I thought about doing the SeaWorld Seven Seas Food Festival for my birthday weekend over a month ago and when I texted Ric about it, he was all for it and even offered to spring for an overnight stay at a nice SeaWorld area hotel.
We set out around noon yesterday and since I was coming off work at 7:15am, I had the choice to either take a nap for only a few hours or just push through it. With the help of that special blue and white pill, I picked pushing through. And push through I did.
After a frantic Ricky Roadrage ride on the mess that is I-4, we got to our hotel, the Hampton Inn Suites at SeaWorld, and checked in. Since, due to traffic, and Ric missing an exit, we arrived at around 1:30, we'd already missed the several shuttle rides to the park, so we chose to walk. It really wasn't that far at all.
Quick note about the room: Hampton Inn is owned by Hilton and though this brand is supposedly less prestigious than the Hilton named properties, this particular hotel and accommodations was worlds better, IMHO. than the Atlanta Hilton from a couple weekends ago. Of course, this is Orlando and the stiff competition along with a traveler's expectation of a magical family experience keeps hoteliers on their feet. Plus, it was more than double the cost of my Atlanta room's daily rate.
Like Epcot's annual Food and Wine Festival, this was SeaWorld's take on a similar seasonal guest event. We got pre-paid lanyards which allowed us 15 food or drink items ($55) from any of the nearly one dozen food vendor booths. Despite our best efforts, we weren't able to fully complete our card. I, for instance, have eight more items to go. Luckily, we can bring it back to a future scheduling of the event through late May.
|The food kiosk lines were not bad|
Mexican: Braised Chicken Adobo with Mole Sauce, Cheese and Mexican rice.
Caribbean: Cinnamon Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Sweet Plantain Mash & a Red Wine Reduction
Florida: Coconut Shrimp atop Swamp Cabbage Slaw with Mango Horseradish Sauce
Mediterranean: Sea Scallops Provençal served with Wild Mushroom Risotto
Grilled Lamb Chop Marinated with Rosemary Mint and Served with Roasted Potatoes and Greek Tzatziki Sauce
Pacific Coast: Braised Pork Cheeks with Savory Apple Polenta & a Red Wine Reduction
Brazilian: Brazilian Churrasco Grilled Skirt Steak with Chimichurri & Garbanzo Frito
North Atlantic: Bacon & Cheddar Hushpuppies Cornmeal Fritters Served with Honey Butter
|Example of food and beer sizes|
My beer selections:
Kona Fire Rock
Dogfish 60 Minute
Mahou Cinco Estrellas
(Wow, just four? I don't remember getting any others.)
|"Young Man!" (Err, more like old man, actually LOL)|
|The lines for the rides were not great|
|Barside Buddy Shot!|
Justin the bartender had taken note during our conversation with him that it was my birthday eve and surprisingly had our servers deliver a small plate of decadent chocolate truffles to me after our meal. It was emblazoned with a candle and the words "Happy Birthday" spelled out in caramel sauce on the plate rim and, of course, they sang Happy Birthday to me. Totally awesome!
By now it was heading towards midnight so we took an Uber back to the hotel to drop off our doggie bags (the portions were huge and, understandably, we had limited space in our stomachs) freshen up and head on out to yet another bar. For once, I was the instigator of keeping the party flame alive. Ric was pooping out, so after I took one myself, I gave him one of my Phentermines. He says it didn't give him pep and in fact he thinks he got more tired from it, but we trod on nevertheless and Ubered once again over to Howl at the Moon, an I-Drive bar which reminded me a lot of venues on Bourbon Street in New Orleans with a lively, loud (and drunk) tourist clientele and live audience-request music.
Perhaps requested by another patron who'd also attended the afternoons show at SeaWorld, the bar entertainers were tasked to perform none other than Y.M.C.A. How meta!
We Ubered back to the hotel after closing the car down and, both of us thoroughly wiped out, we collapsed into our super comfy beds and were soon out like two lights.
This morning, I made my way down to the hotel dining room for their free hot breakfast buffet around 8:30 am and we both checked out around 10:30.
I-4 Ricky Roadrage, the Morning Version on the way back home.
We capped off my birthday celebration with a lunch of wings and a couple of pitchers of beer at Hooter's near Sanford Mall and caught the matinee showing of Kong: Skull Island at the nearby Regal cinema.
A real nice time I must say with my good buddy Ric.