Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Seaworld Orlando

We weren't entirely sure about Orlando as a destination, but that was where we had booked our flight to, so we figured we'd spend a few days here and do a park or two.

After lots of consideration we had decided not to do Disneyland.  Shock, horror I know to be in Orlando and not do Disney, but we weren't convinced that it was really enough of our thing given the price of it.

We opted to do Universal Studios and Seaworld and as we had booked a place to stay that was quite close to the Seaworld park, that was the first place that we went to here.
We arrived just in time to catch the start of one of the dolphin shows, so dashed round there quickly.  The show was a mix of aerial acrobatics and dolphins, with a few brightly plumaged macaws added in at one stage.

It was good enough as a show, but personally I would have liked more focus on the dolphins.
The dolphins were obviously very good at their part.  They performed their leaps and flips with almost perfect timing synchronisation.  

There is always a slight doubt in my mind when going somewhere like this because I wonder about whether it is right for us to keep creatures like dolphins and whales and have them doing acrobatics for us.  In general I conclude that the answer probably depends on the park and how they treat them.

According to Seaworld, and as far as we can see there is no suggestion that they are not being honest, their parks are pretty good.  They have a good environment for the animals, which have largely been born in captivity rather than taken from the wild.

They do a lot of conservation and rescue work, releasing most rescues once they are rehabilitated and homing the few that can't be released.  They also have quite a lot of educational programmes, including snippets of information on environmental issues fed to visitors around the park.  I'm not sure that I thought that these would particularly change behaviour of anyone not already open to recycling and so forth, but it can't harm to try.

They also say that no animal is ever forced to perform.  They only use positive reinforcement in their training, and they get fed the same amount whether during the show or not.  They also mention that they train all of the animals regardless of whether they will perform, because it enables them to more easily care for them and treat them when they are unwell without stressing the animal more, as well as simply keeping them fit and active.

I know that it is easy to justify these things if you want to, but they do genuinely seem to treat the animals well and the success of their breeding programme supports that.

So anyway, we followed the dolphin show with a sealion and otter show.  This was like a pirate pantomime, with lots of naughtiness from the animal 'actors'.  It was OK, but definitely more for the children in the audience.

The woman in the show was better and coped well with the smaller audience meaning less participation in the jokes, but the main guy seemed a bit less adaptable.

One of the funniest parts though was the very miserable reaction of a dad who had been selected to participate.  He had sat in the front of the splash zone, but when his participation involved the sealion deliberately giving him a drenching he looked most unhappy.

The sealion was of course the star of the show.
After the show we went to see the rest of the sealions and found some to be very vocal about getting the fish from the visitors.

We wandered around the park for a while, around the various tanks.  There was a nice set of aquariums with smaller aquatic creatures, including a couple with some fabulous looking jelly fish.

The sharks were interesting in their variety, but just about everywhere has an underwater tunnel these days, so it has lost its gloss somehow.

I did rather like the fact that they had a light that you could turn on behind the shark's purse or egg sack, so that you could see the tiny sharks wriggling around inside.
The park was heavily advertising 'Antarctica', the new attraction that they were building.  It doesn't open for a while, but as readers will know, we have recently been to the real thing, so we weren't too disappointed at missing it.

We were more disappointed to miss the polar bears though.  It was probably the part that I was most looking forward to, and after failing to find it, we discovered that it had been closed over the Christmas period to fit in the Santa express.  Hmmm.  Not happy.

But we got over our disappointment and had a drink whilst watching the oyster fishers 'diving' for the oysters in the tank so that customers could select their oyster and take it to be opened to find out their pearl inside.  

Despite having six potential colours there, we never saw anyone get a pink, peach or gold one, let alone the elusive black one.  But then realistically I am sure no one was expecting anything else.

There were of course a number of 'lovely settings' that you could also purchase to show off your invariably small white or cream pearl, which I am not sure all of the parents had banked on when deciding at the price of getting your own pearl wasn't too bad.

Our last show of the day was definitely the best.  The orka, or killer whale show features the much advertised star Shamu, who was born in the park.  We decided to go for the very back of the splash zone, where we hoped we would avoid getting very wet, but still get great views.  It was a good choice.

Those sitting at the front did get very wet; even if the general show doesn't achieve that, one of the tricks is for the Orkas to swim around flicking the water out with their tails, so that does get you!

We certainly enjoyed watching the Orkas.  They seemed to enjoy themselves and clearly loved the attention that they got from their trainers when they did their stuff.

We spent a while at the ray pool, where Nic made a few new fishy friends. A couple in particular seemed very keen to come over when he put his hand in the water; I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that they know that some people feed them.

From there we went and watched people hand feeding the dolphins.  We didn't feed them, and just watched from one end, but we still got a great view of them and I had one swim close enough to give it a quick stroke.  That was allowed, I wasn't being naughty.

And of course being Florida we had to go and see the manatees.  These huge endangered creatures, which are the somewhat less fairytale but supposedly 'real' mermaids, are strange looking things.  They sort of drift around their pool, often on their backs.
Overall we quite enjoyed our day at Seaworld.  The Orkas were definitely the highlight though.


  1. Lovely seeing the pictures of Seaworld- we holidayed in Florida in 2008 and spent our wedding anniversary at Seaworld, Shamu was a massive hit with the kids! Happy memories :-)

  2. Yes the kids in the park did seem to love it - especially the getting wet! Glad we've triggered the memory.


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