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Old 07-06-2012, 01:39 PM   #16
anierodzik
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Originally Posted by BellaBaby View Post
We would love to try Aquatica someday!! Is the dolphin slide the one where you can see dolphins as you go down it? Sorry if it's a dumb question! I just don't know much about it!!
Yes, that's the one. It's officially called the Dolphin plunge.

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Good job...keep it coming!
Thanks! Next installment on it's way.

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Loving your report so far! Our Orlando trip last year focused more on the non-Disney parts of Orlando - Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Sea World and Aquatica. My DD turned 11 on that trip and she loved all of the parks. She was a little scared of Manta, especially when she was actually on the ride in the loading area and the seat moved into "flying" position. Once the ride started, she was thrilled and LOVED it!

On our trip later this year we are going to try and hit Sea World again but the majority of the trip is going to be spent at the Disney water parks, Disney Quest and lots of pool time. I've never taken an Orlando vacation with no theme parks so this is going to be quite an adventure for me

Looking forward to your next update!
My husband and I had some leftover Waterparks and More on an old non-expiring Disney ticket, so we went to Disneyquest on this trip- I'll write about it later. We were surprisingly okay without any other Disney this time (and we do love our Disney). Things just seemed so much more relaxed!
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Old 07-06-2012, 02:36 PM   #17
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Back to Busch Gardens

When we were making plans for this trip, DH assured me that we would need two days at Busch Gardens, so we did plan for that, and we decided that today would be the day for it. It was a Monday, so we were hoping for lower number of school groups. We found there were many more elementary age kids rather than the older kids, and they are very easy to navigate around.

We wanted to do a few things over again, and several things that we did not get to. T had already devised a route using the map, although he promised DH that he would be flexible. We arrived before opening and again used our Super Grover for what my family was now referring to as "Rock Star Parking." When I was planning for this day, I had not planned on getting the Quick Queue passes again, but DH really wanted them (remember, he has been spoiled by no lines), so we used the Super Grover to get 10% off of them. They were actually cheaper than the previous set, because the price varies according to the day of the week/ or season.

This time we joined the crowd heading to the right, and headed toward Eqypt. The guys rode Montu a couple of times while Lill-E and I played around in King Tut's tomb. We then walked through the Edge of Africa Trails which we had skipped the day before. These were great because it was earlier in the morning and the animals were very active.




We also find a cave-like exhibit of nocturnal animals that we loved. We were the only people in there so we got to experience it on our own. After this we rode Cheetah Hunt a few times. As we were waiting for one of the rides, a middle-school aged kid threw up in the coaster car as they were pulling into the loading area. That was a bit of a drama to watch them clean it, sanitize it, and run the car through empty a couple of times. We then jockeyed for position to see who would sit in "THAT" seat- my DH took one for the team (although he did sit in the seat next to it and left the other one empty.)

We did not have the All Day Dining Deal today, which is fine for us. We share snacks/ food and hit up any and all water fountains (MMM, Florida water). I'm not sure of our particular order, but the next two things we did were seeing the Iceploration show, which kept everyone's attention, and ate a meal at the Crown Colony Restaurant. This is a sit-down place in the air conditioning - it was getting quite warm at this point. They had tables all around the windows that looked out onto the Serengeti Plain, but we, being a family of 5, did not fit there. The meal was good, not great, but it was a nice break. (And as usual, we did get the 10% discount).

Then we were back on T's touring plan. We rode the SkyRide back to Jungala, where we saw the beautiful tigers.

The guys went and rode Kumba several times while Lill-E and I squirted people on the Congo River Rapids as they went by. Then it was time for what my kiddos had been waiting for: the water rides. Neither DH nor I are big fans of slogging around amusement parks while wet, and we were so excited that the kids could ride these alone. Without us. They did the Congo River Rapids twice and the Tidal Wave at least twice, and were completely soaked! They loved every minute of it. As did I. They are wet and happy. I am dry and happy. It was a perfect way to end the day. We took the Skyride back toward the front of the park and headed back to our home away from home, the Residence Inn.

That night at the hotel we ordered food from the pool restaurant and shared it up in our room. I had purchased Marriott gift cards from our local grocery store, (earning us fuel points), so we used some of these. Also that evening we watched "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", which was on HBO. What great timing...

they had no idea that our next stop was Universal Studios!
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Old 07-06-2012, 03:06 PM   #18
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Cute pic of the kids scratching each others and the monkeys' backs!

Looking forward to the Universal report!!
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Old 07-06-2012, 04:48 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by anierodzik View Post


My husband and I had some leftover Waterparks and More on an old non-expiring Disney ticket, so we went to Disneyquest on this trip- I'll write about it later. We were surprisingly okay without any other Disney this time (and we do love our Disney). Things just seemed so much more relaxed!
I am a die hard Disney fan that really enjoyed our Disney free vacation last trip( Never thought I would say that). We stayed onsite at Universal and loved the express passes and relaxed pace. So much, that we are skipping Disney again and doing Universal, Sea World, and Aquatica for our trip next May. We are doing Busch Gardens in October and your trip report has been great.
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Old 07-07-2012, 11:55 AM   #20
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Cute pic of the kids scratching each others and the monkeys' backs!

Looking forward to the Universal report!!
Thanks. My middle child is our photographer, and he composed that picture.

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I am a die hard Disney fan that really enjoyed our Disney free vacation last trip( Never thought I would say that). We stayed onsite at Universal and loved the express passes and relaxed pace. So much, that we are skipping Disney again and doing Universal, Sea World, and Aquatica for our trip next May. We are doing Busch Gardens in October and your trip report has been great.
Love, love the relaxed pace. Sounds like your next trips are very similar to ours.
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Old 07-07-2012, 01:00 PM   #21
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Universal Studios, Hard Rock Hotel and Blue Man Group

We woke up the next morning, and I packed a small overnight bag for the family, which I snuck into the car while they were eating breakfast. They had NO CLUE where we were headed, in fact they thought we were headed home.

If you remember, the theme of this trip is NO lines. We had been to Universal/IOA in May of 2010 for a 4 night trip. We stayed at the Royal Pacific (club level) and loved it, both the hotel and the express benefit. Harry Potter was not open, but it was complete, and we could see Hogwarts and Hogsmeade behind the temporary walls. We even saw a young Hogwarts student run by, point at us, and laugh "Muggles!" We knew we would be back.

I priced out the Express Pass for our family, and for the days that we were there it would cost almost $100 MORE to get the passes than to reserve a hotel room. I decided on the Hard Rock Hotel, and booked a room using my Annual Pass, which I purchased online. We bought the rest of the family's tickets through Undercover Tourist, and as the end of the time, ended up upgrading them to Power Passes. I know some people check in the hotel for a night while they have a hotel room elsewhere, and then don't stay onsite, but I thought it would be fun for a change of pace.

Because we would not be able to easily take advantage of early entry to WWOHP our first day at Universal, we went to Universal Studios on the first day. It took us pulling up into the hotel parking lot before Lill-E said "What does it mean Hard Rock?" Much excitement followed! So we checked into the hotel (and our room was ready), got our room tickets, and headed to Universal Studios.



Our first stop was here:

Rip Ride Rockit. On our first visit only T was tall enough to ride, and since Bug had released that he was a coaster-kid, the guys headed off for the ride while Lill-E and I poked around the new Despicable Me gift shop. (Which, of course, was open even if the ride wasn't. Rip Ride Rockit does not use the Express Pass, which is why we wanted to ride is as early in the morning as possible. The ride broke down as the guys were close to boarding, and they passed the time chatting with the nice ride attendant. Well, that paid off, because when they exited the ride, he let them ride a second time without having to get back in line.

We headed down the street, mourning the fact the the Minion Ride wasn't open. We rode Twister, which set my younger two on edge, so when it came time to ride The Mummy- well, it wasn't happening for them. Bug remembered watching the movie a while ago, and recalled us turning it off because it was too scary for him. He as quite and active imagination, and scary things can trigger nightmares. We tried to talk Lill-E into it, but she was not having it if her brother wasn't. So we used child swap, which made T happy because he rode it twice. After that it was on to Disaster! which redeemed the time for us. In the set-up part of the ride, they chose audience members for different parts, and DH was chosen as one of the evil villains. He is a ham, and the kids LOVED it! This was a fun experience for us. After that we went along the long walkway of board walls covering up the what was the former Jaws area.

On to one of our family's favorite, the Men in Black Ride. Express pass let us ride twice, although during ride two, the car stopped. The ride shut down. Really shut down. They lights came on, and after about 30 minutes they came and evacuated us from our car. It wouldn't have been so bad, except Bug and I were getting hungry, and neither one of us function well when we are hungry. We were the final group of people to be led out of the ride, and as we walked out they offered a complimentary Express Pass to one ride. When we said no thank you, we already have Express Passes, they handed us what we have come to call the "Golden Tickets" Express Passes to Rip-Ride Rockit, or Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Yes, thank you, we'll take it.

After a forgettable lunch (really, I can't remember what or where we ate), we headed over to ride the Simpsons. The day was starting to get more crowded, so we were very please with our Express Passes at this point. While we all really like the Simpsons ride, it was the only one that had my motion sickness kick in, so the rest of the family rode the second time while I sat it out. We passed over the Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone, just like our last trip, so I couldn't even tell you what it was like, and rode ET, which is a sweet little ride. After that it was Terminator 2, which the boys really got into. We then realized we skipped Shrek, so we headed back over for that.

And now it was time for the new parade. I knew I wanted to be hanging out where the parade (in particular the Despicable Me portion) stopped in front of us. We headed back to Mel's Drive In where we got a couple of milkshakes to share while we were waiting. Hmmm... the parade crowds are not what they are at Disney. In fact, there weren't any. So after a bit o' discussion, we decided to position ourselves at the first parade stop, up in the New York area. That way we could just scoot on out out the park as soon as it went by, which is what we did. But not before my son, Bug, took many, many pictures of the parade. Here is one of his favorites:



At this point it was mid afternoon, and we headed back to our hotel. As we walked through the pool area, we stopped at the cold water station. (Which, by the way did NOT taste like Florida water.)DH and T headed out " Men bring back food!" while we rested in our very cool room. WE needed to be well rested because of the next surprise:

We had front row seats to Blue Man Group! Oh my word, you must see this show once in your life. It was fun, weird, silly, and very very entertaining. And for Lill-E, messy. She was the only one who really needed the provided poncho. I'm glad she was wearing it, although I think I could have gotten out the blue paint handprint from her hair and the mashed us banana from her clothes anyway. We are a musical family (both playing and listening), so this was all just right up our alley. And the dance party at the end was SO much fun.

As we left the theater, we encountered the first real rain of our trip. So we trotted back in the rain, and fell into bed happy.

Tomorrow: Finally! Harry! Islands of Adventure!
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Old 07-07-2012, 09:22 PM   #22
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can't wait to hear more about Universal IOA! Great trip report!
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Old 07-11-2012, 10:00 AM   #23
anierodzik
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Hello, Harry... Islands of Adventure

So after our too brief stay at Hard Rock Hotel, we check out and head over to Islands of Adventure. This was our first (and only) line up and wait time at the front gate. Whenever we do Disney we are always rope drop people, but this was the first time that we felt it necessary.


We had been to Islands of Adventure 2 years ago, before the Wizarding World of Harry Potter had opened. Our family has seen all of the movies several times, and T and I had also read the books. We were so excited to become a part of this world! After the mad rush, taking the shortcut around the side of Seuss Landing, we entered Hogsmeade and headed straight to Ollivanders. Hurry! Hurry, everyone. We got in line just as the door was closing for the first session, so we waited. At that point, the crew wanted to know why we were here? Just wait, . We head in, and they were amazed. It's just like the movies! We shuffled over to the far side and... T was chosen! Oh my word! How amazing was that! He was thrilled! We of course bought the wand that chose him, and we went through the shop to let the other two pick out their wands. Lill-E chose Ginny Weasley's wand, and Bug chose Professor Snape's. (We used the AP for a 10& discount and had the merchandise sent to the front of the park.)

Off to Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. The wait was still quite reasonable, in fact, I wish we had spent a bit more time in line looking at everything. Lill-E seemed to be back up to 48". I had warned the kids about the Dementors in the ride, so we were ready. I did not, however, warn my DH about the spiders. The ride was AMAZING. After one time through Bug and I were feeling a bit queasy and Lill-E was kinda scared, so DH and T headed off for the second time through. We were saving our "Golden Ticket" Express Pass that we "earned" on Men in Black the day before.

The ride times were increasing, as were the crowds. We started to wander around to shop and take pictures, when GRRR, our camera batteries ran out. We headed over to Hogshead Pub for a butterbeer. It is much quicker to get it here than at the stands, and you get to sit in a cool place to drink it. We tried both the frozen and the regular, and our family pretty much agreed that we like the regular one better. DH scooted off to see what he could find in the way of camera batteries, and came back with a disposable digital camera. The quality of these photos was much less than our camera, so I guess we have an excuse to go back soon. After our butterbeer, we headed over to the flight of the Hipppogriff, where we were very glad to have our Express Passes, even if a very loud and confused rude woman did not understand us "cutting" in line. This was a cute, quick ride, and we really enjoyed see Hagrid's hut. After this the guys headed over to the Dueling Dragons will Lill-E and I hung out in the owl post. We loved Harry Potter world, and we headed out of there happy Muggles. (Oh, sorry, T is a wizard now.)

We headed back through the Lost Continent and spent some time in Seuss Landing. Lill-E wanted to ride something, so we hit the Seuss trolley train and One Fish Two Fish, otherwise known as "Bug soak Momma" Ride. We did Cat in the Hat a couple of times, and decided it was time for lunch.

When I figured out that we were going to stay at the Hard Rock Hotel, I signed us up for their rewards program (All-Access). The card came with a $20 credit, and since we had not used that at the hotel, we decided to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe, so we left the park and headed over. We enjoyed our lunch here. It was nice to sit down and eat, since most of our meals at this point had been counter service meals.

Back to the park! This time we headed to the left toward Marvel Super Hearo Island. Bug was very excited to try the Incredible Hulk Coaster, but Lill-E was too short, so we headed over to Storm Force Accelatron. My girl loves this souped up teacups ride, and I did manage to ride it twice with her before my queasiness set it. The guys loved Hulk (twice), and we headed over to one of my favorite rides for the last trip: Spiderman. I usually can't see things in 3-D real well, but this is one that I can, and it was great! We rode this one twice as well. Love, love it!

(I'm sorry that there are not any more pictures to share- remember, the camera's batteries died, and the disposable was all used up in WWOHP.)

I could tell my crew was starting to drag. We had been up late (for us) because of Blue Man Group, and were up early as well. We took a slow stroll back over to WWOHP. They kids did not ask to ride the water rides (I think they got their fill at Busch Gardens). We didn't even stop in Jurassic Park. Back to Harry! Back to Harry!. The wait for the ride was over 60 minutes, and the crowds in this area were kinda packed. I know it was been worse in the past, but for us, that was kinda crowded. But we walked up to the first line attendant and handed her our five Express Passes (the "I'm sorry you were stuck on Men in Black and had to be evacuated" ones.), and on we went. I'm not sure which line we were in, but even though we were moving so much faster than the regular one, we took the time to stop and look around. So, one more ride on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which was once again amazing. Lill-E was not scared because she "knew when to close her eyes".

By now it was mid/late afternoon, and we were all done. We slowly made our way out of the park, stopping for our packages and to upgrade our tickets to Power Passes.

Next up.. back to Seaworld
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Old 07-11-2012, 10:28 AM   #24
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Glad you enjoyed Forbidden Journey. I was worried about that one because I get motion sickness easily. It is an awesome ride. Hard to explain to people who have not ridden it. Looking forward to your next SeaWorld update. I decided to forgo Busch Gardens for October and decided on SeaWorld instead. I figured we would get AP's since we are going back to Universal in May.
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Old 07-11-2012, 12:45 PM   #25
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Just found your TR, and I am thoroughly enjoying it so far . Can't wait for more!

We visited Universal, IOA, SeaWorld and Discovery Cove at New Years:

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2864779

and had a FANTASTIC time. Equally as good as our Disney-only trip in 2009 (maybe even better.....*gasp*!.....am I allowed to say that?). We are heading to Aquatica, DC and Wet & Wild in August, then back for Christmas week at SeaWorld & Aquatica (staying at the Residence Inn you stayed at......for the same reason, we need that separate bedroom and additional space!). Pondering adding Busch Gardens to the mix, but still undecided.....we shall see how the budget goes . DH and DS are coaster lovers so I know they would enjoy it thoroughly, I'm just not sure about the holiday crowds.

Looking forward to reading about the remainder of your getaway. I love reading trip reports because I always seem to come away with a handy tidbit or two to apply to our next vacation!
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Jan. 2009....onsite at POR: all 4 Disney Parks
Jan. 2012....offsite on I-Drive: Universal Studios, IOA, SeaWorld, & Discovery Cove
Aug. 2012...Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa: Aquatica, Discovery Cove, and more
Dec. 2012...onsite at SW! Christmas week at SeaWorld, Aquatica, Gatorland, airboats, & holiday fun
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Aug. 2013....Sheraton Vistana Resort: Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Cocoa Beach & more! **August 2013 Trip Report: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3167818

Aug. 2014.....SVR, SW, DC, AQ, TL, Daytona & MORE! Visit my trip report in progress: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=51863899


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Old 07-11-2012, 01:21 PM   #26
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Glad you enjoyed Forbidden Journey. I was worried about that one because I get motion sickness easily. It is an awesome ride. Hard to explain to people who have not ridden it. Looking forward to your next SeaWorld update. I decided to forgo Busch Gardens for October and decided on SeaWorld instead. I figured we would get AP's since we are going back to Universal in May.
I actually took the low dose dramamine before the ride, and it really helped the motion sickness. I do worse on rides like HP where there is a visual along. I'm usually okay on the spinning tea cups stuff.

We loved SeaWorld, and we loved Busch Gardens. I know we will be going back to both sometime soon. thanks for reading!
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Old 07-11-2012, 01:25 PM   #27
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Just found your TR, and I am thoroughly enjoying it so far . Can't wait for more!

We visited Universal, IOA, SeaWorld and Discovery Cove at New Years:

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2864779

and had a FANTASTIC time. Equally as good as our Disney-only trip in 2009 (maybe even better.....*gasp*!.....am I allowed to say that?). We are heading to Aquatica, DC and Wet & Wild in August, then back for Christmas week at SeaWorld & Aquatica (staying at the Residence Inn you stayed at......for the same reason, we need that separate bedroom and additional space!). Pondering adding Busch Gardens to the mix, but still undecided.....we shall see how the budget goes . DH and DS are coaster lovers so I know they would enjoy it thoroughly, I'm just not sure about the holiday crowds.

Looking forward to reading about the remainder of your getaway. I love reading trip reports because I always seem to come away with a handy tidbit or two to apply to our next vacation!
I think you were writing your trip report as I was planning our trip, it was very helpful! My coaster lovers preferred Busch Gardens to SeaWorld (as far as coasters go), but we loved both trips. And the Quick Queue- which you will have for SeaWorld as a Residence Inn guest- makes it SO easy.

Thanks for reading!
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Old 07-11-2012, 02:24 PM   #28
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A relaxing day at SeaWorld...

So, to recap we have been to the following parks: Busch Gardens, SeaWorld, Aquatica, Busch Gardens (again), Universal Studios, and Islands of Adventure. While the weather was warmer than we were used to at this time of year, the rain was almost nonexistent, and I had planned for rain. Our next stop is to go back to SeaWorld. We did have the Unlimited Quick Queues (thanks to our hotel) and free Preferred parking (thanks to our Super Grover). We decided against the All Day Dining, but instead slept in and went down for a later, more leisurely breakfast before we headed out to SeaWorld.

Even with the "later" start (okay, our family doesn't REALLY sleep in) we still had "Rock Star Parking". I had less of a plan for today, and allowed my DH to lead. He has a much better sense of direction, and since I found SeaWorld to be a bit confusing in its layout, this worked out well.

We saw three shows. Of course, we had to go back to Blue Horizons (the Whale and Dolphin show.) It was just as good, if not better, than our previous day. We also saw Pets Ahoy which was very, very cute. And air conditioned. And we rounded our shows off with A'Lure, the Call of the Ocean. Also inside. While we were in this show, the first of the bad rainstorms hit.

Our kids with some of the acrobats. I think Bug was having career ideas watching them fly through the air.

We also visited Pacific Point Preserve, which we somehow skipped before.

We were excited to feed these guys (remember an Annual Pass gives you 10% off).

You had to aim right at their mouths- there were many birds ready to swoop in and take the food. We also saw a baby:

They had a photographer taking pictures from the other side of the pool, but we were happy to have a fully charged camera back, and were pleased with our pictures.

We did a lot more raindrop dodging as we hit the rides today. We skipped the entire Shamu Stadium side of the park, so we did not go to Wild Arctic. But we did go to Sky Tower a couple of times. And Manta.

This time I rode it. That was one of Bug and T's mission for today, to get me on Manta. I LOVED it. This was the first time a rode a coaster that turned me on my stomach to ride, and I was a bit nervous, but it was great!
Since Lill-E couldn't ride it, she and DH went to the Manta Aquarium.


Next up was Atlantis, which we let the kiddos ride by themselves. Twice.

They really are on the back of this car somewhere. We liked to try to alternate rides that Lill-E couldn't ride with ones she could, and SeaWorld's layout worked well for this. Kraken was next:

.
They really are on this car, too. On the way out of Kraken, my husband posed us for this picture, which is quite appropriate for us:
.

As we were making our way around the park today, DH decided that we needed another sit-down meal, so we had made reservations for the Sharks Underwater Grill. We realized that we had a bit more time before our early supper, so we decided to try Atlantis again. Yes!

Hooray!

Unfortunately, as we were headed to get in line the ride shut down. Then they told us to move inside because of bad weather in the area. Have you ever been in the Jewels of the Sea Aquarium under the Journey to Atlantis? We have. And we spent much quality time with this guy:

And these guys:

In fact, maybe a bit more time than we wanted. Finally they released us to carry on (it never did rain at this point), and we made our way over to Sharks Underwater.

We loved the atmosphere of this restaurant. T loves sharks (and knows pretty much everything about them), so this was a lot of fun. The food was very good. We had various combinations of scallops, shrimp, and steak. The service was great, and it was a wonderful way to end our day at SeaWorld.

Up next: A mediocre day at DisneyQuest, then an amazing, mind-blowing day at Discovery Cove.
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Old 07-14-2012, 08:00 PM   #29
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great trip report so far. We always visit the non Disney parks when at Florida.
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Old 07-14-2012, 08:23 PM   #30
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great trip report so far. We always visit the non Disney parks when at Florida.
Thanks! We just booked another trip to Universal Studios.
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