Ah, sunny Florida. Or the Florida that is SUPPOSED to be sunny. Because when we arrived for a few days at the beginning of the month it poured rain. And kept pouring. And kept pouring for a day and a half. Which may not sound like a lot, but when you are only there for four days it does tend to put a damper on things. Literally. Turns out there was a tropical depression directly over us. Figures.
But we refused to let it spoil our fun! We had a group of 8 people (Me, Chris, Kent, Kristin, Kevin, Carly, Wendy, and Luke) and after meeting up at the airport we braved the rain and the Orlando weekend traffic for a mini-break of sea creatures, roller coasters, and magic. Chris and Kent had managed to find us a townhouse in a resort about 30 minutes from all the theme parks, and it worked out to have plenty of room for all of us. But no internet.
Let me repeat, no internet.
What kind of resort these days does not supply internet? One in Davenport, Florida apparently. But that's a total first world problem and we managed to survive. And other than the no internet the place was great. Did I mention the hot tubs and water slide? I mean, who needs internet when you have a water slide?
Ok, so back to the fun stuff. Our first full day in town we decided to hit up SeaWorld. It was still raining, but we figured we would be getting wet anyway at SeaWorld so why not go for it. The bad weather also kept the crowds down. Going into SeaWorld I didn't have expectations; I had never really considered going there or figuring out what there was to see/do in the park, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised. There are two really fun roller coasters for the thrill-seekers (including the Manta which was one of the scariest and fun rides I've ever been on) and lots of shows centering around the marine life at the park. Dolphins, killer whales, sea lions, each one had their own show that was structured differently and a lot of fun. But the best part of the day was when we got to play with the penguins.
If you know Chris, you know he is obsessed with penguins. So the entire reason for the jaunt to SeaWorld was so that we could take a behind-the-scenes tour of the penguin and puffin area and interact with the animals. We started out by learning about how the penguins are cared for and raised, and then moved into an "office" where we could see a puffin. The puffins are more skittish than the penguins and their feathers absorb oils from our skin really easily so unfortunately we weren't allowed to touch the one we met, but he was very cute and actually seemed very cat-like. He had lots of little toys that he enjoyed playing with and chasing and was a sucker for a piece of string. Adorable.
As a bonus, the weather cleared up that afternoon and we had sunny skies for the rest of our stay. It was a penguin miracle!
The most surprising thing that we learned about the penguins and puffins is that they are projectile poopers. No lie, they can spray that shit about 3 feet. Since they spend so much time sitting in their nests keeping their eggs warm (since it's freaking cold where they live) they evolved the ability to projectile poop to keep the nest clean. This means you need to be careful not to get behind the penguin or you can get hit. When we met the puffin, we were told to stay behind a drain that had been placed on the floor and that would keep us out of the splash zone. Sure enough, as soon as the puffin was in with us he turned around and let it fly. It was gross but also kind of neat since it was so different. And the puffin was just so cute that anything it did seemed charming. Even pooping.
The rest of our stay we visited the Universal Parks including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and it was so fun to see it for the first time through everyone else's eyes. Especially since most of us are big old honking Harry Potter dorks. One look at the Hogwarts Express and the castle itself is all it takes to turn us into giggling little kids. But that's the fun of theme parks, right?