Okay, now it's getting good. Discovery Cove. It's beautiful. It's all inclusive. It's limited attendance. Basically, it's what we dream all theme parks could be. We had a fantastic time there.
If you don't know, DC is a sister park of Sea World. They only allow 1300 visitors a day, so it's never too crowded and everything is included. It is expensive, don't get me wrong. It was almost $500 for the two of us to go for the day, but you do get 2 weeks admission to Sea World and Aquatica, both great parks which I love, so actually it's not a bad deal. Unfortunately, Mike and I only had one day, but I still think it was worth every penny. And it's really a comparable price to other dolphin encounters as well.
So, what is it like? Well, wonderful! We got there around 7:45 to check in (free parking, btw--which is unheard of at theme parks!). We got our pics taken for our badges and headed down for breakfast. There was a buffet of eggs, sausage, potatoes, hash browns, danishs, muffins, etc. All your typical breakfast food. That's when I realized we had a problem. So, do me a favor-- the night before you go somewhere that you know you'll want to take lots of pics at, make sure your camera is charged. Even if you're sure you charged it before you left home, just check. And then when you get to the place and your camera is dead, check to make sure the battery is in right. Even if your sure there's no way you're enough of an idiot to put it in backwards, just check. Or your could be like us and not. So, when I went to take a pic of my breakfast my camera was dead... or so I thought. So we went to guest services, where the workers were incredibly nice and helpful, and they had a wall adapter for it, but no USB cords that would fit our particular camera. So back to the hotel to grab the charger and the regular camera as a back up. (The dead one was a waterproof camera I purchased just for the trip) Back to Guest Services to leave the camera charging, and on to pick up our provided snorkels and wetsuits. They offered a snassy vest option instead of a full out wet suit, which we opted for to be super fashionable.
Then we headed over to the cabanas to sign in for our Dolphin encounter. We watched a video and signed all the forms releasing Sea World from responsibility if we were to get bit, maimed, or killed during the Dolphin Encounter. Then we split into groups of about 9-10 to go meet our dolphins. We got to meet 2 dolphins, first was a 45 year old female, named Cindy. We got to pet her, feed her, see her belly button and tail fin up close, and then she took us for a ride! I was a little apprehensive about going to the deep end at first, but I decided to try it and hope for the best. Maybe the dolphins would rescue me if I drowned! But I was able to tread water for the 2 minutes like a champ, and then I grabbed on to Cindy's dorsel fin while she pulled me back up to shore! (sidenote: you're not allowed to take your camera in the water with you for the dolphin encounter, so unless you have someone with you not doing the encounter to take pics from the shore, count on dropping some cash on photos. We decided we didn't need the $200+ package with the DVD and photo CD, so I'll just have to cherish the memories in my mind. The 3 photos we did purchase were about $80.) After everyone had a ride, the men all got to pose with Suzy and take pics with her.
Then, they brought over Iggy, a cute little guy only 6 years old, for all us girls to love on!
Next, we took couple pics with Iggy and our time was up. It was a really great experience---one I've wanted to do for a long time, and I cannot wait to take my kids to do it. My only complaints were the price of the photos (obviously) and that you can see other people in the background of the photos. Other than that, we really had a fabulous time with the dolphins.
After the dolphins, we headed over to the Aviary to feed some birdies! We were impressed with all the different types of birds, and we each had quite a few birds land on us! I couldn't believe how warm the birdies' little feet were, totally random, I know, but I really wasn't expecting it!
In this bottom pic, those birds kept eating the sand of Mike's feet! Eeek!
After the Aviary, we jumped in the not so lazy river. Just a warning, this was the only time I really wished I had water shoes. The river changes depth and terrain very frequently, going from 2ft to 8 ft and smooth to loose rocks to scrapy edges that cut up your feet. It's super fun and was one of my fav things, but be prepared. Oh, and there's 2 mega waterfalls that there's no way around, so be prepared to get drenched, too. Take all your cute pics before the river! Since the river gets so deep, you'll want to grab one of these fun floaty vests or a big noodle to float around with. The river is huge and we had a great time just floating around and around!
After the river, we went to grab the camera and guess what? Still dead. That's when we figured out the battery was in backwards. Awesome, I know. So, we had them plug it back in while we went to eat lunch and purchase our dolphin photos. Since breakfast hadn't been anything spectacular I didn't have high hopes for lunch. But I was pleasantly surprised. They had a nice variety of foods, however Mike and I both chose the BBQ Pulled Pork. We also got a salad, some sides, and dessert (I had cookies and he had cheesecake). It was all really yummy.
Once we were all done, we picked up the camera---finally charged, yay!---and headed over to the huge pool to snorkel. Now snorkeling was probably the think I was most apprehensive about for the whole trip. Flying-no big, getting on a huge bout during hurricane season-bring it on, parasailing-sweet, swimming with fishes roaming free around me-kinda freaking out. And I've never used a snorkel mask, so I was worried about the whole breathing thing, as well. First, we started in the shallows, to let me get the hang of the mask, and the sting rays were already coming over to say hi. We saw schools of fish, too. Then Mike convinced me to go out further, and I had to take some deep breaths and just do it. I can swim okay, I'm not great a treading water, and I still have to hold my nose to go under, but for some reason all this snorkeling business made me really nervous. We swam over to where the sharks were in a separate tank and back around to where we could touch the bottom again. Most of the fish steered clear of humans, but the sting rays and the huge manta rays were very friendly and would come rub against your legs like big underwater cats. I kinda loved it, and I loved the adrenaline rush I got from doing something I was scared to do.
After all that, we still had plenty of time, so we hit the Aviary and river again and stopped to see the otters one more time before heading out. I do wish Discovery Cove had one or two more attractions or animal encounters, since we had enough time to do everything at least twice. It was maybe a little after 4pm, but Sea World and Aquatica were both closing at 5pm, so we decided just to head back to the hotel and get ready to head to Downtown Disney for the evening.
We walked around our resort a little more, then drove over to DTD for dinner. I'd been wanting to try Earl of Sandwich so we headed there first. Mike ordered a Chicken Avocado Chipoltle sandwich that was delicious. I ordered the Holiday Sandwich, think Thanksgiving on a roll, and it was good but not as good as I was expecting. They were out of the lemonade I'd heard such good things about and out of the Brownie PB sandwich I'd been dying to try, so it was a bit of a bummer for me. We walked around a bit, picked up my exclusive Disney Visa Cardmember Pin and then went back to the hotel for the night. Tomorrow is Embarktion Day for the cruise!!!
Okay, Day 1 actually isn't all that fun. It involved us getting to Orlando from Phoenix. We used our points from our Southwest credit card for free direct flights. yay! Being the good travelers that we are, we got to the airport early and Mike grabbed us some Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuits before we departed, which I'm happy to say, is the only time we had McDonald's the whole trip. :) Sat next to a friendly man on the plane and had a relatively uneventful flight. Upon arriving in Orlando, we got our rental car from Dollar (which of course, had the longest line) and headed out in our cute little Chevy Cruze.
We went to check-in at the Fountains by Bluegreen, which we were able to use our timeshare points for , so again, no out of pocket, and got settled. Then it was off for some food, so we headed to one of our fav restaurants, Uno's Pizzeria across the street from Downtown Disney. They closed all the Uno's here, and I don't want to drive to Phoenix to go, so I just wait til I'm in Orlando. It's the logical thing, after all. So, the GPS on Mike's phone wasn't working and it's been 10 years since I've lived in Orlando, so we got a little lost on our way to dinner and ended up going through Disney property. Well, we didn't realize they were having a special Villians Event for Friday the 13th (yes, we really did fly on Friday the 13th, we like to live on the edge), and it was a madhouse!! The line for Hollywood Studios was backed up to the Downtown Disney area and people were having to park at Casting and be shuttled to the park. Madness I tell you! So, it took a little while but we made it to Uno's.
So, Uno's has this little do-hickey at each table that you can use to order your food, play games, and pay your bill. It's kind of amazing. So, we ordered a Farmer's Market pizza, which was delicious, and a Macadamia Nut Skookie, which was equally delicious, but in a better way.
Unfortunately, we at the skookie before I remembered to take a pic.
Then we went to the crazy expensive grocery store right there in Crossroads Plaza, Goodman's maybe, I can't remember, to get Mike's all time favorite donuts, that can only be found East of the Mississippi, Entemann's Crumb Cake donuts, which really are worth the flight to Florida, in themselves.
After that, we went to the Walmart just south of Downtown Disney to see if we could find some souvenirs. The Walmarts around Disney have TONS of great Disney stuff for a fraction of what you'll pay at the parks. However, that Walmart was a zoo and has gotten pretty ghetto, so I'd recommend hitting the one on Turkey Lake Rd instead. We did find this super cute hat for Ryker and a few other things though, so it was worth it. Then back to the hotel to get ready for Day 2!
It's hard to tell in the pic, but the hat has built-in Mouse Ears ºOº
Some pics of the hotel, it was super nice. We had a gorgeous 2 bedroom suite. Possibly a little excessive for the 2 of us. ;)
So, a lot has happen since the last time I blogged. Mainly, birthing a 10.8 lb boy who is almost 2 now... yeah, it's been a while. But this year is our 10 year wedding anniversary, so we decided we needed to celebrate in style! We decided to spend a day at Discovery Cove in Orlando, before heading out on a 4 Night Disney Cruise to the Bahamas! Amazing, right? I pretty much checked off my entire bucket list in one trip. So, while everything is fresh in memory, I need to blog about and preserve all the amazing memories we created.
So, first up is just an overview of the cruise---and then I'll post each day separately, in an effort to keep my thoughts organized!
First, how did we decide what to do??? Well, it started with my hubby wanting to plan it all and surprise me, I wasn't supposed to find out where we were going til we were on the plane. However, Mike decided he didn't want to deprive me the months of fun, planning and anticipating the trip, so he let me in on the secret, since vacation planning is pretty much one of my favorite things in the world.
My requirements had been, somewhere tropical and all-inclusive. I didn't want to feel like we needed to eat McDonald's every night since we had already spent so much much on the trip, so all-inclusive was a MUST. Disney was not one of my requirements, believe it or not, Mike just really loves me that much.
Originally, we planned on a 7 night Eastern Caribbean Disney Cruise, but after doing some research I realized I didn't really care about stopping at any of those ports. I'm kind of a scaredy cat when it comes to unfamiliar places and I knew I wouldn't feel comfortable wandering off by ourselves in a foreign land. So, we decided on a few days in Orlando followed by a 4 Day Bahamian Cruise instead, since I've always wanted to go to Atlantis in Nassau. (Actually, I've wanted to go to Atlantis since NSYNC did a televised concert there in 2000 or 2001, but you catch my drift.) The only other port I cared about was Castaway Cay, Disney's private island reserved for cruise passengers, and pretty much the most wonderful place in the whole world. Another requirement of mine was swimming with the dolphins, and after some research I decided we should do that at Discovery Cove in Orlando, rather than at Atlantis. Mainly because I wanted to be sure we had plenty of time for all the water slides at Atlantis (and I've always wanted to go to Discovery Cove!). Unfortunately, when it came time to book tickets for Mike's mom and sister to fly out to stay with our kids, we determined that we wouldn't have as much time to spend in Orlando before the trip as we had hoped---but oh well, it was still our first time on our own for more than 1 night in 10 years! We took what we could get! LOL
To prepare for the cruise I checked out The Passporter's Guide to Disney Cruise Line a few times (next time I'm just going to buy a copy), and I searched Pinterest, DisBoards, and Facebook to get as much information as I could. I really felt like I was prepared for everything and we didn't have any unexpected situations because of it. Of course, being prepared and planning is a MUST-DO for any Disney vacation, in my opinion, and the cruise wasn't any different! Did you know there's probably a FB page for every cruise around? Just type in your cruise dates and it'll probably pop up! You can meet your fellow passengers, ask questions, join Fish Extender groups, all kinds of stuff! Since it was just Mike and I we didn't bother with the Fish Extenders or anything and I'm kinda glad, just because we didn't have a ton of extra time. It might be fun with the kids though! So enough yakking---let's get to the good stuff! On to the trip!
At dinner the other night, the subject of boys came up somehow... So we were teasing, uh, I mean, asking Halle if she ever kissed a boy. She got this mortified look on her face and quickly screeched, "What!!! NO WAY!!!". So, I proceed to offer her a deal, that if she didn't kiss a boy before she turned 16, that we would buy her a car. (One of my Visiting Teaching sisters made a similar deal with her oldest-now 15-and it's worked so far!) Halle immediately accepted and went back to eating. Mike and I exchanged a look, cuz as boy-crazy as Halle is, we'll be lucky if she makes it out of this school year. Then, Kiah piped in with, "I don't need car, I kiss boys". Looks like we've been worrying about the wrong girl! ;)
So, I've got a girls trip planned! Woohoo! 2 friends and I are planning a whirlwind weekend of thrills and heart pounding adrenaline at Knott's Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain! (Btw, we're still looking for one more person to join us... anyone interested??). So let me tell you what I'm looking forward to the most... First up, Six Flags- Now if you remember Mike and I went not to long ago and had a great time. My new, all time fav ride can be found there. X2 Ahh, it's so frickin awesome! Watch a video HERE. I'll be honest though, the video doesn't do it justice, because it's hard to tell that your seat is actually rotating independently (for instance, when you come up to the big drop, your seat flips around so you drop backwards and upside down. Yeah, I know. AWESOME!). Not to mention the fire cannons and music blaring from the speakers behind your ears. The $35 admission is worth that ride alone. Not to mention, my other fav roller coaster of all time (the one that was my fav the many years before I was introduced to X2), Batman: the ride. My love affair with this ride started many years ago, at Six Flags New Jersey. I was 13, had a huge crush on Val Kilmer, who had recently starred in Batman Forever, and it was the most awesome coaster I'd ever been on. I still love it to this day, I especially love how your feet dangle free. They have a million other coasters that we'll be sure to hit up, but those are the ones I'm most excited about.
Now, I know it sounds funny after showing you those coasters, but I am VERY prone to motion sickness. I'll have to pop some Dramamine and wear my motion sickness bracelets to ride those rides, but it's so worth it. And another trick I've found is to sit in the front row. I know there's a longer wait for that, but it seriously helps my stomach so much!
Okay, now moving onto Knott's. Guess what? I've never been there before! Can you believe it? I can't. Especially since Snoopy is kinda a main fixture in our lives. He was very present in our courtship. Mike was constantly buying me Peanuts books and movies and stuffed animals. We sent Snoopy cards when our relationship went long distance, so I really don't know how we've never been there together. So, thing I'm most excited to do at Knott's is... That's right, SNOOPY! All I really want to do is get my pic with Snoopy. And maybe try some of their famous boysenberry pie. And ride the multitude of thrill rides. But mainly, Snoopy. :) So, that's that. I'm so super excited. I can't wait to get my 'thrill' on! LOL
What can I say? I'm an easily distracted girl with lots of interests. I'm just also a total procrastinator and a wee bit lazy, so lots of my ideas never come to pass. I am fortunate enough to be able to stay home with my kiddos. I love being a mommy. I love getting a good deal. I love to eat--especially desserts! And I love to plan vacations.