SeaWorld, Discovery Cove & Aquatica: Orlando’s Salute to the Seas is the first book solely dedicated to the Worlds of Discovery theme parks in Florida, rather than being tacked on to one of the many guide books about the Walt Disney World Resort.
SeaWorld has always been one of our favourite parks and it is great to finally have a book that does it justice. SeaWorld and Busch Gardens have always been the poor relations when it comes to Florida theme park guide books and Kelly Monaghan has now put the record straight with this new book.
He is no stranger to Florida and is also the author of Universal Orlando 2009: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure and The Other Orlando: What To Do When You’ve Done Disney and Universal, published in 2008 and 2007 respectively.
As the title suggests this book focuses on the three marine mammal theme parks in Orlando, Central Florida but it also covers Busch Gardens Africa in Tampa and its lesser known neighbour, the Adventure Island water park
As guide books go, it is quite a slim volume, running to some 236 pages with a couple of black and white maps and a few pages of monochrome photos but what it lacks in glossy colour illustrations it makes up for in content.
The book is divided into seven chapters; an introductory overview, followed by one chapter for each of five theme parks plus a chapter on the resort hotels close to SeaWorld, Discovery Cove and Aquatica in Orlando.
For those who have not been to Florida before, the introduction Dive Right In! sets the scene with a bit of local history, information on the best times to go, the weather month-by-month, getting orientated and general ticket prices and options.
The chapter on SeaWorld takes up about one quarter of the book and covers everything you need to know such as park opening and closing times, getting there, parking and ticket options, guided tours, animal interaction programs, lockers, shopping, eating and dinner shows.
Each restaurant and dinner show is rated for price range along with the details of times, venue, seating and the type of menu you can expect.
Each of the rides and shows are described in great detail (some run to two pages) and are rated for entertainment value and there is also an idea of how long each of them will take to help you plan your day. There are also loads of tips about best lines when there is more than one queue, best seating areas, best time of day to visit, photo opportunities etc.
The chapters on Discovery Cove, Aquatica, Busch Gardens Africa and Adventure Island follow the same style.
The other chapter covers local resort hotels, everything from four star luxury hotels like the Peabody Orlando, Marriott’s Grand Vista and Renaissance Orlando Resort to local timeshare resorts and more budget orientated accommodation that are within walking distance of SeaWorld.
There is plenty of information on the types of rooms and suites, room rates and facilities like golf, tennis, salons and spas. The onsite restaurants are rated in the same was as those in the parks with budget price ranges and menus.
Note that most guide books are re-published annually so you can often pick up a bargain if you don’t mind the previous edition.