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Jun 10, 2010
We left Tampa Sunday morning, after getting a couple more rides from the early entry to Cheetah Hunt. We had four nights stay at Pacific Royal at Universal Studios but didn't want to start our tickets at Universal until Monday, so check in and off to Seaworld.

Platinum passes are awesome, we get there and I park 20' from the main gate. We head straight to Manta, 15 minutes, really? It was more like 5. Manta has to be the smoothest and by far the best flying coaster I have been on. The loops, the transitions, the inversions in fact the entire layout seems perfect. We rode then went to Kraken, same 5 min wait. I think Kraken is my favorite floorless B&M. Next to some shows.

We caught the last Dolphin show, it was about the same that I remember from 3 years ago, very well done. We had dinner at the shark restaurant, the actual name escapes me. Great service, food, and atmosphere. I know it's been said before but our Busch Gardens needs an nice sit down restaurant. Afterwards we went to the night time sealion show. This show is absolutely hilarious, they spoof the other shows at Seaworld, very well done. Best line, "We only have one ocean left!?" Off to the Shamu Rocks show! I love the atmosphere they create in the stadium before the show, gets everyone really into it. The show was great, but it seems to be missing the trainers in the water with the whales. I don't know if they will ever bring that back but it feels like something is missing.

The next day (Monday) we did Universal in the morning then went back to Seaworld. First thing we did was ride Journey to Atlantis, I always seem to get soaked, oh well it was about 98. Next up was the One Ocean show, this was new since I had been there. Again very well done, what they do with the animals is simply amazing. We did some of the interactive exhibits and the night time shows again. The staff all seem to be very eager to talk and are very knowledgeable. Overall a great time. More pics then to Universal.


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Jul 22, 2010
Manta really is beyond graceful isn't it? I love that thing to death.

Did you take advantage of your platinum privileges?

Glad to hear you got soaked on Atlantis... Last year when we were there there was no water after the first two lifts until you hit the splashdown, then you didnt see water again until the exit.

Glad to hear you had fun!
Feb 21, 2011
Your Mother's Butt
You wouldn't believe how many people ask me "Do you have the re-ride for platinum passholders?" I am going to guess that the reason BGW does not do that is because a. the quick queue would be not very quick and b. it would take a lot longer to load the trains especially if there is no QQ person scheduled.
Jul 22, 2010
The reason BGW does not have it is because there is no competition here. It is a perk to get people to buy their top end pass in a zone full of nothing but competition. It is a way to give an "unlimited fast pass" without charging or calling it a fast pass.
Jul 22, 2010
pandorazboxx said:
so I can get out and ride on the next train an unlimited amount of times.?

I did not think I had to spell and sound it out. You wait in line and ride once then you ride once more on the next train without having to wait.
Mar 30, 2010
hey I don't go down there so I don't have a clue. it definitely wasn't clear in your post how often you can reride. but thanks for the info.
Jun 10, 2010
You can reride once. Basically you show the operator your pass when you board the ride then you stay on for two rides. You have to get off and go back through the line after the second ride.
Dec 23, 2011
MOD EDIT: Retitled and moved to SeaWorld forum since BGT is no longer part of the planned trip.

I am looking at visiting the Florida parks, all of them. My main goal is Discovery Cove. Being it is so unique, I'd like to experience. It is on my bucket list and considering work and school is going well, and I found some discounted reservations I can get for Discovery Cove, I thought why not? I have some questions/topics for your help.

Transportation? - I saw that Discovery Cove offers free shuttle service to SWO and SWO provides shuttle service to the SeaWorld Partner Hotel I am looking at. I am trying to figure out, does this mean I can easily get free transportation to and from all parks and the hotel? I know BGT is about an hour so so away, but why not ask, is there shuttle service from SWO to BGT and back? I'd love to add BGT to the trip, but not sure if transportation will allow it. Also how expensive would a taxi before going to and from the hotel and airport? Or can SWO offer a shuttle to the airport?

Trip Costs? - So I am flying myself and another person, we both will be in two different states, so I matched up two round trip flights that end up in Orlando and back. With that said, I also have an estimate for a hotel priced for a week in early March. So all in all, I kind of estimated the trip to cost $1,900 or less. Does this sound like a realistic number or is it too low?

Discovery Cove? - Has anyone gone? What is it like? I keep reading that there are many things free and included with reservations, what exactly does that entail? I am not a great swimmer myself, in fact I am a very poor swimmer, I can move slowly through water clumsily, but other than that I don't do so great, is there anything that this could pose a challenge or problem? Is weather a big issue in Florida the early March time of year? I know it is typically one of the warmest states all year round, right?

Anything else? Is there something you'd like to add that might be helpful.

Just to give everyone responding a fair heads up, I did research and go around website but everything is still very confusing, so I am asking for people to please com forward and clear things up for me. Thanks!
May 3, 2011
Richmond, Va
RE: Trip to BGT, SWO & DC

About all I can help is that I know there is some sort of shuttle service from SWO to BGT and back when purchasing a BGT ticket or something along that matter.

I'll let Bill (or anyone else) help with the rest ;)
Sep 24, 2013
RE: Trip to BGT, SWO & DC

I remember looking into the free shuttle service when we were in the area last October and it does seem pretty useful, but only if you are staying in a hotel in Orlando. We were staying in Tampa so it ended up not being helpful.

A lot of hotels will have their own service as well, you can probably call ahead and confirm what their rules are.

We ended up driving down (from Williamsburg) so I don't know about flight costs but we were able to get a 4 star hotel for $60 a night using Priceline's name your own price tool, and we could probably have gotten cheaper if we didn't splurge for the extra star rating. Only downside of this is that you have to book before knowing what hotel you will get, but you can stipulate which area you want it to be in and typically they provide enough information that you can figure out which hotel it could be.
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Dec 23, 2011
RE: Trip to BGT, SWO & DC

I was trying to go with one of the SeaWorld Partner Hotels, but $60 a night sounds really good.

EDIT: I have been checking out Priceline and things are looking good.


Apr 12, 2012
Virginia Beach, Virginia
RE: Trip to BGT, SWO & DC

Priceline is the way to go, you can get some mad deals there, try as well.

Whatever hotels you consider, make sure you read the tripdvisor reviews beforehand, if you don't have a good hotel chances are your trip won't be as enjoyable. The last 2 times I've stayed in Orlando it was at the Hard Rock Hotel and the doubletree across the entrance to Uni. Obviously the HRH is not something you want since you wont be going to uni( and its crazy expensive too)but the double tree was cool and its right near SWO and DC, maybe 10 mins away at the most.

Also, have you thought of getting a rental car? Dollar and thrifty are awesomely cheap, have used both of them at the Orlando airport before and its a breeze. I know I personally hate not having a car when I'm on Vacation, limits me, especially in a place where you can't just walk to most things like Orlando.

As for DC, I have not been personally but check out, these yelp reviews, they'll help you go in prepared, others on this site who have been before will probably be a good guide as well.

Have fun!
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Jul 22, 2013
Arlington, VA
RE: Trip to BGT, SWO & DC

I have been to DC several times. I'm happy to post pictures, if you'd like. I can also do a full trip report, if anyone is interested. I love DC.

My biggest concern would be the weather. It will probably be in the mid- to upper 70s. While I did swim with manatees earlier this week in about 70 degree weather, it was only for a few hours, and we got inside a warm boat right after. At DC you will be outside and wet all day long. Some of the water is a bit cold, because of the animals. I guess it comes down to what temperatures you can handle in a wetsuit.

I'm not sure how much a non-swimmer would enjoy it, but regardless, here is what I recall.

All food and beverages are included. They serve a buffet breakfast and lunch, as well as snacks around the park. There are the usual cokes and water, as well as alcoholic drinks.

They will give you either a wetsuit or vest, and snorkeling gear. I suggest bringing water shoes/socks and a change of clothes. Obviously you wear a bathing suit in the park. There are showers and changing rooms to use when you leave. In the past they have provided soap for the shower. They have lots of towels on the bathrooms and changing areas. I always get a cabana, which comes with towels, as well. I can't recall if other people bring in beach towels.

They will also provide sunscreen. You cannot use your own, because of the animals.

There are several included attractions.

1. At least one person in your party must do the dolphin swim, which is the point of DC, anyway. Obviously that costs more than minimum admission.

2. There is a great reef for snorkeling. Since they keep it stocked, there are tons if fish, rays, sharks, etc to see. As long as you can float in the wetsuit they give, which does add buoyancy, you shouldn't have much problem snorkeling. The water is a bit colder, because of the animals.

3. There is new, warmer freshwater "oasis." It is a wading area with otters and other animals. There are also seats in the water.

4. There is a warm accelerated river. It isn't as fast as the Hubba Hubba Highway, though. There are no floats, and you can't walk all of it. I usually snorkel around it, as they have put stuff on the bottom to look at. There are also windows into the reef and waterfalls. We like to chill in the waterfalls. I am pretty sure they do have floatation vests you can use.

5. Halfway around the tropical river there is an entrance to the aviary. You can feed the birds, and there are tons of them; many different types. There are several "rooms," so be sure to wander all of the way through. I believe there is an entrance from the land as well, but I have never used it.

6. There are several beaches and a giant wading pool with more awesome waterfalls. The water there is warm, as well. There are beach chairs at all over the place. Once again, because of the cabana, I have never used them, but people seem to leave there stuff and go off to do things. Obviously, you get a locker, as well.

7. Right off of the reef there is a ray wading area. It is cold for the rays, but it is really cool to be able to be in the pool with them.

There are other things you can pay for, as well.

1. We loved the SeaVenture. You wear a diving helmet attached to a hose and walk around the bottom of the reef. I forget how much it cost.

2. It is a theme park, so there is a gift shop. It is DC, so it is a nice one. Platinum discounts apply.

3. As I mentioned, we always get a cabana. They can be reserved alone, or as part of a package.

4. Of course they also want to sell you pictures. They have the usual array of packages. We have underwater cameras, which are good for a lot of the park, but not the dolphin swim. The professional photographer gets better angles.

Periodically, they offer special prices for Platinum Pass holders. I have called and gotten discounts over the phone, as well.

Regardless, DC is a great experience, if you like animals.

Two things I forgot:

1. Arrive early. You get your dolphin swim time assigned, when you check in. Rain in a Florida usually starts in the afternoon, so a morning time is better.

2. If you aren't a pass holder, they will give you 14 days unlimited admission to one Sea World park.
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Jun 22, 2013
Tampa, FL
RE: Trip to BGT, SWO & DC

Ok, a few things from your original post Party Rocker.

Your budget is fair. We did Disney for a week back in 2008 for around $2000, so I think a week at the other parks, air, and hotel are all doable within that amount today.

I would have to look into the specifics of DC and transportation options in Orlando, as I'm less familiar with the SEAs parks there. There is definitely a round trip bus shuttle from the Orlando area to BGT that is basically free with the purchase of a park ticket. But if you already have admission through an annual pass, I don't know that the shuttle is an option.

Getting a rental car in Orlando, especially from the airport, is super easy. Being the largest rental market in the country, there are always deals to be found. I've used several of the on airport rental locations including Dollar, and never had an issue. If you work hard at it, you can get a week's rental for $150 or less (in my trips before moving here, we usually managed a full size for about $80, all taxes and fees included). That price assumes the driver is over 25; the daily fee for drivers under 25 can add up quickly.

Weather in early March will likely be moderate - 70s or 80s in the afternoon, 60s at night. Of course, the weather can be finicky - hotter or colder temps are always a possibility.

Hope this helps!


Team Instinct
Jan 12, 2012
in the rear
RE: Trip to BGT, SWO & DC

Assuming you have park connections (and I'm sure you will by March ;)) price shouldn't be a huge issue. We found a Holiday Inn right outside of Universal that gave discounts out of a hotel coupon book. It was a pretty good deal for up to 4 people. Room itself was pretty sparse, but it's clean and newly renovated, so it's a good deal.

Sea World is a good park. I'd HIGHLY recommend doing Sky Tower, even though capacity is horrid. The view from the top is worth the wait. If you ride it at night, you might be able to catch Disney fireworks from the top as well. Not sure if Shamu will be out and about since the theater is getting renovated. The show was boring anyway.

Don't miss the dolphin or pet show. Both are excellent. Didn't see sea lions since that theater was being renovated. Since that show is supposed to be funny, I'd give it a go.

My parents hated Turtle Trek. I'd say skip it. Antarctica seems pretty cool, but I'd only ride if the line is short.

Shark Encounter is really sweet. Even if the aquarium seems a bit dark and dated, it's still worth a peek. Also there's a manta touch pool not to far from Manta. You can feed the animals, but that costs money.

Tampa is great. I didn't see any of the shows, but saw most of the animal exhibits. Don't miss the train and skyride. You should miss the bumper cars though. They're terrible.
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