Warning: Please forgive my excessive ramblings. These TRs are long, but that is just the way I do it. You can find these reports along with some photos at: http://www.coasterfanatics.com
Today, we head to San Diego. Since we both had Busch passes, we decided to make a trip to Sea World and try to take it easy for the day. We were already feeling a little bit exhausted from the 2 days at Disney, and felt that a nice drive would be a good way to break up the trip. From the hotel, it was only about an hour and a half drive to get to Sea World. There wasn't too much sunlight and we were pretty much freezing, so we decided the first thing that we would do is try to locate some nice sweatshirts. We eventually settled on some nice pull-over fleece sweatshirts they had at the reasonable price of $25 a piece. After our little Busch pass discount, it worked out to be a pretty good deal. As a matter of fact, everything in the park was very reasonably priced. After purchasing our shirts, we made our way to the Dolphin stadium for the first show of the day. Since I had never been to Sea World San Diego, I didn't really know what to expect, but the park was very nice. It was a little more open than the one in Orlando, and most of the stadiums were open air. We watched the dolphin show and then waited over near the side of the stadium afterwards to get our picture with a dolphin. I thought that this was a pretty neat idea. If you show up before the show and make a reservation with the "clipboard lady", you can get a picture with one of Sea World's star dolphins without any obligation to buy. We stepped up to the tank and the trainer summoned the dolphin, who swam up and perched his head over the glass right between us. The cameraman took 3 quick pictures and gave us a card for us to preview them later.
After the dolphin photo, we got a bite to eat at the hospitality house. If you have never been to a Busch park, they have some of the best turkey sandwiches anywhere, let alone a Theme Park. After lunch, we walked to Journey to Atlantis to check it out. I was very interested in seeing how this version compared to the Florida one, and it doesn't. They are two completely different rides, built around two different concepts. The only thing that they really share in common is their basic design and hardware.
We watched a few boats go down the straight drop, so that we could gauge how wet the passengers were getting. It looked like as long as you stay out of the front, you didn't get much water at all. I couldn't convince Catrina to get on it, so I made my way through the queue to check it out for myself. When i got to the loading platform, I was delighted to find that there was no wait, and i could hand pick my row. I opted for the left seat in the last row, and was joined by a lady visiting from Minnesota. We climbed the lift and went straight down the first drop. After turning around at the base, the boat entered a dark room. After another boat joined us in the room, the door closed and we began to rise straight up. As the lift took the boats to the top, it tilted from side-to-side almost like we were floating to the top. Once we reached the top, the doors open and all you can see is coaster. After a couple winding drops, the boat makes a splash down into the second pool. After dodging a few air cannons, we pull into the station, and I am pleasantly surprised that I hardly got any water on me at all.
I came out and told Catrina that it isn't too bad and the water is very light. She was convinced and we rode it together. Of course, when the second ride was over she did fine, but i got much more water than the first time around.
Next we walked around the park, doing a little souvenir shopping and checked out a couple more places before we left for the day. The shark encounter was very nice, but not nearly the attraction that "Terrors of the Deep" is in Orlando. Before we left we stopped by the photo booth and picked up our photos with the dolphin. Again, it was a very reasonable price.
Having tackled everything we wanted to see in Sea World, we took a drive down the street to visit Belmont Park. Belmont Park is not very large by any means, but is a quaint little park. The beachfront location takes you back to a time when this type of park was commonplace and not an endangered species.
We walked to the Dipper museum and got ride tickets so we could take a spin on the dipper and ride the carousel. Inside the museum/gift shop you can not only buy dipper merchandise and tickets, but also take a look at historical photos, landmark distinction plaques, various ACE recognitions, an original lead car, a scale model, as well as purchase the current ACE calendar. I took some picture inside the shop and then we headed over to the dipper.
Since this was the first day the Dipper was running this year, the ride was in excellent shape. It was flying over the hills and taking the turns at a very good pace. While many make a big deal out of the Morgan trains, they run great on this particular ride. No any threat to break the top ten, but a fun little coaster indeed.