Monday, December 3, 2012

Disney Day Four: Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Chef Mickey’s

If you haven’t seen Dolphin Tale with Harry Connick, Jr. and Morgan Freeman, you need to. It is such a wonderful movie, and I’m not just saying that because I have a thing for dolphins.



The movie is based on the true story of a dolphin named Winter. Her tail got caught in a crab trap off the Gulf coast of Florida during a hurricane, and her tail had to be amputated. But, thanks to the staff of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Florida, Winter is alive and well today, and she sports a pretty slick artificial tail.

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Many of our group saw the movie, and since we were only a couple of hours away from the aquarium, we decided to dedicate one of our days to seeing Winter. I, for one, cherished the laidback approach to our fourth day; I even enjoyed the down time we had in the car there and back. And we were lucky enough to see Winter swim around with her tail on. The staff only puts it on every now and then for therapy sessions; otherwise, she gets around amazingly well without a tail.



We also got to see Panama, who was found near Panama City…..


…..and Nicholas, the aquarium’s resident male dolphin. Our Nicholas was so excited to see a dolphin that shares his name.


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The dolphins were the main attraction, but we also saw the two pelicans that played Rufus in the movie, as well as two river otters, sea turtles, stingrays, sharks, and lots of other fish. Riley even got to touch a sea urchin!


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We left the aquarium around 1pm, picked up some lunch on the road, and drove back to Orlando. Riley and I both got a little nap at the house, and then we had to leave again. We had reservations at the Contemporary Resort for our character dinner at Chef Mickey’s that evening. I was hoping everyone would enjoy themselves (not just Riley), and although it was a little chaotic at times, we all had a fantastic night. All four boys had such fun seeing, meeting, and posing with the characters. And, as an added bonus, the food was fantastic.


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We got so many great pictures, so I’ll break them up by character. The first one to come by our table was Chef Mickey himself. What a way to start off the evening!


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Donald was next, and he enjoyed giving the boys, Nicholas especially, a hard time about their matching Mickey t-shirts. Funny.




Goofy came by after Donald…..



…..followed by Minnie Mouse. She and Riley flirted with each other. So cute.




The last character to visit us was Pluto, who gave Paul quite a scare. I suppose it was Paul’s fault for choosing to sit on the outside of the table, where he was a prime target, but it sure was funny. Paul, who is from Birmingham, England, actually got into the whole concept of a character dinner much more than anyone thought he would. He may have had just as much fun as the kids, even though it wasn’t as obvious.





We were even lucky enough to get an encore visit from Mickey, which Riley just loved. I think at one point he asked if Mickey wanted to sit and eat with us. So stinkin’ cute. Grandma also got a picture with the Mouse, and she even got him to sign the back of her shirt. A great memento from the trip!




We were at Chef Mickey’s for two solid hours, but it didn’t seem like that long. It was a really fun way to eat dinner, and I am so glad everyone enjoyed themselves as much as they did. I, of course, loved seeing my boy light up when one of his favorite “people” was in the same room with him, and I will treasure the memories from this night.


We walked out, bellies full and hearts content, to a clear, cool night. After a quick look at the huge tree in front of the resort, we got back on the road for the house. Riley totally kicked back, relaxed, and soaked in what he had just experienced while we drove. I loved that he was so happy. Day four: done.




The next day was Thanksgiving, and we would spend much of it wandering around Hogsmeade. Universal’s Islands of Adventures is up next!


Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

AGAIN What a memorable trip. AND this Blog to bring it up again and again. Hugs, GRams

QP said... Best Blogger Tips

Great newsy post. The dolphin is amazing!

Patty Trisha said... Best Blogger Tips

I want to see more!!! The faces of Riley are priceless!!

Lizzie said... Best Blogger Tips

1. The pelicans crack me up.

2. Bean kissing Mickey is my favorite picture. That melts me heart.

3. This trip blog is so awesome!

xoxo Lizzie

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