The Day 2 started off well after a relaxed waking up at 7 & a nice & filling continental breakfast at the hotel. The breakfast was complimentary for the stay (which is normally the case for most hotels in the US) and was really filling. We have also developed a liking towards bagels, eggs, sausage & cheese off-late; but the real advantage was that little one would have a decent meal in the morning because this is her normal routine & breakfast at school – most of the days!
And the plan for the day was to spend time at Sea World Adventure Park in Orlando. We picked up the print-outs of the vouchers which we will have to exchange at the gate for the tickets, punched in the address in the GPS & started off. It was just 5 miles away from where we stayed & we were at the gates in less than 25 minutes. The walk from the parking to the gate gave us a taste of the day that was ahead of us, the temperature soaring at a 90F by 9:30 in the morning.
The crowd was big, being a Sunday and we started short-listing the attractions from the maps – after a photo-shoot with the mascot of Sea World – ‘Shamu, the Killer Whale’ near the entrance. Deciding to take the stroller was one of the best decisions, especially due to the heat. We walked past a few Flamingoes towards the Dolphin nursery and also stopped near the Sting Ray pond to see the ‘teacher’ of the famous Disney movie – ‘Finding Nemo’. Little one was expecting a larger fish as the teacher and was quite disappointed to see that the Sting rays aren’t as large as she thought it was. SH came up with the idea of going to see the Dolphin show that was scheduled to start at 11 in the Dolphin Theater. We thought of seeing the Dolphin Nursery & the Alligator pond so that we spend our time judiciously until the show starts. Little one wanted to pluck a bunch of flowers from the garden (and she managed to do that without us noticing it!!) to hold it in her hands & that led to some ‘exciting moments’ with dad & daughterJ.
We got our seats in time for the Dolphin Show which was choreographed as the story of a girl who meets her Prince intertwined with some suspense, drama and some exciting stunts by the dolphins. We also met Kirsten from Ohio, a year-and-a-half old boy who had come to visit the Sea World with his Mom & Dad – He was in the row ahead of us and was very friendly & playful with us (especially my hat & the sunglasses) – until the show started! The show lasted for almost 45 minutes and we decide to stop near the watering hole before we headed towards the Penguins Cove. The girls ordered the frostees and I had a large glass of lime-soda a.k.a Sprite. The Penguin cove was an indoor attraction & not surprisingly was very crowded – the heat must have been in the upper 90s by then. One of the interesting designs that I found in there was the multiple levels of Penguin spotting – the upper level was a hard floor level where people who want to stay for a while, take photographs & spend some time could use, while the lower level had an escalator belt that kept moving at a minimal speed so that the people who just want to see it as a part of their checklist, could do so without really feeling disappointed by the slow moving crowd! There was also a whole bunch of Artic & Antarctic birds apart from the Penguins that were show-cased in a glass enclosure with a temperature appropriate for them. And then, it was lunch time!!
After lunch (What else? Burgers, nuggets & fries…) at the waterside restaurant, we started off to the Shark Tank where after the display of various sea creatures, they take us though a glass tunnel under a large tank of Sharks. The conveyor belt ride was deployed even here, may be to reduce the congestion inside the tunnel by people getting crowded there. The mood of the crowd (me included) started switching, thanks to the heat and we decided that it is time to get into the crowd puller show - Shamu, The Killer Whale. We checked the map to see that it is half way on the other side of the park and planned to get there for the 2:30 PM show with a quick stop over at the Marine Carousel where little one rode on a little dolphin with her mommy standing by!
The Shamu show was disappointing mainly because of my ignorance (I think). Shamu is not a ‘Whale’ in the true sense. It is an Orca (sea wolf) and belongs to the dolphin family and are apex predators in the sea. They are the largest species in the dolphin family and an adult male can measure up to 6-8 meters in length. The reason why it is called a ‘whale’ is still unknown, though that is the commonly referred name to Orcas. So, partially due to my ignorance & partially due to the marketing gimmick of the Theme Park, I was really disappointed to see a gloated dolphin with some other distinct features like the eye patches & the dorsal fin as the Killer Whale! But that provided a good rest of 40 minutes in the open shade for a very hot day outside.
It was almost 4PM then and the heat had started taking a toll on each of us (yeah, the first day of fulltime out-doors after a very long time) and we decided that it would be beneficial for all of us to return back to the hotel before the situation gets worse and ending up spoiling a good vacation. Good sense prevailed and we decided to head back to the hotel, with a small stop over at the dolphin nursery. The guard at the gate had a very pleasant smile asking us if we enjoyed our day & we told him that we were tired of the heat & was unable to see a lot of the attractions. He took the initiative to process an additional set of tickets for us to come back to the park on any of the days within the next seven days – absolutely free of cost! – Talk about Customer Service!!
We reached back at the hotel by 4:15 and little one had already slept off in the car. We too had a quick nap for an hour to jump into the swimming pool at 6. By 6:45, we were all fresh and recharged and that’s when SH suggested that we go to the Downtown Disney Shopping Area. (Did I hear shopping!???!! LOL ). We had picked up some bare minimum groceries for the week while returning from Clearwater the previous day; SH prepared a quick dinner and then we went for a drive through the Downtown Disney. I was very particular that we drive very slowly near the stores, with special emphasis that we are not stopping anywhere… LOL
End of Day 2!