Seaworld

Continuing the Florida guide (which can be found here) we went to Seaworld in February 2017 and spent all day in the park, which was certainly a test of our stamina in the heat! However, we had a lovely day, especially as it was something a little different to the Disney parks. So without further ado, here are 5 things to do at Seaworld, especially if you have a small child:

Check out the ticket deals

We decided to go on the day, but bought the tickets in the villa before setting off and we lucked into an “all you can eat” option that was only available on the day and it was for free! Now, I wouldn’t recommend that strategy as buying in advance is always cheaper, but it is worth keeping an eye out for it.

If you go for this option, you can basically have a full meal and drink every single hour!! You probably won’t get value for money (at full price) but if you do get the package, you will enjoy it!! The drinks are obviously the key, although they do come without lids and straws for the safety of the animals.

Play cards with the animals

At the end of the Wild Arctic ride (take the walking route if you get motion sickness!) you get to see a wide range of animals. However, if you’re lucky, there will be a sea lion who will play cards with a member of staff and honestly, it is amazing to watch! (the picture doesn’t do it justice!)

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Go to the child friendly play area

While you technically don’t need a child to play in the water fountain, it does help! Just make sure you bring a spare pair of clothes!

There is a huge rope climbing frame for the older children (8+ I would think) but the rope is not kind to the legs, but there are smaller rides for the younger children. It can help break up the day a bit and give the grown-ups a chance to rest.

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Just after the train ride in the child-friendly area

Check out the penguins

The Antarctica ride is a lovely ride showing the plight of a new born penguin and ends up seeing the real thing in their enclosure. There are 2 options on the ride, a fast or slow ride and the slow ride is absolutely fine for the younger ones. The penguins at the end are gorgeous and perhaps even better, the room is ice cold which is what you need in the middle of the day – it might be the only time you complain of being too cold!!

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Watch the Pets Ahoy show

The show is inside (can you see a theme here!) and all the animals in the show have been rescued. The animals include dogs, cats, birds etc and they perform little tricks with the assistance of their handlers. The show is about 15-20 minutes long and at the end, you can stroke the animals and ask any questions to the handlers.

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Seaworld is a large park and so comfortable shoes are a must, as well as a plan!  If you don’t go for the all you can eat plan, then consider the refillable drinks offer – there is little shelter in the park and you seem to drink more here than at the other parks. We didn’t go on any of the big rides, but looking at Kraken, make sure all your valuables are safely secured – it is quite funny to see all the debris that has been collected where the ride goes upside down!

As Seaworld is one of the biggest and well known attractions in Orlando, you really need to do it, especially as it is so different to all the others, and as I hope to have shown, you don’t need to go on a single ride to have a great day out!!


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Alton Towers Hotel

 

As my post on Cbeebiesland mentioned here, we went for 2 days and as a result, we stayed over and made it a mini-holiday. There are a couple of hotels on site – Alton Towers Hotel and the Splash Landings Hotel. From July 2017, there is a Cbeebies Hotel which I would love for us to stay in (and use our free tickets!)

We stayed at the Alton Towers Hotel, for the only reason that it came up first in the search results! Both hotels are interconnected and the entertainment/restaurants in both hotels are available to residents of both hotels (It looks like Cbeebies hotel is going to be more standalone). Both hotels are a very short walk to the monorail which takes you to the park.

Rather than describe the hotel room, I think this video would probably do more justice…!!

The Alton Towers Hotel seemed more “business like” with the restaurants and entertainment, with the excellent Michelle singing in an evening. It was really good to see the majority of the children listening very politely and in a grown-up way, even with a little bit of dancing as well…!! There were many cuddles when the 7pm set was finished and many of the little ones knew it was bedtime.

The children’s entertainment in the Alton Towers Hotel was limited to Meet and Greets with various characters at half hour intervals in late afternoon/early evening – so think about your dinner reservation timings! However, in the Splash Landings hotel, it was more child focused with story time and a mini disco in an evening – but the beauty is that you can see/do both.

 

In terms of food, the breakfast is in the Secret Garden restaurant and is help-yourself to warm/cold breakfast and is what you come to expect in such hotels. For dinner, we also went to the Secret Garden as it was the most appropriate child menu for us, but I would have liked to try the all-you-can-eat buffet in the Splash Landing hotel as the variety of choice looked really good.

 

Because of the location of Alton Towers, you are best to keep on site as you’re in the middle of nowhere, but that isn’t a bad thing as it feels as though you’re on holiday more than if you went to a “standard” place for tea etc. There is also a small shop in both hotels so you don’t need to leave the hotel.

One tip is to make use of the Porters Lodge if you’re arriving early/leaving late after check-out. This makes it easier when getting to the park and they will try to put your bags in your room if you’re an early arriver. The only downside is that there wasn’t an ice bucket facility which meant that I had to improvise to have a cool drink after bedtime!!

Next time, I’m sure Cbeebies Hotel awaits us (sneak preview of the bedroom below!!!)

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Cbeebiesland

We made the trip down to Alton Towers for a 2 night stay, particularly to take in Cbeebiesland while Heidi was still interested in those programmes and while we could go before she started school.

Cbeebiesland is within the Alton Towers park, although set aside so it is very much child friendly and you don’t get any of the crowds going on the rollercoasters – in this respect it is very much like Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park (See here for our visit there!)

As it is only for children, the staff are very friendly and the setting is very colourful in the Cbeebies colour scheme. Within the park, there are around 12 attractions and you should be able to do them all in 1 day, depending on how little your little one is and whether they need a nap during the day!!

All the rides/attractions are Cbeebies themed, from Octonauts to Postman Pat, in the Night Garden to Charlie and Lola. The only one which is height restricted is the Octonauts rollercoaster and while it is not fast in the great scheme of things, but I would watch it go round first before queuing up.

There are also “Meet and Greet” with various characters throughout Cbeebiesland which seemed to be a bit ad-hoc so keep your eyes peeled, but there is a specific tent for an “In the Night Garden” which seemed to be a big hit with the babies (or the parents more likely!).  There are hourly interactive shows as well which are really good if your child can get involved – such as Tree Fu Tom and do the actions etc.

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Ubercorn!!

Our (or should I say my!) favourite attraction is Justin’s House and is basically a mock up of Justin’s house but the main fun is going onto the balcony overseeing the ground floor and collecting the foam balls and then using them in the play guns and fire them at people!! It is a bit more than an adult attraction, and while it is impossible to get hurt, care needs to be made not to hit small children!!

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Justin’s House!!!

In terms of facilities, there are quite a number of toilets and the ones near Justin’s House had plenty of space. There is one small food outlet which offers a standard theme park menu/prices – although there are numerous outlets throughout the rest of the park. There is also a shop selling Cbeebies themed goodies and the “In the Night Garden” ride exit feeds into the shop so if you have a “needy” little one, you might want to do this ride at the end of the day so you can avoid the shop until then!

All in all, we had 2 good days here, although you don’t need 2 just to do Cbeebiesland. Our first day was beset by winds and rain and because of this, everyone in the park got a free ticket and so we have a ready made excuse to go back!!


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Happy Fathers Day

This is the second year of doing the blog properly whilst “celebrating” Fathers Day and it feels somewhat appropriate to do a blog post in advance of this. (You can read my first Fathers Day post HERE)

Anyway, this blog post was inspired by Trips with a Tot asking what was a favourite trip out/activity. It got me thinking about what we had planned for Fathers Day this year and actually, it isn’t where we are going (although it is pretty cool!) but who we are going with.

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People say you lose your social life when you have a child – in fact, the opposite it true.  You make different friends – special friends. Friends who you talk to over a coffee (or soft drink in my case!) rather than a drink, whilst in a indoor play area rather than a bar. These friends know what you’re going through, why you have odd socks on and why you’re a bit late.

These friends are special, very special. Without going to regular Rhythm Time classes, I wouldn’t have these friends and if you’re a parent and feel as though you’re on an island, go to a regular class (there are some on a weekend, they are just harder to find) and the rest will take care of itself.

Socialising is a basic human need that we sometimes overlook but parents need it as much as children do. Without these friends, I wouldn’t be on a relatively even keel and Heidi wouldn’t have some of the best friends in the world. Saturday morning get-togethers are the best and looked forward to so much!

Anyway, have a good Fathers Day, regardless of if you’re Mum or Dad, together or separate – we all have to play the stereotypical role of dad in being a parent so feel free to have a small drink to celebrate after bedtime – I’ll be having some pop!!

PS – if you’re a fellow Leeds Dad and feel the need to socialise with others, can I recommend “Leeds Dads” – a really laid back social network who have monthly get-togethers on a Sunday.


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