>If you were to ask 10 folks how they would spend their vacation if they were to go to Central Florida, probably 9 of them would say that they would go spend some quality time with the Mouse. Well, having lived in Florida for about 15 years now, we’ve taken in more than our fair share of Disney. It seemed like anytime someone came to visit us for the first several years we lived here, there was a requisite trip to Orlando to Disney.
For Labor Day weekend, Tri Madness decided to spend some quality time in Central Florida – but instead of Disney, we split our time between Discovery Cove (a Sea World park in Orlando) and Busch Gardens (a theme park in Tampa).
Discovery Cove is a pretty unique park. Essentially, this park is all about having a chance to swim and interact with dolphins. We had the opportunity to pet some dolphins, get up close and personal with them, and even swim with them for a few minutes. All this was pretty cool – and my kids totally loved it! Additionally, Discovery Cove has a very cool snorkling pool – complete with about 10,000 fish and some very huge sting rays – and a smaller pool where you have the opportunity to pet some small sting rays. There are other things in the park (for example, an aviary), but for the most part we focused on the dolphins and the snorkling. Say what you will about Sea World (I know that there are lots of competing schools of thoughts in terms of keeping these animals in captivity, etc), but we had a blast at Discovery Cove, and would highly recommend it to anyone.
We spent Sunday and a good part of Monday in Tampa at Busch Gardens. So this park is part zoo; part amusement park. The zoo is complete with many of the “typical” African zoo animals that you’d expect…lions, zebras, antelope, hippos, etc. Additionally, the zoo has tigers – including a white tiger.
The really cool part of Busch Gardens is the amusement park part of the park. There are five big roller coasters in the park. My two older kids and I rode the heck out of these coasters. I think we rode several of them something like five times each! Our favorites: Shiekra and Gwazi. Shiekra is a roller coaster unlike any I’ve been on before – and I LOVE roller coasters. Shiekra is a metal coaster that features two 90 degree drops – one from a top height of 200 feet! The really wild thing is that at the top of the first drop, the coaster just stops and hangs there for 5 seconds…so you’re sitting there, dangling…and then suddenly you drop straight down!
|The first 90 degree drop on Sheikra. 200 feet straight down!|
Gwazi is a typical wooden roller coaster. Fast, loud, crazy wicked! We rode this four times in a row (there was no waiting). I have lasting proof that this ride was totally out-of-control! I have a softball sized bruise on my leg from where it kept hitting the side of the car! Nothing like a battle wound!
|Gwazi – awesome wooden coaster|
All in all, we had a great, “non-typical” Central Florida vacation for Labor Day.