I’m running into a problem with wordpress and NextGen Gallery, which is what I was using for publish photos so I’ve had to turn it off while I figure out how to fix it.
NextGen Gallery used to be great, but since the original developer sold it, every update seems to break something and I’ll probably have to switch to something else. (Which I don’t want to do because of all the stuff I’ve already been using that for.)
On our last day this trip, we stopped by SeaWorld to check out the new Penguin exhibit. Since we were leaving the park and driving home straight from here we didn’t wait in line for the ride, but instead walked around the area and checked out all the other things that had been added. the gift store was a nice addition, although there were no infant safe toys. Everything was for ages 3 and up. The one area they really need to improve was the food. The sausage dog was OK, the fries were edible. The chicken was awful. It was like the chicken you got out of a TV dinner when you were a kid. It tasted like it was fried, then baked to make sure it was dry and hard. Avoid the chicken at all costs. Other issues in the food area was the mayonnaise dispenser was sitting in direct sunlight, which always works out well for that. Plus, the one refrigerated building for you to eat didn’t have automatic doors. I understand it’s being themed to match an outpost in Antarctica, but if you’re by yourself getting the door open with a tray of food is annoying.
After we left the new section, we were walking over to Manta checking out the gift shops on the way. We stopped and looked at some Pelicans on exhibit. They were injured and couldn’t fly. SeaWorld can’t release them in the wild so they just keep them in the park. Well, turns out one of them can flap just enough to get over the fence and that thing just took off running through the park. I was amazed at how fast it could run and the park employees were following it while on the radios and few minutes later employees with nets came by looking for it. His bid for freedom was short lived though. We walked by the exhibit about 15 minutes later and he was back in it.
Afterwards, we wandered over to Manta and I rode it, then took a quick trip through the Manta aquarium. I could stay there all day and just watch the rays. It’s such an awesome addition to the park. I wish we had more time that day to go through the new ride, but it was over an hour and a half wait and we didn’t want to stay around that long since it’s a long drive home.
Lastly, we stayed in the town of Celebration, which reminds me a lot of Mt Pleasant years ago before it got too many residents. It has a nice small town feel, we ate at the 50’s style diner and generally enjoyed just walking around looking at the shops.
That being said, we clearly stood out from the rest of the people in the hotel. We were too young by a decade or more, every other car in the parking lot cost $100,000, and we were the only ones wearing T-shirts.
Our day started off with a trip to Tampa to visit Busch Gardens. We haven’t been here since 2011, so I was looking forward to the visit. They haven’t added anything big since we were last here, so it was just a chance to walk around and look at all the animals.
After we spent a few hours in the park we headed over to our hotel in Clearwater Beach and took a swim in the Gulf. As many times as I’ve been to Tampa, I never went further than Tampa Bay so this was my first time visiting the gulf.
we were coming to Orlando for a conference, so we came down a couple of days early to catch the new transformers ride at Universal since it’s already open.
Since it was Charlene’s birthday, we went to the Churrascaria Brazilian steakhouse at citywalk. We’ve never been there before and it was an awesome meal. Basically, it’s an all you can eat buffet, but you get everything off the bar except meats. They bring out the meat to the table and slice off pieces if you want them. (They give you a little card to flip over saying if you want them to stop at your table. Basically, green means more, red means not right now, thanks.) Oh… Did I mention they have 10 different kinds of meat? Ranging from lamb, to bacon wrapped chicken to ribeye, etc, etc… Everything was delicious. the service was great, and we would definitely go back.
As for Transformers, this ride was everything I was expecting, plus more. it was very similar to the spider-man ride in Islands of Adventure, although it’s newer so everything is still shiny and new. I did notice someone broke one of the exit signs by sitting on it so it was duct taped back into place. See people, this is why we can’t have anything nice.
Below are the pictures we took from around the park. It also includes the work they’ve done on the new Harry Potter section, but all you can see their is the scaffolding around the framework for the buildings. It’ll be a while before they start to become recognizable.