SeaWorld – Orlando, Florida

SeaWorld went above my expectations, and for James was his favourite attraction in Orlando. High praise indeed when up against Universal and Disney.

The great thing about SeaWorld, compared to a lot of aquariams, is the interactive elements. On walking in we came across Stingray Lagoon. I’ve seen this before in London Aquarium, where you can stroke the rays, but this area was so large! Also prepare to get wet. We stood along the wall and dipped our hands in to get a feel of their silky skin. James bought some food but being an animal wuss I refused to do it. James tried to do it like he was told, put the prawn between his fingers and then holding his hand underwater, but the rays tended to yank the prawn away before it was fully under.

We had a glimpse at the Dolphin Interactive experience but decided to come back later when we could try feeding them. (For a fee!)

There was a wait for the ride ‘Journey to Atlantis’ but not for the queue but because it had technical problems. People were hanging around the front all day. I was happy, I didn’t need another water ride to spoil my hair but suddenly a crowd of people flooded the queue as the gates opened. We joined them. As much as I didn’t want to get wet I had to experience the ride. OMG. Never been on a log flume like it. A very strange one but fantastic. I won’t give away the secret but it is a water ride unlike any other log flume I’ve experienced.

Kraken was a great floorless coaster. As usual sitting at the front is best but any seat will give you a great ride. Like many Orlando theme parks the rides followed a story. This one was a mighty sea creature that terrorises sailors . Even considering we went to SeaWorld on a weekend the queue was non-exsistent. Mid-November is the best time to go.

Final ride was Manta. If you’ve been on Air at Alton Towers then you get the idea. You sit down and then your bum is lifted up so you are lying facing the floor. A strange sensation at first but makes an amazig ride. Called Manta, you are supposed to resemble a sea creature (like a ray) swimming and spinning in the water. I also prefered to imagine being Buzz Lightyear jumping around Andy’s room thinking I’m flying.

The rides make a great alternate to walking around exhibits and seeing shows.

Speaking of shows the first we saw called ‘One Ocean’, a stadium show based around killer whales and the showstopper Shamu. Shamu is a massive killer whale and you can see it’s incredible size compared to the other whales. The killer whales have lots of water space to move around in. They are capable of splashing the first quarter on the stadium. They are fantastic creatures that share a connection with their trainers.

The second show we saw was called ‘Clyde and Seymour Take Pirate Island’. This was a show of two sea lions which great comedic timing, and the trainers are pretty funny too. There is also an otter who helps out with a few funny jokes. A good family friendly show. I would deffo see this again. The sea lions knew the rountine too well as in some points they would run off before the trainer said his lines. Although I wonder if this has become part of the routine.

The final show was the dolphin show. This included a lot of gymnastics and people on ropes. The dolphins jump and push trainers along under water. It is the usual dolphin tricks but the presentation makes the show an experience. The colours are bright, the music is uplifting and the costumes are magical.

I did feel a little unsure about the shows, knowing that a trainer had been killed here last year by a whale. However when I returned from Orlando and viewed my Mum’s photos from her trip to the same places 30 years ago it is clear that these parks have done a lot to improve the size of enclouses.

After the last show we went to feed the dolphins. We were each given a dish with some fish inside and we taught how to present the food. It was strange to be so close to them. The time with them was short, although I preferred that as the dolphins should be given their space. Not before James managed to get a dolphin to spin for him though.

Amoungst these attractions we saw Penguins, Sharks, Fish and even some kind of llama. Our last exhibit was the sea lions but by this time the park was getting dark and people were heading for the exit. But we didn’t really want to leave! And we didn’t before spending some time in the gift shop. It was a fantastic day out. We even went back for another afternoon after going to the SeaWorld water park. But that is a different story.

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