SeaWorld Orlando trip report – December 2013 (penguin & dolphin encounters, Christmas shows, Groupon deal) [UPDATED]
Arriving out SeaWorld last Sunday for my monthly trip report, I saw that the morning rain and resulting chill must have chased off the majority of the park-goers, as the crowds were very minimal throughout the park. Their loss was our gain!
[wptouch target=”non-mobile”]Remember, you can click any image to view it full-screen. And don’t miss the complete photo gallery with 49 new images at the bottom of the post.
Even after reading reports on Twitter that the Antarctica ride was having problems, we decided to risk it and ride it anyway. It’s always such an amazing not-to-miss experience for my family to be that close to the penguins, and the mere 20 minute wait time sealed the deal for us.
During our ride we noticed one door between sections of the ride wasn’t closing, but the ride cars were still moving through without an issue, and we were able to see our beloved penguins without any problems.
Moving to the underwater dolphin viewing area, we noticed a crowd in one area and had to see what was going on. The dolphins were engaging with the guests through the glass, and we soon found out why.
One group was tossing a bag of cotton candy back and forth just skimming the glass with each toss. The dolphins had actually stopped swimming to watch, and bobbed their heads back and forth like they were at a tennis match – they were fascinated by the moving object. The group eventually stopped and moved on, but my children were excited to see if it would work for them. So I gave in and bought a bag myself. Yep – worked for them too.
I asked a staff member nearby about it, and he explained that dolphins are generally curious creatures, and and when shown something out of the ordinary flying back and forth, they likely just wanted to figure out what it was. Eventually the dolphin will tire of the game and move on, but another one will soon take his place. The staff member said, since it was mentally stimulating to the dolphins and not harming them in any way, that we were welcome to do it whenever we’d like.
Great entertainment, stimulating to the animals, and even a snack for later – sounds like a winner to me!
Continuing to our next stop, a wonderful surprise came while we were waiting for the Blue Horizon dolphin show. A pod of pilot whales that Sea World had rescued off the Florida Keys were deemed unreleasable a year ago, and SeaWorld has been working with them ever since with the hopes that one day they’ll be part of the Blue Horizons show. The whales have the signals down and are enjoying learning the new tricks, but they had never been in front of an audience before. So we got to witness their first training session before a live audience.
Three of the whales didn’t seem to care about us at all, but the fourth whale seemed to enjoy the applause from the audience more than the reinforcement from her trainer Even the trainers got some laughs out of it as they tried to get that particular whale to go back into her pool just behind the main show pool.
After that unannounced preshow, the main Blue Horizons show started, and it was as magnificent as ever: Dolphins leaping high into the air, aerial acrobatics, high-divers, and birds all combine to make this show such a wonderful visual showcase.
After the show, we stopped for a quick lunch at Spice Mill Restaurant — always the restaurant of choice with our picky eaters.
Once our meal settled, it was back to park touring as we rode high into the air on the Skytower, caught a no wait ride on the Kraken, and a chilly ride on Journey to Atlantis.
We all agreed that the best part of the Christmas shows we’d seen in November was Shamu Christmas Miracles, so we chose to see it again.
The stadium was not nearly as crowded as last time, and we were able to get great seats to enjoy Shamu’s high jumping skills — and crowd talents — all set to such emotionally uplifting music.
As the temperature in the air was dropping, a quick stroll through Christmas Village offered the chance for us to warm up: we picked up delicious (and VERY affordable) hot chocolates for the kids, and Cranberry Hot Toddies for the adults.
I could smell the rum in my Hot Toddy when it was handed to me, so I was surprised to take the first sip and find you couldn’t taste the alcohol in it at all. What I did taste was a wonderful blend of warm cranberry and cinnamon that was absolutely delightful. It was so good in fact, I had to go back to the stand to ask exactly how it was made, so I could try to duplicate it at home.
With the chill in the air deepening, and our feet aching from walking all day, we opted to call it at night.
As we sang along to the Christmas music and enjoyed the decorations on the way out, we noticed the signs at the exit of the park announced the “Wild Days” weekends starting in January. The conversation on the way home was a mix of excitement for Christmas, and excitement over SeaWorld’s next event, which is advertised to include even more animal interactions than a typical visit.
I hope you enjoyed this trip report! To see a formal listing of everything SeaWorld is doing for the holidays, check out this blog post. Otherwise, you can view all of our blog posts filed under SeaWorld, or you can catch up on all of our trip reports.
Update: SeaWorld Groupon tickets
This week SeaWorld began offering tickets through Groupon at a nearly 40% discount, allowing guests to purchase admission for $59.00 versus the regular online price of $82.00 or the at-the-gate price of almost $100. There are a few restrictions: The tickets must be used by March 31st, the busy week between Christmas and New Years — December 25 through January 2 — is blocked out, and apparently the offers ends in a week and a half.
SeaWorld Orlando trip report – photo gallery
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