Category Archives: Places of Fun

Seaworld – Substandard Themeparks

I’ve never been to a place before where I honestly felt the entire construct was there just to take my money. I’ve looked at a lot of places and thought it; but I’ve never actually been to such a place.

Seaworld is open from 10am to 5pm, and tickets are $84 on the website. Fortunately our Hostel does a partner deal for them at $70, which was a blessing. It wasn’t far away, so we piled up in our little red sports car and zoomed off to sea what all the fuss was about.

Upon arrival, it was obviously very quiet – the carpark was less than half full. At the parking gates (Parking costs $16 ye land lubbers) we saw that not one, not two, but three main attractions were closed. Two of them were the ones we wanted to see. Manta – The high speed roller coaster which hits 42MPH, and SkyTower, the impressive spike that stands something like 100meters in the air and has a revolving room that goes up and down it’s shaft.

We came into the gates and wandered around for a bit – there was only 1 show that day in which the Orcas were performing. We touched some fish and looked at some sharks and crabs. We went on a water ride and went to see a dolphin show. We got a little wet when they brought out little whales (a mere 12ft) to splash us all.

The park wasn’t clean and it felt like the staff didn’t really care. We went to see the Orcas in their tank and it was really sad to see the great beasts with collapsed dorsal fins swimming around in what would be a huge swimming pool, but in reality was a very tiny tank for just one whale. They were fitting several in there. I sound like a walking advertisement for PETA or Greenpeace or something but it’s true – as much as they say they “really care” or say that they’re doing conservation work, it just doesn’t feel like it, and it just doesn’t look like it. Everything just smells fishy!

We saw the Orca show, which was kind of cool – we got to see the whales do some pretty impressive stunts. Afterwards Bex and I went to grab a bite to eat at the Shipwreck Cafe. It doesn’t even warrant stars. Their soda machine was out, so they poured 12FL (355ml) of coke into a 20fl cup, and filled the rest with ice and carbonated soda water. It tasted like terrible watered down coke. The food was sub-par and we both got little desserts to try which were both dry and over-sweet. The whole cafe experience was how I’d imagine a public prison lunchroom to be on a bad day. No one smiled.

After drying out at lunch from our various damp endeavours we wandered around to see the last few nails in Seaworlds coffin. We took a ride on a rather tame but dizzying attraction called “Riptide Rescue”. We went to the “Penguin Encounter” to stand on a moving conveyer belt as we were rolled past a room overflowing with penguins. There were some underwater and some walking around but most were just standing there. There was no-where for them to go. The exhibit was about 40meters wide by 10meters long by 5 meters deep. Most of it was a single level concrete-coloured-to-look-like-ice platform, with holes in it which lead to water. Crammed into this space I’d estimate were 120-150 penguins.

Finally, we stopped by the “Wild Arctic” attraction. It’s meant to be a simulated helicopter ride, but it was so cheesy, it was really only suitable for kids. Bex and I both said nothing throughout or afterwards – we just put it behind us and moved on. We both agreed that if the next ride involved getting wet, which it did, we’d go home.

On the way out, and attendant asked “If you wouldn’t mind giving us 5 minutes of your time to tell us about your day today?” I just answered “It was terrible” and we left.

If I could give it negative scores, I would. Do. Not. Go. To. Seaworld.

Universal Studios – The VIP Experience

Universal studios is an amazing place. Even after landing in L.A. and seeing cars (like LAPD) that only exist in the movies cruise around, it’s still really hard to get your head around what you’re really seeing. Nothing really drove the magic home any more than getting to Universal Studios and standing in-front of the big globe water fountain and being smack bang in the middle of Hollywood.

Bex and I got to park our car in the valet section, and walk through the big gates. First person we saw asked “You guys know where you’re going today?” and we shook our heads, showed him our ticket confirmation. He saw the VIP heading, straightened up, and said “come with me!” and marched us off, past the line to get in, to a special little side door marked “VIP Experience”. Things just got better from there.

Upstairs we got complimentary breakfast with good coffee and free wifi. We waited 15 minutes in very fine luxury for our guide, Will S. Will was very trendy, with a sharp looking haircut and aviator sunglasses. He rounded up the group of VIPs, and walked us down the back to our special bus. Between Will, Greg, and Barry (The bus driver) we got a tour of the sound stages and sets where hundreds and hundreds of movies have been filmed. We got to walk through the set for “About a Boy” and the guides talked to us about how a lot of the Hollywood Magic takes place.

Hollywood Bus Tour: ★★★★☆ 

There were a lot of rides – all come highly recommended – and our VIP passes got us to the front of the line. It felt great walking past people who had waited 40-60 minutes to go on a ride, getting straight on, then afterwards moving on to the next thing. In this way we got to see all of the rides and shows that Universal Studios had to offer in the one day. With no waiting we were not as exhausted as we had been for the long days lining up at Disney.

For lunch, instead of the normal fare you get at theme parks, the VIP experience comes with a lunch at “Moulin Rouge”, a VIP only buffet with gourmet foods. Bex and I loved it there, and ate as much as we could eat – it was the best food I’ve had in a very long time, and Bex said that the mashed potato was worth killing for. I agree.

VIP Lunch at Moulin Rouge: ★★★★½ 

Mashed Potatoes: ★★★★★ 

My favourite show was “Waterworld” a live action performance with stunts and special effects based on the movie. It was very awesome! There were some technical difficulties, but the way the cast handled it was very cool, and after a few minutes the show resumed and they finished strong.

After finishing up the last show for the day, we went back through the Universal Citywalk, and went shopping for gifts for our friends and folks back home.

Citywalk Shopping Experience: ★★★★☆ 

Only downside for the whole day was that between carrying all the bags and things, I dropped Bex’s ring that she had given to me somewhere in one of the stores and we didn’t realise until we’d gotten home. We called them from the hotel, and they said they’d look for it and call us back. After a stressful night of no call, we called them back in the morning when they opened at 11am, and they’d found it – just couldn’t call us back because of the foreign number! So we got the ring back and everything was aces and eights.

I will update these updates with some photos soon, to make this more interesting. Until next time!


Disney – First Look

So Disneyland is amazing. Just in-bloody-credible.

Our weather on the first day was a high of 55 degrees (mid to low teens, in celsius) with grey cloudy skies and a chilly wind. Being from Melbourne and not knowing any better, we braved it as best we were able and Bex and I arrived at Disneyland rugged up and ready for fun.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆ 

Bex loved that the first ride we went on, I stared at an animatronic Buzz Lightyear talking us through the “mission” and rules for the ride. Astro Blasters was the name of the ride, and we hopped in a car and whizzed around blasting targets to quell the uprising of the bad guy, Zurg. It was the start of a very fun day. Bex and I (Mostly Bex) planned our day out using the map and tried to make sure we got to see as much as we could across the next 4 days.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

The highlight of the day was the Disney Christmas Parade – Bex and I waited for over an hour to get a good spot right at the front of the road so we got up close and personal with a lot of the characters and backup dancers. The whole atmosphere was just fun and happy, and Disneyland is so clean and well put together.

Rating: ★★★★½