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Life in the Fast Lane

January 28, 2009 by · Comments Off on Life in the Fast Lane 

Hurley Haywood with the winning Porsche

Yesterday I stepped into the fast lane, photographing the winning race car in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. I even got to interview a legendary race car driver.

You see, Brumos, the local Jacksonville Porsche dealer, sponsors the Grand-Am race team. Their cars placed first and third in the big event.  So, to celebrate the victory, the vehicles went on display. "It's like we won the Super Bowl," said salesman Bill Bianco. "The place has been buzzing with excitement."

I drove over and snapped the #58 Porsche along with all the surviving dents, dirt, bugs and winner's row confetti. I also interviewed legendary race car driver Hurley Haywood.

To see my gallery of pics and read about Brumos Racing Team please visit the AutomotiveTraveler.com blog, where I post under the name Bimmer Dreamer .

Recommended Restaurants in Sea World Orlando

January 28, 2009 by · Comments Off on Recommended Restaurants in Sea World Orlando 

Sitting in Shark's Underwater Grill

Gazing into the Shark Tank at Sharks Underwater Grill

Over the years I've learned a day at a theme park is improved when my group takes time to sit down and eat in a restaurant versus snacking at fast food. So, when lunchtime rolled around on our first day at Sea World, we chose Voyagers close to the sea lion and otter stadium.

My grandchildren naturally wanted the kid's meal; one chose chicken fingers which came with French fries; the other wanted macaroni and cheese with baby carrots. Both included a little box of raisins and a blue Shamu souvenir lunch box. Price $8.00 (I think?)

I ordered baked barbeque chicken, which was yummy. My son ate pizza and his wife had a wrap. All the plates were filled high and the food appeared fresh and healthier than expected.

Soon we were exploring the park again and ran into Shark Encounter- a 700,000 gallon aquarium containing a walk-through acrylic tunnel for viewing. Gulp.

One wall of the huge tank adjoins Sharks Underwater Grill, an upscale restaurant with a good bite. Dim lighting, coupled with illumination from the fish tank creates an eerie atmosphere, not to mention the flashing teeth on hundreds of sharks.

We stopped and  made reservations, returning at 6:30 PM to dine eye-to eye with the scary demons of the deep.

Seems rather astonishing, but upon entering the room a quiet and unrushed feeling prevails; enough to make you forget the frenzied theme park outside the door. The swaying movement from the array of creatures is mesmerizing. Many of the predators swim rapidly back and forth while others, a saw tooth shark, for example, arose from the deep only occasionally. A mammoth grouper seemed to hover near our table.

If you arrive early, check out the sleek bar– another living seascape. The lobby contains a glowing glass cylinder filled with small neon fish that propel themselves forward or float backward. Do fish ever get dizzy?

The menu touts "Floribbean-style" food, a blend of fresh Florida and Caribbean fare. I ordered salmon filet and was extremely pleased with a tangy yet sweet sauce over the fleshy serving. A spicy side of peppery mashed potatoes and fresh vegetable medley completed my plate.

My husband enjoyed the Citrus Caesar salad, which surprised me, as he is finicky about his choice of dressing. He was disappointed, however, in the Steak en Croute, which he said lacked punch and tasted too much like hamburger.

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A Gummy Shark

The grandkids, ages 4 and 6, ordered popcorn shrimp and fries from the children's menu. A large gummy shark adorned their dinner plates, a cute touch. We paid $2 extra for a shark cozie to surround their juice glasses–a real hit. In fact, I almost purchased a few of these clever drink coolers for an at-home pool party!

I admit I wasn't expecting gourmet food but our dinner turned out to be the catch of the day. The food was delightfully tasty and certainly the surroundings produced an unforgettable thrill. If you go to Sea World, you owe it to yourself to dine with sharks at, none other than Sharks Underwater Grill .

Day Two

We ate a hearty breakfast at our hotel before returning for day two at Sea World, hence were able to bypass the Cypress Bakery- which smelled divine. We didn't even feel hungry at lunch time. Instead, the kids had an ice cream at the Polar Parlor — a dolphin- shaped treat.

Of course, a bit later my teenage daughter was "starving," so I took her into the Seafire Inn for a Greek salad. It was big enough to share.

And that's it for our dining!  I’d like to commend the management for offering Mama's Kitchen Healthy Alternatives a cafe serving whole-wheat bagels, turkey chili and sweet potato chips.

Overall –A thumbs up for food in the theme park.

www.seaworld.com


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Exploring the Theme Park- Sea World Orlando

January 27, 2009 by · Comments Off on Exploring the Theme Park- Sea World Orlando 

Clyde & Seamore's Pirate Ship

Sea World Set for Pirate Island

I last visited Sea World in 2001 and am pleased to report that much has improved (although I didn't think it bad at the time.) As I walked along I found well-signed walkways, cleanliness up to Disney standards, meticulously-manicured gardens and a fresh overall look to the shops and restaurants.

The main improvement appeared in the quality of the shows. They were much more theatrical, featuring flamboyant costuming and vibrant lighting; performances resembling spectacular Cirque de Soleil acts. The Blue Horizon extravaganza is a combination of the "O" show from Las Vegas, exotic birds, and Sea World trained animals. This performance alone was worth the price of admission.

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A Sea World clown performs

Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island is the longest running show, as I remember seeing it in 1983. The actors make fun of themselves, while seals and otters steal the show. The grandkids thought it was hilarious.

A’Lure, The Call of the Ocean is an undersea fantasy staged with acrobats, high-definition film on a screen about the size of an IMAX, and neon costuming. No live animals here, but again, similar to a show you might individually pay to see.

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Elmo and Abby's Treasure Hunt

Since Anheuser-Busch manages the park and is connected with Sesame Place, we saw an adorable skit called Elmo and Abby's Treasure Hunt. My 4-year-old granddaughter was totally in awe. Her Mom claimed it was like the Elmo Live show they had seen in Philadelphia.

The Shamu show, Sea World's claim to fame, highlights not just one, but five killer whales. More on this in another blog.

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Shark Encounter

You'll also find Shark Encounter- a 700,000 gallon aquarium containing a walk-through acrylic tunnel for viewing. Gulp.

Penguin Encounter is an up-close look at the arctic animals above and below the water. OK—we mimicked their behavior.

The Polar Express (available from Thanksgiving to New Year's) is excellent, and runs as the Wild Arctic ride the remainder of the year. You exit through an underground cavern and see polar bears, a walrus and beluga whales.

The park additionally offers theme-park rides: Atlantis, a wild water plunge and the huge scary, Kracken– a roller coaster which has no floor, so feet dangle. A kiddie ride and a play area, much like Sesame Place in Pennsylvania, are also popular.

Manatee Rescue is an interesting walk through exhibit and my grandson got soaked touching the stingrays at Pacific Point Preserve. We did not ride the pink flamingo-shaped paddle boats or ride the Sky Tower.

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For more information: www.seaworld.com

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