It's Good to be a Passholder :-) - a January 2020 Trip Report

Penguinempress

Mouseketeer
Joined
May 11, 2015
I love that photo of Steve and the manatee! I could watch them for ages, they’re such sweet gentle giants.

I thought of you when I heard the sad news about Sweet Tomatoes – it was your trip reports that introduced me to the chain so my husband and I had our first visit on our trip last April. We loved it – it was so nice to have a fresh, healthy & affordable alternative to fast food. We went back on our September trip and I’m sad that Sweet Tomatoes visit will now be our last.

Love your tropical mouse ears, very cute!
 

Monykalyn

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 11, 2014
If hubby is on board with a condo purchase, I hope you are spending your quarantine stalking listing on Zillow! Strike while the iron is hot, girl!
I have been lol! The challenge is- closer to the DD that is in Jacksonville or closer to UCF where kiddo is in college. I’m not worried about drive to Orlando and right now it’d make more sense to be closer to the college so kiddo could use it next year and establish residency- making the last two years of college super cheap. But we’d ultimately want to be on the coast...
I'm so sorry to hear that your France trip was canceled. I cant even imagine how devastating that must have been. Losing a Florida trip is one thing, but opportunities to go to Europe don't roll around nearly as often. Whatcha working on in the house? Knocking down walls, HGTV-style?
France is postponed to May 2021. Sucks, but I’m starting to think it will be much better in long run- I’ve been sick all winter with one virus after another and the asthma is still kicking up a bit, so I’ll have a chance to wrangle that back under control now.
No Walls (yet)-mostly painting for the inside, did redo the small 1/2 bath- took out the pedestal sink (who likes those things? No storage) and put in new cabinet and counter top. We have Stain grade wood trim everywhere- that the builder didn’t finish (nail holes)- finally convinced hubs to let me paint it white to go with the doors. I’m not a huge fan of stained trim, prefer the white. We plan to expand deck and move a door to deck from kitchen to living area to give more space and functionality to kitchen. Then put wood floors, so we have lots to do. We just can’t decide on wall color upstairs- I’ve got 6 different swatches painted :rolleyes1 and don’t like any of them

I don’t miss MI weather! Although we are unseasonably cool here in SW MO this year, we are supposed to be back in 70’s next week, along with severe storms and tornadoes I’m sure.

October I was looking at 22-26. Airfare has gone up a bit but if I catch the crazy low again I’ll jump on it.
LOVE the ears! My weakness has been magic bands...
 


Joanna71985

<marquee><font color=green>Characters are my frien
Joined
Feb 28, 2005
Your photos of that tour (and your consistent good reports about it) are what's been making us want to do it!! It looks AMAZING! We have already done most of the other tours offered at the park, so it would be fun to do something new. If for some reason we can't book the killer whales tour (if it happens to be full), we will do the Rhino Encounter at BG instead......it looks awesome too!!

I am a bit worried that we will have trouble using our Platinum perks of reserved show seating and preferred parking now that so many folks have been upgraded, but I'm still super impressed with SW's efforts.....and appalled by all the ballyhooing and complaining by some of the people on the passmembers Facebook page!!
Thank you!! It seriously is one of the best experiences ever (I've been doing the tour since the day it started, and I honestly can't remember SW without it). I just love getting up close to the whales

Honestly- I don't really use the reserved seating (I like to sit closer to the front), but it is a risk for preferred parking. Luckily I always arrive right around opening. And I very much agree with you on how the others are behaving
 
  • Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    SeaWorld Platinum Passholder
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2008
    I love that photo of Steve and the manatee! I could watch them for ages, they’re such sweet gentle giants.

    I thought of you when I heard the sad news about Sweet Tomatoes – it was your trip reports that introduced me to the chain so my husband and I had our first visit on our trip last April. We loved it – it was so nice to have a fresh, healthy & affordable alternative to fast food. We went back on our September trip and I’m sad that Sweet Tomatoes visit will now be our last.

    Love your tropical mouse ears, very cute!
    I am really surprised another corporation doesn't swoop in and purchase the Sweet Tomatoes/Souplantation franchise. In this era of healthy(er) eating, with so many folks going keto/sugar free/all natural, I would think the overall concept would be continue to be appealing in a lot of markets. Definitely the current serve-yourself stations are likely a thing of the past (one aspect of buffets that I'm not super sad to see retired) but surely someone could carry on the Sweet Tomatoes quality with cafeteria-style service? I know it won't likely ever happen, but I'm wishing I had a few million bucks to spare because I'd certainly be up to invest it!!

    I have been lol! The challenge is- closer to the DD that is in Jacksonville or closer to UCF where kiddo is in college. I’m not worried about drive to Orlando and right now it’d make more sense to be closer to the college so kiddo could use it next year and establish residency- making the last two years of college super cheap. But we’d ultimately want to be on the coast...

    France is postponed to May 2021. Sucks, but I’m starting to think it will be much better in long run- I’ve been sick all winter with one virus after another and the asthma is still kicking up a bit, so I’ll have a chance to wrangle that back under control now.
    No Walls (yet)-mostly painting for the inside, did redo the small 1/2 bath- took out the pedestal sink (who likes those things? No storage) and put in new cabinet and counter top. We have Stain grade wood trim everywhere- that the builder didn’t finish (nail holes)- finally convinced hubs to let me paint it white to go with the doors. I’m not a huge fan of stained trim, prefer the white. We plan to expand deck and move a door to deck from kitchen to living area to give more space and functionality to kitchen. Then put wood floors, so we have lots to do. We just can’t decide on wall color upstairs- I’ve got 6 different swatches painted :rolleyes1 and don’t like any of them

    I don’t miss MI weather! Although we are unseasonably cool here in SW MO this year, we are supposed to be back in 70’s next week, along with severe storms and tornadoes I’m sure.

    October I was looking at 22-26. Airfare has gone up a bit but if I catch the crazy low again I’ll jump on it.
    LOVE the ears! My weakness has been magic bands...
    Ah, magic bands.....we just purchased some for the first time!! A purple one for me, a Star Wars one for Steve. I am excited to have our Fastpasses on the band versus the hard ticket, and to finally be able to get our ride pics from Pirates of the Carribean, Haunted Mansion, and 7 Dwarves Mine Train. We have fumbled with the card-style tickets for the last few trips but finally decided to bite the bullet and buy the MB's. With a MNSSHP, a day at Epcot, and a MVMCP all planned for later this year, I'm sure we won't be regretting that small investment! (Steve's limited edition one was on sale for $8.99 this week.....a steal!)

    Sounds like you definitely have your hands full at the house, but it's going to look AMAZING when you get it all done! Wood floors are THE BEST, so easy to keep clean. I don't envy you having to pick paint colors, its so hard to tell what a whole room will look like from just a tiny 1" x 1" paint swatch.

    I hope you feel better soon....do you also have seasonal allergies? Seems most asthmatics that I know also suffer from allergies to at least some degree. Spring can be pretty cruel for that at times. The weather man is promising us 70+ for next weekend as well, and after last night's freeze he better darn well be right! LOL!

    Thank you!! It seriously is one of the best experiences ever (I've been doing the tour since the day it started, and I honestly can't remember SW without it). I just love getting up close to the whales

    Honestly- I don't really use the reserved seating (I like to sit closer to the front), but it is a risk for preferred parking. Luckily I always arrive right around opening. And I very much agree with you on how the others are behaving
    We generally always arrive right at opening as well, so hopefully we'll still get preferred parking on most of our visits if we continue not to dilly dally in the mornings. This will give us a good reason to get up and get going!

    You are doing a fine job at convincing me to do KWUC. I just hope they are not sold out on the day we go! I wish we could pre-book with those $50 vouchers rather than having to wait to use that credit in the park.
     

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    SeaWorld Platinum Passholder
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2008
    I LOVE those ears! So adorable, and perfect for the show. I bought SeaWorld and Aquatica tickets for my family right before all of the virus craziness started, and now I wonder if we will get to use them this summer at all. I moved our June reservation to the end of July, and I hope we will get to have our trip. If not, I'm sure SeaWorld will honor the tickets past their expiration date. I'm so glad to hear they are being accommodating to pass holders. We have already decided we are going to skip Disney all together this summer. With all of the proposed suggestions for attendance capping and distancing and closures, I don't think we will get our money's worth. I think I would rather wait until things are more normal. I really want to go to Aquatica, and I hope we will get to!
    I am virtually 100% certain that SW will work with you to use those tickets on a future date, if for some reason you can't use them in July ... they are being SO great with their passholders, I'm very confident that they will be equally as accommodating to day guests.

    I do think its super wise that you moved your trip.....I'm beginning to wonder what kind of modified experience the June folks are going to have. The effects of this virus look like they are going to be felt even beyond what I would have thought was the worst case scenario.

    I have my fingers crossed that you will be able to experience Aquatica as well, because it is SUCH a fun park! What I wouldn't give for a float around Roa's Rapids right now!!

    I do not think that free guest pass with be left unused!

    Oh, pretty! I wish they came with the smell of fresh plumeria, we have these in our yard and they small amazing! They are my husband;s favorite.

    We have been twice, once for breakfast(it was actully brunch so a mix of breakfast and dinner menu that was offered on Saturdays I believe so like both bacon and fried chicken together). We love the Fort. We enjoyed the comfort food offererd and have had great servers both times.
    We have 4 (!!) guest passes each which must be used up before our AP's expire, so I'm actively seeking some folks who might be able to benefit from them. While I'd love to see some of our family join us on either the October or December trips, it's highly unlikely at this point as the Canadian dollar is painfully low making US travel crazy expensive (plus most are afraid to book airfare given the current border closures and uncertainty with Covid-19). It's such a shame when we could provide them with lodging AND park admission.

    You're making me more than a little jealous about your yard foliage!! Definitely no plumeria here in MI, and after last night's hard freeze, we'll be lucky if we have anything but grass. So maddening! I'm just hoping my new magnolia tree (which I planted about 10 days ago) survives this freakishly cold spring. We broke an all-time record last night.....and not the kind of record one wants to be breaking in May.

    I am glad you mentioned about Trails End being brunch on Saturdays.....I was actually trying to confirm if that was EVERY Saturday or just on holiday weekends. If I could guarantee they'd have fried chicken on the date we were planning to book (which would be a Saturday) then I'd reserve in a heartbeat. That's one of Steve's favorites.

    I hope you are feeling better and poo poo to that person that so rudely commented on your first class flight. I have to wonder about someone's reading comprehension that they get that from your report.

    It is nasty cold here in NEPA too. Plus snow this morning :-( . My poor lilac tree was about to bloom and I figure the flowers all got zapped last night. Our stay at home has been extended too but my work (an essential business) has reopened so I am going in everyday but only partial because my DD is home. My DH is there but his work at home is so busy, I feel guilty that she is spending so much time playing/working by herself. Mom life, we always feel like we should be doing more/better for our families.
    We hit our dining reservation day yesterday annnnnnndddd….. I have nothing. I haven't even made a loose plan for our November trip. I have very little hope it will actually happen. I think we will end up canceling, but I have resolved to at least put pen to paper and come up with a loose plan of day and a few restaurant picks by the end of the weekend.

    I love your backyard. I was tempted to get plants when we had that little heat wave last weekend too but held off because it is never safe here before memorial day.
    Thanks for all the updates, I love your SeaWorld and Universal experiences. DD has just "discovered" Harry Potter and the deal was she had to read at least the first book before we saw the movie. She finally finished two weeks ago and I was thinking of surprising her with a Universal day in nov instead of a waterpark day.
    My sister did spirit of aloha and really enjoyed it, and I love those ears. So cute! enjoy the weekend but try not to work too hard
    I am feeling better, thank you so much for asking. I am so grateful that most of my readers don't see me in that negative later. I appreciate all the kind and supportive responses mor than anyone knows!

    Did I read somewhere on the boards that there have been no park hours posted for November yet? That has to make planning almost impossible! Ia crossing my fingers and saying a prayer that your trip works out as planned......I can appreciate that vacations seem almost hopeless at this point. I am stubborn enough right now though to only allow myself to think positively for fall. This can't last forever! (I hope!! LOL)

    If your DD is a Potter lover she will FLIP for Universal! One day tickets are not cheap, but it will be an amazing experience for her (and you!). Even as someone who was never overly enamored with the books and movies, I am wowed by the Wizarding World in both parks.

    So happy to hear more positive feedback on Spirit of Aloha!!! Now that I have my ears, I'm SERIOUSLY excited!

    Hope your weather improves a bit for Mothers Day tomorrow. We are supposed to be a little warmer but rain is moving in. We can't win! Steve is hoping last night's freeze killed off all the neighbors lilac blossoms as he is highly allergic. Hopefully that's the silver lining in this otherwise miserable weather!
     

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    SeaWorld Platinum Passholder
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2008
    Monday, January 27th: SeaWorld, continued

    We were starting to feel the need to get something to eat, so we decided to head over to the Pretzel Kitchen for our first meal on our all-day dining plans. We knew it was one of the first restaurants at the park to open for regular service aside from the sole location that offers the continental breakfast each day, but it also happens to be one of our favorite places at the park to dine because you can get some different fare there than the typical theme park line up of burgers, fries and pizza. We strolled up to the restaurant entrance just as they opened the doors at 10:30 am.

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    It smelled SO GOOD. Because they were just opening up for the day, they were literally pulling everything out of the ovens so the scent of fresh cooked pretzels hung deliciously in the air. I think I gained 5 pounds on that incredible scent alone. It makes deciding on what to have so hard when it all looks and smells sinfully delicious!

    We were there so close to opening, in fact, that they didn't have their side item (which is freshly made kettle chips) ready yet, but we didn't want any anyway. That was just a tad too greasy for our first meal of the day. The staff seemed to feel bad that they couldn't offer us the complete entree but we assured them it was just fine. We grabbed a couple of drinks, made our pretzel selections, redeemed our all-day dining purchase print-outs for arm bands and settled in to enjoy our late breakfast.

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    Steve had the stuffed pretzel burger and I had the pretzel dog. My preference would have been the pizza pretzel but unfortunately those weren't done baking yet either, and I didn't want to wait (my stomach was begging for something by that point and the pretzel dog was a very suitable second choice). The pretzels were hot, dense and chewy so they were very, very filling.....definitely no kettle chips needed! Steve literally inhaled his burger, which was packed FULL of ground beef and super fresh: he is still raving about the freshness and taste as I am typing this entree. Definitely getting these items fresh baked is the key to max enjoyment.

    Fueled and feeling ready to tackle the day, we wrapped up breakfast and headed to Sesame Street to see if we could catch a visit and quick photo with Elmo and Cookie Monster. That early in the day, Sesame Street was almost a ghost town.

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    Inside the meet-and-greet studio, we found a very short line for photos and ended up waiting behind only 4 or 5 other small groups. While we may feel a bit awkward waiting in line between all the young families, let me tell ya.....that awkwardness disappears when its our turn to spend time with the characters. 30 seconds in Elmo's presence and 40 years instantly melts away.

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    Cookie Monster was equally as sweet, and we took full advantage of the opportunity for hugs with our favorite blue friend.

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    After the meet and greets, we stopped at the Photokey desk to have the pictures put on our card, and asked the photo staff if they knew whether Oscar the Grouch would be meeting anywhere for photos today. Steve LOVES Oscar, and casually mentioned to me on the way to the park that morning that he would love the chance for a picture with the loveable curmudgeon.....so I was determined to make that happen if at all possible. The photo desk staff looked baffled with the question, and fumbled out a long reply about the fact that he doesn't generally do meet and greets, blah blah blah. I was a bit disappointed but not super surprised, because it was a weekday in slow season so I knew the likelihood was less than if we had been there on a weekend. We thought we'd take a stroll around anyway to see if any other characters were out and about, so we headed out the side door once our Elmo and Cookie pics were successfully added to our Photokey account.

    And guess what? Look who was literally RIGHT OUTSIDE the door. At that exact moment.

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    Steve's inner child was rejoicing. This made his day more than he'd ever care to admit.

    As we wound our way around that section of the park, we also caught sight of our favorite big yellow bird....so of course we had to stop for a hug and a picture!

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    You know what was super adorable, though? There was an older couple who had a service dog at the park, and we heard them explaining to a few of the SW Ambassadors that he was in training and working on being socialized in a variety of situations. They brought him into the line for the Big Bird meet-and-greet (immediately in front of us) and he calmly posed for the cutest picture EVER. While Big Bird was a hit with the little ones, that precious doggo was a close second!! Seriously soooo sweet!

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    More to come!
     

    Joanna71985

    <marquee><font color=green>Characters are my frien
    Joined
    Feb 28, 2005
    Pretzel Kitchen is seriously my favorite restaurant at SW! I I love the pepperoni pizza pretzel

    I'm glad you were successful with Oscar the Grouch (with the exception of Elmo, Cookie, and Big Bird, the other characters are unadvertised. So it's hard to find out if/when they are meeting)
     
  • chiamarie

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 12, 2010
    I'm so slow to follow this! (And I admit that I didn't read a lot of it 😬).

    Mostly to comment to say that you have a much better memory than I do! I don't remember anything about dinner service being bad. Just that I love getting to hang out with y'all! Lordy I hope Covid goes away soon. So you can come visit again!
     

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    SeaWorld Platinum Passholder
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2008
    Pretzel Kitchen is seriously my favorite restaurant at SW! I I love the pepperoni pizza pretzel

    I'm glad you were successful with Oscar the Grouch (with the exception of Elmo, Cookie, and Big Bird, the other characters are unadvertised. So it's hard to find out if/when they are meeting)
    I was so bummed they didn't have any of the pepperoni pretzels out yet when we were there! I will definitely have to plan to stop for one in October.

    That photo of the service dog with Big Bird - OMG. The sweetest! :love:
    I actually felt a little sorry for Big Bird when that doggo showed up!! LOL All the little kids had been "Awwww, Big Bird!!" but then it was all eyes on that sweet pooch and the chorus changed to "Awwwwww.....PUPPY!!!".

    I'm so slow to follow this! (And I admit that I didn't read a lot of it 😬).

    Mostly to comment to say that you have a much better memory than I do! I don't remember anything about dinner service being bad. Just that I love getting to hang out with y'all! Lordy I hope Covid goes away soon. So you can come visit again!
    Amen, sister. From your lips to God's ears.

    I am sorely missing our beloved spring trip. And to make matters worse, all the Facebook memories from our previous May trips keep popping up daily just to rub salt in the wound. Sheesh!!

    I hope you will be able to make time for us in October again (mark your calendar, the 16th to 23rd). We have quite a bit of stuffed jammed in the plans.....making up for lost time and all that!.....so we might need to get creative and do breakfast versus dinner. Unless, of course, we could convince you to come to BG with us for Howl-O-Scream?

    Mmmmm...stuffed pretzel burger!
    View attachment 494164
    That may have been actual photo of Steve at the Pretzel Kitchen!!!
     
  • Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    SeaWorld Platinum Passholder
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2008
    Monday, January 27th: SeaWorld, continued

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    After our character tour through Sesame Street, we thought it was a good time to cruise on over to visit some of our other favorite "characters" in the park.....those loveable, noisy, animated little beggars we all know and love: the seals and sea lions.

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    We love to feed these little fellas, so we headed over to the small hut that sits to the side of Pacific Point Preserve and picked up three trays of fish. With the Save $5 deal on a purchase of 3 trays, it means the 3rd tray ends up only costing a dollar, so its definitely the best overall deal. Each tray doesn't hold a ton of fish either, so it stretches out the fun a little longer when we have one tray each and then a third one to share.

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    We did the Sea Lions Up Close tour a few trips ago, and that seriously spoiled us on feeding the seals and sea lions: on that tour, they give each participant a whole steel bucket full of fish on ice and we got to throw out snacks to those mouthly little sweeties until our arms got sore. We had so much fun with that tour, Steve always casually mentions that if I want to go ahead and book it again, he wouldn't mind having that experience a second time (and the fact that 4 trays of fish run us $13 all on their own always reminds him....and me!....what a fair deal that tour turns out to be). Hmmmm......maybe an extra little something to plan on for our October trip? I may have to give that some thought!

    With trays in hand (also worth mentioning....no passholder discount on the multi-tray purchase, since the cost is already discounted from regular price) we headed over to see who might come up to let us know they were ready for a treat. There were quite a few other folks along the side of the exhibit also tossing in fish to the animals, but those little bellies have a remarkable capacity for food storage and those near the wall were happy to just keep eating.

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    I can't even begin to tell you how many fish from some of those young families got scooped up by those dastardly white birds. I felt so bad for them....those trays are expensive and you don't get a ton of fish to begin with, so each one is precious. Those birds are FAST though, so when you start tossing, you want to toss with purpose and to an open mouth or those sea lions don't have a chance. I wonder how skinny those birds have become since the parks closed back in March?

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    Once we had emptied our trays and given our fishy hands a good scrubbing at the hand washing station, I pulled up the SeaWorld app on my phone to check and see what the next showtimes happened to be. It turned out that Sea Lion High was having a showing within a half hour, so we thought it was the perfect time to have a sit-down and enjoy a little more pinniped love. We headed over to the Sea Lion & Otter Stadium to snag some great reserved seats with our Platinum perks.

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    By the time we paused for a quick trip to the loo, people were STREAMING into that show, so we were incredibly grateful for the wonderful vantage point that we still managed to snag just 20 minutes before showtime: center of the theater, just above the splash zone. We were simply delighted to see that the mime had been reinstated since our last visit [he had been sadly phased out several years prior, which drew huge criticism from guests] and we thoroughly enjoyed his silly antics as folks waddled past, completely oblivious to his good-natured mockery.

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    And now......ON WITH THE SHOW!

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    Next up: Sea Lion High
     

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    SeaWorld Platinum Passholder
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2008
    Monday, January 27th: SeaWorld, continued

    494284

    You know how sometimes you go to these shows which feature animals and you are just gobsmacked at how the trainers get those amazing creatures to do such incredible things on command? I mean, SeaWorld has taught an Otter how to recycle and I can't even get my cats to move over on the bed at night! Well, sometimes you go to these productions and NOTHING seems to happen on cue....and this was one of those shows LOL.

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    Much as one would think it would be the opposite, I think the "if it could go wrong, it did" style show is actually even more enjoyable than the one that is carried off so seamlessly it doesn't seem real. The mis-cues abounded from start to finish, and were not all the fault of the adorable animal stars: from technical issues to animal trainer oops-es, this show was a hot mess......but yet hilariously charming at the same time.

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    A couple of doors got stuck, some of the trainers forgot where they were supposed to be, and I think even Clyde and Seamore were wondering at times what the heck was going on. But I have to hand it to the training staff, they laughed it off and kept on rolling and kept us all entertained, even when they had gone well off script.

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    As always, it was hard not to be struck by the relationship between the trainers and the animals. One of the things I love most about SeaWorld shows is the evident love that the people have for the animals that they work with, and the way that affection is returned to them. It's a beautiful thing. And it makes me wish I had picked a completely different college major 30 years ago.

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    This girl (@chiamarie or @Joanna71985 , this is Kaboodle, correct?) is always a joy to see. Love her surprise appearance near the end of the show! She's plays a small part but she makes a big impression!!!

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    Things wrapped up with a smile......let's home this guy isn't a casualty of the Covid-19 cutbacks which are almost surely going to occur once the parks reopen. I hope to see him bringing smiles to SeaWorld guests for many, many more years to come!

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    As we all spilled out of the stadium like a colony of ants after being sprayed by Raid, we had the chance to stop and say hello to @chicagoshannon and her sweet family who also happened to be in the park that same day (and watched the same Sea Lion show that we were at). I would have liked to have had the opportunity to grab a drink with them and indulge in the opportunity to chat a while, but unfortunately our tour was pending and we had to skedaddle after a rather brief hello. That said, better the chance for a quick meeting than to miss each other entirely! Next time Shannon, we MUST get a quick pic!!

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    Coming up: we're headed to Antarctica to make a new friend!
     

    chicagoshannon

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 9, 2008
    Monday, January 27th: SeaWorld, continued

    View attachment 494284

    You know how sometimes you go to these shows which feature animals and you are just gobsmacked at how the trainers get those amazing creatures to do such incredible things on command? I mean, SeaWorld has taught an Otter how to recycle and I can't even get my cats to move over on the bed at night! Well, sometimes you go to these productions and NOTHING seems to happen on cue....and this was one of those shows LOL.

    View attachment 494286

    Much as one would think it would be the opposite, I think the "if it could go wrong, it did" style show is actually even more enjoyable than the one that is carried off so seamlessly it doesn't seem real. The mis-cues abounded from start to finish, and were not all the fault of the adorable animal stars: from technical issues to animal trainer oops-es, this show was a hot mess......but yet hilariously charming at the same time.

    View attachment 494287

    A couple of doors got stuck, some of the trainers forgot where they were supposed to be, and I think even Clyde and Seamore were wondering at times what the heck was going on. But I have to hand it to the training staff, they laughed it off and kept on rolling and kept us all entertained, even when they had gone well off script.

    View attachment 494289

    View attachment 494290

    As always, it was hard not to be struck by the relationship between the trainers and the animals. One of the things I love most about SeaWorld shows is the evident love that the people have for the animals that they work with, and the way that affection is returned to them. It's a beautiful thing. And it makes me wish I had picked a completely different college major 30 years ago.

    View attachment 494291

    View attachment 494292

    This girl (@chiamarie or @Joanna71985 , this is Kaboodle, correct?) is always a joy to see. Love her surprise appearance near the end of the show! She's plays a small part but she makes a big impression!!!

    View attachment 494293

    Things wrapped up with a smile......let's home this guy isn't a casualty of the Covid-19 cutbacks which are almost surely going to occur once the parks reopen. I hope to see him bringing smiles to SeaWorld guests for many, many more years to come!

    View attachment 494295

    As we all spilled out of the stadium like a colony of ants after being sprayed by Raid, we had the chance to stop and say hello to @chicagoshannon and her sweet family who also happened to be in the park that same day (and watched the same Sea Lion show that we were at). I would have liked to have had the opportunity to grab a drink with them and indulge in the opportunity to chat a while, but unfortunately our tour was pending and we had to skedaddle after a rather brief hello. That said, better the chance for a quick meeting than to miss each other entirely! Next time Shannon, we MUST get a quick pic!!

    View attachment 494297

    Coming up: we're headed to Antarctica to make a new friend!
    Was this the show that the Microphones weren't working? I can't remember as we see the show each time we're there. lol Another show we see almost always is the pet show that is now canceled. :( I haven't had the heart to tell Duncan yet although Madeline heard us talking about it. I know it wasn't Steve's favorite but my kids loved it. lol
     

    Monykalyn

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 11, 2014
    As always, it was hard not to be struck by the relationship between the trainers and the animals. One of the things I love most about SeaWorld shows is the evident love that the people have for the animals that they work with, and the way that affection is returned to them. It's a beautiful thing. And it makes me wish I had picked a completely different college major 30 years ago.
    I know the trainers are still taking care of their charges-but I do wonder if those animals wonder what's happening too, as their routine must also have changed drastically. Wondering where all the funny clapping humans went?
     

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    SeaWorld Platinum Passholder
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2008
    Aww, I love seeing some of my favorite trainers (plus SLH is one of my favorite shows)! That lovely lady is Slowpoke- Kaboodle is over at Wild Arctic
    Slowpoke!! Ugh, I always forget about her! Thank you for correcting my error......I knew you would know one way or the other.

    Was this the show that the Microphones weren't working? I can't remember as we see the show each time we're there. lol Another show we see almost always is the pet show that is now canceled. :( I haven't had the heart to tell Duncan yet although Madeline heard us talking about it. I know it wasn't Steve's favorite but my kids loved it. lol
    That show seemed to have multiple little issues....doors that wouldn't open, animals (and people) out of sync......but I didn't find it detracted from the show at all. I actually found it rather amusing to see the trainers double over with laughter when yet something else went wrong. It was nice to see them take it all in stride and see the humor in it all.

    I was shocked when I saw that the pet show has been given the axe. I am trying to keep a positive outlook, though, because every time the park has cancelled a beloved show or attraction (like Blue Horizons or Shamu's Happy Harbor), they've always come through with something even better. So.....much as I'm sad that we didn't make the time to see that show one final time when we were there in January, I will hold out hope that there will be a fun new experience in store instead. Though I am not sure how they will retrofit that theatre with the seats so close together.......post Covid-19 theme parks will look very different, I think.

    I know the trainers are still taking care of their charges-but I do wonder if those animals wonder what's happening too, as their routine must also have changed drastically. Wondering where all the funny clapping humans went?
    We have said that so often since the park closed in March! Imagine the dolphins and sea lions especially.....the dolphins who were touched and played with all day long as part of the Dolphin Encounter and Up Close Tour, and the sea lions who enjoyed endless trays of fish all day long from adoring onlookers. The whole park must feel so unbelievably quiet to them!!

    Just want to pop in and say thank you Gina! Reading your updates is my escape from all the bad news!
    Aw, you are sweet. Thank you for being so kind. Y'all make me happy just knowing you're reading along!
     

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    SeaWorld Platinum Passholder
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2008
    Monday, January 27th: SeaWorld, continued

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    Once Sea Lion High let out, Steve dashed out to the parking lot to grab our jackets from the truck (a very quick task thanks to that amazing preferred parking space just steps from the entrance) and we headed back to the check in location for our Penguins Up Close tour. This tour meets next to the feeding hut for the sea lions at Pacific Point Preserve, and takes guests into the backstage area of Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin.

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    Our small group of about 10 people had the sweetest, most bubbly (and teeny tiny) little old lady as our tour guide, and her excitement about penguins was absolutely infectious. If any of the participants weren't super pumped to take part in this event, 5 minutes with this jovial soul would have you nearly ready to burst. She made a point of learning each of our names at check-in and involving each of us in the pre-tour chatter, which I thought was a nice touch. She also handed out collectible animal cards as rewards for those who had the right answer to her trivia questions as we made the short walk from Pacific Point Preserve to the back door to the penguin exhibit. We had several little folks along for the experience (one infant plus 3 toddlers, split between 2 different families) so those cards were a huge hit with the wee ones.

    Once we sanitized our shoes and entered into the long rear hallway of the building, our guide handed us over to the animal care staff who began an info session on all the different penguins who call the Antarctica exhibit home. We learned about the different physical attributes of each species, how each different type of penguin care for their young, and lots of other fun little details which made them unique.

    We also learned a little about how the animal care staff keep track of who's who among all those black and white feathers. If you were ever wondering what those color-coded bands were for on their flippers, this is their purpose. No two penguins will ever have the exact same band.

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    We got a chance to see a very cool display of the eggs from each of the different penguin species, which I personally found VERY interesting. Take a look at the size difference between the Rockhopper and the King......those Kings lay some massive eggs!

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    We were also given free reign to peek inside any of the off-limits rooms to view some of the babies that were being cared for outside of the exhibit. The glass of the window made for some unusable photos, but it was super interesting to see the massive efforts that the staff put into maintaining a safe and healthy population.

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    Fun fact: many of the SeaWorld animal care staff take the babies home with them to raise up until they are ready to be introduced to the exhibit. HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE? We heard a few fun stories about the reactions of these staffers existing pets to their new foster sibling......I can only imagine how my cats would behave if a tiny penguin chick came waddling into the living room!!

    Once the "educational" part of the tour was complete (much to the relief of those preschoolers.....they just wanted to see some penguins, darn it!) we headed into the exhibit. Let's be honest: this is what EVERYONE really came for!!

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    This tour gives you a very different view of the penguin habitat, and it was super fun to be within an arms reach of all these gorgeous creatures (though we were told not to touch any bird that awkwardly waddled by......that joy would come soon enough). I will say though that it is some sort of cold in there, and we were VERY happy that we had made the effort to bring (and wear) jackets. It saved us from being uncomfortable, which made the time inside Antarctica so much more enjoyable.

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    After some short and basic instructions about what to expect from our "up close" interaction, and a review of the do's and don't of a penguin meet-and-greet, our penguin specialist set about collecting the volunteer from the crowd who would be mingling with our excited group on that January afternoon.

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    The lucky penguin? His name was Caspian.....and let me tell ya, I was instantly IN LOVE.

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    More to come......
     

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    SeaWorld Platinum Passholder
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2008
    Monday, January 27th: SeaWorld, continued

    We all took a few steps back and let the engaging little Caspian gather his bearings and get comfortable with the pie-eyed group (most of whom were oooohing and aaaahhing at all that cuteness) before we proceeded with any interaction. SeaWorld consistently reiterates that any interaction is only possible with the full agreement of the animal....if they show any hesitation whatsoever, they are never forced to do anything at all (including participate in tours). Caspian, however, seemed thrilled to be among some new people friends and was eager to get to know this happy group of park guests. While the tour does not have a Photokey photographer along to capture pictures of the experience (there is not much space at all in that area....with our small group, the guide and the animal care staff, there was barely room fro a penguin!!), our tour guide was happy to take guest photos with our individual phones.....and she assured us she was quite good at it, too LOL. She was such a doll!

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    What I *LOVED* and appreciated about this tour was the unhurried opportunity to interact with this affable little fellow. Our group was so good (even the littles) about taking their turn and allowing each family to have lots of time for lovin' and photos. We also had the chance to pet him more than once......after each family had had their individual time with Caspian, they allowed him to roam freely about our group and revisit anyone who caught his eye.

    494678

    Our guide was GREAT about ensuring every participant got both group and individual pictures with the penguin, and she was a critical photo taker....which this photo-centric guest was very appreciative of. These are experiences you want to have good photos of......if its not a great pic, then an extra 10 seconds to snap another is absolutely warranted. These are memories you want to hold onto FOREVER.

    494679

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    It was heartwarming to see that this bird actually seemed to enjoy the experience as much as we did....and a few of his feathered friends almost seemed jealous that today was not THEIR day LOL. A couple of tiny faces peered longingly over the barrier as if to say HEY, I wanna come out and say hello too!

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    Caspian was as reluctant to end the tour as we were......he did his level best to waddle his way out into the hallway with the rest of us as we made our way back into the heated hallway, as the care staff gently nudged him back toward the exhibit. Good thing he was quite a sizeable little guy or else I'd have been tempted to see if I could coax him into my purse.

    Kidding, of course.....but only a little.

    We booked this tour on a buy one, get one free deal that was offered on the Blue Friday sales, so at that half price discount it was absolutely a steal. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend or to pay full price for this experience though, it was extremely well done and well worth the time and financial investment.

    Much more to come....the day was still young!
     

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