Categories
Featured Freebies Reviews Reviews & Giveaways Save Money Services Travel Travel Reviews

Free $35 Hotel Travel Credit | TravelPony Review

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail

free-travel-pony-credit

Free $35 Hotel Travel Credit | TravelPony Review

Originally written in Sept. 2014, this article has been updated to remind newcomers to get their free credit.

First, go grab your FREE $35 in Travel Credit from TravelPony. Plus, see how you can earn UNLIMITED credits when you share with friends!

Your earned travel credits will be automatically applied to your next qualifying reservation in the form of a coupon, which you will see on the Checkout page.

To get your free travel credit:

  1. click link above
  2. sign up and receive $35 free! (if connecting with Facebook doesn’t work, use email instead)

TravelPony is a hotel booking website with everyday prices that are often 10-70% below the big travel sites. At TravelPony.com when customers login with their Facebook ID, they unlock preferred pricing and some of the best deals around on hotels. TravelPony has launched over 20 markets with over 2,000 top hotel partners, making it one of the best sites to get a deal and book a hotel room.

Everyday Low Rates
TravelPony offers low rates every day and actually offers better rates the farther out our customers book their stay. Prices on TravelPony aren’t last minute rates, they’re everyday low rates.

We were given a Travel Pony credit to use, so that we could review their service and tell you about it.

My niece was getting married last month, so I booked a hotel for my family and my parents.  Going to the Madison, Wi, area at that time seemed to be a task. Apparently there was a convention in town and hotel rooms were filling up fast!  I searched TravelPony as well as a few competitor sites to get a feel for the discounts available.  The first thing I noticed was that TravelPony seems to have better prices.  However, they don’t have very many hotels in their listings.  This may have been because of the onslaught of visitors expected, but the other sites did list many more rooms at lower prices.  My choices on TravelPony were one very basic hotel or one VERY upscale hotel.  I was hoping to spend under $100 a night, so the upscale hotel (at $300/night) was out of the question.  I settled for the basic hotel, figuring we’d only be there two nights – the night before for the rehearsal and groom’s dinner, and the night of the wedding and reception.  I put in my dates, went back and added another room and booked.  I realized when I received my confirmation email that it only had booked the first night!  In a small panic, I went back to book the second night and it was now sold out.  Disappointed and a little confused, I tried calling TravelPony. Finding the phone number was challenging.  Instead, I called the hotel directly and asked them if they saw my booking for both nights. They did not see two nights, but they did see two reservations for two rooms for the first night.  Now in a slightly larger panic, I called TravelPony.  They confirmed that indeed I had only one reservation and only the first night, and that the hotel was booked. Solid.  I didn’t want to “move” to another hotel, and this hotel was not refundable. TravelPony informed me that there was nothing they could do at that point.  I called the hotel back, and they said they did have more rooms but since TravelPony only resources a certain amount of rooms, they wouldn’t know that. I booked the second night directly.

To see what happened, I went back through the booking process on TravelPony.  When I’d selected a second room, my dates changed back to just one night. I didn’t notice that when I initially booked, so it was indeed my fault. But still, a little nerve wracking that it changes like that.

So, in summary, I recommend TravelPony as a resource for what might be a better price on a hotel room – especially with the free $35 credit they’re giving away. Add it to your arsenal of sites to check for great rates on hotels.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail
Categories
Freebies Reviews Reviews & Giveaways Save Money Travel Travel Reviews

HotelTonight: FREE $50 Hotel Credit

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail

Book Up to 7 Days In Advance

HotelTonight: FREE $50 Hotel Credit

HotelTonight is one of my favorite apps! Originally, they only had same-day deals, but now you can book up to 7 days in advance. Now you are finally able to book those rooms a whole week before your travels! No more worries, which makes traveling SO much easier to deal with!

Planning Upcoming Holiday Travel, or even if you’re just looking to get out of the house, don’t leave home without this handy little app!

Book now for the weekend!

Want to get FREE credits? Here’s how to do it:

1. START HERE:  sign up for a FREE HotelTonight account

2. Enter code: GFREEBIES to get $25 free credit signup bonus (off any purchase $25+)

3. Then, install the free Hotel Tonight – Last Minute Deals on Hotels app

4. Redeem Credit: Open app on your smart phone and sign in (click Options on lower right) with your Hotel Tonight account you made in step 1, then Click PIG (Credits) button on bottom right and “redeem a promo code” then enter these codes for the rest of your free credits:

  • Enter code: GFREEBIES at sign up to get signup bonus (or sign in if you already joined)
  • Get another $25 credit! Use promo code: HALLOWEEN  Applies to bookings of 2 or more nights. $250 minimum spend. Cannot be combined with any other offer or applied to existing bookings. Booking must be made by November 1st at 11:59pm PST.
  • New members who don’t use my promo code can opt to use promo code TONIGHT instead and get $25 off $125 (first-time customer code, cannot be combined with signup bonus above).
  • I’ll post here when more codes are available!
  • BOOKLATE = $5
  • HTFAN = $5
  • GETHT = $15 expires 9/6
  •  HTFB5 = $5 (this code is for the first 1000)

Unlike traditional online travel agencies, Hotel Tonight can offer deep discounts of up to 70 percent on same-day and week-in-advance bookings by working with a select group of leading hotels. In less than 10 seconds, travelers can book exclusive handpicked deals.

About HotelTonight

The ultimate way to book a last-minute hotel stay at the coolest hotels until 2am. Book same-day hotel deals up to 70% off in dozens of destinations on iPhone/iPad and Android devices.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail
Categories
Gimmie Giveaways GimmieBlog How To - General Reviews Reviews & Giveaways Travel Reviews

5 Tips to Save Money on Summer Travel

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail

NM_124_and_US_66_WB_near_Budville_NM

5 Tips to Save Money on Summer Travel

Since summer is finally here, traveling is probably on your list of things to do this season. It is for me! Some money-saving tips for summer are always useful to have. There are always some helpful things to do to keep money in your pocket while having fun in the sun! Check out this list of 5 tips to save on summer travel, for ways to have frugal fun.

  1. FREE Fun: prior to heading out, check out our FREE Travel section to find discounted airfare, save on car rental and hotel, and even find cheap cruise prices! Don’t miss our free family events – whether you’re planning a staycation locally or at your destination – find entertainment without spending a cent on it.
  2. Save with House Swapping! When traveling, you don’t have to stay in a cramped hotel, consider swapping your home with another at your destination. Check it out!
  3. Munchies: when it comes to road trips, flying or traveling in any manner, buying food on the go can really squeeze you dry! You could save by buying snack food and drinks beforehand at a local grocery store, and use coupons for extra savings toward your purchase(s). Be sure to check out our FREE In Store With Coupon section before you hit the road!
  4. Reward Programs: in addition to getting the best price on airfare, sign up for a free air miles program. Many airlines have their own program or check out a travel-friendly program called e-miles.com. They offer free travel miles in return for viewing their collection of online ads. Easy right? And don’t forget to sign up with your HOTEL chain’s rewards program. You can earn earn rewards, including gift cards and travel miles. Try using choicehotels.com to earn points and redeem them for free night stays at a variety of hotels. You have 6,000 locations to choose from! No matter if you’re traveling near or far, sign up for FUEL REWARDS be sure to sign up for gasoline fuel programs that will allow you to fuel up your car and earn cash back! For example, Kroger currently has a fuel program to join to save on fuel purchases at a local Kroger station or Shell station. It adds up to great savings!  Check out our Fuel Reward Program Roundup in this link.
  5. All Inclusive Vacation Packages: nothing saves a BUNDLE quite like bundling! Don’t miss Groupon’s travel deals where you can save up to 90% on vacation bundles which can include hotel, all your food and drinks, and sometimes even airfare and ground transport (getting to and from airport).

I hope these ideas add more cash to your wallet and more fun to your summer. For more money-saving inspiration and tips, check out Slickdeals. ENJOY your summer, and be safe!!

Photo credit: Wikimedia
Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail
Categories
Reviews Reviews & Giveaways Travel Reviews

SeaWorld San Diego & Aquatica Water Park Review

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail

seaworld

SeaWorld San Diego & Aquatica Water Park Review

During our Southern California #GimmieOnTour vacation, we wanted to go somewhere super fun that was also educational. We got both with SeaWorld San Diego!  We also visited their new waterpark Aquatica San Diego, about 30 minutes south of SeaWorld.

Talk about a crazy, fun-filled day!  We started by heading out for SeaWorld with our friends. We got there and headed straight for the new “petting” tanks by the front door, called Explorer’s Reef™. There are several pools filled with sea life that children and adults alike can interact with. It was our first encounter, and our favorite part of the park! We kept coming back to it, and must have visited four different times!

The kids wanted to try “the roller coaster” which is called Manta, Shipwreck Rapids.  My daughter decided at the last minute that she didn’t want to go on it, but the other girls went and loved it!  We stopped by the Sesame Street Bay of Play, but it’s mostly for younger kids so we didn’t stay long.  The Skytower was not operating, but we barely had time to notice as we checked out the dolphins and rays.  I personally love seeing and petting the dolphins. They are so beautiful and graceful!

We left midday to go to Aquatica, the waterpark. It was hot out, and the water rides were a welcome relief. Scroll down to see more about the waterpark.

At the end of the day, we actually went back to SeaWorld (crazy, I know!) and went to the Shamu show, “One Ocean.”  The killer whales are amazing to watch, and they sure like to GET YOU WET!  They splashed and splashed, and we of course had sat in the soak zone!  The Shamu Show features awesome music that had the kids (young and old) on their feet dancing. The big screens around the tank have colorful displays that move to the music. It was really fun and entertaining!

dolphins

Meeting the dolphins at #SeaWorldSanDiego #ttot #travel #gimmieontour

In the #SoakZone #Seaworld #Shamu at night. I wasn’t ready for this! #ThoughtTheyWereComingToWave

shamu

Splashing with Shamu at ‪#‎SeaWorldSanDiego‬ ‪#‎ttot‬ ‪#‎travel‬ ‪#‎gimmieontour‬ ‪#‎oneocean‬ ‪#‎staycation‬

seaworld2

SeaWorld Saturday! #Shamu #SanDiego

 

If you haven’t been to SeaWorld this year, you should go!  They’ve added so many new things, and they’re interactive. They say you can connect “hands in” (versus “hands on”) because you put your hands right in the water and touch the sea creatures!  They have sharks, rays, crabs and friendly fish in touch pools that bring you closer to the sea and its wonder than ever before!

Here are some of our favorite things at Aquatica:

aq1

Tassie’s Twister at #AquaticaSanDiego #MakingaSplash #staycation #travel #ttot #gimmieontour

aq3

Slippity Dippity ‪#‎fun‬ for the little ones! ‪#‎AquaticaSanDiego‬ ‪#‎MakingaSplash‬ ‪#‎staycation‬ ‪#‎ttot‬ ‪#‎travel‬ ‪#‎gimmieontour‬

aq4

Taumata Racer at #AquaticaSanDiego #MakingaSplash #gimmieontour #staycation #sandiego #summer #fun

aq2

Loggerhead Lane at #AquaticaSanDiego #MakingaSplash #travel #tourism #gimmieontour

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail
Categories
Reviews Reviews & Giveaways Travel Travel Reviews

Top 5 Tips to Make Vacation Doable on Any Budget

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail

vacation-savings

Top 5 Tips to Make Vacation Doable on Any Budget

There are several major expenses associated with vacationing. One option to make Vacation Doable on Any Budget is skipping at least one major expense.  Doing this could mean a little extra to spend elsewhere, such as upgrading your hotel in lieu of expensive local tours. Or, for some on a limited budget, it might mean the difference between enjoying a getaway and staying home.

Skipping one major expense can open up a whole new level of possibilities!  You can avoid a major cost and make your vacation more affordable.

Here are our top 5 suggestions to make Vacation Doable on Any Budget:

  1. DON’T GO! Opt for a “staycation” which is staying near home to avoid airfare or car & gas expenses. Saving money on actually getting to your destination can free up money to get a better room in a more prime resort such as when we stayed at The Waterfront Beach Resort – a Hilton Hotel in Huntington Beach, California. You’ll feel like you’re 100 miles from home, even if you’re not! Plus, higher-rated properties often include things that will cost you money elsewhere such free accessories and entertainment (swimming pools, in-room spas, beach towels, lawn chairs, complimentary breakfast or all-day meal plans, free parking, etc.).

  2. DON’T STAY! Stay with friends or family, camp out or try house swapping to avoid hotel or motel room costs. If you’d prefer to get out of town, consider skipping the room fees by bunking with a pal or your favorite aunt.  You’ll get the benefit of visiting with loved ones and save money!  Just be careful not to overstay your welcome, and try to do something nice for your host such as treat them to a fabulous dinner (even if you’re cooking at their house). And, be sure to be respectful and tidy!  Or, check out local campgrounds and pack a tent!  If none of that works for you, consider swapping your place for a place at your destination. There are several house swapping services that can save you a ton on your lodging Check out House Swapping with HomeExchange. And, if you’re traveling abroad, don’t forget to look into staying at a hostel versus a hotel to save a bunch!  Another idea is making it a shorter stay.  You can cut your expenses in half by staying a week instead of two!
  3. FREE FUN! Skip major entertainment such as theme parks and shows and opt instead to take in local free activities such as hitting the beach instead of Disneyland. Just be careful to do your research and make sure you’re actually saving money. Parking, accessories and other hidden costs can make even “free” activities end up costing a lot. If your vacation destination is near a National Park, check out the weekends you can visit free (many offer free admission all the time!)  If you absolutely MUST visit Mickey Mouse or Shamu, consider buying souvenirs before you leave home or at a local discount store at your destination.  The Walmart in Huntington Beach has a Souvenir aisle right by the front door. And often those little mom and pop shops you see sell great memorabilia for a fraction of the cost of the big entertainment capitals. Shop around just like you would at home! Heading to the shops near Disney World is free and gives you a fun afternoon with The Mouse. When we visited, I surprised my little girl with a big, stuffed Mickey Mouse that I had brought along. I’d gotten him from a thrift store near our home for $1 instead of paying $49.99 at the park! Vacation is a great time to just hang out – instead of paying for a babysitter or kids club (at the rate of $75 per day), hang out with your kids. Talk to them. Unplug and unwind. You’ll make memories on the cheap!
  4. EAT RIGHT! Instead of spending a fortune dining out, choose inexpensive local fare.  Or, if your room has a refrigerator or kitchen/kitchenette, skip eating out altogether and buy inexpensive groceries to dine in! You can do this on any level – for all meals or just a few. Most rooms have coffee makers but only offer coffee to brew a cup or two per day. Grab coffee at a local grocery store and brew in your room instead of stopping at an expensive coffee shop. Pick up a box of cereal and carton of milk to feed the kiddos breakfast rather than eat breakfast at restaurants every day (and don’t forget your coupons!) You can even get deli meat or peanut butter and jelly and some bread for a few thrifty lunches! Don’t forget to check our list of restaurants with Kids Eat Free options to save when traveling with your children. Or, if you want to vacation like royalty but save on costs, consider an all-inclusive resort that includes food and drinks without having to leave!  These are often on daily deal sites such as Groupon’s all-inclusive travel deals, where you can save up to 90% on your vacation. My husband and his oldest son enjoyed a wonderful all-inclusive resort in Cancun last year for a fraction of the cost of a regular room!
  5. REAL SAVINGS! Remember to do your research and save money wherever you can.  Travel is expensive, so saving where you can really adds up. But don’t be “dollar wise and penny foolish.”  In other words, be careful not to save a little money only to incur extra charges and end up not saving anything, and getting cut-rate service. Check out our tips to get the best price on airfare. For example, my family flies free on Virgin America because my stepson works for them.  Amazing, right?  It totally is (and we LOOOOVE Virgin!)  Except that VX doesn’t fly into our nearest airport, so we need to get to Chicago on our dime.  No problem, because Spirit Airlines flies from MSP to ORD several times daily.  They have the lowest fares compared to other airlines.  Seriously, it’s usually at least $100 cheaper per person round trip!  But, did you know they charge for EVERYTHING?  You can’t even bring a carry-on bag onboard without paying.  And unlike Spirit tickets, bags aren’t cheap!  It’s $35 for a carry on bag if you check in when you book (as low as $25 with the $9 fare club which you have to pay for). It’s $45 if you check in ahead of time online, and $50 if you check in at the airport!! FIFTY BUCKS to bring a carry on bag on Spirit! To be fair, checking a bag on Spirit can actually be cheaper than bringing a carry-on bag ($30 during booking, $40 during online check-in, $45 at airport) so you could share a checked bag with family if you absolutely had to. Don’t even bother flying Spirit if you plan to check your carry-on or checked bag at the gate because it will cost you $100 and eat up any savings you might have otherwise enjoyed.  Oh, and those costs are one way, not round trip! They call it “bare fare” so you can save a ton if you’re willing to skip all the frills. What they call “frills” and what I call “frills” is a little different.  LOL! Printing your boarding pass with an agent costs another $10 per person, one-way.  And, if you’re thirsty onboard you can’t get a bottle of water – or anything else – unless you pay for it.  During the safety speech, our Spirit Airlines flight attendant announced that in the event that the cabin loses pressure, oxygen masks would drop from the ceiling. He joked that you would need to swipe a credit card to get oxygen flowing, because “NOTHING is free on Spirit Airlines.”  We traveled to California for a week, and all we could bring onboard was a personal item (16″ x 14″ x 12″).  That’s about the size of a large grocery bag.  Not coincidentally, my family used three such large grocery bags instead of paying for our baggage on Spirit.  It helps that I am a master packer. Its one of my super-powers.  Last year when we visited my MIL in Texas, we flew Spirit to Texas and Sun Country back.  I actually did not bring ANY extra clothes – just what I was wearing. My nervous-traveler husband insisted that he couldn’t be without everything he brought and there was no room for anything of mine.  I knew I could buy a few things for cheaper than it would cost to check a bag. So, I did some quick shopping when I arrived and all was fine. I was able to bring a bag home on my return flight. I saved $50-100, depending on how  you look at it and probably spent about $25 and got a few new clothes! Yay, me!

Which reminds me… be careful not to get so focused on saving money that you make yourself or your family miserable. Remember to relax! It is vacation, after all!

The point isn’t to skip EVERYTHING, the point is to do what’s important to you and save on things that aren’t as important.  By saving where you can, you can splurge on things you really want to do and not feel guilty!

Want more tips? Don’t miss our 5 Tips to Save on Summer Travel!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail
Categories
Reviews Reviews & Giveaways Travel Reviews

The Waterfront Beach Resort | Hilton Huntington Beach Resort Review

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail

hb

Hilton Waterfront Huntington Beach Resort Review

On our Southern California #GimmieOnTour vacation, Hilton gave us a media rate for two nights at their beautiful Huntington Beach hotel: The Waterfront Beach Resort.

The Hilton Huntington Beach is a gorgeous property just steps from the Pacific Ocean. They have a very nice restaurant poolside, and a “Surf Hero Market” where you can grab a cup of Starbucks or a sandwich on the go.  They offer meeting space as well as gorgeous backdrops for weddings!

Here are a few of our favorite things about The Waterfront Beach Resort:

balc

[above] Room with a view.  This shows the view from our room at the Hilton Huntington Beach.  It wasn’t directly facing the ocean, it was at an angle, but it was awesome!  One thing to note: if you’re looking for a quiet, relaxing getaway – that’s Pacific Coast Highway at the bottom of the picture. Traffic never ceases, and it’s LOUD!

HiltonHB pool

[above] My little girl enjoying the pool at the Hilton Huntington Beach, with the Pacific Ocean in the background. It was tranquil and gorgeous. They afford all the amenities you’d expect of a beachside resort, including swimming gear (such as goggles), beach towels and chairs you can check out to bring to the beach. Of course the pool area has very comfy lounge chairs all ready to relax in.

 

HiltonHB wine milk cookies

[above] After a brief mixup with my last name (who am I, anyway?) the staff treated my family to this lovely treat in our room: wine for the grownups and milk and cookies for my little girl. Okay, we all had cookies. 🙂

hiltonhb PTR samples

[above] Apparently someone told the Hilton that we love free samples!  Each day we were given fabulous PeterThomasRoth products to enjoy.

HiltonHB oceanfront

[above] My little girl enjoying the beach across the street from the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort.  There was a hurricane in the Pacific at that time, and surf advisories galore. We didn’t get to spend as much time as we’d hoped at the beach, but we had a blast anyway!

Below, a view of our room and of the front of the property.

hiltonhb3 hiltonhb2

wedding-reception wedding2 couples

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail
Categories
Gift Guides Reviews Reviews & Giveaways Summer Gift Guide Travel Reviews

Strongback Chairs Review

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail

strongback

Strongback Chairs Review

Strongback chairs are not your ordinary travel chair. They’re a lawn chair you can bring along to enjoy a day at the park, picnic, sporting event or for any place you need an easy-to-carry chair. But, on top of that, they are the most comfortable travel chair you will ever find! My husband and I both have bad backs (he’s had two back surgeries and suffers terribly!)  This chair is constructed well, and uses ergonomically placed bars to hold the lower back support so firm you won’t believe you’re in a fold-up chair. They call it their exclusive frame integrated lumbar support technology.  They guarantee it’s more comfortable and gives superior support. Whatever you call it, this chair is crazy comfortable!!  It doesn’t weigh more; it weighs the same as an average travel chair.  It’s light weight and easy to pop up or snap shut (it comes with a little buckle to keep it together when collapsed.

We brought ours to a soccer game and enjoyed how comfortable they were. We also brought them to a parade, and as I looked around at others, squirming in their uncomfortable lawn chairs, I was so happy to have such a comfortable chair to sit in! Not like regular folding chairs that are hard to get in and out of and give you a backache, these chairs are seriously amazing. They let you get out and stay active.

Colors available:

Key Features:

  • Patent-pending technology represents an evolution of the traditional camp chair by adding exclusive, frame-integrated, lumbar support – all while maintaining the ease of use, light weight and portability people expect and appreciate in portable chairs.
  • Ergonomic seat design allows you to relax against the comfortable lumbar support while preventing the uncomfortable leg-pinch from the fabric in the front of the seat that is common in many other chairs.

Other Features:

  • Dual shoulder straps on the bag allow for back-pack style hands-free carrying.
  • The heavy duty polyester 600D tear and wear resistant fabric and the silver powder coated steel frame ensure this chair is built to last.
  • Convenient on-top bag handle for easy moving around, pulling out of those cramped places, and getting the chair back into the bag.
  • Easy-clip on the back of the chair allows you to clip the chair into its folded position for quick storage and moving.
Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail
Categories
Coupons Expired Reviews Reviews & Giveaways Travel Travel Reviews

Review: SeaWorld San Diego + SeaWorld Coupons & FREEBIES

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail

seaworld-sandiego

Review: SeaWorld San Diego + SeaWorld Coupons

SeaWorld San Diego invited my family to experience a day at their awesome theme park. If you haven’t been to SeaWorld lately, you might be surprised what you’re missing! I have always loved SeaWorld. I’ve visited SeaWorld Orlando and San Diego. And, from coast to coast, their fabulous shows and wonderful exhibits will not disappoint.

Planning ahead: To plan the excursion, I searched for nearby hotels. My research uncovered that many hotels near SeaWorld actually charge for parking – upwards from $25 or more! That’s a shock when normally hotel parking is included with your stay. Not something I’d want to find out after arriving!! Surprisingly, the hotels that charged for parking weren’t necessarily the cheap ones! One very nice resort that charges several hundred dollars per night also had the hidden $25 per day parking fee. I searched for hotels near SeaWorld with free parking and resumed my search. Then I remembered that we’d need to pay for parking at SeaWorld, and wondered if nearby hotels offered shuttle service to avoid that fee. Of course, finding a hotel near SeaWorld that offered free parking AND free SeaWorld shuttle service was no small feat. I finally found a very reasonably priced hotel, within miles of SeaWorld with free parking and free SeaWorld shuttle service – the Days Inn SeaWorld in San Diego. With rooms starting at under $80 per night, and a savings of up to $50 in parking, this was a solid decision to save money on our outing. And, they even offer free breakfast!

The Trip. We arrived at our hotel the night before our planned SeaWorld San Diego visit. The check-in process was fast, the staff was courteous and helpful, and put us on the list for free shuttle service to and from SeaWorld the next day. Our room was basic but clean and served our purposes just fine. We walked down the street to Panda Express and had dinner, then retired early and to rest up for a fun day.

The next morning we woke up and got ready to go. We enjoyed a hot breakfast, cooked to order – free with our hotel stay. We checked out of our room and the Days Inn was happy to store our bags and even refrigerate our leftover Panda food for the day! We headed to SeaWorld on the shuttle, which was right on time.

We arrived at SeaWorld in no time. It was nice not to have to worry about parking or paying for parking, because the shuttle dropped us off up front. We were greeted by SeaWorld staff who hooked us up with admission tickets, suggested a few favorite shows and attractions, and sent us on our merry way.

20130318-191735

Our first order was to study the map and plan our day. We decided to see Pets Rule, a show staring rescue dogs, cats, bunnies and even a few potbelly pigs! All of the animals have been rescued from local shelters, and trained to work together to put on a highly entertaining show for the whole family. I loved the concept, and the show was actually very entertaining. The stadium was full, and the whole audience cheered, laughed and sang along. My daughter’s favorite part was when the big furry cat jumped into a container labeled “hair remover” and out jumped a hairless cat! My favorite part had to be the potbelly pigs, but having had a pig of my own for 17.5 years, I may be slightly biased.

Next up was the Sesame Street Bay of Play in the center of the park, where kids can climb on netted towers, through a maze of sky tunnels that resemble a huge hamster habit trail. There’s a giant bouncer and a bumper room. This was super fun, and actually had areas for kids of all ages to enjoy. We spent more than an hour there playing, and then it was time to head to the next show, Sea Lions Live, starting Clyde and Seamore.

20130318-191748

The sea lion show started with a very funny guy who was posing as a janitor, but ended up being just as much part of the show as the animals. As a matter of fact, the one thing that struck me about SeaWorld that’s different than the last time I was there about 8 years ago, was how much more PEOPLE are involved in the show. It’s hard to explain, so I’m including a small video from the show to give you an idea. In short, it was about 30 minutes of side-splitting fun! Seriously fun for the whole family!

From there we headed over to Dolphin Point to pet the dolphins! I couldn’t wait to show my little girl this part of SeaWorld. I have a picture of me at SeaWorld Orlando petting a dolphin from years ago. It’s one of the neatest pictures I have! Such a unique and amazing experience to interact personally with sea life like this. And dolphins are among my favorites!! They’re so fun and playful. I love The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy trilogy, which deems dolphins to be much smarter than people. When the world was ending they left us the message: “So long, and thanks for all the fish.” After petting the dolphins, we went to see them in the show Blue Horizons. We sat in the “splash zone” but were in the top two rows and luckily didn’t get wet! The show was incredible. In a small way it reminded me of “O” at the Bellagio. Not nearly to that scale of course, but the production, dancing, aquatics… it was just wonderful and so entertaining! I looked around at the audience and observed peoples’ faces. All were in a very broad smile… just like I was. For me, it brought me back to when I was a little girl and saw the dolphin show for the first time. Sharing that with my little girl now was beyond powerful and such a wonderful experience.

The Shamu show was temporarily postponed because they had a baby! We didn’t actually get to see the baby, but we did visit Shamu’s Underwater Viewing and got to “meet” them. What a rush!

And lastly, we enjoyed several exhibits – Shark Encounter, California Tide Pool, where we got to pet the giant rays, and penguins, turtles, flamingos, and so much more!

20130318-191754.jpg

Rides, Rides, Rides! And did you know, there are lots of exciting rides at SeaWorld! (I remember when they didn’t have any!) There are roller coaster type rides and water rides.  Journey to Atlantis® is a combination of both! They also have a fast pass type deal you can get called Quick Queue, to avoid waiting in line. I almost forgot the Skytower Ride!! From far above SeaWorld, we were able to snap some pictures of breathtaking views of the park, the nearby bay and the ocean. My daughter loved that ride so much she wanted to go on it again!

Plan your day with this cool interactive map of SeaWorld San Diego!

20130318-191811

And stay tuned! Aquatica at SeaWorld, a water park formerly known as Soak City, is opening this summer in San Diego! SeaWorld also operates Aquatica parks in Orlando and San Antionio.

Favorites: the shows! The Bay of Play and the Dolphin Experience.

Savings & Coupons:

Tips: Plan ahead! Find a hotel nearby that offers free parking and free shuttle service to SeaWorld to save up to $50!

Summary: If you haven’t been to SeaWorld lately, you’ll be surprised! The shows are better, more human-involved and more entertaining. The exhibits are as amazing as ever, and they have rides! Plus, this summer they’re opening a waterpark! You owe it to yourself and your kids to go!

20130318-191817

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmail