Poking around the Seaworld website before we left, this morning, I noticed they did a thing where you a) paid a bit more and b) got a six hour tour, including getting to meet penguins, go backstage and visit the manatee hospital, get preferential seating at all the shows, lunch, skip all the lines and have a tour guide.
Now, in my experience, giant amusement parks work best if you have someone on your team with the kind of mind and approach to life that generals, war gamers and top tacticians are famous for. Someone who's prepared spend hours, weeks before, to figure out what attractions you'll hit, in what sequence, when the lines are longest, how to avoid trouble. The kind of person who'll write the day's agenda down on bits of paper and give a copy to each member of the party.
Neither Holly not Maddy is that kind of person, and as for me, har-bloody-har, I could not organise my way out of a wet paper bag, so the idea of a guided tour immediately became a very attractive one. We're only here for a couple of days, so I plonked down a credit card...
And it was marvellous. Close encounters with penguins, dolphins, stingrays; we watched the feeding of some injured baby manatees; the shows we saw -- the Shamu killer whale show, and the Sealion and Otter show -- were delightful. The rides were fun. Even the lunch was edible. And when we were almost done, having seen and done everything, Maddy pleaded with our guide, and we were whisked back for a second go on the Journey to Atlantis watercoaster ("and got soaked for the second time," said Maddy, leaning over my shoulder while I write this in the hotel room).
It was a long day, but it was made very pleasant indeed by having someone else know when we were meant to be where. And we just enjoyed ourselves and learned things and fed fish to sealions and dolphins and fed squid to stingrays, and it was good.
Tomorrow, things will probably get rather more Disney.