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Old 01-02-2008, 02:47 PM   #1
Daysleeper40
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Talking Ooo-de-lally Tour September 2007: Day 1 (SeaWorld #1)

Tuesday 18th September: Dolphin Day #1

Having been up periodically through the night, getting tangled in the bedclothes and listening to M snore, I finally admitted defeat and officially got up at about 6.30am on our first full day in the US of A. Amused myself for a while writing up my trip report and then excitement took over and I jumped on M till he got up. As a result we were washed, dressed and waiting for the I Ride Trolley at 8am… destination SEAWORLD!!!

We had bought our 14 day Trolley passes from the hotel concierge the night before and in an attempt to get to SeaWorld as quickly as possible grabbed brekky on the go in the form of a blueberry muffin from the 7/11. We had a close call with nearly forgetting the Dolphin Nursery ticket but still managed to catch the first Trolley of the day. Our first experience of the I Ride was good - if not a little bizarre. The driver was an extrovert to say the least, but he definitely kept us entertained for the journey!

Arrived at SeaWorld at 8.45am and essentially RAN towards the entrance - pausing only briefly for the obligatory bag check. Tickets scanned and fingerprints taken and we were through! Once in and having stopped for the Star Spangled Banner to play, we headed directly for Dolphin Cove and managed to be about 4th in the queue for the first feeding of the day! We queued for about 15 minutes, watching the dolphins splashing around and the keepers going about their business. Then the food booth opened and we paid $10 for two little trays of fish to feed to the dolphins and headed down to the side of the pool. It is difficult to explain our first encounter with the dolphins - a mixture of apprehension, excitement, and delight… and we have a slightly dodgy photo taken by a SeaWorld photographer to commemorate the moment!

We were on a roll with this feeding lark so decided to do exactly the same at the ray pool. For this you have to hold the fish between your fingers, and stick your whole arm in the pool so your palm is touching the bottom and the fish is waving about. If you do it right the rays come over and and hoover the fish up into their mouths. I felt really odd and was LOTS of fun. There were three types of ray in the pool and some of them were pretty big. There was also a dinky little ray nursery - so cute!

Our intention was to see the 10.30am showing of Blue Horizons but there was just time to have a look at Journey to Atlantis and Kraken, and experience the penguin encounter which was a long enclosure with a moving walkway running along the front. The penguin encounter also housed some puffins who were very funny but frustratingly difficult to photograph.

We headed over to the Whale and Dolphin theatre for 10am and as we approached the entrance an unusual sight met us - a group of flamingos out for a stroll!



Once in we picked our seats and were immediately surrounded by very loud Brazilians - thankfully the show started promptly! I loved Blue Horizons and have to admit to getting a bit (well very) teary eyed - it doesn’t take much if there are animals and evocative music involved; I cry every time I watch Fly Away Home and that’s about Geese!. The show is admittedly a bit contrived, but if you can get past that and just enjoy the spectacle I defy anyone to not be impressed. It features dolphins, false killer whales, birds, acrobats, high diving from humans and non humans, and a fine soundtrack. We saw quite a few other shows at other parks but Blue Horizons was without doubt my favourite for the whole holiday. I also managed to video some of the show and although my camera work is a bit dodgy I am really pleased that we have some video to look back on.




We had already checked in for the Dolphin Nursery Tour so knew that our time was 1.30pm. Before meeting for this we managed to go through the shark encounter, Clysdale Hamlet and hospitality centre, see the horses on parade, meet the Budweiser Donkey, AND go through Wild Arctic! The clysdale horses were lovely - and accompanied by a very proud and important looking dalmation dog.



We had a look at the plans for the new water park “Aquatica” in the Hospitality Centre and this cemented the idea of a return trip in 2010 as the plans looked amazing. We chose to take the non-simulator route through Wild Arctic for our first time and after watching the introduction film we were soon in the presence of Beluga Whales, a polar bear and walruses - my first encounter with all three. The beluga’s were my favourite and hopefully if we do return to SeaWorld I would like to do the beluga encounter and swim with one as they are simply beautiful animals.

After all this excitement we had a bit of a sit down at the SeaFire Inn and shared a HUGE burger, fries and soda (when in Rome…) for lunch. The food was good and with our energy replenished we scooted to our meeting point for the Dolphin Nursery at 1.30pm.

Our tour guide was Mary and she was very enthusiastic and informative - I for one learnt lots of new things. For your information dolphin milk has 33% fat in, compared to cows milk which has only 4% fat! We spent the first half of the tour talking about dolphins and then moved into the pool area for our interaction. Sadly we only had a few minutes before the weather turned and the lightening risk was too high to continue being near the water... our tour is cancelled! On the up side we had already met Ariel who was pregnant, but still jumping out of the water and coming over to eat fish and be stroked.



There was also a mother and tiny baby calf in the pool who kept their distance but were lovely. We also got a full refund so actually had a fun freebee added to our holiday!

After receiving our refund we went back to the Dolphin Cove underwater viewing area and gazed at the dolphins for a while - I had the camcorder out again and frankly could have stayed for hours.



Having finally dragged me away M led us towards Turtle Point and we finally saw the Careta Careta who were so elusive on our 2005 holiday in Zakinthos. This area of the park also housed the alligators, and Manatee rescue which was very interesting and another “first encounter” for us both. Manatee’s are very odd to look at and somehow reminded me of Spike (our moggie) in that they are fat, slow, and eat all day! Not quite so orange though…

We decided it was about time for our first rollercoaster ride of the holiday at this point and made our way to Kraken. We rammed all of our things into a locker which cost $1 (in the form of 4 quarters) and joined the short queue. Sadly the weather broke and the showers came. Didn’t last long but did mean that the ride closed (lightening risk again). Instead of hanging around to wait for it to re-open we dragged everything back out of the locker and went to the Pacific Point reserve instead to see and feed the Sealions and Seals. Bought another few trays of fish and had lots of fun throwing it to them - sealions are much more loud and bolshy than the seals and catch really well… as do the birds that surround the area hoping for a free meal!



The weather had improved by this time so we quickly scooted back to Kraken, found there was no queue, paid another $1 for a locker and had that first rollercoaster ride. It was good - as it happens there were better coasters to come but Kraken scores a solid 7.5/10 for me and was a great introduction to the Florida thrill rides.



The excitement of the day caught up with us a bit after Kraken and we had a leisurely stroll to the main shopping area of the park and gobbled some icecream to replenish our waning blood sugar levels (well that‘s my excuse anyway)!

Before leaving the park we popped into guest services to try to sort out the Busch Gadens Shuttle bus - the guy behind the counter gave us a leaflet with the details and number to phone and book. There was another american lady at the counter who commented on how lovely M’s accent is which I found quite funny and M didn’t really know how to react to!! We grabbed a fresh map on the way out for our keepsake box and caught the trolly back to the hotel. It was much more busy than it had been in the morning but was bearable and didn’t take too long.

We washed and dressed and relaxed for a little while before setting off for CityWalk with the intention of eating at Bubba Gumps Shrimp Co. The walk to Universal took about 15 minutes (bearing in mind we had just spent all day walking around SeaWorld, anyone who tells you that you can’t walk from I Drive to Universal is either LYING or LAZY!). We went the wrong way initially but worked it out soon enough. Heading into CityWalk for the first time was exciting - more so than entering Disney for the first time later in the holiday was. I was apprehensive at Disney but just plain happy at Citywalk. There are escalators up to the bag check area, and then moving walkways that take you ever closer to CW and the two parks. There were lots of banners and signs and at the end of the walkways a big sign saying “Welcome to Universal Studios Resort”… we bounced under the sign (taking pictures the whole time) and straight away saw Bubba Gumps on the left. Things were going great and we opted for having a look round before dinner. More excitement ensued as we saw all of the places we had been reading about for a year - especially the huge revolving Universal world logo!!! There was also some kind of convention going on with loads of people wearing matching t-shirts and name badges all following official looking people with signs. We saw a name badge for a real live person called Hank which we both got the giggles about!

Hunger had taken hold though so we stopped trying to spot funny names and got a table at Bubba Gumps and tried to pick our dinner. Drinks were easier to decide on as there was a special deal that meant you got to keep a commemorative tall beer glass - there are of course two in the cupboard as I type! Bubba Gumps was great - they have lots of memorabilia and a sign on the table that has “Run Forest Run” and “Stop Forest Stop” on either side. If you change it to “stop” one of the wait staff will appear, saying “STOP FOREST STOP” and ask what you are needing! They were really attentive and our waitress gave us a Bubba Gump quiz halfway through dinner which I am glad to say we passed (phew!). We shared some Cajun Shrimp, garlic bread and a tower of onion rings as a starter and then M went for the Bucket of Boat Trash (Mahi Mahi, Slipper Lobster tails and Shrimp), and I had some kind of fried / battered / filo shrimp combo called the Shrimp Lovers Dream. It was HUGE and yummy. M wasn’t so keen on his lobster tails but there was so much of everything else it didn’t really matter.




We were WAY to full for dessert and could easily have shared a couple of starters and just one entrée between us and been satisfied! We used the Amex Travellers Cheque card at Bubba Gumps for the first time with success - it is a shame that they have now discontinued this card now as we found it really handy for eating out. After dinner we had another quick look round in the dark and then punished our feet a bit more by walking back to the hotel. Popped into the 7/11 on the way back and got some water and a Dohnut for M (I don’t think it would matter how full M was - if he sees a dohnut it is doomed to end up inside is tum!). Our fabulous first day over we crashed into bed, setting the alarm and having booked the hotel transport to Disney in the morning as the plan told us we should be going to Typhoon Lagoon.
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Old 01-02-2008, 03:34 PM   #2
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Love it! Love it! Love it! What a fab day to start...
BTW TOTALLY agree about the walking...
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Old 01-02-2008, 03:50 PM   #3
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A wonderful but busy day
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Old 01-03-2008, 02:22 AM   #4
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Brilliant day
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Old 01-03-2008, 05:37 AM   #5
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Wow sooooo much energy on your first day Great start
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Old 01-03-2008, 06:06 AM   #6
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great day

I cry watcing fly away home as well !!
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Old 01-03-2008, 06:18 AM   #7
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Great first day.
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Old 01-03-2008, 10:35 AM   #8
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A lovely first day, it is great reading a report from a first timer. Sorry that your dolphin nursery tour was cancelled, but I'm glad you got to do some of it too. I call the Loggerheads careta careta too because of Zakynthos, but I was lucky enough to see some whilst we were there, probably very much dependent on the time of year. Looking forward to reading more.

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Old 01-03-2008, 12:23 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone - it was a brilliant first day, we had sooo much fun!

The Dolphin Nursery Tour being cancelled was a bit disappointing but we took the view that we got to do half - and for free! Can't be bad really. We also had Discovery Cove to look forward to later in the week and got to do so much other stuff that in the grand scheme of things it wasn't worth getting upset about....
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Old 01-04-2008, 06:55 AM   #10
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Just reading your report has taken me back to our first trip to Florida 4 years ago. We too went to SeaWorld on our first day and just reading your descriptions of everything reminds me just how in awe I was of everything then and how wonderful it all seemed.

It has reminded me that I have become a bit complacent after 5 trips and I am determined to try and look on things with fresh eyes next time
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Old 01-05-2008, 08:46 AM   #11
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What a great day, the tour sounded great such a shame about the bad weather cancelling it!
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Old 01-07-2008, 01:53 PM   #12
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Great day
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Old 01-09-2008, 07:39 AM   #13
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Seaworld's my favourite park, looks like you had a good day. I stayed at a hotel just opposite the Sheraton a couple of years back and the woman at reception thought we were mad walking to Universal, she tried to call us taxi's, she couldn't understand why we thought walking ten minutes wasn't an issue!
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Old 01-14-2008, 04:33 PM   #14
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Great to read your first day. Did you manage to ride Atlantis?

Wonderful evening to round off your fantastic day.


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Old 05-28-2009, 05:17 AM   #15
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What a great day...off to find the rest of the trip!
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