The start of our day was particularly monumental because the 10 Year Old had never ridden a large coaster (due to his age and height). Mako – (actually a hypercoaster) the tallest, fastest and longest coaster, in Orlando, it turns out would be his first dalliance into ‘proper rollercoasters’. The twists and turns mimicked that of a shark and with speeds of 70MPH there may have been relentless banshee like screeching a couple of screams coming from my direction. Being strapped in by my waist was unusual, because I like the full safety of an over the shoulder protection bar, but I went with it and quickly realised why. Mako is so fast that when you surf the smooth peaks and troughs at such speed you have a total feeling of weightlessness, something you don’t get from other roller coasters. The verdict was that we were all slightly shaky at the end, but loved it. The 10 Year Old’s verdict was that it was AMAZING, but not something he wanted to repeat immediately!
We arrived at the Manatees just as they were having their breakfast of lettuce and it was clear to see that they LOVE lettuce! Gentle and slow moving herbivores, Manatees are one of my favourite creatures – their faces are incredibly cute, especially their snuffly noses. They vary in size and the average adult manatee can weigh anything between 800 and 1200 pounds! We were lucky enough to be taken behind the scenes where a tour guide showed us some rescued manatees and sea turtles. The expert care that goes into the recuperation of an injured animal was evident and the ultimate goal is always to return the animal to the wild – although when an animal has been orphaned or has injuries that would make it difficult to survive in the wild, they continue to be lovingly cared for at SeaWorld.
We stopped for lunch at Sharks Underwater Grill which was a dining highlight for the whole family. The wall of the restaurant is a floor to ceiling aquarium that hosts the Shark Encounter Attraction, which is the world’s largest underwater viewing tunnel. The food was excellent; we can eagerly vouch for the Grilled Mahi Mahi and the Tempura Shrimp which was not the sort of food we expected from a theme park. The kids menu was good value and included a reusable cup. Sharks both fascinate and scare me, in equal measure, so to sit so close to them as we dined was a real treat and the children loved being eyeball to eyeball with these amazing predators.
At Antarctica : Empire of The Penguin we were given the option of ‘wild’ or ‘mild’ and having ridden Mako earlier in the day we were feeling invincible. We opted for the wild ride in a unique trackless motion vehicle which spins through an adventure and insight into the life of a baby penguin named Puck. There is a drop in temperature during the ride from ‘Orlando heat’ to ‘Antarctica chill’ so take a hoodie for those in your group who really feel the cold otherwise you won’t want to hang around at the end of the ride at the penguins’ habitat, where you can see four species of penguin interacting and swimming underwater.
I was delighted to revisit my favourite coaster of all time, Manta. Once you are secured your chair tilts forward so that you are facing the floor and soaring through the air. The head first face down coaster feeling is something I haven’t come across anywhere else and the feeling of gliding smoothly manta-like through the sea makes this still my number one coaster.
Journey to Atlantis, a ‘log flume’ type ride, takes you up to heady heights through the special effects of a lost city before plunging you down, not one but two, steep drops. We were soaked by the end of it, which was welcome in the 90 degree heat! I had forgotten that there were two drops and it took the 12 Year Old a while to forgive me for not telling her about the secondary surprising splash.
We saw three shows throughout the day. One Ocean, Clyde and Seamore’s Sea Lion High and Blue Horizons. My favourite show was Blue Horizons which featured dolphins. The children loved Clyde and Seamore’s Sea Lion High which was a comedy featuring sea lions, a mahoosive walrus, birds, a janitorial otter and lots of giggles. We also saw One Ocean which demonstrates killer whale behaviours while educating about the importance of protecting the ocean. There is a Splash Zone for each of these shows but we opted for some shade instead.
Our day at SeaWorld was a great experience, we loved the educational side of the theme park and came away with a wealth of knowledge passed on to us by the passionate experts we met throughout the day. We were really proud of the 10 Year Old for being brave enough to ride Mako and I was thrilled to ride Manta again. As well as big thrilling rides there is plenty to see and do for all ages – one day is just not enough!
We stayed at the Renaissance Hotel which was a perfect base for our trip. Situated opposite SeaWorld it is also within a five minute drive of Discovery Cove and Aquatica.
The three ‘M’s – Mako, Manta and the Manatees and dining at Sharks Underwater Grill.
- Park close to the exit at the beginning of the day. At the end of the long day you’ll be thankful not to have to wait to leave the car park when the queues are long.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Take a hoodie for those who feel the cold when going on the Antarctica : Empire of the Penguin attraction.
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
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