Florida 2019 – Day 2 – Oasis (not the band)

A 3am wake up for me today, means around 4 hours sleep. Had worse, I guess. Anyway, I’m on my hols so it’s easier to deal with!

We were all pretty ‘up and at it’ this morning, as the time difference (-5h) is still affecting us. We saved time getting ready as there was no need for a shower, given where we were going today!

Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive “day resort, a sort of oasis”, owned and operated by Seaworld (hang fire, before you boycott these blogs, I’ll talk about ethics and Seaworld tomorrow, given we’re likely to be going there, you can boycott me after that).

They limit entry to around 1300 pre-booked people per day, so it’s got a relaxed vibe to the place, with beaches, a very natural-feeling lazy river, an aviary, opportunities to swim with dolphins and even sharks, and snorkel around in the Grand Reef, with tropical fish and rays. Breakfast and lunch are included, as are the bars, where cookies, pretzels, soft drinks, beer, wine and cocktails are all available. Sales pitch over!

After a 25 minute drive from our apartment, we got there for 8:30am, parked up, and then checked in.

We’ve bought a “park pass”, which means we paid a lot less than day rates and get unlimited access to 3 parks plus a day at Discovery, and free parking (not to be snuffed at, at $20 a day!).

Because of that, we got photo ID passes made up as we checked in, which we will use at Seaworld (pantomime boo!, Aquatica (“there’s a floater in the wave pool!”), and Busch Gardens, which is in my humble opinion, the best of the parks, by a country mile.

In we went and straight for breakfast where we’d arranged to meet the F’s. On arrival, our ‘tranquil day oasis’ was a fire scene, with the kitchen being closed and the alarms going off. Nothing major, other than a slight delay to entry, at least that’s what I thought at the time.

Canteen-style service of scrambled eggs, sausage, potatoes, and then other unidentifiable ‘stuff’, topped up with as much of the fruit, cakes, beer(!), coffee, juices et al, that you wanted.

I’ll be blunt. The breakfast was awful, and not at all in keeping with the level at which DC is marketed.

It became clear to me that what had actually been on fire (or at least subjected to Centre-of-the-sun temperatures was the scrambled egg. The server used an ice cream scoop to plate up. It sat there line a rubber ball, only changing shape to return to a more perfect dome.

The sausages were ok. The potatoes also ok (not ok enough for me to eat, mind), but the other two items only merited investigation out of scientific curiosity.

As best as I could figure, the two dark brown fried sticks that looked like fried bread, turned out to be over-cooked cinnamon donut (sic) ‘soldiers’.

And the scone (pronounced “Scon”, btw), was actually a large ball of raw dough. Charlie suggested it was that home-made play-dough.

So my breakfast was actually six blocks of scrambled egg & a punnets-worth of grapes.

Next, phase of the tropical oasis day is getting your wetsuit, and complimentary snorkel (& mask, if you forget to hand back in, as some seem to do), and then applying the dolphin-friendly factor zero sunscreen.

It’s actually brilliant to watch. Basically there is this white creamy substance in big pump dispensers, which you apply to the skin as normal, but in this instance, what then happens is that it forms an unmovable, impenetrable barrier to everything other than the suns rays, whilst remaining fully white. Think of that stuff you see on Aussie cricketers lips sometimes, but now scale that up to whole body level!

You can spot the newly-arrived Brits (like us) easily at this stage, as the application of the above whitening paste still tends to improve the “tan” in the vast majority of instances.

Mr F applied his to the point where he looked like Casper the friendly ghost! Or some awful, 1960s inverse blackface. I’m sure I probably did the same application, so won’t say anymore.

Next on the agenda was bagging sunbeds, so ‘complimentary towels’ were requisitioned at a 2-1 ratio -one for drying, one to lay claim to the sunbed.

We all relaxed into the day, and did what we wanted to do:

  • Mr F & I had a Bud Lite Lime to wash the toothpaste (and egg) away, and then bobbed around the lazy river for a bit
  • Jane & Mrs F, sat and pretended to sunbathe whilst actually just gossiping and people-watching.
  • And the kids cleared off and became the lifeguards problem for a few hours.

Perfect! It’s true, it’s a luxury oasis!

Then it’s lunch, which was significantly better than breakfast. In fact, it was an almost polar opposite experience, with a decent selection of hot and cold food, and plenty on nice desserts on offer.

After lunch, some of us headed off to the Grand Reef, where we could snorkel with the aforementioned tropical fish and rays.

What you may not realise is that tropical fish swim in tropical seawater, but that doesn’t mean tropical seawater is warm. Suffice to say that on entry to the water, my nether regions transformed into what would resemble a walnut/peanut combo. At least there would be little to interest the nibbling fish.

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I love the Grand Reef. I love just floating around with the snorkel, watching some huge stingrays glide by. Some brush past you, which at first is a little freaky, but you get used to it.

What you don’t get used to are the selfish cockwombles that barge past you in pursuit of Nemo or some other poor creature. Thankfully the lifeguards and in-water staff have a zero tolerance approach to this, and those folk are harpooned from the Reef and dropped into the shark tank.

As Mrs & Mrs F and I sat in the shallows allowing the rays to glide up to us at their own volition, suddenly, and not entirely out of character, Mr F jumped up and shouted “Bastard!”, and in so doing, taught a number of young American children a new word.

He’d good reason to shout as he did, as his knee began to swell, after a very nasty sting from an inch-long, evil-looking horsefly type thing. I reassured him that he should go for a swim as it would help before the anaphylaxis set in and he suffocated.

Thankfully a lifeguard/firstaider was on hand to apply a magic sponge (plucked from the artificial reef) and Mrs F looked relieved that Mr F was going to survive, as she wasn’t keen on driving in the States.

The park shuts at 5pm to give Nemo and his mates some well-deserved respite, so after eventually gathering up the kids, and showering the outer layers of whitening cream off, we set off back home via the Bahama Breeze restaurant off the West Irlo Bronson Memorial Driveway, it as we call it, the 192, just like the bus to Stockport.

Although it’s fair to say some of the party got less value than others from their meals (the kids were exhausted, to be fair), I had a nice spicy fish taco with clam chowder combo. Which was lovely.

We went out separate ways, after agreeing that weather permitting, we would “do Seaworld” tomorrow.

I lagged behind Charlie & Jane by around 15 seconds as they entered the apartment. As I entered, Charlie was in bed and falling asleep, and Jane in her PJs, already in bed.

The day was done! Except for downloading today’s photos, videos, recharging camera/phone/tablet/portable power packs.

I stayed up until just after 11, in the vain hope of sleeping in. Which I did until around 4am.

Night!

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