I am virtually certain that SeaWorld will open sometime in June.....they have been running coasters with people wearing masks to test how riders fare with face coverings, so they are certainly getting prepared to welcome guests again. Your end of July trip might be perfectly timed, with just enough space between the reopening and your arrival for all the bumps of the "new normal" to be worked out before you get there. I am super excited for you!How nice that you were able to share the photos with that family! I'm sure they really appreciated it. I saw on Facebook that SeaWorld would like to open on June 1st. With the good news from Universal this week, I am feeling more hopeful that our end of July trip may actually happen!
Thank you for your patience! I meant to get the BG portion started much sooner than tonight, but our weekend became much busier than I anticipated and all of a sudden it's Monday already! Coming up soon, though, I hope .That was really sweet of you to send them the PhotoKey pictures of Infinity Falls!
Also...can't wait for the BG segment! (I had been really looking forward to this one)
I’m loving this day already! You’re barely in the park and already having fun. I have a feeling I’m going to gush over the photos from your tour!Tuesday, January 28th: Busch Gardens
We set the alarm for that morning so that we could be up, showered an on the road in sufficient time to make the drive to Busch Gardens and be at the park for opening. We aren't very familiar with the Tampa area, so we anticipated that even with trusty Google giving us step by step instructions on how to get there, we may run into a snag or two (traffic, construction, or the plethora of other things than can send someone off track) so we wanted to leave plenty early to have enough time for the commute and a bit of a buffer besides.
We planned to purchase the all day dining plan when we arrived, but we weren't sure if there would be a breakfast location (like SeaWorld) or if the restaurants would open more toward noon. So, we opted to stop and grab coffee and breakfast sandwiches from McDonald's at the Crossroads on the way so that neither of us ended up "hangry" on the drive. We were able to be in-and-out of there pretty quick, and by the time we hopped on the I-4 we were even slightly ahead of schedule.
The drive isn't short (we have definitely been spoiled by the Vistana's proximity to SeaWorld, Disney and Universal!), but honestly it's not bad. We could have hopped the complimentary shuttle and saved ourselves the drive, but we didn't want to be limited by the shuttle schedule (which certainly wouldn't arrive before opening and depart after close) so driving was our best option. It's about 70 miles each way, and we made the trip in about an hour, even amidst the ample Tuesday morning commuter traffic.
Arriving at the park, we took advantage of our Preferred Parking privilege, meaning we could skip the tram from general parking to the entrance. We arrived at the gates about 10 minutes before the national anthem was played to open the park.....and then, we were in!
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We made a quick stop at Guest Services to iron out the day's add-ons and upgrades, purchasing the all-day dining plan for both of us and booking the Serengeti Safari, our free tour as Platinum passholders. We actually had the option of using that free Platinum benefit at either BG (for the Safari) or at SeaWorld (for the Dolphin Encounter) but since we had already had some dolphin love on this trip (and previous visits), it made sense to use this complimentary perk at Busch Gardens this time. We were super stoked to know we would be visiting some giraffes up close later that day!
We stopped for a Photokey picture at the entrance, grabbed a park map (since this park was ALL NEW for us) and then headed in to see some animals!
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I loved that these guys were chilling so close to the entrance. A nice little reminder of where were were.......nothing screams "Florida" like a whole bunch of massive gators.
The first main section that we stopped to tour was the beautiful Myombe Reserve.
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10 minutes inside Busch Gardens and I was completely in love. The lush green foliage was completely captivating for these two travelers who hadn't seen green in months. Entering the Reserve, it really did feel like we were in our own little Florida jungle.....and it was sooooo pretty.
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While the scenery was gorgeous, the animals were really what we came to see. We were delighted to find that we had an excellent view of these comical primates from the massive windows, and they captivated us with their very human-like behaviors.
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Their interactions are always so engaging. They seemed blissfully unaware of those funny looking faces on the other size of the glass, and went about their business as if we weren't even there. They were completely at home in their beautiful habitat, and we were completely content just to stand there and watch them.
When we finally moved on.....we had so much yet to discover!.....we stumbled upon a few of the first of many fun photo ops of the day: Busch Gardens has great spots all throughout the park to capture some "wild" photo memories. It was fun to be able to capture photos "with" the animals without actually being WITH an animal.
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Much more to come......
Looking through the BG pics makes me so excited to go back! I can't believe it took us 10 years to finally visit for the first time......wish we had gone many moons ago.I’m loving this day already! You’re barely in the park and already having fun. I have a feeling I’m going to gush over the photos from your tour!
Welcome back!! Glad to have you reading along and joining in!Hi Gina! I have been off of the boards for awhile, but just recently came back and saw that you had a trip report going. Woohoo! I'm a bit late to the party, but looking forward to going back and reading all about your and Steve's Orlando adventures!
It also helped that it was an incredibly low crowd day to begin with.....weekdays in January are super quiet. When we were in line for park opening, most of the other guests waiting with us were seniors. Everyone else must have been at work! LOLI always feel like the Myombe Reserve is so peaceful - it's never busy when I've been there and there are lots of great quiet spots to stop and watch the animals. Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your Busch Gardens day!
Aw, I am so bummed for you guys......what rotten timing. What month is your trip scheduled for? I do hope you are able to make it happen, even if it can't be the exact vacation you had originally envisioned.All caught up! I am loving your trip report as always, Gina! I especially love the Sea World posts. Our youngest DD's 18th birthday is this year, and we were supposed to do a big Disney/Orlando trip for her like we did for her older sister when she turned 18 a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, due to all of the changes, (and if we are able to travel), it's going to be a much different trip than we had originally planned. However, Sea World has become a priority now, and so reading about that part of your trip is so super awesome! We love it there!
A little off topic, but we were absolutely crushed about the Sweet Tomatoes news. We always went once or twice on our trips. We are going to miss them so much when we travel to Orlando.
Also, love your backyard! You guys did such a great job! Hopefully, the weather has improved so that you guys can enjoy it.
Look forward to reading about the rest of your trip!
Thank you, Gina! I always enjoy reading your reports!Welcome back!! Glad to have you reading along and joining in!
Thank you. We're tentatively scheduled to go in early September. We haven't made any specific plans just yet. My DH had to change his vacation days at work, and we're waiting to see if his new request has been approved or not.Aw, I am so bummed for you guys......what rotten timing. What month is your trip scheduled for? I do hope you are able to make it happen, even if it can't be the exact vacation you had originally envisioned.
My autumn plans have taken a complete nose-dive this past week, so I'm pretty much back to the drawing board as far as planning goes. Did you see that SW will be closed Tuesdays and Thursdays for the balance of 2020, once they reopen? Aquatica will be closed Mondays and Wednesdays, and Discovery Cove will close on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Just something to keep in the back of your mind as you work on your own trip itinerary.
We have been enjoying our backyard SO MUCH over the past couple of weeks! We're headed to more 80+ degree weather again this week so I think the summer-like temps might be here to stay. It's been a labor of love, for sure.....and the perfect year to do it all. If we have to "stay home", at least we have a great space to be "home" in.
Hi Gina, I can totally relate to you feeling sour - I am feeling the same way and it sucks! We try to go to Orlando (from Newfoundland in Canada) at least once a year even though it is a long trip and is getting more and more expensive every year (especially with the exchange rate! ). This year we have (had?) a trip planned for August 16-26 and while I haven't cancelled everything yet, I am getting close to accepting that it is just not going to happen. We were going to go to a few water parks, Disney Springs, Discovery Cove, Sea World, and spend one day at Universal - none of those are appealing options right now, unfortunately.Hey everyone, I wanted to pop in and apologize that I've been lax on updates this past week. It's been part work related (we got the go-ahead from the Governor to reopen with massive restrictions last Tuesday, so implementing systems for those new guidelines and dealing with the challenges they pose has made for a chaotic post-Memorial day business week) and part crummy attitude on my part. After being so excited about all of our Disney plans for October.......most of which were a small consolation for our cancelled April and May trips......I've watched them unravel one by one with the most recent announcements surrounding the new policies which will be in effect as of their reopening. This weekend has been more than a little gutting as my ADR's for Boma, Ohana, and Spirit of Aloha have vanished from MDE, and at this point I have huge doubts that we'll be able to get a theme park reservation for our one-day Disney tickets that were supposed to be used for Epcot, with the intention of attending Food & Wine (which I'm also sure will be a no-go). As of right now, the only Disney components of our October vacation that still stand is MNSSHP and Cruella's Halloween Hideaway.....and I'm fully expecting Cruella's to disappear from MDE as well before long. Then, we learn that SeaWorld and Aquatica will both be closed 2 days each week for the balance of 2020, and Discovery Cove 3 days each week....which leads me to believe Busch Gardens may also announce something similar. Let's just say that right now I can throw my entire carefully crafted plan in the fire and just let it burn [actually, that might be kind of therapeutic....I might just try that]. I know its all first world problems (especially with all that's happening throughout the USA and beyond right now) but its still disappointing. And it hasn't exactly inspired me to be posting here on the Dis.
But I know I need to get back to this report, and I plan to do so soon. My goal is to have the next entry up by Wednesday, as tomorrow is the first of the month which means a couple of crazy days at work (again) for period-end.
Thanks for your patience as I work through my sour mood. The fact that I still can't get home to see my family for at least another month (at best) isn't helping my disposition either. This spring has been a real bummer, hasn't it? I know y'all are feeling it too, in your own way.
Hope you all had a good weekend in your own little corners of the world. Stay safe, everyone.