Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Book Review: SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Aquatica

The market is crowded with books about Walt Disney World: what to see, how to save money, inside jokes (including my own!)

There are fewer books about Orlando general (though the recommend After Disney book is a good one), and even fewer about specific non-Disney parks. In fact, I didn't even know there was a book on SeaWorld Orlando, but apparently there is. In fact, there must have been an older edition, because a second edition showed up on my doorstep this week. "SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, & Aquatica: Orlando's Salute to the Seas" is everything you'd hope. In fact, it's an awful lot more. I'm almost tempted to say it's too much , but that's the point of a planning book.

If a visit to SeaWorld is in your future, you want this book. It's got everything. Descriptions, menus, prices, tips, tricks, and things to avoid. That's true also of Discovery Cover and the water park Aquatica. Each chapter is loaded with info. You'll learn what "Shamu" means. You'll learn how many gallons are in the killer whale pool, where to sit, and about the underwater viewing area. And that's just on the two pages dedicated to "One Ocean"! There are over 230 pages in total--covering every aspect of the parks. It's a little bit awe-inspiring, in fact, how much there is packed in here.

The authors did not shy away from providing opinion. That's a good thing--you want a worthwhile tour book to tell you what to avoid as well as what to see (or at least what to prioritize). There's a rating system based on numbers of stars, and the essay-length description of each attraction and restaurant is equally effusive with praise and honesty. You might have to read between the lines a little bit. A shorter description plus a lowered star rating probably means something you shouldn't prioritize, although the authors don't say so directly.

I was startled to see an entire chapter dedicated to the resort hotels. I've lived here almost a decade and haven't visited most of these, so that was definitely a plus. These aren't branded hotels, merely nearby ones, but it's still valuable to see in review.

There are bonus chapters on Busch Gardens Tampa (about an hour away) and its water park, Adventure Island. These contain all the details we covered earlier on SeaWorld... another nice thing to see.

The book retails for $15.95, though you might find it for cheaper on Amazon.

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book.

Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.