requiring attention for whatever reason.

Eagle
Eagle
Not sure what this was?
Not sure what this was?
Lizard
Lizard
Cameleon
Cameleon
Rattle Snake
Rattle Snake

From there we walked over to the Edge of Africa.

The Edge of Africa
The Edge of Africa

There was a nice display with some lions, set up like an encampment.

Lions-Asleep as Normal
Lions-Asleep as Normal

By the lions there is a Land Rover that you can climb into and the glass for the lion’s enclosure forms the windscreen.

Land Rover
Land Rover
Watching the Lions
Watching the Lions

And there was an amazing “stand” (the term for a group) of flamingos.

Stand of Flamingos
Stand of Flamingos
Flamingo
Flamingo

And finally in this area was the tank with hippos and a multitude of fish.  Really nice to see them underwater.

Hippos
Hippos

From here we went to the Nairobi train station to get the train around the whole park and through the animal enclosures.  This was a really nice little trip  and you get to see the animals much closer up.

Zebras
Zebras
Zebra
Zebra
Zebras
Zebras with rollercoaster in the background
Giraffe
Giraffe
Wilderbeast
Wilderbeast
On the Safari Train
On the Safari Train
On the Safari Train
On the Safari Train

Getting off the train we headed further into the park and had a look at the elephants.

Elephant
Elephant
Elephants
Elephants
Elephant
Elephant

And then headed up into Timbuktu.

Timbuktu
Timbuktu
Timbuktu
Timbuktu

And from there we headed to Jungala to see the tigers.  Busch Gardens has a number of white tigers (which is not good for conservation purposes but they are pretty spectacular).

White Tigers
White Tigers
White Tiger
White Tiger

As well as the normally coloured tigers.

Tigers
Tigers

The one on the left above looks like he’s halfway between the two.

And this guy really looks like a Disney cartoon of Shere Khan.

Shere Khan
Shere Khan

There is a hatch you can stick you head up into where you can look at the tigers directly.

Tiger Observation
Tiger Observation

As well as a high level observation area where there is a floor to ceiling window.

Tiger Observation
Tiger Observation
Tiger Observation
Tiger Observation

We went to do some shopping at this point and Julia tried on some rather fetching head gear.

Deeny boppers
Deeny boppers

And Rosemary got bought a white tiger, although she was a bit too sleepy to appreciate him.

Fast asleep again
Fast asleep again

And finally as we were leaving a picture in front of the main entrance.

Busch Gardens
Busch Gardens
Posted in Florida 2012

18th March 2012 (Day 7): Relaxing Day

After several days of hectic activity and already having visited 3 theme parks we had a day off (Sunday as it happens) to relax, do a bit of shopping and take things slow.

outletWe went to the top of International Drive to the outlet stores there and had quite a successful few hours looking around and getting quite a few bargains, including some designer stuff for Rosemary. Including Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Laren Polo.  Got myself some bargain walking boots in North Face which were reduced from $120 to $24.  Great deal as they were 80% off.  Woohoo!

Shopped Out
Shopped Out

TRexWe decided to go to Downtown Disney to have a look around the shops there but first headed straight for the T-Rex restaurant for dinner.

This is a big, big restaurant which is themed with animatronic dinosaurs and was really popular to the extent that even though we were really early for dinner we still had to put our names on the list.  Fortunately we really didn’t have to wait very long before being led all the way through the restaurant to our table.

The designers had done a good job and there is foliage everywhere (all false I’m sure) and there are dinosaurs visible everywhere.  We had some leaning directly over our heads.  They move a little bit all the time but every 15 minutes there is a meteor storm when the lights go down and there is lots of flashing and noise.  The dinosaurs move a lot during this and the “ice cave” changes colour. (apologies for the poor photos but I only took my iPhone and the little Canon Ixus camera went flat because I had forgotten to charge it the night before).

T-Rex
T-Rex
T-Rex
T-Rex
T-Rex
T-Rex
T-Rex
T-Rex
T-Rex
T-Rex

The food, considering the massive size of the place and the fact that people probably don’t really go there for the food, was actually pretty good.  Rosemary particularly enjoyed her macaroni cheese.

Mac and Cheese
Mac and Cheese

And the non-alcoholic cocktail (which was quite frankly revolting) went down quite well.  Not sure the colourings were a very healthy option though.

Cocktails
Cocktails

(Incidently, still don’t like the flash on the iPhone4S which always seems to wash everything out.)

Some posed shots with the dinosaurs.

Mammoth
Mammoth
He bites
He bites
With the T-Rex
With the T-Rex

That’s the same dinosaur as in the picture above but he had bent right down and was trying to bite us.  Rosemary wasn’t too worried though.

By the time we left the queues were really big.

Outside
Outside

Downtown_Disney_Area_LogoOnce we had eaten we had a walk around the shops in Downtown Disney, where there is a really huge Disney shop selling literally everything you would ever want that has a pair of mouse ears on it.

Disney Store
Disney Store

Regretted not bringing my SLR as there were a lot of opportunities for some good pictures amongst the items on the shelves.  Had a go with the phone camera but not as good.

Dolls
Dolls
Mickeys
Mickeys
Mickey
Mickey

Walking back through we couldn’t help stopping at the Candy Cauldron to have a look at the Toffee Apples which they make in the shape of Mickey Mouse ears.

Toffee Apples
Toffee Apples
Toffee Apples
Toffee Apples
Toffee Apples
Toffee Apples

Finally, a picture with Mr Potato Head.

Mr Potato Head
Mr Potato Head
Posted in Florida 2012

17th March 2012 (Day 6): Florida Aquarium

Florida AquariumEarly start today as we were heading over to Tampa Bay to visit the Florida Aquarium.  But wanted to get a good breakfast first so headed into Perkins for our usual breakfast.  They had someone in doing balloon animals and hats etc so as Rosemary was being such a good girl with her food she got a balloon dog as a reward.  Of course the moment she got it the eating stopped as it was such a massive distraction.  Oh well, she’d had a lot up to that point.

Balloon Dog
Balloon Dog
Balloon Dog
Balloon Dog

(Unfortunately he was left in the car while we were at the aquarium and it was such a hot day a couple of the bits popped, which was a shame).

We then got in the car for the drive over to Tampa, which was a bit slow (a bit of traffic along the way) but uneventful and the sat nav took us straight to the right place through all the Tampa backstreets.  We got there just in time for lunch which we had in the cafe.

Arriving at the Aquarium we couldn’t resist a photo under the giant Manta Ray.

Florida Aquarium
Florida Aquarium

The aquarium is excellent and is laid out by different regions.  If I remember rightly we started off in the Wetlands.

Big Tank
Big Tank

Some parts are a recreation of the Everglades.

In the Swamp
In the Swamp
In the Swamp
In the Swamp
Ducks Resting
Ducks Resting

In one tank there were some crabs which got a lot of interest.

Crabs
Crabs

After that there were more tanks which reflected the fish which are found in more open waters.

Fish Tanks
Fish Tanks
Fish Tanks
Fish Tanks
Shore Tank
Shore Tank
Fish Tanks
Fish Tanks
Kelp Tank
Kelp Tank

The fish were really spectacular, although my photos weren’t so good from this day for some reason (lots of blurred shots) and as Rosemary needed to be held up to see into some of the tanks I didn’t have both hands to take the shots.  Enough excuses, here are some pictures of the fish themselves.

Fuzzy Hammerhead Shark
Fuzzy Hammerhead Shark
Puffer Fish (I think)
Puffer Fish (I think)
Shiny Fish
Shiny Fish
Leafy Sea Dragons
Leafy Sea Dragons
Prawns
Prawns
Another Fish
Another Fish (should have made a better note)
Rhinoceros fish
Rhinoceros fish
Stone Fish
Stone Fish

We found him!

Nemo
Nemo
Corals
Corals

There was a really massive open water tank with lots of sharks, rays and fish in it.  Unfortunately all my pictures came out really badly of it, and it was really busy as it was feeding time when we reached it.  So just got this one shot of a ray.

Ray
Ray

Just around the corner were some really nice jellyfish tanks.  The tanks were round and the jellyfish were swimming around inside them. The lights changed colours slowly as well to make a really nice effect.

Jellyfish Tanks
Jellyfish Tanks
Jellyfish
Jellyfish
Jellyfish
Jellyfish

There were some really big shells for the children to play in and Rosemary enjoyed exploring them.

Playing in the shells
Playing in the shells
Playing in the shells
Playing in the shells
Playing in the shells
Playing in the shells

We finished off exploring the aquarium.

Shark
Shark
Vertical Tank
Vertical Tank
Lobster Tank
Lobster Tank

Rosemary was getting pretty tired by this point so the promised ice cream had to make an appearance and we got her a Dora the Explorer ice cream in the cafe.

Hola!
Hola!

We decided to start heading back to Orlando at this time so we could be back there for some dinner.  Traffic back through Tampa was pretty bad as a lot of streets had been closed off for an event but the sat nav got us back onto the freeway with only one false direction (due to a road closure).

As we were coming into Orlando we saw Red Lobster and decided to pull in there for some dinner.  A certain someone refused to sit in her high chair though and decided she was going to sit in the booth with us.

Red Lobster
Red Lobster
Red Lobster
Red Lobster
Posted in Florida 2012

16th March 2012 (Day 5): Discovery Cove

Discovery CoveOur next trip out was a real treat and was to Discovery Cove which is pretty much a day resort part of Seaworld where everything is inclusive and there are lots of places to swim and chill out.  We went a few years ago for my birthday and wanted to take Rosemary back.  It’s actually pretty good value as the entry cost includes all your food and drink for the day and free entry to Seaworld as well.  We paid an extra few dollars (I think it was $40) to get Busch Gardens and Aquatica as well.  I noticed recently that Aquatica is now part of the entry anyway so it’s even better value now.

The park has 4 main areas (at the time anyway, there is the Freshwater Oasis that has since opened) which are the Serenity Bay/Wind Away River which is a lazy river you can swim round and is freshwater, the Dolphin Lagoon where you do the dolphin swims, the Explorers Aviary and the Grand Reef which is a big saltwater area where there are fish and rays.

At check-in we got lent the coolest buggy ever which had giant beachbuggy wheels. This was taken at the end of the day though, which is why Rosemary is fast asleep.

Beach Buggy, Buggy
Beach Buggy, Buggy

We had breakfast to start off the day.

Breakfast Time
Breakfast Time
Breakfast Time
Breakfast Time

After a spot of breakfast we got our wetsuits on and headed for the lazy river.

Dressed for Swimming
Dressed for Swimming

Rosemary looked particularly fab in her all in one.

Junior Beachbum
Junior Beachbum
In her wetsuit
In her wetsuit

We grabbed Rosemary a lifejacket, although it was really a little big for her and a float for us to hold onto with her.

Lazy River
Lazy River

Definitely going for an all in one next time as you can see this was too baggy and kept riding up.  Wore a T-Shirt specifically because I got rubbed on my shoulders last time but it didn’t help.

Lazy River
Lazy River

The river does a full circuit of that part of the park and there are two waterfalls where you enter and leave the aviary.  These weren’t too popular unfortunately as they were pretty fierce and when you’re little they pummel you quite a lot.

Swimming
Swimming
Swimming
Swimming

We stopped at one point and someone was kind enough to take a photo of the 3 of us together.

In the Cave
In the Cave

Here is a good shot of the Serenity Bay area and the lovely white sand.

Serenity Bay
Serenity Bay

And the waterfall and caves which are the start of the Wind Away River.

Waterfall
Waterfall

After a lap of the river and some more paddling about we got some lunch.  Food was first rate and we were pretty stuffed having gone back for deserts (all included in the entry price).

I decided to head off to the Grand Reef, which as it was seawater and pretty cold we decided not to take Rosemary into and she had a chill out by the beach.  I had an underwater enclosure for my FLIP video camera and shot some footage while swimming and these are mainly snapshots extracted from that.

Fishies
Fishies
Fishies and a bit of a Ray
Fishies and a bit of a Ray
Fishies
Fishies

Some of the rays like these Cow Nose Rays were quite small (about 2ft?).

Rays
Rays
Ray
Ray
Cow Nose Ray
Cow Nose Ray

Some like this Spotted Eagle Ray were pretty huge.  I would say the wingspan was a good 6ft and this one came right past we, swam around behind and headed off again.  Real close encounter and my videoing was pretty rubbish as I was trying to stay out of his way.

Big Ray
Big Ray
Spotted Eagle Ray
Spotted Eagle Ray

After showering off the salt water I grabbed a couple of ice creams from one of the food spots and headed back to see how everyone was doing.  Bringing ice cream back made me quite popular.

Ice Cream
Ice Cream

Rosemary also decided that she was going to go for snorkle.

Snorkling
Snorkling
Playing the Sand
Playing the Sand
Playing in the sand
Playing in the sand

After one more swim around the main open water space in the Serenity Bay area the afternoon was pretty much gone, so we got showered up and changed and walked over the aviary so I could take a few photos of the birds there.  Julia decided to sit at the bay instead and have free cocktails.

Cocktail Time
Cocktail Time

And Rosemary was by this point shattered and had a dose in the beach buggy.

Zonko
Zonko

And in the aviary:

Aviary
Aviary
Aviary
Aviary
Aviary
Aviary
Aviary
Aviary
Aviary
Aviary
Aviary
Aviary
Aviary
Aviary

We had dinner that night at Red Lobster and knackered to bed.

Will definitely be going back to Discovery Cove on our next visit.