Saturday, 3 March 2018

Brisbane Trip Day 12: Gold Coast

We woke after a good sleep and started to get ready to go to SeaWorld. I was looking at the information we got when we checked in and discovered we were eligible for a Guest Only dolphin presentation, for which we needed to be at the Gift Shop by 8.45. We quickly finished breakfast and got ready and headed down to the foyer. The group was walked through into SeaWorld to the Affinity Dolphin Pool and we got to see a training session with the dolphins which was really interesting. We then walked back to the resort and lined up go into the theme park when it opened. I raced back to the car to get close-toed shoes for Liam and Amelie because there was one attraction that required shoes. I got back to the line in time for us to go in. We'd planned to catch the monorail from the resort but it wasn't running at the moment so we walked in.

We went first to the stingray pools, where we discovered that we could pat the rays if they swam near the edge of the pool. Amelie found it hard to reach them sometimes, and we promised her we could come back later to pat them after we'd done a few more things. The priority for everyone was seeing Mishka the polar bear cub, so we went there next. We saw 2 adult polar bears, then moved to the pen where Mishka was with her mum. She was incredibly cute and lots of fun to watch, playing with a large plastic container that was floating in the water. Her mum had ripped a little hole in the plastic so that Mishka could grab it with her mouth and she was trying to pull it out of the water. Both the cub and the mum also spent time eating fish frozen into blocks of ice.

As we walked to the Nikelodeon kids area, we saw the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles come out for a photo opportunity which was pretty cool. Caitlin and Amelie went on a TMNT ride, then the 4 of us went on it (I sat with Liam). If we peddled our little planes they went higher, so it was fun and not at all scary. We then went on a bus ride which was like a mini pirate ship that rocked back and forwards, and also span on a fairly large, slow axis. We went from the kids rides through to the jet ski ride which Caitlin and Liam went on and said was fun. I wanted to try it so Caitlin took Amelie back to the kids rides and Liam and I went on - it was SO incredibly fast and I was quite scared. I screamed a lot. It didn't go high, just very fast around a turning track that also twisted a bit so at times we were sideways. It was fun but very intense (and I was happy with one ride, the speed was a bit much for me).

The ray pool was on the way to the dolphin show so we stopped in there again and patted some more rays. Amelie again had limited success - they had to come quite close to the surface for her to reach them and it didn't happen often. She was disappointed but then cheered by the idea of seeing the dolphin show.

We got a seat a fair way up in the stands. I was wondering if we'd find it a bit boring seeing as we'd seen 2 shows in Coffs and the training session this morning - but the show was great. The music helped to make it exciting, and the behaviours the dolphins displayed were impressive. Having a big crowd also made it more exciting. It was well presented (although a little sappy at times) and very very enjoyable. We all like the trainers being propelled forwards by the dolphins, we hadn't seen that before.

After the show we went to the battle boats - the kids lined up to go on a boat and I stayed on shore and shot the boats with water cannons. The kids were a little disappointed that they were on the far side of their boat so they couldn't shoot me or anyone else, although there were some targets to aim at that made cool water effects happen - but they were very hard to hit. I had fun squirting people and getting squirted by the boats. The kids still got wet, which Amelie wasn't thrilled about. There was quite a crowd there because so many people had just come out of the dolphin show, so we figured we'd try again later when there was less of a queue and the kids could be on the side where they could shoot the crowd.

The kids all had a big climb on the Sky Fortress - a large climbing play gym structure with lots of ladders, slides, bridges, net bridges etc. I joined them in there and had a go at walked across the high net bridges - it was very very very scary and I was very slow (the kids just ran across) - it was a great feeling to achieve it though. There was a harnessed climbing area too, but the kids needed to be completely dry to do that and we were still wet from the battle boats. We had some lunch to see if we would dry off enough in that time but were still damp so decided to come back later. While we were eating a pair of Asian kids asked me something which I couldn't understand. They were pointing to their backpack and I didn't know what they wanted. The older girl used the translator on her phone and the English version was 'Can you take a look at our backpack?' I still couldn't figure out what they wanted me to do, then they pointed at the Sky Fortress and I realised they wanted me to watch their stuff while they had a climb, which I was happy to do.

The big kids went for another ride on the JetSkis to try to dry off and met Amelie and I at Shark Bay. We had a pat of the sea cucumbers and sea stars and looked at some rays in the big pool. The Stunt Jetboat Show was about to start so we went up to the front of the park to watch that. I really love watching stunt driving and this was a good show. On the way there and back we saw more dolphins in different pools.

Caitlin and Liam had been keen all day to go on the Storm Coaster - the big roller coaster we'd seen on our way in. We headed there now and Amelie and I watched while they went on it. I had also been keen to go, but watching from the observation windows in a tunnel going over the ride scared me quite a bit - the initial drop looked fun but this later drop looked a bit steep for me. They went on it twice and loved it, and Amelie wanted to move on so I decided not to try it for now.

We went back to the Sky Climb via the ray pool, this time Amelie was able to pat some rays and she felt much happier. We were all splashed a bit so hoped we'd dry off enough to be able to climb. Amelie wanted to climb as well so I needed to do it too - she was in the height range that needed an adult to accompany them. The kids put their shoes on and I borrowed shoes from the desk , and we went and harnessed up. I was feeling pretty good about it and keen to give it a go. We walked up to the first level and Caitlin and Liam went off on their own way. Amelie walked across a ladder bridge and I followed her fairly easily. Then she walked across a plank and it took me quite some time to be brave enough to try that myself (I let 3 people go in front of me). There were ropes I could hang on to which helped - Amelie did it without the support ropes (because she couldn't reach them). Then we did some stepping stones which I also found a bit tricky. Amelie started to go up to the next level then reached a height where she was too scared so she came back down. She did one more crossing then it was time to come down. I made myself take a step or two out onto another ladder that I was really scared to do, then I came back and headed down myself. Caitlin and Liam climbed around on the 2nd level and had a great time. I gave the borrowed shoes back - and was allowed to keep the borrowed socks.

The queue on the Battle Boats was now non-existent so Caitlin and Liam had another go, while Amelie and I ran from cannon to cannon on the shore line and shot them as much as possible. We all got quite wet and it was a lot of fun.

The kids wanted to see a 3D movie, so we went to watch the Sponge Bob movie in the theatre - it was a lot of fun.

We headed back to Shark Bay, patted the rock pool creatures again, and went down to the underwater viewing area. The first window showed us lots of sharks and a turtle, a few rays and fish, and was pretty cool. The second window had many more fish, lots and lots of rays, including the Spotted Eagle Ray which is Amelie's favourite. There was a huge Queensland Grouper hiding under a rock (in plain sight) and lots of beautiful tropical fish, some sharks, so many rays. It was fascinating and we spent quite a bit of time watching.

I wanted to give the Storm Coaster a go so we went back over there. Amelie was in two minds and decided to just watch us. I was exceptionally scared and the closer I got to getting on the more sick and upset I felt. I sat with Caitlin and Liam sat with another boy. I had tears in my eyes and seriously considered asking them to stop even once I had the restraint down on my legs. Then the ride started and I felt quite a bit better straight away (things were out of my hands - I'm usually less anxious when there's nothing I can do!) Luckily the pull up to the top (the bit that often scares me the most because of the anticipation) was quite fast, and then there was a little dip and curve which I loved, then a long dip and curve which was fantastic, then the steep bit which was really scary because for a second we felt like we were free falling - I had my eyes shut tight for that bit - then a few more very fast ups and downs through water spray, and then it was over. I really loved it. I had screamed a lot and I was quite shaky when we got off, but really happy. When we got back to Amelie she said she wanted to have a go - she was within the height range as long as she sat with an adult. She sat with me and they put the restraints down - hers didn't quite touch her legs and her back wasn't against the seat back. We were both a bit concerned and it took me a while to catch the attendants attention to ask if she'd be OK. They said she was within safety standards and it would be fine. I asked if she'd move around too much and they assured us it would be fine. She decided she was OK so off we went. She seemed to like the first bit but got a bit scared and teary at the steep bit. I actually kept my eyes open this time. Amelie didn't really like the fast ups and downs towards the end, but was happy when she got off and said she enjoyed it. I was so impressed with her first big roller coaster effort!

Amelie had wanted to buy a SeaWorld towel that she'd been seeing all day, so we did that and then wandered back to see Mishka again - still cute and this time swimming around a bit. Her fur was so smooth when she came out of the water. She had completely deflated the plastic container she'd been playing with this morning.

We hadn't seen the Creatures of the Deep exhibit so walked up there - it was just large statues of deep sea creatures, not particularly exciting but cool to see. The big kids wanted to go on the Storm Coaster again, and Amelie was happy to not go back - they went ahead and she and I went to the ring toss game. She bought a large hat full of small rings - I reckon there were a couple of hundred in there and she and I tried to toss them over the neck of large glass bottles (which had small necks). It was really really hard, we had very many near misses but didn't get any rings on. She did get to keep the hat though, and it was a lot of fun, so money well spent. The big kids enjoyed their last ride (and the last run of the day) on the Storm Coaster, and got to see a one of the staff operate her last ever ride at SeaWorld and be part of the goodbyes for her.

We walked out via the rays again, and then up to the monorail station to catch it back to the resort - Amelie in particular was very keen to finally get on it. When it came in the driver got out and was on her radio, then came along and said that she wasn't allowed to take any more passengers because she'd already done extra trips that afternoon (it was a bit after 5 by now). Amelie was devastated - tired and hungry and so disappointed, so it was a long slow walk back to the Resort. In our room we collapsed on the beds and the kids put the TV on - more disappointment as Pokemon wasn't on as Amelie had expected. We ate some snacks and the kids played on iPods and had a good rest. I had a cold bath which was amazingly relaxing. For dinner we had cup-a-soup and cup-a-noodles. Easy and filling and tasty. We watched Friends and The Middle and ended off the day feeling tired but relaxed. Liam set up his camping mattress using the arm chair and two stools to make a little bed, which he thought might be more comfortable than the floor.

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