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Water Parks

Florida Guide > Sea World

What a great, leisurely and completing absorbing park. If you are completely "Disney Dazed" and want a break from characters, thrill rides (although these are not completely absent from the park), and sometimes very long queues, this is your next stop.

Sea World on the I4, just down from International Drive is easily accessible and with parking near the gate, very often you can walk to the entrance but on busier days they run a tram service. Parking is $7 for cars and $8 for other vehicles. $49.50 adult day admission, $40.95 children's admission. Let your kids where their swimsuits under their clothes or take them with you - they will come in handy at this park as really with all Disney parks.

As with the Disney parks, you get the professional photographers at the beginning of the park which is sometimes the only chance the family have to get a photo taken without one person missing. Let them take the photo and look at it at the end of the day, there is no obligation and they never pressure you to purchase when you go and look at it. We have been pleasantly surprised on many occasions and they make great souvenirs or presents for people when you return home.

Firstly, as you enter get the all important map with the show times on the reverse. There are few shops full of Sea World momentos as you walk in (this is also your exit for when you are feeling sentimental and want to buy a 5ft cuddly dolphin!! - because you will be moved by the animals). I think they are reasonably priced and have purchased T-Shirts for the girls when they have got wet (I'll explain later) and they have washed beautifully - around $16/$20. Buy them big enough and they wear them as nighties!

You will come first to the Tropical Reef where you can view over 30 aquariums with all kinds of marine life from around the world. The park often take in rescued animals, make them better and the release them back into the sea etc.

Next is Turtle Point. The turtles are huge! A guide is usually chatting away whenever you go up and they will answer all questions.

Next off to Key West. You can actually touch a Stingray here and if you are really lucky a Dolphin (Dolphin Cove). Check to see what times feeding is as this will give you great close ups of the dolphins, patience is a virtue here and if you want to attract a dolphin, place your hand in the water with the palm up. They won't come to anyone splashing or tapping the water, they find that intimidating. Lesson 1! If there is a person splashing like crazy - move away as they are putting the dolphins off and they will not come anywhere near you. Lesson 2 - buy the dolphin food! They will become your best friend. Lesson 3 - get someone else to throw the fish - they stink!!! Joking apart, just to watch them play is amazing and very moving. There are always a member of staff near the animals and they are very informative and will any questions you have. You could spend hours here but remember the rest of the park is just as wonderful.

You can get a snack in Key West at Pete's Island's Eats and have a Bud - they do great Funnel cake here. Remember your Triple A card at this park as some of the refreshment places and shops give you 10% discount with this. (For UK families, if you are a member of the AA here in the UK, simply phone the AA and they will send you one - use for discounts in a number of places over in Orlando).

Just around the corner is Dolphin Stadium. A funny 20 minute show with false killer whales and dolphins who perform amazing stunts and there is the usual audience participation which always brings a giggle. The kids loved the show and this is beauty of Sea World. Although as with Hollywood Studios you have to get to the shows 30 minutes before to get a good seat, they tend to pack in everyone who wants to see it and they entertain you while you wait - no standing up queueing for the main part. However, at busy periods, they don't seem to cope with the refreshment side of things as well as Disney do.

Next to see the Manatees. Huge mammals that don't really do much but it's worth a visit to this area as they are endangered so I guess they won't be around for ever.

You can now get your "thrill ride fix". Journey to Atlantis is a log floom ride, very leisurely for the most part then and then at the end you will get wet! Takes great photos as you swoop down and you can view them on screens as you leave. They can be hysterical. You can see the ride in full swing so you can make your decision about whether the kids will be OK - my 8 year old loves it. Next to Atlantis Kraken, a floorless mega-coaster: the fastest, tallest, longest and wildest roller coaster in Orlando - that's their advertising lingo - can not comment as there is now way on this earth I would go on it!! Never seems a huge queue perhaps Sea World visitors are all a bit like me - scared!

You can then go and quietly look at Penguins in their artificial but apparently very authentic surroundings - very cold water. Did you know that when a penguin malts, they cannot go into the water as it is so cold and they would die, they have to live off their fatty deposits until they are fully plumed again-I'd be Ok for years. The park keeps you informed about the animals the whole time and keeps the adults interested as well as the children.

Off next to the Clyde and Seamore Sea Lion show! Entertaining and funny - in parts corny but the seals are very talented - watch out for Sir Winston Walrus, you cannot help but fall in love with him. First few rows get wet but nothing substantial - they save the real soaking for SHAMU. You can get go to Pacific Point reserve and feed the sea lions - you can spot the greedy ones - they are the most noisy!! $5 for two trays.

Shamu and his family are the most famous residents at Sea World and the show is SPECTACULAR!! I won't spoil it, only to say that if you have expensive camera equipment or it's a cold day - DON'T sit in the first 14 rows! The staff will warn you and heed their warnings, they are honestly not exaggerating! Great pre-show for Shamu so get there about 30 minutes before.

Just beyond the Shamu stadium is the Shamu's Happy Harbour play area. My children just love it here. There is a bouncy dome, very high climbing nets, a ship and Pete's Watermaze. My kids got soaked here-hence the T-Shirts. There is also an arcade type area where you can win various cuddly toys - $40 later and nothing but why is it that we just won't give up!!

We all wanted to eat now and there are rib places, burger places, chicken places etc but as it was busy, they had long queues at all, so we decided to check out Bimini Bay Cafe by the Tiki Bar. The wait to be seated was 15 minutes so we put our name down, told them we would be at the bar and they came and called us about 10 minutes later. This is an indoors waitress service restaurant and very good value. There is a kids menu - price $6.50 and they get a drink in a souvenir cup - my children loved their pasta. I had the grouper meal and the bill was only $24 - although I think we chose the wrong desert. We got great seats beside the bay and were able to watch some of the Water ski show which takes place a few times in the day - this can be seen better from the Atlantis Stadium however. The Tiki Bar serves great cocktails, a lovely bar-lady has been there 12 years and is so quick. The cocktails are $6 and you get a plastic Sea World cocktail glass and if you feel like another, take the "glass" back and they are only $5 - you are free to take them home. They also serve beer etc. We also purchased a souvenir soda cup - $4.25 (most people seem to walk around with them) and they are only $1.30 to refill each time - we took it back another day we went and just paid for refills - don't know if you can do this indefinitely though.

This area is also where the Polynesian Luau takes place and it is around $37 for an evening's entertainment and meal. Never done this but always looks fully booked (you need to make reservations during the day or even before you visit - you can also just attend the meal at night but don't have to pay admission to the park - there are more details on the forum from other villa owners who have experienced this).

There is a Dolphin Nursery here and you can see the moms with their young splashing around.

We then decided to go and see the "Pet Show" at the Nautilus Theatre-not as good as the Universal version but nevertheless something different - dogs etc and you get to pet them at the end of the show which the children enjoyed.

It had by now been a long but enjoyable day and we decided to head home. We again, after our sixth or so visit not done the Wild Arctic ride but again the forum discusses this and if we go next time, it is definitely going to be explored - a motion ride or walk ride - the walk option is always less wait time.

There is much more to Sea World than people imagine, we are still to try restaurants etc there and the Sky Tower which takes you high above the park which must be breathtaking. We never tire of this park and highly recommend it for all ages. If you are a frequent Florida visitor and like this park, the annual pass is only around $85 which entitles you to unlimited entry and free parking plus 10% off most refreshment areas and in the shops. You can just pop in for a couple of hours if you like or do a whole day - gives you great choice.

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Page added on: 19 July 2004
Viewed 16481 times since 1 September 2008.

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