Sea World, Orlando, Florida
Take a balmy New Year’s Day; Sea World in Orlando; two of my grandkids plus their parents—that’s a recipe for celebration.
Much has changed since 2001, when I last visited the park. The shows are more theatrical, featuring flamboyant costuming and vibrant lighting; performances resemble spectacular Cirque de Soleil acts.
The Shamu show highlights not just one, but five killer whales. And I found 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 by to make reservations early in the day and returned 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.
My young grandchildren, 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.
7007 Sea World Drive, Orlando, FL 32821
Phone: (800) 327-2424