We packed up our bags and loaded the car and had decided to spend a few hours at SeaWorld before going to the airport.
We first headed the Wild Arctic and took the motion simulator (as there was no queue today) to gain entrance to the rest of the Arctic area.
The Beluga Whales were particularly active and swam past several times.
While in that area of the park we had some snacks (making sure we had used up everything we had bought in Walmart) and Rosemary had a Shamu ice cream.
And a ride on the Shamu Express as well.
After 14 days I was pretty burnt out taking photos so there wasn’t photos of everything and we just wanted a nice relaxing few hours before the long flight home. But were looked around some the aquariums and spent time just watching the animals.
We did get to ride the Empire of the Penguin ride and see the penguins at the end of it.
And a last visit to see the stingrays as well.
And then unfortunately it was back to the car to head to the airport. A smooth drop off for the car at the terminal and then a straightforward check-in followed (once we found the right set of desk, having gone in completely the wrong direction to start with). And then an overnight flight back to London.
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.
Off to SeaWorld today! Unusually this will be our only visit this trip as we were using our Disney tickets to the maximum usage we could. We normally come at least twice because you can usually get the second day for free if you visit the Guest Relations booth on your way out. But in any case we had been to Discovery Cove on the last 2 trips and that gives you access to SeaWorld in any case.
Rosemary wore a highly appropriate dress for the occasion.
Our first event for the day was the Blue Horizon show. We wanted to make sure we squeezed in all the shows we wanted to catch in the one day so were a bit careful about our times. Blue Horizon is a dolphin show, but there is a lot of acrobatics as well and the dolphin element is actually relatively small.
There is a video of the whole show which I shot on YouTube:
We briefly went to the Pacific Point Reserve to see the Sealions. They were remarkably quiet that day.
Next on our list of “must do” things was the One Ocean show, the killer whale show. This is going to be discontinued now, which is probably a good thing.
We stopped to get an ice cream and bite to eat and Rosemary had a weird thing which was little frozen balls called Dippin’ Dots. Kind of OK, tasted a bit weird though.
We then wanted to get in the last of the 3 shows so we could have the rest of the day free to see a few of the other things around the park. This was the new Seamore and Clyde show, Sealion High. We’d not seen this before so looking forward to it. The premise is quite fun but the animals were not really behaving that well on the day, with one of the sealions being sent for a time out during the show…
There is a video of the whole show which I shot on YouTube:
After this we could take our time a little more. And went to have a look around some of the shops and then to see the manatees. It’s always a bit quieter around them, not sure if it’s their relaxed movements which calm everyone down, but certainly less activity there.
Managed to get this amazing shot of Rosemary interacting with one of the manatees. We hung back when everyone went through into the Turtle Trek show and were the only people in the exhibit at the time. They had their nose pressed right up against the glass. Maybe it was the bright dress which was attractive.
In the next tank are some rescued turtles and with no one about managed to get some better shots of one of them.
We had hot dogs for tea from Captain Pete’s Hot Dogs. Rosemary had a plain dog and I had a chilli dog, and Julia had a veggie one.
Still plenty to do as it was right by the hot dog place we went to the stingray pool. I think this was the first time Rosemary had plucked up the courage to touch the stingrays and was surprised at how soft they are.
We also went to the aquarium which is slightly hidden away underneath the Manta ride. It’s an amazing one and well worth spending time in, with a large tank with rays and fish, as well as smaller display tanks.
We carried on with our (second) journey around the park, going through Antartica. The queues were crazy for the ride there and although we would have liked to have seen the penguins it wasn’t worth the +45 minute wait time.
We then went into the Shark Encounter and the great aquarium there. We once again repeated a picture we’ve done each time we’ve been. Here is the latest version:
And from December 2013:
And March 2012:
Quite fun to do the same one each time to see the changes.
We stopped by to say “Hi” to Shamu as we went past the Shamu Stadium (didn’t get to do this last time as it was all closed off).
And then obviously had to have a Shamu ice cream.
And finally for the day got to ride on Shamu himself.
That was pretty much us exhausted for the day by then. Just took this one on the way out of the park as it was the 50th anniversary of SeaWorld.
Finally I put together a video of our day at Seaworld which you can see on YouTube:
Unfortunately we’re nearly at the end of our trip and this will be our last full day. So we returned to SeaWorld again to see some more of the things there.
The first thing we did was go to the touch pool where you can feel the rays.
Rosemary was a bit nervous about it at first, especially as some of them slap their wings against the side and you can get splashed. But got used to it and was gently stroking them soon enough. They’re really soft and feel like velvet.
We got a pressed penny afterwards which said “I Touched the Rays”.
In the Antarctica zone (we saw the penguins last time) we got a snap with the Christmas sign.
The models of the different penguins were really nice. There is a whole wall of them.
We visited the Sharks Encounter and took a photo which was similar to one we took on our previous visit.
And from our last trip:
The walk through was very scary.
We didn’t get to see the One Ocean show last visit so made sure we got there this time around. Putting aside issues of whether Orcas should be held in captivity it is a very spectacular show.
And a photo with the Shamu model at the entrance.
After the show we went to visit the Wild Arctic. As it was Christmas everything was themed around the Polar Express movie and the little movie you watch to go through to the animals was clips from the movie.
The tree inside was really amazing, probably even more so because of the low light levels.
No pictures of the animals as they didn’t come out very well. But on the way out we got a cup of hot chocolate which Rosemary said was the “best ever”. It was incredibly sweet!
As we walked around to the Christmas Market that was running there was virtually no one playing the fairground games. So we decided to have a go at Shamu Showdown and I won a Christmas Shamu for Rosemary. She was so happy about this.
And finally another picture of some of the Christmas Trees. These were at the top of the park in the gardens.
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.
Unfortunately 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 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.
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.
The shops were packed with Shamus.
And we had another trip around some of the aquariums. The fish and sea creatures are just amazing.
And finally a picture with the lighthouse as we were leaving.
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.
Our 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.
We had breakfast to start off the day.
After a spot of breakfast we got our wetsuits on and headed for the lazy river.
Rosemary looked particularly fab in her all in one.
We grabbed Rosemary a lifejacket, although it was really a little big for her and a float for us to hold onto with her.
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.
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.
We stopped at one point and someone was kind enough to take a photo of the 3 of us together.
Here is a good shot of the Serenity Bay area and the lovely white sand.
And the waterfall and caves which are the start of the Wind Away River.
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.
Some of the rays like these Cow Nose Rays were quite small (about 2ft?).
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.
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.
Rosemary also decided that she was going to go for snorkle.
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.
And Rosemary was by this point shattered and had a dose in the beach buggy.
And in the 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.