A week or so ago I headed out to Florida for a work trip so I took it upon myself to head out a day early and visit a couple of parks that had long been on my "theme park bucket list". Despite multiple trips to FL I had just never managed to get to these two parks.
They were both totally worth the wait as both were amazing.
Written by Gregg Condon
Flying into MIA at about 6am ... flying out of MIA at about 7am on my way to TPA.
If that seems like a quick connection in an airport as big as MIA ... you are correct.
After a quick breakfast at IHOP (seriously, I could NOT find a Waffle House on the way from the Airport) it was time for Busch Gardens Tampa.
Wouldn't you know, just as the park was about to open a huge storm hit. It wasn't even one of those 5 minute FL storms, it was a good 1/2 hour.
Good thing after that though is we had a relatively dry day.
Our first stop of the day was Cheetah Hunt ... and in typical Intamin fashion the ride was down.
We did get to ride later in the day and I loved it. Would have loved to ride more, but the ride just was having a bad day.
So while they were figuring out what's going on with the Intamin, we headed to Cobra's Curse.
Totally loved this ride. Unexpectedly longer than I thought it would be.
Next up was Montu ... and wow, this B&M did not disappoint. Fun in the front and the back.
Some more of Cobra's Curse
A lot of the rides at Busch Gardens go near walkways, so I'm guessing this has been an issue in the past?
Tunnel of Humidity
Ok, Falcon's Fury.
I'll be honest, I'm not a "screamer" when it comes to rides, unless we're just being silly. But VERY rarely does a ride make me scream from freaking me out. This one did. And it was AMAZING.
I had thought they should add the same seats to Lex Luthor at SFMM, I'm re-thinking that. It may be too much. Lol.
Scorpion was great fun as well.
Oh yeah, some of Team Park Journey came out for the day as well. We had so much fun.
Boo, Kumba was closed. Guess I'll have to come back. Shucks.
Mad Kitty ... seriously, he did NOT like us, well me.
Well, if you insist. =)
Most amount of wet we've ever gotten on a log flume ever. And it was glorious.
I don't get why these dive machines get such hate. Are they the most intense rides ever? No. But they sure are fun.
Flaming-O's for my wife.
The Kangaroos are down for rehab. Not sure if drugs or physical. =)
So after a fun day at Busch Gardens, and having had only an hour or two of "plane sleep" I drove out to Orlando.
Instead of going to sleep in my hotel I decided to go find Shake Shack. I honestly didn't even realize it was at the same place as the Orlando Eye.
The next morning it was up bright and early for SeaWorld. Well, I slept for like 11 hours in the hotel, and it was again ... amazing.
Ok, here it is kids. I've gotten a LOT of flack over the years due to my dislike of Tatsu at Magic Mountain. I'm just not a fan. I would have much preferred a flying coaster that had some tunnels or hugged the terrain a bit, not just built on top of a hill. It's an eyesore, it needs a paint job, it's got no pacing ... shall I go on.
Which brings me to Manta
I loved, loved, loved, loved, loved, LOVED Manta. I don't understand how anybody who has ridden both of these coasters could put Tatsu above Manta. Manta has EVERYTHING a Flying coaster should have. Aerial stunts. Check. Pretzel Loop. Check. Awesome looking trains. Check. Near misses with Rocks and Water. Check. Great ops. Check.
I really loved this ride if you can't tell.
A little slo-mo of the part of the ride nobody has ever seen. Lol.
Oh, my other favorite part of the park, for those of you who know me this is NO surprise.
This area blew me away. And the Penguin Encounter at SeaWorld San Diego is a pale comparison.
But more on that in another article soon.
I know the ride gets a lot of hate, and it's probably pretty justified, but I enjoyed it for what it was.
If you are riding this thinking it's going to be Pooh at TDL you will be SORELY disappointed.
OMG, Penguins. I could have stayed in here all day if it wasn't so cold.
Love the underwater viewing.
NEED!! (No I didn't buy it)
Journey to Atlantis was a lot of fun. I was warned not to sit in the front row. I did not sit in the front row. I see why I was warned not to sit in the front row.
Where to even begin with this ...
Yes, you read that correctly, 354 seconds between dispatches. And that doesn't even include the ride cycle time. This VR thing HAS to die. I would have loved to ride this more than once, but I couldn't handle it. It was ridiculous.
I did wait for a front row ride, but because of how they have the VR "Bags" set up, it didn't matter.
Another ride that seems to get a lot of hate for no apparent reason. Solidly in the middle of the B&M Hypers, but that's not a bad thing AT ALL.
First ride it was raining, and I was in the front row. It stung.
As you can see, it wasn't busy. I rode this 8 times in about 45 minutes. Could have ridden more if I didn't have to walk around every time.
Had to pay a visit to the Sharks
And the Turtles
Alright, that's going to wrap it up. I had an amazing two days at two amazing parks.
I did get over to Disney Springs and Hoop De Do Review later in the day with more of Team Park Journey, and that was amazing as well. Maybe I'll put that report up one of these days. =)
Hopefully you enjoyed this report, I will be visiting FL a few more times for work soon so I'm looking forward to trying a few more parks I have yet to get to and seeing more of the state.
Last week we saw the quiet opening of two new attractions at SeaWorld Orlando's Discovery Cove: Shark Swim and Ray Feeding interactions.
Renée was lucky enough to get a preview of these two new amazing looking experiences. Enjoy!!
We also included some press release info and B-Roll at the bottom of the update.
Written by Renée Girard
Two new attractions debuted last week at SeaWorld Orlando's Discovery Cove park: the shark swim and ray feeding interactions.
Ray feeding takes place every day except Weds & Thurs at 7:00am. Discovery Cove aquarists bring guests to Grand Reef before the park opens
During the first part of the ray feeding, guests sit among the rays and learn about them while aquarists begin the feed and the rays swim up
They are then brought to the center of the reef and shown proper ray feeding techniques, and get to feed the eager sting rays on their own
There is also a huge variety of fish swimming throughout the Grand Reef, and guests have the opportunity to feed them as well.
Afterwards, they are free to snorkel in the Grand Reef prior to opening to other guests. Ray feed experience is additional $50 to admission
Discovery Cove's new shark swim is only open to 6 guests per day at an additional $85 charge.
Aquarists guide guests in the shark area that had previously been off limits. It's incredible to come face to face with these amazing sharks
After swimming, guests can pet, hold and feed a shark while learning about how they are trained and cared for. A truly unique experience!
SWIM WITH SHARKS AT DISCOVERY COVE
New Immersive Programs Bring Guests Closer to Marine Life than Ever Before
Discovery Cove B-Roll
(Orlando, Fla.) July 13, 2017 –In celebration of Shark Awareness Day on July 14, guests at Discovery Cove can now take part in exclusive new animal experiences at the park. Discovery Cove has always been known for its memorable dolphin interactions, and now guests can enhance their visit with one of-a-kind, hands-on encounters with sharks and stingrays.
The awe-inspiring Shark Swim program provides closer-than-ever encounters with legendary predators. While guests have always been able to view park’s sharks, the new program takes them on a daring next step – swimming freely among five species: Pacific blacktip, reef whitetip, nurse shark, zebra shark, and a spotted wobbegong.
The immersive session is divided into two unique interactions and begins as guests meet with the park’s shark team and head into the water. Through hands-on interaction, guests learn about shark anatomy and the threats the animals face in the wild. Guests can also join the sharks in the deeper part of their habitat and embark on an exhilarating snorkel experience.
Discovery Cove works to dispel myths about sharks and to inspire guests to learn more about these mysterious creatures. As top predators, sharks play an essential role in maintaining the balance of ocean ecosystems worldwide by monitoring fish populations. Sadly, shark finning and overfishing threaten many shark species and disrupt that natural balance. Guests who take part in the new Shark Swim program will walk away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for these fascinating ocean ambassadors.
The Shark Swim experience is available to Discovery Cove guests ages 10 and older. The cost is $85 per person. For every shark swim package purchased, SeaWorld will donate 5% of the proceeds to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation (GHOF) in support of shark conservation and research.
In addition to the Shark Swim program, Discovery Cove has launched a new Ray Feeding experience. This exclusive opportunity gives guests the chance to feed the stingrays during a private tour of the Grand Reef. Guided by one of the park’s aquarists, guests ages 6 and older spend their session in the Grand Reef learning all about the species of rays as they hand-feed the incredible creatures. The Ray Feeding program is $50 per person.
The new interaction programs require a Dolphin Swim or Day Resort reservation at Discovery Cove to participate. Space for each program is limited and guests are encouraged to book in advance. For additional program and booking details, guests can visit www.discoverycove.com
Beginning August 1, Florida residents who book a day at Discovery Cove will also receive unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica, SeaWorld’s water park, through January 2018 – including SeaWorld’s special holiday events.
About Discovery Cove
Discovery Cove® in Orlando is an all-inclusive day resort where guests can enjoy a one-of-a-kind opportunity to swim with dolphins, snorkel among thousands of tropical fish and rays, hand-feed exotic birds, and encounter playful otters and curious marmosets. At the park, guests can relax and explore rocky lagoons surrounded by lush landscaping, tropical reefs, winding rivers and white, sandy beaches. Freshly prepared meals, snacks and beverages throughout the day and swim gear are included, plus unlimited, 14-day admission to SeaWorld® Orlando and Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark®. Guests will experience the most exciting animal encounters the world has to offer in a breathtaking tropical atmosphere.
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, behavioral training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 30,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.
The company owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection. The company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a wholly owned subsidiary of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., a publicly traded company. Visit www.seaworldentertainment.com for more information.
Last week we were invited out to SeaWorld San Diego to check out the all new Ocean Explorer as well as the new Orca Encounter.
Overall we really enjoyed the new area even though it's definitely for the younger set, which is totally fine considering next years addition is for us thrill seekers.
Written by Gregg Condon
Welcome to Ocean Explorer
Lots of fun kid-sized flat rides in the area
And of course the all new Submarine Quest
Lining up for our ride
Be sure to check out our POV of Submarine Quest
Hey little buddy
The other new addition for this summer is the all new Orca Encounter.
I have to be 100% honest, when I watched the preview video below that Al shot during the AP Previews I was concerned that it still contained too many "show" elements and it wasn't going to convince any of the SeaWorld detractors that they've gone far enough. I envisioned just a huge area where the Orca's would swim and the stadium was just there for you to go in and watch them throughout the day.
But after seeing Orca Enounter I can definitely see where SeaWorld is going with the new show and it's definitely different than their previous shows. I hope those who are against SeaWorld will take the time to actually watch the show prior to making up their minds.
Here are some pictures of the show, we had some video but because people are rude, it didn't turn out great. We'll try and get back this summer to hopefully get a better full video of the show.
We also took a ride on the awesome Bayside Skyride during our visit and were able to get a nice POV of that as well.
Thanks again to SeaWorld for having us out, make sure you get out to the park to check out the all new additions for this summer and of course all of the other amazing things in the park.