Saturday, September 7, 2019

Orlando 2019 - Dolphins and it's not how we remember

Before we dive (that's punny, you just don't realize it yet) into today - a word about last night. More specifically about adjoining rooms and how that impacts sound. Unless you are traveling with the people in the room next to you, adjoining rooms are not fun.
Our neighbors were LOUD!
They were having a good time hours after we went to bed. Sometime around 1 am they woke me up. They were laughing and swearing. Not how I wanted to wake up.
The kids slept through but all but hubby and gave it about 20 mins to settle down before we called the front desk. They could hear our neighbors through the phone - seriously. The front desk said they would send a security guard over to talk with them. In the time it took for security to come, the neighbors had settled down significantly. And by 2 we were back to sleep.
Ok. On with the new day!

Today we go to Discovery Cove. Hubby and I visited this park in 2002 - it was considered a boutique park, only admitting 1000 people a day.
Well, the park has changed a little since we last came, and the number of people admitted was the biggest change we noted. It was quite a bit more crowded.
This park is water-based but in a more natural nature-focused way. You can sign up to swim with a dolphin. You can snorkel with tropical fish. They have an aviary, and the whole park is green and lush. With pools and rivers that wind through these beautiful natural settings.
The crowds were most noticeable when trying to find the pool noodles and at meals, which are included in the price of your day.
When we came before meals felt like a cruise buffet. Today felt more like a school cafeteria. Not great. Hubby and I were disappointed in both breakfast and lunch. The food was ok, but the service was less than. It's one of those things that had either the food or the service been great, we wouldn't have cared.
We observed other groups complaining to staff about meal issues, so clearly we were not alone in our frustration. [Editor's note: To be fair, the price really hasn't changed much since 2002 either, unlike most of the other parks in the Orlando area which have probably doubled or tripled in price during that timeframe.]
Beyond the food, it wasn't a bad day. Hubby and daughter did the dolphin swim and loved it. Hubby said it hasn't changed too much since we did it back in 2002.
We all enjoyed the pools and rivers.

Such lovely scenery 
Just wandering around while the other are with the dolphins. 

They have converted one of the shallow pools into a sitting pool, with chairs and benches in the water. This particular pool was also one you could bring food and drinks into... So a number of people grabbed beers and a seat to hang out. As those groups of people grew, this pool felt less and less family-friendly. We don't drink so we were probably a little more surprised by this area than others. It was clearly a popular area.
We were at the park from around 9 to almost 5. We made the best of the day!
We doubt we will return, especially with the current guest limits and food situation.
We decided to shower back at the hotel. Discovery Cove has nice shower and changing areas, but they all had lines at this point of the day, and we wanted to be done.
After getting cleaned up and a nice rest we enjoyed a mellow dinner at noodles and co.
Later in the evening, we decided to check out the Studios after dark, in part to ride a few rides but also to see Toy Story land all lit up.

Toy Story Land at night... love the lights, not the crowds ;)

We had a slower start than planned but got to ride a few things, have a treat and enjoy the park at night.

This cupcake was dark chocolate....of course. 

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