Day 7 of The First Time 2011, the first of my Disney Trip Reports, is here! Today we are visiting SeaWorld for the first time, and having lunch with sharks!
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Day 7: SeaWorld
Shark’s Underwater Grill
10th August 2011
Another rainy start today, but we had SeaWorld penciled in for today and didn’t want to waste [another] day like we did yesterday.
So ponchos were added to the backpack, and we set off for SeaWorld!
We stopped at Mcdonald’s for breakfast on the go – Liam had a Bacon McMuffin and I had a Sausage and Egg Biscuit. Steve didn’t fancy anything so early in the morning!
I felt like we had to visit McDs at least once whilst in America to “see what it’s like” and because my dad refused to let me go into a Mcdonald’s when I went to Texas with him in 1994!
He said they’re the same the world over…no they’re not!
We don’t have biscuits for breakfast on the UK MickyD’s menu!
My biscuit breakfast was very salty…seems to be the recurring theme with American food!
7-eleven was next door, so we popped in there to take some cash out with our Citibank card (it’s free to withdraw from 7-eleven) and we were on our way…again!
The rain had an effect on the traffic, which, according to my diary was a slow crawl, but eventually, of course, we got to SeaWorld.
Rain was pouring, so ponchos were donned and we parked right next to the entrance to the park…I was surprised, as by now it was about 10:00 am and I was expecting the place to be busy – perhaps the rain was keeping everyone away?
Anyway, our e-tickets were scanned, and we were in!
I took a quick photo of Shamu (we didn’t bother to wait in line – we had shows to see!) and then we made a reservation for Shark’s Underwater Grill for 5:00 pm at the service desk as you walk into the park.
We hoped that it would be better than the rather disappointing (for us) Mythos.
We grabbed park maps – which annoyingly at SeaWorld (and Busch Gardens) are huge A3-sized affairs.
You have to fold up yourself (they’re not pre-folded) and have to swap from back to front to see show times and then where they are situated on the map…I personally didn’t find them user-friendly!
SeaWorld was definitely one of the parks we were really looking forward to, so with the map surveyed, our plan of action was to watch ALL the shows, starting with One Ocean at Shamu Stadium at 11:30 am.
We took a casual walk over to the stadium, passing a bird exhibit on the way.
I wondered what they were when I spotted a sign and said “Oh look, they’re Geese Obese…” as my voice trailed off and I got closer to the sign…
Shoudda gone to Specsavers methinks!
Carrying on with our walk around the very quiet park, we saw some dolphins in the dolphin nursery pool, and I got excited at the thought of our swim with the dolphins at Discovery Cove.
By this point, even though it was still raining, the 10p ponchos that I bought in Tesco years ago, were starting to make both Liam and me hot, so we took ours off and put them away. Steve however was quite content not to get wet!
Taking note of the only time for Shamu Rocks in the evening, we followed the sign and eventually arrived at Shamu Stadium.
We walked straight in, with no lines, and barely anyone there.
We chose not to sit in the splash zone but sat a few rows back from it.
Scanning the show times on the back of the map, I started circling the times of the shows to fit in as much as we possibly could.
Deciding what we were going to do for the day passed the time as we waited for the show to start.
When the show started, we were all in awe!
I remember the killer whale and dolphin shows at Windsor Safari Park when I was a kid, so watching Shamu and his friends really took me back to my childhood.
The music was wonderful and the interaction between the trainers and the whales was amazing – I didn’t even notice that they didn’t go into the water with them.
When the star of the show, Shamu, came out, there was a huge build-up to his appearance and a big cheer as well!
And when he launches himself on top of the platform, you realise just how big he is!
A final leap from the whales and thunderous applause from the audience brought the show to an end, and I have to admit to wiping a few tears from my eyes – music always gets to me, and the music for this was just lovely.
Up next was the 12:45 pm showing of Clyde & Seamore Take Pirate Island at the Sealion and Otter Stadium.
Along the way, we walked through Shamu’s Happy Harbour.
We passed an ice cream shop and decided we MUST eat one of these delights! (I secretly just wanted the dish it came in lol!)
We walked through the Sea Garden to meet some of the birds as part of the animal encounters that they have there.
We spotted Sharks Underwater Grill – Liam said he would like to see the sharks, but I said we would be back this way later for dinner and he would be able to see them then.
Eventually, we found the Sealion and Otter Stadium for the Clyde & Seamore Take Pirate Island show – we were quite late in arriving for this, so we had to sit quite high up.
It didn’t spoil anything though and it was a very funny and entertaining show.
Our next show was Pets Ahoy at the Seaport Theatre at 1:45 pm, so we made our way in that general direction, passing some animal exhibits…
…and Manta along the way – me wishing I could go on it but knew it would be a no-go for me size-wise.
I asked Steve if he wanted to have a go…but he declined. I think it looks super awesome!
We really struggled to find the Seaport Theatre – I don’t know why – we knew it was near Manta, but couldn’t seem to get our bearings at all.
We did find it eventually and went into the lovely, air-conned auditorium.
The Pets Ahoy show was very, very good. It made us laugh so much and we all marveled at how well-trained the [rescued] animals were.
It also made us miss our cat, Pumpkin, especially when we could pet the animals at the end of the show.
By now, the sun had made an appearance, and after a squirt of sun cream and a drink break, we were off toward the Whale & Dolphin Theatre for Blue Horizons.
Now, this show was simply breathtaking. I would happily go and watch it again and again. Amazing!
With the trainers, the story unfolding, the dolphins, false killer whales (as informed by my son), the birds, (what is that huge bird that flies across? I thought it might have been a condor – does anyone know?), the acrobatics and high-dives…all were very impressive and if you only watch one show at SeaWorld, make it this one!
We didn’t have too long now till our reservation at Shark’s Underwater Grill, so we walked around the back of the Whale & Dolphin Theatre to view all the exhibits – Manatee Rescue, Alligators, Garden of Discovery, Dolphin Cove, Stingray Lagoon and Turtle Point.
…sorry, wrong park!
We passed through the penguin encounter and it made me wish we had booked the Penguin Up-Close Tour – I ♥ penguins!
We got to our reservation a little early, so went through the Shark Encounter, promising Liam we’ll go after dinner to feed them as he had requested.
After seeing the sharks we went into the restaurant and were seated right away.
It was a lovely restaurant, with very dim lighting, and very tranquil with the aquarium all around you.
We were given a booth at the back and had a great view of the tank and it was awesome to watch the fish and sharks swimming around.
We were presented with the menu, and after reeling in shock at the prices, we decided what to order.
I had the Shrimp Cocktail ($9.50) which was just 4 king prawns on a bed of lettuce with Marie Rose sauce on the side for dipping – succulent prawns, and not the British 70s prawn cocktail I was expecting!
Steve had the Stuffed Mushroom Trio ($8.00). I can’t remember now what they were stuffed with – I think one was cheese. They all sat on top of crostini. He enjoyed his starter.
Now, whilst I reel in shock again at the price of the Filet Mignon Surf and Turf ($34) that I had, let me tell you, it was the most amazing piece of steak I have ever eaten in my life! (and I’ve grown up living in restaurants as my dad was a publican).
It was cooked to perfection (if your perfection is medium rare) and completely melt in the mouth.
The steak was accompanied by a skewer of shrimp, garlic mashed potatoes, and asparagus – but all this paled in comparison!
Steve opted for the Blackened Seafood Trio of Shrimp, Scallops, and Salmon Cakes ($25), – or was it Crab Cakes? I can’t quite recall.
The little bundle of yellow cloth that you can see is actually half a lemon to squeeze on your seafood.
I thought it was clever to wrap it in muslin to catch the pips!
It was served with a coleslaw-type salad which was very tasty – as was all the meal which Steve has commented about over my shoulder as I type this!
There wasn’t a great choice for kids, and Liam ended up having a Hot Dog with Fries ($9). (No photo of that I’m afraid!) I felt quite sorry for him to be honest.
If you don’t like mac ‘n’ cheese, you’re screwed with the kid’s menus in the USA!
But, he did make up for it by pretty much eating all the dessert we ordered to share – the Brownie Shark ($8).
I also had a cappuccino which brought our total bill to a whopping $109.89, plus tip.
But, it didn’t cost as much as the abysmal (in the future) Hollywood & Vine meal we had at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and we would gladly pay that again for a meal at Shark’s Underwater Grill.
As I said, there isn’t much for kids – and if you have fussy kids, even less so.
Other than that, everything about this experience was wonderful – the surroundings, our server (who was ours for the whole service), and the food.
Definitely, a restaurant to pay a visit to, in our opinion.
By the time we came out of the restaurant, we discovered that the shark feeding time was over, and Liam was very disappointed. I felt so bad as I hadn’t noticed a time limit for it.
We then walked off our dinner around the park for a bit and then joined the queue for Journey to Atlantis. It was a 50-minute wait – although it seemed a hell of a lot longer.
The ride more than made up for the waiting time though…it was so much fun! I think we got wetter from the splash on the second small drop than on the first big drop!
It was part coaster and part log flume – such a great ride!
We would have done it again had the queue not been so long.
Plus-size rider guide: There is a lap bar which was enough room for me (UK size 24/26, with most weight around my middle).
The Shamu Rocks show was on at 8:30 pm.
We figured it would be very popular and wanted to get there in enough time to get a seat, so after riding Journey to Atlantis, we made our way back over to Shamu Stadium.
I am so glad we did, as a hefty queue started to build up behind us.
Whilst we waited, Steve bought a drink and pretzel in the shape of Shamu…it was dry and over salty and horrid! We chucked it after one bite!