Monday, December 29, 2008

Our Vacation to Florida - Day 8

We stumbled across the Beluga Whale Interaction Program at SeaWorld while checking out the park. We tried signing up for it online in the hotel room Friday morning. You have to order at least 2 days in advance. That was out... We were leaving Saturday. We made our way over to SeaWorld on Friday and decided to check with the front desk. Ray talked to a very nice guy and found out there were 2 openings on Saturday morning! He also gave us a major discount! It was a win/win. The kids got a 1 hour experience. 20 actual minutes in the water with the whales. Because they are babies, you don't actually swim with them. Their names are Klondike and Aurek. They are a grey color because they are babies. They will be completely white when they are adults. The kids had to put on wet suits because they keep the water at 52 degrees. They got to help train the whales and feed them fish. They got them to tail walk, speak, turn in the water, jump out of the water, fin wave, and many other tricks. My favorite was when the whales spit water at the kids!
This was such an experience of a lifetime!
This was our last day in Florida. We were sad to leave. It was an absolutely awesome vacation. Memories that will last forever!
We got back to Philly around 9:40pm. It was 30 degrees. I certainly didn't miss that!

Our Vacation to Florida - Day 7

We returned to SeaWorld to go back to the exhibits we liked or missed the first time. We took the Predators Tour. We went behind the scenes of the Shamu Stadium and the Shark Tank. We learned a lot about the animals. I didn't realize the tricks the animals do in the shows are all activities they perform in the wild. The trainers just work with them to train them when to perform them. Katie and I got to pet a shark. We also saw shark eggs. There were transparent and you could see the baby sharks inside.

The kids wanted us to go see the Pearl Divers. I felt bad for them. They looked bored out of their minds! The guy was blowing bubble rings and the girl kept swimming up and down. Sean thought she was cute... He actually posed with her!
One of our favorite spots was the Dolphin Nursery. Dolphins have a 12 month gestational period. They put them in the nursey in their last trimester. They also keep the new babies and thier mothers in there for 18 months while the babies nurse. They were so playful and fun.
Sean and Katie went back on the Kraken while Ray and I stayed at the Dolphin Nursery.

We got to feed the dolphins!!! I HIGHLY recommend it! It was so much fun! You get to pet them before you feed them. They are just gorgeous creatures!

Ray and I decided that we want to move down there when we retire. (only during the winter...) We are going to both work at SeaWorld!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Our Vacation to Florida - Day 6

We picked the PERFECT day to visit Aquatica. The temp was around 82 degrees and it was sunny most of the day. Aquatica is the new water park affiliated with SeaWorld. And the best feature... the water is heated! There is an Australian theme throughout the park. All the announcements are in an Australian accent. It sounds like the Crocodile Hunter is talking to you all day.

The first ride is the Dolphin Plunge. The water tube goes through the tank of Black and White Commerson Dolphins. How neat is that!!! Ray said you go too fast to see the dolphins, but I did see some people slowing up through the tubes to try to see the dolphins. I got an AWESOME view at the underwater viewing site. The dolphins were so cute! They were playing every time we stopped by.

Ray, Sean, and Katie went on the Tassie's Twisters. You climb the tower with your tube. Once you get to the top, lightning fast tubes shoot you into a giant bowl, where you spin, and spin, and spin, until you're finally spun back out into the lazy river. I even joined everyone in the lazy river. It was so relaxing! There are 2 different routes while in the river. One route you view gorgeous fish in an aquarium and the other route you see the Black and White Commerson Dolphins.

Ray, Sean, & Katie went on the Walhalla Wave. It's a 6-story maze of twists, turns, and tunnels. (it's the dark blue tube on the left)

They have an adorable play area called Walkabout Waters. This towering, 60-foot-tall rain fortress is bursting with color, excitement, and adventures waiting to begin. It has 2 buckets at the top that dump water on unsuspecting victims below. It's fun to watch!! Ray's and Katie's favorite part is dumping water or squirting water on people below. They are so bad!!!
Taumata Racer is an insane ride! It's a high-speed competitive mat ride where up to eight racers rip down a staggeringly steep hill, head first!! Sean is on the green lane to the left, Ray is on the green lane to the right, and Katie is in the yellow lane to the right.
My favorite part of the park was the Roa's Rapids. It's an awesome adventure through a roaring sea of high tides, swirling whirlies, and gushing geysers- all at speeds that leave ordinary river rides eating this one's wake. You don't use tubes. You just get in the water and go with the water. The bottom is a little slippery so you can keep your feet on the ground and still move around the rapids.

We also went to Big Surf Shores. It's a big wave pool. It started getting me nauseous by the second set of waves. While Ray and I lounged in the pool, the kids went on Whanau Way. They dive down slides on double inner tubes.
It was an awesome day! I got a little sunburnt, but it was worth it. We had to stop by the Commerson Dolphins one last time before leaving.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Our Vacation to Florida - Day 5

Today we went to SeaWorld. This was what I was looking forward to the whole trip! Our first encounter was at Turtle Point. We got to see endangered and threatened species of Sea Turtles. They were turtles who were injured.

Our next stop was Stingray Lagoon. They are slimy little buggers!! They have a mucus covering to help them against disease. Sean and Ray fed them. Katie wasn't interested in touching the little fish.

We wandered over to Dolphin Cove. The dolphins were so close! You are able to feed the dolphins for an additional cost. (Don't forget to bring cash... they don't accept Visa or MasterCard) We decided to come back and feed the dolphins the next day after we stopped at MAC to get cash. We did go to the underwater viewing section and saw those magnificent animals playing. They are so graceful and beautiful!
Next it was onto the Manatee Rescue. We lucked out. It was feeding time. It's amazing to know they only eat spinach and lettuce!

We had the awesome experience of feeding the sea lions and seals. They are loud creatures, especially when they are hungry! The birds were trying to grab the fish before the seals and sea lions. They are definitely pests!

Our timing was pretty good! They were about to start the "Blue Horizon" Dolphin Show. There were acrobats, dolphins, and birds. Katie and I sat in the front row of the SPLASH ZONE! We got wet, but it wasn't too bad. Katie posed with some of the actors after the show.

Onto Journey of Atlantis. It is a water coaster ride. Ray, Sean, and Katie got the "pleasure" of going on this ride... I was more than happy to sit this one out! The ride lets you off in the gift shop (like they all do...). Inside the gift shop is an aquarium. There are fish in the floor, ceiling, and walls. It was really cool!

The kids decided they needed to "kick it up a notch" and go on a REAL ride! They went on the Kraken. It is the longest roller coaster in Orlando! It has twists and turns and it made me very nervous!!! The kids had a blast!

After the Kraken, we journeyed through the Penguin Encounter. The Fiordland Crested Penguins were hysterical! They were diving and swimming around like little kids. The King Penguins moved in miltary like formation.
Our next adventure was going into the Shark Encounter. The moving sidewalk through the shark tank was great! The sharks were swiming aside and ABOVE us. When we went outside, Katie got to feed the some of the smaller sharks. They didn't seem too hungry. It was a little dissapointing.

We decided to take in a show... A'lure - The Call of the Ocean. The acrobats were AMAZING! It was a great show!

They have some Clydesdale Horses on site. Those horses are stunning! They are so large and powerful. Ray and Katie got their picture taken with one (named Kelly). They also got to pet it.

Next stop was Katie's favorite: The Wild Arctic. There was a brief exhibit of the Polar Express. Then it was off the the Beluga Whales, Polar Bears, & Walruses. They have to keep it cold for the animals. There was actual ice on the walls! Katie did a report on Beluga Whales earlier in the year at school, so she was THRILLED to see actual Belugas. We spent a lot of time there! It was hard to take pictures there because of the lighting.

We were able to make it to the Shamu Christmas Miracles Show. It's amazing what those whales can do! We made sure NOT to sit in the SPLASH ZONE for this show!!!

We did A LOT this day! Katie just passed out after her shower.