Sunday, 13 April 2008

Aquatica by Seaworld

In case you haven’t been to Orlando for a while, Aquatica is the new water park by Sea World. It is across the road from Sea World, opposite the Kraken and Journey to Atlantis rides.

Seaworld has promoted the park as something special that blends Sea World's animal environment with a traditional water park. This is correct to a point, but lets get things straight:

  • If you want to swim with dolphins, go to Discovery Cove.
  • If you want serious thrill rides and a wedgie in your bikini, go to Disney’s Blizzard Beach or Wet n Wild.
  • If you want a water park that will keep the whole family entertained for the whole day, then Aquatica could be for you.

Tip: Get there early. Park opens at 10am (9am peak season) and the queue at the ticket desk starts well before this. The gates are often closed to new visitors by midday.

It will normally take 20-30 minutes to get your tickets. I suggest you get your locker when you get your ticket as you will only have to queue again inside the park. Also the large lockers sell out quickly. If one of your party is in a wheelchair, ask for a wheelchair accessible locker which will make their life much easier.

Once you are in, you immediately meet the wildlife. We were greeted by a full-sized anteater, on a leash, taking its keeper for a walk. Certainly different to any other water park we've been to! When we walked past the dolphin pool, where the black and white Commerson's dolphins were being fed. As you head to the lockers you also get the option to see the dolphins underwater through a viewing panel to the left (see photo).

The lockers are a good size especially if you manage to get a large one. They lead into the changing areas and toilet which are well specified and clean. Each cubicle has its own shower equipped with shower gel, shampoo and conditioner - a nice touch.

Where you go from here depends a lot on the age, or more specifically the height of your party. 42" is the magic height if you want to ride the majority of slides. 48" high and you can ride Dolphin plunge. Here is a quick summary of the ride requirements:

Slides

  • Taumata Racer - Guests must be at least 42" tall and wear a life vest. All guests under 48" are required to wear a life vest.
  • Tassie's Twisters and Whanau Way - Guests must be able to maintain proper riding position holding on to both handles unassisted.
  • HooRoo Run - Guests under 48" are required to wear life vest and guests must be 42" to ride.
  • Dolphin Plunge - Guests must be at least 48" tall.

Other Water Rides and Attractions

  • Walhalla Wave - 48" guests are required to wear life vest and guests must be 42" to ride.
  • Roa's Rapids - Guests under 51" are required to wear a life vest.
  • Loggerhead Lane - Guests under 48" are required to wear a life vest.
  • Kata's Kookaburra Cove - Rides in this area require guests to be no taller than 48" tall.

Our six year old daughter went on everything except Dolphin Plunge. She is a bit of a speed fan so you may want to question your youngsters before queuing for one of the bigger rides. Another point of note is that you will struggle to see the dolphins as you ride the Dolphin Plunge. The section that runs through the Dolphin Pool is quite short and you are travelling at speed. Still, if the queue's not too long, give it a go. Don't be afraid to wear a life vest on the Roa's Rapids. They help you go faster and make the whole process much more relaxing. There are sizes for everyone (see photo) and you wont be the only one wearing one. There is no charge.

I will leave you to test out the rides and decide which you like best. I would certainly recommend Aquatica if you want a great day out that has actvities for all the family. In the meantime, here are a few more tips.

Tip: The best food is at the Waterside Grill and its not too expensive although the queues can be long at peak times. If you get just the right table, you can watch the dolphins while you enjoy your meal. If you have a lot of kids to feed or prefer burgers etc go for one of the all you can eat packages available at the ticket desk. You can't bring your own food into the park.

Tip: The cabanas are really just posh tents (see photo) and at $150 seem expensive. If you have a large party you can spread the cost between all of you, but they only fit four people at a push. There are plenty of lounge chairs and umbrellas spread around the park.

Tip: If thunderstorms are forecast they close the rides. Aquatica is no different to other water parks with so much water and metal around, but worth checking the forecast before you go.

Tip: Aquatica is owned by Anheuser Busch, who also own Seaworld and Busch Gardens. If you plan to visit these parks as well, it is worth purchasing a multi-day multi-park ticket. Another option is the 14 day Orlando Flex ticket which also includes the Universal theme parks and Wet n' Wild.

Tip: Use plenty of water proof sunscreen or wear a tee shirt if your prone to sun burn. You will turn into a red lobster before you even realise. Here speaks the voice of experience.

Feel free to post your own comments and tips.

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