Christmas at two parks

With four Disney parks nearby, and an annual pass, we rarely go to Seaworld (even more rare to Universal); but a trip to Discovery Cove earlier this year gave free entry to Seaworld for a few months, so we went this past weekend to see what they do for Christmas – and we were impressed!
First stop was the Clyde & Seamore sealion show. It was closed when we visited for Halloween and now we know why; it was re-themed for Christmas with different colors, lights, etc (and a Santa themed story)! Next was O Wondrous Night, with nativity story, carols, and real animals!

 

Later, we watched the Sea Of Trees, more than 100 Christmas trees with animated lighting synchronized to music and able to show detailed images (including Shamu!), finishing the evening with fireworks over the water – pretty!


Of course I would claim that Disney is “king of the parks” – at Magic Kingdom there are regular Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party events as Christmas approaches. Unlike Seaworld, these are additional cost (about $60 each); one justification is that the park is quieter as the tickets are restricted, but we arrived to big crowds with hardly a chance to see the Christmas themed parade! Later on, the Magic Kingdom fireworks were very different to normal, enhanced for the special evening – but again crowds left us with a tree-obstructed view some of the time …

It was noticeably quiet in other areas of the park; we were able to enjoy all three Mountains (Space, Splash, Thunder), Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and even Ariel’s Journey of the Little Mermaid, with queues no more than a few minutes (and sometimes, just the time taken to walk the length of the empty queue area).

Apart from the shorter queues, and the very nice “free” Cocoa, there was little to distinguish Magic Kingdom; no real Christmas theming on the rides, and minimal theming elsewhere except the lights on Main Street. So really, we were paying a premium for shorter queues. Maybe that’s enough justification, but it did leave me thinking that Disney is less “magical” than it is supposed to be; and more impressed with Seaworld than I was previously.

SeaVenture

For Margaret’s birthday this year, we spent the (hot, sunny) day at Discovery Cove, including some underwater time with SeaVenture, which is sort of “scuba with no skill”.
They let us borrow a good quality underwater camera (in return for paying for the photo CD of course) and we got some nice pictures …

The day was busy, very entertaining, and quite exhausting! Discovery Cove is an expensive trip, but the ($150 each) admission did include all food & drinks, including a reasonable choice and breakfast and lunch items. SeaVenture costs more, but the “lazy river” ride, pools, sand “beaches” and snorkeling with fish and rays was all included in the basic price. We did not choose to pay to go in with the Dolphins (having done it more one-on-one in Las Vegas), but we sat nearby and watched them play, anyway!

Back to Seaworld and Disney

We had another trip to Disney … we returned to Seaworld and WOW it was busy! We also spent a day in Magic Kingdom with our neighbours Joanne & Earle, who happened to be down for the same week …

Pictures from Seaworld:

 

Then another day, we headed over to Space Mountain (in Disney Magic Kingdom) for a ride; it’s a roller coaster in the dark and Margaret doesn’t like it! Joanne wanted to ride Space Mountain but not on her own, and Earle doesn’t like it either. So Joanne and I rode the scary ride 🙂

We also did Splash Mountain (with Joanne well wrapped to keep her dry while the rest of us got soaked!); the Thunder Mountain roller coaster, and another performance of the Gloucester Docksiders:

Florida 2006 – Seaworld

Another very hot & sunny day – but we got wet a few times thanks to help from Shamu! Lots of fun, lots of pictures: