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November 2021 - Florida - Day 5

It was a cloudy but lovely warm day that greeted us as we woke from our slumbers with still no news on the next Norwich managerial appointment.

Without rushing to get ready we were in the car for about 10am and with no real plans for the morning as such decided to head to the Disney Coronado Springs Hotel. This was one of the few Disney Hotels we had not explored.

Parking was easy and we went into an impressive large lobby. Neil had told us there was a lake we could walk round, but with having zero expectations we were blown away by the place. The lake was lovely, there were lots of places to sit and the place was almost deserted. We even managed to look around the themed pool area with a big pyramid waterfall. Karen & I decided that when we are hopefully back here in April next year that we would come back with our Swimmies to see if we can sneak in to use the facilities.

At the café we even persuaded Neil to sit for a while whilst we had a drink. It was all very civilised and almost felt as if we were on holiday. If we had been on our own then we would probably have wasted another hour or so, but Neil was keen to move on and so we made our way to Disney Springs for lunch.

Disney Springs was very busy. In fact, as busy as we had ever seen it during a lunch period. I settled for Poutine from the hut for my lunch. I went for the Canadian version with Cheese Curds and Gravy. It was good. Neil went off and got himself something from The Earl of Sandwich. Once we had devoured these, I then grabbed a table outside Ghirardelli’s whilst Karen & Neil went to queue for their respective ice creams. I really fancied one but still try to avoid all food with sugar and have done so for 5 years now. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me, but I was very envious today.

It was then time to head back to the villa to prepare ourselves for a late visit to Sea World. Today was their first night of their Christmas celebrations and we wanted to stay till the end to see the fireworks and see the 3 million lights they had put up as part of it all.

We thought we were lucky to be parked on the end of a row, but it turned out to be the furthest row from the entrance and as such a long walk.

The Park seemed quite busy at the entrance when we arrived, but it turned out to be just people all clustered in one place whilst the rest of the park was quite quiet.

As the dolphin show was about to start, we headed to that. It was very watchable, and the dolphins were amazing with their acrobatics.

Sea World has a marmite reputation especially after the Black Water ‘expose’ film and the whale trainer death. I can fully understand the arguments both ways. I suppose by the shear fact I was here today that I just about come down on the side that they achieve more good than harm. Whilst we were here, they certainly majored on the numbers of animals saved and research achieved through visitor’s gate fees. However, for the animals here, is there suffering through captivity justified? If they are all rescue ones that cannot be released back into the wild, then perhaps so. I am not convinced for the ones bred here or captured just for entertainment (although I do not believe this happens anymore). The dolphins we saw looked well and seemed happy. Although whether this was coercive behaviour I don’t know.

We probably wouldn’t have come here apart from the fact the ticket was included in a package we had purchased.

Moving on from that moral dilemma we decided to go to see another animal show!

This time it was the Sealion & Otter show with Clyde & Seamore. This used to be really funny and were definitely recused animals. This time it was just silly, had too much human participation and just didn’t work.

It was now time for Neil to try one of the roller coasters, which is another strange dichotomy for a marine park. I am not sure that it even knows what it is anymore. Is it a theme park with some animals or a marine park with some rides? Anyhow Neil rode Mako. I again decided to miss it to protect my back. He was back in under 10 minutes as there was no queue.

By now it was starting to get dark, and all the Christmas Lights were coming on. The Park took on a whole new life and looked stunning.

We made our way to the Bayside Lake ready for the Sea of Trees show. It was quite something with dozens of trees lighting up synchronised in time to the music. We were very impressed.

Around the corner from where we had watched the trees was the Waterfront Shopping area. This was the most Christmas decorated area. At scheduled times it was due to ‘snow’ here and so we waited for 5 minutes for the first snowfall. Now we have been other places where this happens, but nothing like on the scale of this. The foam ‘snow’ was heavy and spectacular. Within seconds everyone standing around, including us and Neil were squealing like children at the sight of it all. We were all trying to catch it and generally messing about.

In some places the foam would catch on trees, form large lumps and then fall down like a snow drift. It was really a lot of fun and we left the area with a spring in our step and joy in our hearts.

We were now hungry and so headed in search of some food. As it was the Christmas celebration there were over 20 huts set up selling various Christmas themed food. Karen bemoaned that there wasn’t one selling mince pies or sausage rolls though.

So instead, I went into a Smokery and got us another Children’s meal of Smoked Chicken and waffle chips whilst Neil went to one of the stalls and had a festive pork belly slider. In fact, he had returned and eaten his before I emerged with our food.

The Americans who invented fast food are not good at serving it, although my wait was made worse by a lady who had a meltdown in front of me regarding her salad not being freshly prepared as she didn’t want crotons mixed in but on the side instead. At one point I thought she might through the salad at the girl behind the counter who kept politely repeating that they were just delivered the salads fully made up.

Anyhow after this Karen and I thought we would go to see the Free Concert in the Theatre. This did not appeal to Neil, so we agreed to meet him afterwards.

As we walked to it, a guy tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I could spare him a minute. I was immediately suspicious, but he explained that he was about to leave the park and that he had pre purchased a pass that gave him any 20 of the items being served from the Christmas stalls. The pass still had 8 items left and rather than waste them would I like to use it? Absolutely I said and we both thanked him profusely. So, it was with even more of a spring in our step we stepped into the concert.

Now I must admit we were a bit apprehensive going into the concert and thought we might leave if it wasn’t any good. I had even had to look up who the big name star name was before entering.

We came out though absolutely blown away. The concert was worth the admission money alone.

The star was Darlene Love.

Whom may you ask? Well, she has been recording since the very early sixties. She is now 80 years old but does not look, act or sing like that. Her biggest solo hit was Please come home (for Christmas) which she naturally ended with.

She was on almost every track of the Phil Spector Christmas album. She has won an Oscar and a Grammy. She was the lead singer in the Crystals (and she performed Da Do Ron Ron for us), lead singer in Bob E Sox, had another hit with ‘He’s a Rebel’, performed with Elvis on his 1968 comeback concert, sang backing vocal with Sinatra on some of his hits, sang at the White for various presidents and on stage with Springsteen. In other words, one of the all-time greats that I had never heard of.

She got a deserved standing ovation for an amazing gospel song near the end of the set which made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

Karen and I were singing (with masks on) and dancing along and had a great time. At the end we both said wow, just wow, what a show.

We met Neil who treated our enthusiasm with ambivalence. He was more impressed with the prospect of free food and drinks using the pass we had acquired. He and Karen started with some different Christmas beer from the nearest stall. I went for some Lobster Mac & Cheese. They were not shy with the Lobster, and it was delicious.

Wandering around the stalls Neil then fancied some festive doughnuts loaded with cream and Banana Foster. He was disappointed with these though as they were not very fresh.

Karen then tried the Frozen Peppermint Frost which consisted of Absolut Vanilla Vodka, Peppermint Schnapps, White Chocolate Liqueur, and Crushed Candy Cane. She really enjoyed it. Neil went back and got one himself later.

I decided to get another snack which I knew Neil was keen to sample. It was the bacon covered in chocolate. It was not as bad as it sounds with the saltiness balancing the sweetness. It was the first time I had consciously tried something with sugar in for ages.

We then headed to the Outdoor Theatre to watch the Winter Wonderland Ice Skating show which was to be followed by the closing festive fireworks. It was great being able to watch both from a relatively comfortable seat with a perfect view, although I was distracted for a while by an American who sat down 2 rows in front of us. He was so large that he genuinely took up 3 seats. I have never seen anything like it.

The Ice Skating was good, and they were very skilled performers. The fireworks were very close to us and very loud. Possibly the loudest I have never heard. The display was only about 10 minutes long but enjoyable.

Very tired we made our way back to the car, had an easy drive home and went straight to bed. It had been a very good day again. Sea World has never been my favourite park and not possibly even in my Top 5 in Florida, but tonight had been exceptional. On this performance they have outdisneyed Disney in showing how Christmas should be done.

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