Sea World was always one of those places I really never had any interest in going to. I think that is because every commercial and ad that I have seen gives the impression that the park’s theme is, “Hey, look at fish for twelve hours.”
Then my family went, and it got good reviews. At some point, they even added legitimate rides. When I was last in Orlando, we drove by the park and the roller coaster look very impressive. So when Amy suggested going there, I figured why not.
This was another one of the parks we wound up getting to about an hour early, due to the terrible shuttle schedule. After sitting on a ticket line that, for some reason, stalled for about twenty minutes, we finally got in. There was a sign at the entrance, announcing Sea World’s Halloween event. However, judging by the sign, it was going to be a half assed event at best.
We made it about fifty feet into the park, and got stopped again. Apparently the park opening was merely a formality, or maybe they just open the park one section at a time. Eventually, we were allowed further into the park.
We decided to hit the two main rides in the park right away, in order to beat the crowds. First off was Kraken, the roller coaster.
I have been in plenty of amusement parks when they are just opening, and it’s always fairly weird. The huge, popular rides are empty. As a result, they lose some of their appeal. Even if I know the ride is good, the fact that no one is around makes it seem like the ride is unwanted.
This was my first impression of Kraken; there was no one on line. The employees running the ride looked about as awake as I was. And, when they are in charge of making sure you are properly strapped in and don’t die on a loop, that is pretty scary.
The ride itself was the epitome of mediocrity. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good, either. Immediately upon leaving the ride, I had forgotten everything that had happened on it.
Since Kraken looked so appealing the year before, it was a pretty big letdown. One of the two main rides in the park got the thumbs down, so they day was off to a rocky start.
Even before going into the park, I was very familiar with the name of the Journey to Atlantis ride. This was due to the fact that my brother had worn the same Journey to Atlantis shirt for about six days a week for an entire year. As for the ride itself, I just knew it was a Splash Mountain type log flume ride.
The line was the same as Kraken’s: empty. The real, rational reason for this was that all of the smart people were still asleep. But no matter what the reason for a ride being empty is, the first impression is that the ride sucks.
A common phrase used when describing bad things is, “It started off so promisingly, but…” There’s no need to worry about that here. Right from the very beginning, no mistake can be made, Journey to Atlantis is crap.
I can’t recall what the setup for the ride was about. I was in such shock and awe over the ride’s carnival haunted house level of production. The plot involved a magic sea horse. Normally that is a surefire recipe for success, but it just doesn’t work this time.
I have absolutely no idea what happened on the ride. Eventually the boat drops down, the ride ends, and you are offered the opportunity to purchase Journey to Atlantis merchandise.
After the Journey to Atlantis debacle, it was time for the first animal show of the day. The shows were all good, but not very interesting to write or read about. So since I care very deeply about your enjoyment, I will skip over them. Also, I’m lazy.
The one thing that I will mention is how absolutely blinding the sun was early in the morning. I kept saying I would buy a pair of sunglasses, but never actually did. Instead, I spent every morning squinting. This partial blindness might explain how I chose my seat for the dolphin show, and then noticed I was sitting in the “Soak Zone.”
One of the more popular areas was the attraction where you could feed the sea lions. Sea lions are the same as seals, except for a few differences of which I am not aware. For the bargain price of about $5, you could buy a basket of tiny fish. These fish also offered challenge and excitement, because if you spilled even a drop of the fish juice on you, you would spend the rest of the day smelling like low tide.
The feeding station really is a win – win situation for Sea World. The people in the park are entertained by watching the sea lions, and getting to interact with them. The park also benefits because the tourists are being suckered into paying to feed the park’s animals, something the park would need to do anyway.
I don’t know where Sea World is getting all of these little fish from, although I assume it’s from the ocean. Between using the fish as rewards for the animals in the shows, and all of the fish being sold for feeding, the park must go through thousands a day. I don’t know much about fish, but it doesn’t seem like these little fish can breed fast enough to keep up with the demand. If the fish were more attractive, I could fathom them mating a lot. But these fish aren’t very sexy at all. If it were one of the more erotic fish, like a Grouper, it would be understandable. But these fish just don’t do it for me.
So I have no idea where the hell they’re getting all of these fish from.
Despite the fact that I saw them after it was too late, these warning signs are right on the money. When tossing a fish to one of the sea lions, you better have good aim; because if you miss its mouth by even a little, the sea lion isn’t getting that fish. These birds will swoop down on the fish in an instant, pissing off tourists and sea lions all day long.
The bird themselves are absolutely hideous. They look like some sort of DNA spliced cross breed between a vulture and a seagull. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that Sea World is doing genetic experiments. That might explain where all the little fish are coming from.
Since it had been almost two days since it last rained, it was time for some more showers. So, we went to the nearest indoor attraction, which was the penguin exhibition. Which really isn’t very interesting to talk about.
As it was about time to eat, we looked into eating at Sharks Underwater Grill, which I think was the only real restaurant in the park. There might be others, but I don’t want to check. The menu seemed rather pedestrian, and kind of pricey. Regardless, the atmosphere seemed interesting, so we figured it was worth a shot. We then found out that the wait to sit down was about two hours. Forget that. For the price of a meal there, I could get six churros, and get them right away.
So as you might assume, we decided to eat elsewhere. Before that, we checked out the shark exhibit. This was really cool; you walk through a glass-ceiling hallway, with a shark tank all around you. Outside, there was an open pool with various other types of similar fish, such as sting rays. It is interesting at first, since they are so close to you; you could reach out and touch them and harm yourself if you really wanted to. Then is seems kind of disappointing. If I was swimming in the ocean and I saw one of these come near me, I would fill the surrounding water with copious amounts of urine. But here, whatever, I could step on them if I wanted to.
Soon, it was time for the most popular event in the park, the Shamu show. I forget what the deal with the current Shamu is, whether Shamu is a single whale, the general name for all the killer whales, or what. I think the original Shamu is dead.
The arena was packed, which lent some sort of excitement to the show, since there were so many people there. This is the exact opposite of my normal reaction to large crowds in an amusement park, which is immense aggravation and suppressed violent desires.
I was impressed by the whole setup. The arena was huge, and the stage was attractive as well. I suppose it’s all relative; this arena might have seemed larger and more impressive compared to the other shows’ stages, which were significantly smaller.
The show itself was good, although somewhat overrated. It was standard fare; the whales flip around, splash, and do other similar whale activities. Well, trained whale activities. In the wild, killer whales engage in far less bicycle horn honking. So the show was definitely good, but from its reputation I was expecting something a little more life changing. But no, I’m still the same. Same skin color (pale,) same personality (grating,) and same sexual orientation (ambiguous.)
Up to this point, the day had been going fairly well. Despite the bad start due to the rides, everything had gone smoothly. However, the day was about to take a turn, for the ridiculously awesome.
It is common for amusement parks to have activities that aren’t exactly within the general theme of the park. Disneyworld, the “dreams can come true” park, has the sterile, post apocalyptic Tomorrowland. Universal Studios, the “magic of the movies” park, has the Curious George playground. Curious George is a book, and if you look at it carefully, you realize that a book is not a movie. Unless the book has been adapted into a movie. I’ve defeated my own argument, so I should probably just delete that. I’ve already typed too much though, so forget it. Finally, Epcot, the “we are the world – hippie nonsense – buy an electric car or the future is doomed” park, had rides like Body Wars, which is about blood cells.
So unrelated attractions aren’t too shocking anymore. Although this is taken to a new level when the connection is attempted between “Fish are awesome,” and “Sit in an air conditioned room while drinking free beer.”
We were getting into the MGM / Universal situation, where the idea was that we had done almost everything there was to do, so we were stuck with the more random places in the park. So, we headed over to the Anheuser Busch Hospitality Center, not really knowing what it was. Inside the building, there were a fair amount of displays, as well as a bar. Although I must admit, I didn’t pay much attention to that. I was too busy noticing the large marquee which proclaimed one corner of the building to be “Beer School.”
Apparently, Beer School was the hot spot to be, judging by the pear shaped woman racing by me, walking like Butthead.
We sat down inside a room filled with tables and chairs, in the front row, which is the first time I have sat in the front row of a classroom since they stopped using assigned seating.
The moderator running the show clearly knew he was catering to the lowest common denominator, since his opening line as he stepped to the front of the room was, “Who here likes beer?” And we, cooperative group of hooligans that we were, loudly cheered… although I wasn’t being entirely honest.
I don’t even like beer that much. I don’t like the taste, especially those dark, milkshake-thick beers. I don’t like those soda beers either, since they are so horrifyingly sweet. I usually drink “light” or, preferably, “low carb” beers, since they taste as little like beer as possible. Beer that doesn’t really taste like beer: the best of both worlds.
A film was then shown about the history of Anheuser-Busch, and how their beer is made. I don’t remember much about this process, apparently they put bread in a vat, and it eventually turns to booze.
Then, the samples were handed out. They were little glasses, but still had a good amount in them, maybe 6 or 8 ounces each. There was one for Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, a soda beer, and some other beers that I couldn’t pick out in a taste test if I had a gun to my head.
One important fact to keep in mind is that we never got around to eating lunch yet. So I wound up drinking about nine glasses of beer (including the ones that Amy didn’t want,) all on a completely empty stomach.
Even still, I was able to come through in the clutch. Despite being mildly bombed, I was able to answer the moderator’s pop quiz of what the five ingredients of beer are: barley, hops, water, Rice a Roni, and yeast, or something to that effect.
To reward me for my courageous victory, I was given a Budweiser can cozy. Which, currently, is somewhere under my bed, keeping my dust cold. Even more importantly, since I passed his test, it meant the class would receive their diplomas. These things were no joke. They had our real names printed on them.
For some reason, the next hour or so of the day was something of a blur.
It was coming time to catch the shuttle, but we still had enough time to catch the polar animal exhibit. This also had the third and final (I think) ride in the park. The ride was a simulation, where you are riding in a helicopter over arctic land. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a very great simulation of this. It was, however, a great simulation of being repeatedly punched in the face and neck area by a large cretin with a roll of quarters in his fist.
I was developing a bit of a headache before the ride, but after it I was ready to buy a souvenir shark tooth necklace, so I could use it to slit my wrists and put an end to my misery.
Despite the fact that the ride sucked something terrible, the polar attraction was great. Unfortunately, we had to rush through it, since we needed to catch the shuttle. If I do come back here ever, I’d definitely want to spend more time in this exhibit.
On the way to the park exit, it became apparent that we overestimated the amount of time we had to get back. We also overestimated our knowledge of how to get anywhere in the park. I spoke of how randomly MGM was mapped out, but oh man, MGM has nothing on Sea World.
This is the official map, from Sea World’s web site. If the actual business itself can’t make it any clearer than this mess, imagine actually trying to navigate it. Even worse, imagine trying to navigate it when you are in a major rush to get somewhere. And this map can in no way be close to scale. That bridge over the lake had to be at least two miles long. Since we were so inconvenienced by having to rush to catch the shuttle, knocking over any elderly people or children in our way, of course the driver was late.
So my glorious plans for the evening were delayed: gulping down about twenty Kirkland brand ibuprofens, lying down, and watching a few hours of “The Top Seven Must See Attractions in Walt Disney World.”
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