Sunday, February 10, 2013

2013 Feb. trip to Florida (Sea World)

The 5th week of the year rolled around again, so it was time for another trip to Florida.  My Dad bought that week at Orange Lake in Orlando for all of us to enjoy.  My sister Carolyn and her boyfriend Chester were going, so I decided it would be fun to join them for a couple days.  So I conned Angie into going with me for 3 nights.  Instead of staying at Orange Lake, though, Angie and I stayed at Wyndham Bonnet Creek right by Disney.  I flew into Ft. Lauderdale and spent the first couple nights there at Angie's, then she and I made the 3 1/2 hour ride to Orlando.

One of those first days in Coral Springs, they took me to the nearby park they like to go to for viewing alligators.  It was a nice day and we did see lots of iquanas and a few alligators. 

A gator coming to say, "Hi!"
 Josh helping a fisherman with his catch.

 The catch---some sort of carp?

The canal leading out of the park.

We also went to Deerfield Beach for a pic nic lunch one chilly day.  The ocean was suppose to be 76 degrees, but the air was only about 68 and very windy.  But I can't be that close to the ocean without checking it out!

Angie and Josh had discovered a great Italian restaurant there in Coral Springs, so they took me there one night.

Sunday afternoon Angie and I drove up to Orlando.  Carolyn and Chester had arrived from Oregon the night before.  It was late by the time we got there, so we didn't see them that day.  Instead we headed to the grocery store for dinner (chicken strips, hummus, chips, raw veggies, and lots of fruits and stuff for breakfast).  Then we watched the 2nd half of the Super Bowl, thanks to their electricity going off and delaying the game until we got back. 

Our room at Bonnett Creek was very nice.  I got the 3 nights for 50% off the points of a 2 bedroom unit and was upgraded to a 3 bedroom unit for free.  Didn't need the 3rd bedroom, but figured the location might be better.  We were pretty happy with our unit---top floor of building 4 on the end (room 1364).   Only complaint I had with the room was the noise of a motor running all night (heating and ac for the building???), but it was pretty much a white noise, so I was able to eventually ignore it.  I was also happy to see that they actually do have king size sheets at the resort (last year I stayed there and called housekeeping twice about the sheets being too small and never did get the right ones.  Ended up sleeping with just the top sheets on the bed).  I actually have one complaint about the resort, but it didn't affect us---starting FEb. 15th they're charging a $12/day/unit resort fee.  I'm not sure I'll be going back there when they start that.   Sure they have shuttles to Disney, but I'd just as soon drive myself.  Anyway, we did enjoy our short stay.
Here's a rough pan of the living area of the unit (same as our 2 bedroom unit last year).
2nd bedroom
 3rd bedroom
 Master bedroom, jacuzzi tub area, and bathroom with large shower stall.
 View from our patio looking towards the check in building and pool area.
Our room faced out towards the Disney parks. 

Another view of the main pool area from our patio at night.
It was actually rather cold there the first couple days (at least after sunset with temps dropping down to the upper 40's,lower 50's, so we didn't get to enjoy the pools as much as I would have liked.  But the pools were nicely heated, so we did manage to make it down there one night.  Not to the main pool area, but our building had a couple nice pools, too---even another lazy river.

We even enjoyed the fireworks at Epcot from our balcony one night.

We didn't do much Monday.  Carolyn and Chester came to our condo for breakfast and a nice visit.  By the time they left, it was too late to do a park, so we went thrift store shopping.  Angie made off with some more great deals!  We did head over to Downtown Disney that night.  Had a great fish dinner at Raglan Road with some friends from St. Louis who happened to be in Orlando then, too.  Then we wandered around Downtown Disney for a bit taking in the sights and live music.

Tuesday we arranged to meet Carolyn and Chester at Sea World.  I've been wanting to go there for years and never could get anyone to go with me.  But Angie had done some work there while she was working for PGAV Architecture firm in St. Louis and had a friend from PGAV working there now so she was eager to go there, too.  Her friend was even able to get us in free!  I was not disappointed!!

One of the first things we did in the park was go to the pet show.  Maybe not sea related, but we really enjoyed this display of trained rats,cats,dogs, and pigs as they put on the show by themselves.  At the end a trainer came out and said all the animals were adopted from shelters. 
Then we headed to the killer whale show, wandering through the aquarium on our way.  I love aquariums so could have spent much longer here.

 This was about the only thing I remembered of Sea World from our trip there when Angie and Tim were in grade school.  As I recall, that time it was only open for a couple hours after regular hours for the conventioneers, which Ken was one of, and their families.
They don't allow the trainers in the water with the killer whales anymore, but it was still amazing watching these wild creatures perform for us.

By now it was time for lunch.  So we went to the bar b q place there that Angie's friend recommended.  It was very good!

Next we were off to the dolphin show, enjoying the views along the way.

Finally---it was time to hit the rides.  First was Manta.  I'm not a huge coaster fan, but I'll have to admit I did enjoy these.   Here we are in the front of the 2nd coaster.
 The after photo---minus my headband which is somewhere below the roller coaster---with the coaster in the background.
 This one looked like fun, too, but we didn't want to get wet.  CArolyn and Chester rode it while we did our 2nd time on the other coasters.  They got pretty soaked---but said they enjoyed the ride.
We also made it to the sea lion and walrus pirate show.  It was really cute with a lot of impromptu acting. 

AFter about 7 hours in the park, it was time to be heading out.  So we posed with my sister by the new anarctica area which Angie's friend is working on, then headed out.

We invited them to go to dinner with us, but they had other plans.  So Angie and I found a great little Mexican restaurant and had a great meal. 

Then it was back to the condo for another beautiful sunset and a dip in the pool.

Wed. we checked out of the resort and headed to Disney's Animal Kingdom.  Angie was able to get a great deal on resident tickets for herself (4 days for $119 good 'til sometime in June) so we wanted to hit a Disney park.  Animal Kingdom closes early so we knew we wouldn't be tempted to stay too long.  Carolyn and Chester weren't going to Disney this year (only to Universal Studios), so we didn't see them WEd. 

 First place we headed to was the safari ride to get a Fast Pass ticket.  Then we went to the Tree of Life and to the It's Tough to be a Bug show.  Cute show!  I'd seen it several years ago, but didn't remember much of it.
 On our way back to the safari ride we stopped in to catch the Birds of Flight show.  It was cute, too.
Then we walked right onto the safari ride.  I love this ride!!!  It really does seem like you're riding around in the wild!
 A lot of the animals were really close to the road this year.
 This one even looked like it might spray us, but didn't.
 Another one right by the road.
 This guy actually made us stop so it could crossed the road in front of us.
 They really disguise the boundaries well for the wild cats!  They look like they could just run right out at any time!
The ride was over all too soon, then we made our way over to the Expedition Everest Fast Pass machines.  The one problem with Animal Kingdom is the limited ways to get to the other side of the park so the walkways get really crowded.  It doesn't look too bad here, but don't let that fool you.
 We got our Fast Passes and watched for awhile.
Then we headed over to the Finding Nemo show.  I hadn't seen it before and thought it was really cute. 

By the time it was over, we were able to walk right onto the coaster ride.

Then we headed over to Dinosaur Land.  Here we rode a nostalgic ride then continued to the Dinosaur ride.  Both were fun.

By now we were starving and headed back to the Pizzafari restaurant for lunch/dinner.  We had to hurry and eat so we could make the 3:30 Lion King show.  The first couple times I went to Animal Kingdom I didn't go see it thinking it was for kids.  Last year a friend and I went to Disney and she said we had to go.  She was right.  It's probably my favorite show in Disney!  I especially love the acrobatic "monkeys".

When Lion King was over, we headed out about 1/2 hour before closing to get a head start on our long ride back to Coral Springs.  It was about a 3 1/2 hour ride, but it went rather quickly.  It was like another safari ride.  Counting going there and coming back we saw an alligator, several iquanas, several wild pigs, several deer, and even another beautiful sunset.
I spent one more day in Coral Springs.  Then it was back to the airport for my flight home.  Another great trip---albeit rather short.  But we did do and see a lot!  Can't wait until the middle of March when I'm heading out there again!

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