The Ups and Downs of a Visit to SeaWorld Orlando

I was provided with free admission to SeaWorld Orlando for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.

seaworld orlando pros cons

I recently visited SeaWorld Orlando for a day. This is the first time I have visited in about 25 years so I knew the park would be totally different from what I remember. I was looking forward to seeing all that SeaWorld offers.

Here is some advice for enjoying your day at SeaWorld!

Arrive early. If you want to have the opportunity to see all of the shows during the day, it is best to arrive at opening. You won’t want to miss any of the shows and you’ll want to space them out throughout your day. Each show runs several times throughout the day and you will want to space them out so that you can enjoy other attractions. 

Purchase a refillable sports bottle or cup as soon as you arrive in the park. Well worth the cost especially in the heat. When you purchase the refillable sports bottle or cup you are allowed refills throughout the park all season for .99.  They range in price from $7.99 (for a basic cup) to $16.95.

Eating at SeaWorld

Be prepared if anyone in your family has food allergies. Since we visit WDW often and my daughter is able to eat very easily throughout WDW property, I never considered her food allergies when we set out for SeaWorld. Now that she is an adult and I don’t have to monitor her food I sometimes am more lax than I should be. If someone in your family suffers from food allergies visit guest services right inside the main entrance as soon as you arrive to get an Allergen Information Card. This card contains information on where you can eat based on your dietary needs, as well as a chef card for you to fill out. 

To be honest, I was very disappointed in the allergy food meal process here. After obtaining the information at guest services and speaking to the employees, my daughter wasn’t comfortable eating at any of their dining spots. According to the card we received she could have only eaten at one restaurant in the park, which recommended reservations (that we couldn’t get). They have no separate facilities or practices to avoid cross contamination. Since her allergies are life threatening, she decided not to eat at any of their facilities all day instead snacking on pre-packaged chips. I was also disappointed in the cost of these snacks – a 1.5 ounce bag of Lay’s Chips – the size you would put in the kid’s lunch box – just under $3. (I found the cost of all food at the park extremely high).

Directly from the SeaWorld site:

SeaWorld Orlando’s Designated Allergen Friendly Location is Sharks Underwater Grill®. Although all of our meal facilities are prepared to assist you with your allergen needs, Sharks Underwater Grill has been designated as the most fit restaurant to serve your special meal. With trained chefs and full service dining, Sharks can offer you a variety of safe options for your dietary needs!

Note: This is a full meal, table service restaurant which was just not what we wanted mid-day for lunch. We would have eaten there if we knew in advance that we needed a reservation so that my daughter could have eaten. It was poor planning on my part that I assume was because of being used to WDW food allergy practices which make it easy for my daughter to eat.

SeaWorld does allow you to bring in special dietary foods if necessary. Again, poor planning on my part. I should have brought food for her to enjoy her day.

Another disappointment when it came to food – my granddaughter wanted a hot dog. Off we went to Captain Pete’s Island Hot Dogs. Well, the hot dog was delicious, however, on the children’s menu there is no hot dog. The only hot dog they offer is a HUGE, foot long, really fat, hot dog that my granddaughter, grandson and I shared. The food was delicious and fresh but not at all kid friendly.

If you plan to spend the day at SeaWorld where you will be having several meals, I would highly recommend the All Day Dining Deal. It is well worth the cost and you will definitely get more than your money’s worth. The cost per adult when purchased in advance online is $35 (plus tax) per adult and $20 (plus tax) per child (higher if purchased in park). The All Day Dining Deal allows you unlimited visits to each participating restaurant once per hour. You are given a wristband which is valid for 1 entrée platter, 1 additional side item and 1 soft beverage or iced tea. Wristbands MUST be worn at all times and shown at each restaurant or food kiosk. Considering what I paid for lunch alone, this deal is outstanding! My lunch purchase was only for one adult and two children (10 yr. old and 1.5 year old) since my daughter couldn’t eat. The cost was close to $30 for one hot dog platter, one PB&J Crustable and drinks.

The Shows

For me, it was all about the shows. Not only are they entertaining and amazing, they are also educational. If you will be spending a day at SeaWorld – DO NOT MISS any of the shows!

Dolphin Arena

Watching each one I had several thoughts about the bad press that is sometimes associated with the creatures at SeaWorld. What I saw at each show (and attraction) was trainers with a true love, understanding and respect for each of the animals. Animals with a true love for the trainers. A mutual respect between trainers and creature.

Everyone should know that SeaWorld is the largest system of rescue and release for marine life in the country. They do it voluntarily. They do it at their own cost. Rescuing one sea turtle can cost thousands of dollars. SeaWorld has the largest and most technologically advanced system for marine life rescue.

Clyde and Seamore Sea Lion Show

The government controls rescues and releases because the animals that SeaWorld rescues all fall under federal jurisdiction. All marine mammals are covered under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, and some, as well as sea turtles and some birds, are covered by the Endangered Species Act. The procedure for rescuing an animal goes something like this:

  1. Someone calls in a sick or injured animal to the National Marine Fisheries Service/NOAA
  2. NOAA examines their volunteer network in the area, and asks a facility to assist in the rescue (facilities CANNOT intervene without government approval.)
  3. After either rescuing the animal, NOAA will either request immediate relocation/release or order it sent to a particular facility
  4. Once the animal has been properly rehabilitated, NOAA will inspect and determine if said animal meets the protocol for release.
  5. If the animal is not suitable for release, NOAA will determine the permanent living situation for that animal

I know it’s the marine life at the parks that everyone associates negativity with. I saw nothing but kindness towards each and every animal. Should they live in tanks? Well, that’s a debate for a different day. However, most of these animals know nothing else and there is a good possibility they wouldn’t know how to take care of themselves. They are all treated very well with kindness and love.

Show Tips: Arrive early to get a good seat.  Decide whether or not you want to get wait. If you don’t want to be sure to bypass the “splash zones.” I highly recommend carrying a beach towel all day. The seats in all of the arenas are metal and get really hot in the Florida sun. You can spread a beach towel across your area for your family to sit on. Be prepared for the heat in the show arenas. There is plenty of seating in the shade up higher in the stands.

Rides and Attractions

If there are little ones in your family, you will definitely want to stop at Shamu’s Happy Harbor. All of the attractions here are for the kids, including Shamu Express, Swishie Fishies and Seven Seas Railway.

The entire family will love Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin and Dolphin Nursery, and the Sky Tower which is a 400 foot tall tower that provides a gently rotating 360 degree view. For the more adventurous, don’t miss Kraken Unleashed, Mako, Journey to Atlantis and Wild Arctic.

There really is so much more but our day was full. I would say you definitely need more than one day to fully enjoy and experience all of SeaWorld Orlando.

Overall, we had an awesome day (aside from the allergy food) and we will definitely head back to SeaWorld again and will be better prepared for our next visit. The park is beautiful, the employees are outstanding and helpful and the shows are phenomenal. The marine life inter-action was a big hit with my grandchildren and the shows were fabulous.




Visiting Orlando and Someone Gets Sick! Oh No! What Do You Do?

As much as we plan and prepare and worry and fret, one thing we all know about a family vacation – expect the unexpected. When you are planning your dream vacation to Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando, you never plan on a family member getting sick while you are there.

medical concierge orlando

Many visitors travel from other parts of the country or other parts of the world that don’t normally experience the extreme heat and humidity that is common to the Orlando/Florida area during the summer months. This heat and humidity can cause all sorts of health concerns for even the healthiest of individuals. Even when visiting during other times of the year – stuff happens! Someone comes down with a cold, you trip into your resort room twisting your ankle, your child falls and breaks an arm (don’t laugh – this happened to me!) you eat something that just doesn’t agree with you.

We all know there are emergency medical facilities that we can drive to or taxi to. We all know that sometimes you just don’t feel good enough to leave your hotel room. Drum roll please . . . enter The Medical Concierge®

The Three P’s of Vacation Planning

When planning a trip to any of the Orlando theme parks, especially during the hot and humid summer months, it’s important to remember the three P’s:

Preparation

  • Bring with you common over-the-counter medications in TSA-compliant packaging: pain relievers, decongestants, cough syrups, motion-sickness pills. All of these items are available for sale on the theme park properties but at a cost much higher than you will pay at home
  • Stay cool! Many people underestimate the power of the Florida sun. Drinking lots of water to stay hydrated, finding shade or wearing hats, and applying sunscreen regularly will keep you moving throughout the day
  • Most attraction areas in Orlando allow guests to bring snacks and other food with them. Healthy options, like watermelon, carrot sticks, and celery, can put back the nutrients lost during the day. Bring and drink lots of water.
  • Don’t wear new shoes. Blistered feet on a theme park vacation can ruin everything!

Pacing

  • Theme Parks are exciting places, especially when it’s your time to ride the latest thrill ride or catch up with your favorite character. But too much hustle from place to place can drain you quickly.
  • One loop just around the walking perimeter of the Magic Kingdom, Universal Orlando or SeaWorld Orlando can be several miles. Take advantage of seating opportunities or take in a show experience to give everyone—especially little ones or senior citizens—a break from the exploration.
  • Parents and adult family members like to enjoy the specialty cocktails exclusive to the parks. But too many at a time can cause problems with digestion and other important functions of the body. Slow down and enjoy responsibly!

Physician

  • Should health issues arise, it doesn’t have to mean the end of the family fun for the trip
  • One convenient option available at the front desk of most hotels on and off the Theme Park sites is The Medical Concierge
    • Preferred Medical Provider for Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and over 123 hotels and various tour operators, travel assistance companies, and vacation homes
      • Minutes away from Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World Resort in the heart of Greater Orlando
    • Accepts domestic and international Insurance
    • Services
      • Team of Board Certified, Florida-licensed pediatric and family practice physicians
      • Administers urgent care in the comfort of visitor’s hotel rooms, vacation homes, event venues.

About The Medical Concierge 

Founded in 1980, The Medical Concierge gives guests 24/7 medical assistance directly in their hotel or at the company’s medical clinic steps away from Universal Orlando Resort. From high-grade equipment like in-room X-rays and ultrasounds, free transportation to the clinic, and quick access to medications and testing directly from the board-certified and licensed physicians, The Medical Concierge and specialist partners strive to take care of everything, so guests and their families can take care of getting better.

The Medical Concierge has established itself during the last four decades as the preferred medical provider for the most storied hospitality companies in the Orlando operating area, including Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, Four Seasons Resort Orlando, and nearly 123 other hotel and vacation home properties.

Domestic and international travelers across the nation and around the world have found comfort with The Medical Concierge, the preferred Medical Provider for over 123 hotels and various tour operators, travel assistance companies, and vacation homes. The Medical Concierge works closely with international travelers, providing translation services and direct insurance billing to keep their vacations stress-free. Healthcare assistance is available 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, with medically trained staff available to answer your call, address your concerns, and assist with selecting and scheduling the service best suited for your medical needs. Should circumstances present you with a need for urgent care services while in Central Florida simply look for the gold bell of The Medical Concierge.

After contacting The Medical Concierge, the medical personnel will assess your medical needs and assist with options that accommodate your medical concerns or requirements. You will be assessed by phone using your description of symptoms. The staff will then schedule one of their physicians to come out to see you at your hotel, resort, or vacation home any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Patients are typically seen within 2-2 1/2 hours of being scheduled.

After a doctor arrives on site, they perform tests, diagnose, and treat you. Medications are prescribed and dispensed within the room, eliminating the need to find a pharmacy. Follow-up visits are performed within 24 hours if deemed necessary.

Cost & Insurance

The Medical Concierge takes most insurance and if necessary will provide you with a medically coded receipt. Their self-pay prices are set with a traveler’s budget in mind as they strive to provide the most value for your dollar.

In-Room Services

Typical services provided during a resort house call include:

  • Breathing Treatments
  • Dermabond Wound Closure
  • Diabetic Evaluation
  • Influenza Screening
  • IV Therapy
  • Laboratory Testing
  • Mobile X-Ray & Ultrasound
  • Prescription Service

Medical equipment can be rented, scheduled in advance, and delivered to your hotel:

  • Bath Safety Equipment
  • Motorized Scooters
  • Portable Oxygen
  • Wheelchairs

If you would prefer to see a physician at one of their private urgent care clinics, you can schedule an appointment. They have clinics conveniently located throughout the greater Orlando area just minutes from major attractions.

Typical services provided at one of our clinics:

  • Chiropractor
  • Dental
  • Dermatology
  • OB/GYN
  • Ophthalmology
  • Orthopedic
  • Psychiatry

Getting sick while on vacation in Orlando doesn’t have to ruin your entire trip and have you traveling all over Orlando in a taxi – The Medical Concierge to the rescue! Hide this number away in your wallet on your next trip just in case: 855-932-5252




Got Beer? SeaWorld Orlando Giving Free Beer to Park Visitors

free beer seaworld orlando
Photo Credit: SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando will be offering guests (age 21 and over) free beer beginning Friday, May 18 until the end of summer season, September 2, 2018.

As part of the promotion, visitors age 21 and older can go to Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen Patio to receive up to two complimentary 7-ounce beers per visit. The park will start handing out the brews at 10:30 a.m. and continue to do so until one hour before the park closes.

“The park will rotate beer offerings throughout the summer starting off with SeaWorld’s very own Mako Red Ale. Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Light, Yuengling and more will also be featured throughout the summer,” a press release said Wednesday.

SeaWorld Orlando is also inviting guests to partake in the park’s happy hour, featuring buy one, get one free offers at Flamecraft Bar and Sharks Underwater Grill Bar beginning at 4 p.m.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, which is owned by the same parent company as SeaWorld Orlando, is offering the same deal. Last month, the company announced it was bringing free beer back to Busch Gardens Tampa.

Busch Gardens and SeaWorld are sister parks once owned by Anheuser-Busch, makers of Budweiser and other brews. Free beer samples the two parks offered for years went away after they were sold in 2009.

I imagine the free beer promotion is being brought back in order to help with declining ticket sales. Will it help?




Infinity Falls ~ SeaWorld Orlando’s Newest Attraction

SeaWorld Orlando was always a favorite when my kids were young. My son was always fascinated by the beautiful and graceful creatures and he would giggle uncontrollably at the antics all around him. I know there always seems to be some sort of controversy when it comes to SeaWorld but in reality SeaWorld does so much good that never makes the news. They do it every day. The number of rescued and rehabilitated creatures that SeaWorld cares for is large. The SeaWorld rescue team has helped more than 31,000 animals in need. The number of creatures successfully returned to the ocean is unbelievable. I personally can’t wait to see all the new things coming to SeaWorld Orlando in 2018.

Infinity Falls SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment believes in inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, behavioral training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals.

Photo Credit: SeaWorld

SeaWorld Orlando revealed the custom rafts for its new Infinity Falls river rapids attraction due to open in the summer 2018. The 8-passenger raft features custom theming and décor resembling supplies found on real white-water rafting expeditions. The circular raft design puts riders face-to-face and allows friends and family to enjoy this exhilarating attraction together.

Aboard the raft, riders will embark on an adventure through a lush rainforest environment inspired by some of the world’s most incredible freshwater ecosystems. The new attraction will feature the world’s tallest drop on a river raft ride and allow visitors to experience the feel of exhilarating rapids. The ride will also feature an innovative elevator lift designed to transport the rafts to the top of the ride’s 40-foot drop.

Infinity Falls will be the first attraction at SeaWorld to tell a story beyond the ocean and share a message of water conservation through the adventure of a white-water river expedition. This is just one example of the park’s new “Park to Planet” initiative, a mission to help guests understand some of the challenges facing the planet and inspiring them to help.

The new attraction will be the centerpiece of a newly themed area designed to resemble the base-camp of explorers and scientists. After riding Infinity Falls, the entire family can explore the village and take part in interactive experiences that combine play with education to create a positive impact on freshwater ecosystems, reinforcing “Park to Planet” in real time. SeaWorld’s Animal Ambassadors will also provide up-close encounters with animals native to South America.

“Rush the rapids on SeaWorld’s all-new river ride Infinity Falls. Climb aboard your raft for a journey of discovery down this lost jungle river. Wind your way around soaking fountains and waterfalls as you pass the remains of an ancient civilization. Hang on as the roaring world class rapids send you flying through chutes before you plunge down the tallest drop of its kind into churning whitewater. Your adventure ends at Harmony Village with a greater connection to the world’s rivers, inspired to spread the message of conservation. Explorers are wanted for the next expedition through Infinity Falls, coming to SeaWorld Orlando.” Coming in 2018!

Get the latest Infinity Falls updates by following SeaWorld Orlando on FacebookTwitterInstagram and the SeaWorld Orlando Blog.

Photo Credit: SeaWorld

SeaWorld

At SeaWorld Orlando, the aquatic world comes alive. You can experience one-of-a-kind attractions, thrilling coasters and up-close animal interactions.

Aquatica

High-speed water slides and exhilarating wave pools, to tranquil beaches, Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark in Orlando, is a must visit spot for water lovers of all ages!

Discovery Cove

Discovery Cove in Orlando is an all-inclusive day resort where guests can enjoy a one-of-a-kind opportunity to swim with dolphins, rays and tropical fish and hand-feed exotic birds. It’s a day everyone will remember!




5 Restaurants to Try on I-Drive Orlando

Restaurants International Drive Orlando

Whether you are visiting Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando or Sea World, you can find lots of different and really, really good restaurants along I-Drive in Orlando to end your day with a great meal. Everyone should visit I-Drive at least once when they are in Orlando because after all, there’s more to Orlando than theme parks!

Restaurants I Drive Orlando
Photo Credit: InternationalDriveOrlando.com

International Drive, commonly known as I-Drive, is a major 11.1-mile roadway in Orlando, and is the city’s main tourist strip. The International Drive area is home to the Orange County Convention Center complex, the Pointe Orlando entertainment complex, major hotels, SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica (Sea World’s water park), Fun Spot America amusement park, the Orlando Eye Ferris wheel, the I-Drive 360 entertainment complex, museums, themed restaurants, bars, outlet malls, mini golf courses like Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf and other tourism-related properties and tourist attractions such as Air Florida Helicopter Inc, Wonder Works and The Magical Midway. The I-Ride trolley system provides bus transportation along the I-Drive district primarily for tourists and convention attendees. 

Cafe Tu Tu Tango

Located at 8625 International Drive, this spot has a great atmosphere that has artists paint as you eat. It’s a really funky tapas spot with live entertainment plus a patio and a bar. The cafe offers brunch on both Saturday and Sunday with bottomless bloody marys and mimosas. Monday thru Friday, 3:30 to 6:30 you can enjoy 2 for 1 drink specials. Cafe Tu Tu Tango offers an entirely small-plate menu that is extensive, eclectic and diverse with everything being prepared from scratch.

Brick House Tavern + Tap

Located at 8440 International Drive, offers Friday, Saturday and Sunday steak nights and offers brunch on Sunday. Brick House also hosts “Happiness Hour” Monday thru Friday with a dedicated drink and snack menu. Daily and seasonal specials make the Brick House Tavern & Tap a fun spot to visit more than once since the menu will be slightly different with each visit.

Copper Canyon Grill

Located at 9101 International Drive in Pointe Orlando, Copper Canyon Grill offers patio seating, private dining room and a chef’s table. It’s a perfect location for lunch or a glass of wine. You can expect an energetic atmosphere and welcoming staff. The menu features a selection of freshly prepared items daily. Copper Canyon has happy hour daily from 3 to 7 p.m. with a nice selection of appetizers and drinks. The restaurant also has a dedicated gluten free menu.

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House

Located at 9150 International Drive the restaurant offers two floors, two state-of-the-art bars, four private dining rooms and a picturesque patio. It’s the perrfect place to relax and celebrate. Featuring a diverse wine list of more than 1,200 labels, diners are sure to find their inner Sommelier while they dine. Del Frisco’s offers one of the best happy hours daily from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., except Wednesday when they’ll keep you happy from 4 p.m. until closing! Dinner is served Monday through Friday starting at 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday starting at 4 p.m. They also offer a dedicated bar menu with some great choices!

The Oceanaire Seafood Room

Located at 9101 International Drive, The Oceanaire Seafood Room offers fresh seafood and an outstanding happy hour and bar menu. Only fish from the world’s most reputable suppliers is served, and each dish is carefully crafted to ensure the restaurant’s high standards of quality and flavor are exceeded. The menu is based on market availability, therefore selections change each day. Happy hour is every day from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Monday through Thursday it starts up again at 9 p.m. to close in the bar only and on Sunday 8 p.m. to close.

Do you have a favorite I-Drive restaurant?