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THEME PARKS


DISCOVERY COVE


Our final VIP experience came at SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove. With limited numbers allowed in the park each day, it’s already a pretty exclusive experience, but there are ways to make it even more special. We booked a private cabana on the beach, enclosed by bushes, giving us privacy and tranquillity in between all the other activities, such as swimming with dolphins, snorkelling with stingrays, feeding tropical birds, or drifting down the lazy river. Inside the cabana, there were plenty of sunbeds and hammocks, ample shade and a fridge full of chilled drinks and snacks, which were replenished throughout the day.


ABOVE: Jurassic Park Raptor Encounter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure


behind-the-scenes experiences, valet parking, continental breakfast, reserved seating at shows and lunch.


SEAWORLD


Finally, we sampled the VIP guiding service at SeaWorld, taking a behind- the-scenes tour of the Penguin Antarctic Adventure, meeting Whopper the King Penguin and Joey the Rockhopper, under the watchful eye of penguin keeper and marine expert TJ – who had hand-reared many of the birds in the enclosure. We also learned fascinating facts about manatees – an animal my children previously knew little about – and got great seats for the Shamu show, followed by a ‘lock-in’ after the performance to speak to Kelly, head of animal training, all about


the Orcas at SeaWorld. It was an extraordinary experience to meet and talk to someone with such insight and passion – in fact, meeting all the animal experts truly enhanced our SeaWorld experience. The Behind-the-Scenes Tour starts from £41 per adult and £12 per child with Attraction World (attractionworld.com). I’ve been to Walt Disney World,


Universal and SeaWorld several times before and the experience has always been pretty magical, but there’s no denying that doing the same theme parks in style is most memorable and would definitely appeal to many discerning clients. Avoiding those ghastly 90-minute wait signs means VIP guides are worth their weight in gold.


aspire december 2016 — 63


The cabana also entitled us to a visit by an animal expert who brought an armadillo and its baby for the children to touch. An incredible experience for the children to hold the rolled-up little creatures and watch them snuffle about on our decking before curling up in a ball again. Cabanas start from $199 a day.


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