Its been quite a while since I went on vacation. Before the review and recommendations, there are a few announcements. Not too long ago, I was convinced there would be no more full marathons after I complete my first. Somehow, I signed up for the Disney marathon in January 2014. Also, all shin splints and pains are gone ever since I’ve switched to minimalist sneakers. And finally, NYC marathon training is in full effect!
Day 1: Seaworld
Me and my wife took an early JetBlue flight to Orlando during the climax of tropical storm Andrea. We checked into Loews Royal Pacific hotel (on-site). The package deal came with park tickets, transportation, early entry to Harry Potter world, and fast passes. With most of the Seaworld parking lot empty, the non-stop pouring rain did not kill the experience at all. Good thing we packed rain jackets although walking around in swim trunks would’ve worked as well. Seaworld is a combination of aquarium, amusement park (rides), and circus (shows). Water animals are my favorite so I was looking forward to this place.
Obviously, you can’t go to Seaworld without seeing the Shamu show. Orcas are bigger than I thought. When finding a seat prior to the show, make sure you sit in the “splash zone” seats on purpose. It didn’t make sense until the orcas were lined up with their tails in the air.
And 3rd, the pirate/seal show is a good one, quite funny.
The 2 big ones: Manta and Kraken; coasters with big drops, loops, and twists. If you’ve been to 6 Flags Great Adventure, then Manta is like the Superman and Kraken is like the Medusa. Due to the heavy rain, these rides were down for most of the day. Eh, maybe next time. I’ve been on enough coasters. There is a log flume ride (every park has one) but we were already soaked. And avoid the Wild Arctic helicopter simulation, it will get you sick, trust me. Just take the “walk” option to arrive at the same Beluga whale/Polar bear/Walrus area.
All I have to say is: BYOL (bring your own lunch). Unless you like amusement park hamburgers and fries all day.
The Stingray Lagoon was pretty cool. Just stick your hand in and you can feel them all up. Feed them at your own risk though, they have strong suction and your fingers can easily strike their teeth, which can hurt. Feeding dolphins at the Dolphin Cove was great. First time I touched a dolphin, their skin feels like rubber. $7 for a handful of sardines. Out of all the dolphins, the fat one kept eating all our sardines.
We had the unique behind the scenes experience to speak with the penguin caretakers and actually got to hold a baby penguin. This dude was the fluffiest thing you could imagine. I think his parents were behind the gate monitoring us.
Day 2-A: Islands of Adventure
The most important thing… get a fast pass. Don’t even bother going without one. The best thrill ride is skipping 60 minute lines. The ideal strategy is to start with the Islands of Adventure and then head for Universal Studios. I had no idea how crazy people get for Harry Potter world. We were there 10 minutes after the park just opened and somehow a 35-40 minute line formed for the Harry Potter ride. The ride was worth the wait and the world itself was quite impressive. I hear that its expanding too.
Next stop… Jurassic Park land. T-Rex caught the Shoryuken uppercut. The River Adventure log flume ride was cool. You’ll get sick and tired of the theme song which is played in a loop the entire time though.
Next stop… Toon town. All I have to say is… Popeye water ride. Not a dry spot on me and more soaked then the day before. If you wear a lot of make-up, good luck. The best part was finding the tugboat with the water guns to get my revenge on the kids who were shooting me. I wasn’t the only one who had vengeance. Firrre!
There were other opportunities to get wet on a water slide or a log flume but I was not dressed for the beach.
Next stop… Lost Continent, only good thing here was the Mythos restaurant. Just like rides, there were lines for this restaurant, but not for us since we setup a 12:00 reservation (great idea wife). Great food and big portions.
Next stop… Marvel world. I just had lunch so no Hulk coaster for me. However, the Spiderman ride was awesome.
With the fast pass, it was a non-stop 5-6 hour blur of rides. I’ll just discuss my top 3. Right at the entrance, we skipped a 45 minute “Despicable Me” line. It was for kids but it was still fun, and I’m a big kid. The MIB (Men in Black) ride was so cool that I did it twice (fast pass remember). 6 people to a moving pod and you get a laser gun to shoot all aliens that pop up. With an almost empty pod, I took 2 guns and blasted away. Finally, with luck on my side, it was the grand opening of the Transformers ride; my favorite. Trust me, go on this ride even if you don’t have a fast pass.
Night 2: Citiwalk
There is a long strip of restaurants, night clubs, and shops right outside the parks. We ate at Latin Quarter and called it a night. Resting was much better than partying after being on your feet all day and getting shaken up from all the rides. How do the parents do it with all their kids!?
Day 3-9: Carnival cruise to the Western Caribbean
To Be Continued…