Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Family Fun Time In Orlando

The boys had a two days off from school this week, so we took a little trip as a family this past weekend to spend some time with Grandma. After worship was over on Sunday, we came home to change clothes and load up the van and then headed for Orlando. We met Grandma at the Caribe Royale Hotel, which is between Downtown Disney and Sea World. We got a great deal on a suite with two queen beds and a pullout sofa in the living room to accommodate our group. While we didn't actually go swimming, the kids had fun exploring around the resort and checking out the hotel pool and slide. 

Then we headed over to Downtown Disney. They are just starting a massive renovation/expansion project there to turn it into something called Disney Springs. Pretty much all of the old Pleasure Island nightclub area and much of the West Side were under construction. But we managed to navigate around all right, what with Grandma in her wheelchair and Davis with his stroller, and see everything we wanted to. Dinner was at a new-to-us restaurant called Raglan Road Irish Pub. We loved the atmosphere, including the Irish dancers, and the food was very good! 

Grandma had the Beef Curry Pie. 
Daryl and I split his Bangers and Mash as well as my Fish and Chips. 
Then it was time for more fun in exploring the gift shops. Davis tried on a Jake and the Neverland Pirates wig and the boys played cars in Ridemakerz. We even stood for a while watching one of the live statues. 

The line for Ghiradelli's at Downtown Disney was HUGE so we headed over to Friendly's on I-drive for dessert before crashing back at the hotel. Monday morning dawned bright and early and by 8:15am we were in the car grabbing breakfast from Chik-Fil-A and heading for Sea World. By 9am when the park officially opened, we had already picked our stroller, scooter and tickets for the all day dining deal. 

Our first order of business was to check out the new penguin exhibit that opened up this year - Antartica, Empire of the Penguin. It was really spectacularly done.

The first part is a little movie about a penguin followed up by a ride. The ride vehicles are the same as the ones from the Mystic Manor in Hong Kong Disney, moving on a magnet over the floor and the seating compartment can spin and move independently above the magnet. Everyone goes through the same experience, but you can choose to have it be a Mild or Wild ride. We chose Mild - we watched one of the Wild cars near us and they were certainly getting bounced around.

The whole thing ends in the penguin habitat. No longer completely behind glass, the temperature in this room is freezing cold. But it is so neat to be able to see the penguins up close. We actually got splashed by the penguins that were swimming past us. We all really loved the experience - Davis got a big kick out of the penguins and how animated they were. The last room is an underwater viewing area to watch the penguins swim.

Someone has really taken to stuffed animals lately and he liked the soft penguin in the gift shop..
We bought refillable Sea World cups several years ago and bring them with us every time we go. The boys found this new Freestyle coke machine station and it took a while to figure out which one of the 100 soda combinations they wanted.

The Sea Lion and Otter show was closed for the day but we took some time to go check out the animals at Pacific Preserve before heading to the Pets Ahoy show. We got to sit in the first two rows thanks to Grandma and had a perfect view of all the animals.

The Street Performers were entertaining too! 

We took a ride on the Sky Tower and then headed over to catch the first Shamu show of the day. Davis got a little sleepy on the way over, but we woke him up to see the actual show and he definitely enjoyed it.

Lunch was at the Terrace Garden Buffet - pizza and pasta. This is the building in the back that used to be the Busch beer tasting area.

We headed to Wild Arctic next. The polar bear was asleep again, but the walrus was out and the beluga whales were active as always. The boys always get their picture taken in the bear den habitat - this time they were happy to include Davis. 

We criss-crossed the park again to visit the Sharks before heading to the Dolphin Show. Davis really enjoyed watching the dolphins and the acrobats/divers that take part in that show.

One of our final stops was to the Turtle Trek exhibit, with its awesome 360 degree movie. Whenever we had to check the stroller outside, Davis managed to catch a ride with Grandma.

The day was so full of fun, that it tuckered Davis out. This was the view at 4pm in the stroller - we let him get a nap while the big boys played in the nets at Shamu's Happy Harbor. 

We let Parker and Wesley do one carnival game and wouldn't you know it, they each one a prize! Parker got a medium sized prize (frog) and Wesley got a small one (Spooktacular pumpkin). 

We finished up our day at Voyager's Smokehouse with spareribs for dinner and Davis ate more macaroni and cheese. He even tried to take it to go!

We stayed from park open until close at 6pm. It was really nice to take a little break and recharge our batteries with the family - plus it was a lot of fun to watch Davis experience some of our favorite things at Sea World and to spend time with Grandma. 

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