Photo TR: A "Scare-ibbean" October with TPR '11

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Re: Photo TR: A "Scare-ibbean" October with TPR '11

Postby ernierocker » Fri Nov 04, 2011 9:02 am

Awesome! Always enjoy seeing photos of all the resorts and you are right, you are do not usually see many photos of Coronado.
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Re: Photo TR: A "Scare-ibbean" October with TPR '11

Postby cfc » Fri Nov 04, 2011 10:06 am

I've always thought the Coronado looked like a nice resort, but it never seems to have any "buzz" behind it. A friend of mine went to a conference there and thought the rooms and grounds were fine, but the food options were weak (this was about five or six years ago).
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Re: Photo TR: A "Scare-ibbean" October with TPR '11

Postby BeemerBoy » Sat Nov 05, 2011 8:59 am

How 'bout a quick trip to the best Disney resort without a monorail station?
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This is the area only available to the top-level guests. However, when one of those guests invites you and your camera up to shoot a few pics, you don't hesitate.
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Sorry, Bob. You're stuck with me for this part of the report.
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Hidden maple leafs (it's spelled that way for a reason, kids).
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I love these quiet sitting areas around the place.
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Sitting down there in the winter is one of the true joys of any Disney resort.
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I was running short on time and good light, so it was unfortunately time to head out.
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Goodbye, Wilderness Lodge. 'Till next time!
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Oh, hello, Mr. Gallardo.
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Sheesh, their animatronics just keep getting better each year.
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Re: Photo TR: A "Scare-ibbean" October with TPR '11

Postby gisco » Sat Nov 05, 2011 11:18 am

Your slipping Scott! :)

Checking out some of the other resort hotels is something I always have wanted to do but never seem to have time. So I guess I will give you a pass on this one!

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Re: Photo TR: A "Scare-ibbean" October with TPR '11

Postby MidtownCoaster » Sat Nov 05, 2011 12:08 pm

Great shots. Thanks! I can't wait to be down there in a couple of months! :mickey:
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Re: Photo TR: A "Scare-ibbean" October with TPR '11

Postby BeemerBoy » Wed Nov 09, 2011 9:58 am

Okay, I know I risk pissing off the obvious tens of thousands of folks that were chomping at the bit to post about several more awesometastic monorail pics, but we're skipping ahead in the programming. Such is life.

Discovery Cove

GO THERE.

Seriously, out of all we did that week in Orlando, this was easily the highlight. I know it's easy to check out the website, and perhaps experience a little sticker shock depending on which package interests you. However, the truth of the matter is that Discovery Cove is probably the best value in all of Orlando.

Depending on seasonal deals, Facebook promotions (thanks for the heads up, Renee!),etc., etc., you can get a Dolphin Swim Package at the Cove; which includes the ability to visit one other Busch park of your choice for a duration of up to 14 consecutive days prior to, after, or combined around your visit to the Cove, all for as little as $200.

And what does a day at Discovery Cove include? Well, for us it was a huge breakfast, a small crowd, large first come/first serve fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo.s, unlimited snacks/drinks/"beer", a small crowd, a huge and delicious lunch, unlimited access to all areas of the park, a reserved 30 minute dolphin swim experience, and most of all.......a small crowd, and a great chance to relax and take it all in!

So let's recap. For $200 a person, that's a packed day at Discovery Cove PLUS 14 consecutive days at either Sea World, BGT, or Aquatica. Um, yeah....in the end, it's very difficult to argue this one.

As for the Discovery Cove experience itself, it completely exceeded expectations. If you're a water park fan, a fan of the beach, a Sea World fan, or even just a little of all of those, this is a must-do. Because they only allow a certain number of guests in each day, it really improves your overall visit. You never feel cramped or rushed to do anything. Our Dolphin Swim was scheduled for later in the afternoon, so we had the bulk of the day to experience the place at our leisure.

We arrived shortly after opening, and although there was a bit of a line out front, the check-in process seemed to move along fairly well. After you're checked in, you receive a lanyard with a card showing your picture and Dolphin swim time/location. You're required to wear this all day tucked into your wetsuit or vest, yet was never as annoying as it might seem.

So we checked in, grabbed a fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo., and made our way to breakfast. Not much to say except it was a really good quality breakfast buffet with pretty much all the major staples you'd expect to have for that meal (which, let's face it, would probably set us back $25-30 right there at the other parks). After that we grabbed our bags that each guest receives. It included a mask, souvenir snorkel which you could keep, and a sample packet of specially formulated biodegradable sunscreen (for the safety of the park's marine inhabitants).

Each guest is also required to wear either a wetsuit or vest while in the water areas. We suited up in vests and headed out to explore. Here's a review of the major areas:

The Grand Reef: What I really appreciated about the layout of the reef was that someone could enjoy it whether they liked snorkeling or not. Pictures really don't explain how immersive the experience is. They also don't convey just how large some of the rays truly are.....which are easily the width of the wingspan of your outstretched arms. And not only that, but they're not confined to any particular areas of the Grand Reef. In other words, you could wade waist deep onto the "shelf" of the reef, all while being surrounded by schools of fish, including the largest of rays!

Although the water's a bit chilly at first, the snorkeling experience was top-notch. It was incredibly relaxing, and just really fun.

Wind-Away River/Explorer's Aviary: The river itself is really good. The water is warm, and the easy flowing currents navigate through great looking caves and "rain forest-type" scenery. The real bonus is that you can access the aviary through it, and vice versa. Several times we exited the river to feed some birds, and then jumped right back in to continue on. Oh, and the river actually winds its way directly through the aviary itself....which was pretty unique, and definitely a great feature.

Dolphin Swim: I won't get deep into the ongoing debate over dolphins in captivity and these "dolphin swim" sessions that have popped up all over the globe. The only thing I'll say is that I'm an animal lover, and although a piece of me will always be on the fence about them, I feel safe in saying that this is literally the only place I was willing to participate in one due to the outstanding reputation and general respect Sea World has throughout the industry.

With that said, our half hour session was amazing. It's always been on Shannon's "bucket list" to swim with a dolphin, and that made it even more enjoyable from my perspective. Although the water seemed even colder than the Grand Reef, her adrenaline probably kept her much warmer than she actually was. Heck, even I was shivering at times.

Our trainers were very friendly and engaging. They basically take you in small groups of no more than 8 or so (?) into waist-deep water. There they provide ample time to teach, answer questions, and allow you to touch and hug your dolphin as it swims directly in front of you. Then they ask if you feel comfortable swimming out to the deep portion of the pool in order to be pulled back in by the dolphin. If you're uncomfortable with that, they provide a shallow water experience with the dolphin (which we did not witness in our group).

All I can say is that it was definitely a pretty awesome feeling, and something I imagine anyone would have a tough time ever forgetting, even however brief it may have actually been. Finally, as a "last act" of sorts, each dolphin from the handful of groups occupying the pool does a jumping trick out in front of you. All in all, it's a pretty awesome experience.

So, in closing, I'll just say it again. If you haven't already been......GO THERE. Even without the new additions for next year, we'd still go back in a heartbeat!
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Q: You know what else is nice about arriving at Discovery Cove; well, besides this nice topiary? A: Not having to reach into your wallet once again for parking.
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As mentioned, there was a slight line for check-in, but it moved quick enough.
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You've probably seen this before, but now you've seen it again. You're welcome.
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Just one of the check-in desks located inside the main building.
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Here's the tag you wear around all day. On it you'll see one sexy beast (results may vary), your dolphin pool and time, and "21" if you're legal to drink. You can also wear the map of the park on your lanyard as well. But let's be honest, the park's not that big, and if you can't navigate your way around it, then you're an idiot.
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Once inside the Cove, you really do feel "removed" from the outside craziness that is Central Florida.
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Hey, it's the Laguna Grill. Let's grab some breakfast.
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Fire makes every report better.....I think.
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Noted.
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If there's one thing I've come to expect from Busch parks, it's that their buffet lines always seem to look great.
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Shannon is excited because breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Not having to break out your wallet at the end of the line was a good feeling as well.
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There was a reggae band playing back there later on in the day. It should be noted that there was a more than acceptable amount of Bob Marley and Jimmy Buffett being played either live or over the park's speakers all day long. This receives high marks from yours truly.
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Time to suit up and grab our gear for the day.
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This is my sack.
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The fluffy, fluffy bunny filled with medicine and goo were large enough to store a dismembered body. Sorry, it's October. And October means Halloween. And Halloween means scary things...like dismembered bodies. And that ties into the trip report's name. And I think that worked out well?
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Hello, I'll be your tour guide for the next group of pictures.
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At this point, I left the camera in the hands of Shannon. She and I both have come to realize that this generally means anything is possible. However, I think you'll agree with me that she did a fantastic job with the following shots! =)
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This makes me wanna dive right back in.
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"Hi."
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I think I mentioned it before, but I was honestly surprised by the size of these rays. The pictures simply don't do it justice. Swimming alongside these creatures was a great experience!
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Hi, Dave.
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Sharky shark shark shark.
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For the record, although Discovery Cove provides a generally more "sophisticated" crowd, that doesn't mean there wasn't a few guests I would've enjoyed tossing in there.
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I'm guessing that's a "feeding hole" or something?
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Putting your face up against that glass provided a pretty unique perspective.
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SeaVenture, the upcharge "diving" experience. Although it looks pretty cool, I'm kind of indifferent to it.
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Spotted Eagle Ray. Weird, but I only managed to see it once the whole time I was there. But then again, I guess that speaks to the overall size of the Grand Reef, and just how much there is to see and be immersed in.
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And with this, Shannon's time as photographer comes to a close. Well done, hun! She also experienced the Grand Reef earlier in the day. She just decided that the second time around was a bit too chilly for her, which is why she offered to take pics.
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Lunchie munchies. (Sorry, no pics of the food, but it was delicious!)
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Hmmm, you'd think ordering from a company named "Orca Bay" and placing their box in front of the grill might give off the wrong impression?
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Sorry, Adam. These were overrated. The rest of your report was not though.
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Up next we'll close out with the Dolphin Swim portion of the show. Stay tuned, and feel free to post any comments in the meantime.
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Re: Photo TR: A "Scare-ibbean" October with TPR '11

Postby mcjaco » Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:13 am

I think you meant waist deep. Not waste deep. ::lol::

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Re: Photo TR: A "Scare-ibbean" October with TPR '11

Postby BeemerBoy » Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:18 am

^ Yeah, caught that and changed it right before you posted. ::lol::

Although, the dolphin did, um, "use the facilities" once in front of the trainer. Does that count?
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Re: Photo TR: A "Scare-ibbean" October with TPR '11

Postby jedimaster1227 » Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:44 am

Sorry, Adam. These were overrated. The rest of your report was not though.


I simply cannot disagree more. Those were amazing. My rest of my report was overrated. ;)
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Re: Photo TR: A "Scare-ibbean" October with TPR '11

Postby gisco » Wed Nov 09, 2011 11:09 am

I'm sure you already know my opinion on this segment of your report! ;)

I like the fact that the crowds are limited. It is nice that you can enjoy the place and not have to fight a bunch of people to do anything.

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