What do you do when you are faced with a half day off in Orlando, Florida. Well, the first thing you do is look for discounts to the parks. If you are attending a convention at the Orange County Convention Center, you should know that there are discount books offered that include restaurants, attractions, theme dinners and shopping. I noticed that nobody was taking the books when checking in, but I am the type who is always interested in doing new things and will always take advantage of discounts if they are available.
So, after looking through all the discounts available for attractions, I finally decided that the theme dinners, which are almost as expensive as the theme parks, were too expensive. So the next thought was which park to attend. Since I only had a half day, paying full price to get into a park seemed like a waste. Sea World offered a half day ticket for $10 less than the full day ticket. The caveat was that you needed to go on a convention day. But since this was the last day of the convention and it ended around noon, it seemed the perfect decision. Here are some things I learned while I was there.
1) When on a spontaneous trip to any theme park, it is likely you forgot to bring your camera. Your options then become using your phone camera or purchasing disposable cameras. Since my phone tends to go through battery charges quite quickly and is slow taking pictures, I opted to purchase a couple disposable cameras at the gift shop outside. They were on sale for $6.99 and when I saw that, I should have bought a couple more. I quickly ran through these cameras at the Shamu show and the sea lion show. So, on my way to the dophin show, I stopped in a shop inside and purchased another camera. Inside the park, the disposable cameras are $13.99. The best choice would be to purchase an inexpensive digital camera at a department store before you go, but if you don’t have transportation, the next best choice is to buy as many disposable cameras as you think you need outside the park.
2) The all-day dining deal is a pretty good deal if you are going to be at the park all day. However, it’s a push whether it is worth it for half a day. The all-day deal, which costs $29.95, gives you a wrist band that allows you an entree platter, an extra side and a soft drink or bottle of water. My first choice for lunch was The Terrace Cafe, where I had a beautiful roast beef sandwich. The roast had just been taken out of the oven and they hand-carved it while you watched. That came with potato salad and I chose pumpkin cheesecake as a side and a bottle of water. After that, I was so busy running from one show to the next, that I forgot to stop to eat. I did stop at Seaport Pizza for a pepperoni pizza and fries, but in the end, the total I would have spent without the pass was about $23.00. If I had stayed to closing (6 pm), I might have stopped for one more meal, but when I did try to stop at the Seafire Inn on the way out, they were closed. Note that the all-day deal only applies to certain restaurants. If you want snacks, etc, you will have to pay for them out of the pocket.
3) As is par for the course for me and Florida, it was only around 40 degrees when I arrived at the park. It never got above 51 degrees and it was windy, so a bit on the chilly side. That didn’t seem to stop people from coming to the park, but bear in mind that most of the shows are in outdoor theaters that are only covered. So, you will want to dress for the weather! The most popular snack stand that I saw during the day was one that served coffee and hot chocolate. And most of the shops were heated quite well, so if you need to get out of the cold, it might be worth doing a bit of shopping.
4) Transportation is easy in Orlando thanks to Mears. You just give them a call about 24 hours in advance and they will arrange transportation. However, if you want a bit of a discount on the trip, make sure you ask for round-trip while you are on the phone. I didn’t think about it and they didn’t offer it to me, so I ended up paying full-fare both directions. It’s not a huge discount, but they will save you a couple dollars if you pay for round-trip in advance. The other advantage is not having to have cash on you at the end of the day to pay for the ride home.
Essentially, it was a fun day, cold, but still saw a lot and enjoyed the day.