Monday, August 24, 2015

Disney Day 5 - Sea World

After several straight days of Mickey, Mickey, Mickey, we decided to take a little break and explore Sea World for the day.

Now, before I get any hate emails for visiting Sea World...  I am an advanced certified scuba diver who loves spending time in the ocean exploring and learning about the animals who live there.  I have watched "Blackfish" and I have read "Death At Sea World" by David Kirby.  Am I 100% comfortable with the fact that large marine animals are held in captivity?  No.  However, I think seeing these animals up close does provide one with a sense of awe and wonderment and also a sense of respect for these animals.  For our 4 year-old, it was educational, interactive, and exciting.  I can only hope that Georgia develops a strong love and passion for both the ocean and the animals who call it home.

We arranged for taxi transportation from our resort on Disney property to Sea World (about a 15-20 minute trip by car).  Since we arrived right when the park was opening, Nick and I veered off to ride the Manta coaster.  Let's just say that it will be the only time I ever ride that one!  I love roller coasters, but something about being face-down and doing loops did not do it for me.... at all.

Mini-tip --- You are NOT allowed to bring anything on Manta with you.  We had to quickly hunt down my Mom to give her my small sling purse since we were stopped by the staff and not allowed to board with that item (only coaster in Orlando where I was stopped for having my purse on me).  There were lockers available, but it was a mob scene. 

We caught up to my mom and Georgia as they were petting some rays over at the Stingray Lagoon.  Georgia quickly let me know that they can splash you! 

Next up, we hit Turtle Trek and met a baby manatee and its Mama...

The tour guide stated that "manatees are like cows of the sea" and Georgia repeated that fun fact for the next week!

As we were walking out of Turtle Trek, the Blue Horizons show was starting in the stadium directly next to us, so we headed in to watch and enjoy.  Georgia loved watching the dolphins and acrobats in the show.  It was actually my favorite show of the day!

It was very warm during the first 4 days of our trip.  However, day 5 brought the REAL HEAT of the trip and it didn't end until we left.  My mom had packed a portable fan/water bottle and we used it constantly starting at Sea World.  Nick ate an ice cream cone that melted all over him since he couldn't eat it fast enough.  It was brutal and I like the heat.

Since it was so hot, we headed over to Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin to cool down.  It had been almost 15 years since I last visited Sea World and from what I can remember, you used to just walk through an exhibit to see the penguins.  Now, it's a ride.  In my viewpoint, it's sort of an unnecessary ride.  We waited about 20 minutes in line and then the ride promptly had a "mechanical" issue that lasted another 20-30 minutes while we waited patiently.  When we finally boarded you had a choice of a mild ride or a wild ride.  From what we could tell, they are the exact same thing (since we could see the wild version from our mild one) and the wild car just spun a bit more.  The ride dumps you off at the penguin viewing point and we finally got to see the penguins!

Mini-tip --- Bring a sweatshirt with you to Antarctica!  We were in t-shirts and shorts and the staff were wearing large winter coats.  It was a nice break from the heat... for the first few minutes.  Then, it was just downright freezing!

Saying hi to some penguins!

After our extended trip to Antarctica, we decided to take an early lunch break and grabbed some sandwiches at the Lakeside Panini Bistro.  Since most people were in the 12pm Shamu show, the entire place was deserted and we were the only table!  Since we weren't sure of the food allergy situation in Sea World, we packed Georgia a sandwich.  

Mini-tip --- Eat lunch while the rest of the park is in the Shamu show.  Once that show let out, the food places were mobbed!

Since we were the only people at lunch, the local wildlife LOVED us.  I was fairly certain these two squirrels were going to launch themselves at Georgia...  Perhaps we should have obeyed the sign and not fed the wildlife?!?!?

Goober loved visiting the Shark Encounter exhibit...

Then, we discovered Georgia's personal heaven... Shamu's Happy Harbor, which was filled with a ton of kids rides.  

Mini-tip --- If it is going to be a hot day, pack a bathing suit for your little one.  There was a small splash park in Shamu's Happy Harbor that lots of little kids were enjoying.

Riding the Shamu Express while holding Daddy's hand

We loved this area of the park!  Georgia got to ride a roller coaster, a mini drop ride, a spinning ride, etc.  There was also a gigantic net climb that Nick went up into with her while Mimi and I cooled down with slushies.

Next up, we headed to Shamu Stadium for the big show.  It was definitely noticeable that the trainers are no longer allowed in the water with the whales and it wasn't the show I remember from when I was a kid with people and whales flying through the air.  Instead, it was mostly the whales jumping around and a water/fountain show coordinated with water.

Our last main exhibit was visiting the Wild Arctic to say hi to the beluga whales, seals and walruses!

I tried to convince Georgia that she needed to bring home a hat from the Wild Arctic store...

On our way out of the park, we walked past the dolphin nursery (which I remember as being the main dolphin area back in the day) and the dolphins were VERY interested in us...

Unfortunately, you can't feed these guys anymore. That was one of my fondest memories of my last visit to Sea World!  I could have stayed all day just hanging out with them...

Overall, we had a great visit to Sea World and I'm glad we went this trip.  

We actually took a chill out at the hotel night since it was rained/stormed for several hours in the afternoon and evening, so there wasn't much we could venture out to do without getting soaked.

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