Well I let this die
Revival time.Day 6 (08/08/2016) - Discovery Cove & Universal Evening #1:
As Discovery Cove is all-inclusive and opens at stupid o'clock in the morning, we were up bright and early so that we could abuse the free food and drink as much as possible
. We left our villa at about 7:15 and arrived in Discovery Cove within half an hour. After a short sign-in process and our complimentary photo, we went straight for breakfast.
The choice for breakfast was fantastic. At least 8 different cooked items were available, as well as pastries, cereal, muffins etc. Hot drinks, juices and even fizzy drinks were on offer. What a great way to start the day!
The pools open at 9am, so we relaxed for a bit before getting our locker and getting our jackets fitted. Thankfully, it was to be a pretty cold day for August in Orlando - about 80F/27C. As such, we didn't see the need to put any of their sun cream on (you have to use their cream for the protection of the animals, but it's really not nice). We got a bit red, but we couldn't be the only British people on the plane home who weren't.
We hadn't booked to swim with dolphins for a few reasons: firstly, because we've done it before and it's questionable whether it's worth the price on your second trip and secondly, because we didn't book far enough in advance (we booked in Feb/March time) to get it on a convenient day anyway. However, I would definitely recommend this for first-timers, fantastic experience.
We went straight for the grand reef (ray/fish snorkelling pool with shark exhibit). It took a while to get used to the FREEZING water and breathing with a snorkel, but I was off quite quickly. Swimming around this lagoon is a feeling that simply can't be put into words. All I can say is: don't come to Orlando without doing Discovery Cove!
After a couple of hours in here, we went to Freshwater Oasis, where we lasted 10 minutes before being ordered out because of lightning in the area. All pools had been evacuated, so everyone was just sort of milling around for five minutes before almost everyone in the park piled into the lunch queue for an early bite. Fortunately, we were towards the front of this scramble, so no problems.
I'm the sort of fussy eater who usually goes for the chicken strips at a theme park. Unfortunately, this meant that I didn't really like the look of any of the main meals on offer, but this wasn't a problem because they don't control how many desserts you can take
. The desserts were great and I'm told by my family that the main meals were good.
After lunch, we did Freshwater Oasis and their lazy river thing that I can't be bothered to look up the name of, before spending the rest of our time in the Grand Reef. That really is incredible. We also had a series of drinks and snacks throughout the afternoon. It's really simple, they have a load of shacks all over the place and you literally just walk up, take whatever you want and walk off. Such a strange feeling.
We left in the late afternoon. We had all agreed during the day that we'd spend the evening at Universal, but because we hadn't planned this before, we hadn't taken our tickets and so on. Unfortunately, this meant a half-hour drive home, 10 minutes running around inside the villa getting everything we needed and a half-hour drive back into Orlando for Universal, arriving at about 6:15. However, all was not lost - the parking (which is usually $20 for standard and $30 for preferred) goes down to $5/$10 at 6!
We started our evening by heading into Universal Studios Florida, with the idea that we could always use the Hogwarts Express to get to IOA if we ran out of things to do (we still needed to do that). After walking straight past Rip Ride Rockit's deadly 75 minutes, we found Transformers: The Ride 3D on 35 minutes, which isn't too bad at all (I'd seen it on 60 previously). I didn't actually realise that it uses the exact same ride system as Spiderman. The ride itself was very good, but it was very difficult not to compare it to Spiderman all the way around. I think I preferred Spiderman. I definitely thought Spiderman's story was better and more complicated than just OMG THERE'S ROBOTS AND THEY WANNA KILL US. Nonetheless, a very strong dark ride, probably my #4 non-coaster dark ride, haven't properly worked it out yet.
Next up was Men In Black: Alien Attack, sitting on a beautiful 10 minutes. I cannot stress enough how fantastic these parks are at night. So atmospheric, yet all queues were half of what you'd wait during the day. Fantastic. Men In Black was a good ride, but you can tell it's old. I also think the scoring system's a bit wrong. My younger sister absolutely thrashed me 150,000 to 80,000, but I hit the emergency button at the right moment and was given a 100K bonus. Bit unfair, becuase she totally deserved to win, but oh well.
We didn't bother entering Woody Woodpecker's Kidzone as I already had the coaster cred from 2011 and there wasn't anything that interested any of us much there. Next up was Diagon Alley. This is how theming should be done. By far the best park area I've ever been in. I didn't really take the time to look through any of the shops (it's all overpriced tat, anyway), but I did explore a few nooks and crannies of the many alleyways that branched off the main street. We then reached Escape from Gringotts. Queue was posted 20 minutes, actually took more like 30, but it was a pleasure to wait in such an incredible place. The goblins were just unbelievable! The coaster itself was ok, I think my full review should go in a spoiler tag:
I hadn't really followed any of Diagon Alley or this coaster (wanting it to be a surprise), so my shock when it turned out to be a tilt coaster was a sight! I just sat there spouting off all the geeky goodness about what the heck was happening to us whilst in awe that it actually was. I don't know why it amazed me so much. The rest of the coaster was ... weird. It had coaster sections, but wasn't thrilling, even the launch. As a dark ride, it was ok but far too reliant on screens. I'd rather ride Forbidden Journey to be brutally honest. Don't get me wrong, I loved it, but I think reviews that say Forbidden Journey is nothing on it are pushing it a bit.
By now it was 9 and pretty dark. And so, we headed to Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rockit for a ride in the dark! The queue had reduced to 35 minutes. The queue looked 10 minutes to the untrained eye, but as a Chessington regular, I'm used to Maurer throughputs. It took pretty much exactly 35. My mum and sister got the front of the train (lucky sods), whilst me and my dad sat behind, both listening to Rollin' to get it as loud as possible. As a coaster ... meh. The V-Lift, first drop and non-inverting loop are great, but then it fizzles out, due to being trimmed to death. Such a shame. These two disappointments at the end of the day meant that Revenge of the Mummy was probably my favourite coaster at the park, which was very surprising!
We were all pretty tired by now. The only ride we needed to do to complete the park was Despicable Me, which was sitting on 75 minutes. We decided to leave it for another day. We needed to get the Hogwarts Express at some point anyway. We called it a day (after stopping at Menchie's!). We'd been out since 7 o'clock in the morning, after all!
Hoping to get back into these, but they'll probably be infrequent.
Burniel | Great at theme park knowledge, not so great at designing signatures.