The atrium lobby becomes a kid’s fantasy: a waterfall and goldfish pond; oversize high definition flat screens feature undersea footage of Neptune’s garden; a huge open area, an indoor field of sorts, great for hide and seek or tossing a football. And glass-sided elevators allow spying on the way up or down.
Children find a complimentary Shamu bath toy in their room. (Amazing how these 99 cent items become cherished belongings.) Mimi’s favorite thing–the sheets. They were smooth as fine cashmere, perhaps 600 thread-count, enveloping with the feel of luxury. Lots of pillows, too. Oh yes, a Starbuck’s in the lobby with free WiFi to keep Poppa Jay happy.
Tradewind’s Restaurant sets out an extravagant breakfast buffet, enough to feed a whole team of NFL lineman, but is pricey. Then again, it kept us so full, we skipped lunch.
Sure, Orlando offers many less expensive lodging options, some even serve free breakfast. The Renaissance , however, flaunts location, location, location. And that’s a worthwhile perk at the end of a long day in the park- no hassling with busy Orlando traffic.
When I was a younger parent, I would have stayed farther away, some place that was merely safe and clean. Being a grandparent is better. Either way, kids usually love any hotel. What’s important–holding the child’s hand, watching them smile and enjoying the day.
If you get lucky, very lucky, that little person will look in your direction and say, “Mimi, I love you.”
Three guesses . Name the iconic symbol of killer whales; the spokesman of the Orca’s; the star of Sea World ?
Of course, it’s Shamu, the slaphappy black and white mammal with the stupendous tail. He shamelessly sprays and splashes his way into your soul, showering smooches on his trainer, then snorts a soggy smile. He spins, spirals and submerges, holding the crowd spellbound, only to surface with a startling slick stunt. He soars, he slides, and he shimmers and shines.
Don’t forget; he’s also a sleek, slippery scavenger, stealth of the ocean and a superb swimmer. Yet, a sappy old salt who can summon spontaneous shouts from the crowd and smack a sopping somersault.
Sensational Shamu, put him in the spotlight and he steals the show.
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 Voyagersclose tothe 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.
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 .
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.