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Hey everyone!

 

It's been a long time since I have done a trip report for TPR. Largely because I am getting older and lazier, but work has been very busy and times have been crazy for the past year and a half.

 

As some of you might know, my partner Michael was diagnosed with bile duct cancer last summer and spent a horrific six months in various hospitals recovering from the Whipple procedure that they performed in Buffalo to try and remove it. He almost bled out three times before the surgeons were able to bring him back.

 

It's events like this that can really throw a hefty dose of reality in your face. It really does make you appreciate everything that you have and everything that you can do during a time like that. Not sure what I would have done without family and friends during that mind-altering six months of pure hell.

 

Long story short, he survived and after an extensive amount of rehab, we were finally able to take our first journey to Florida for a well-deserved vacation!

 

I thought that I would share our journey with my fine friends at TPR...so let's get right to it!

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So here we are leaving NY and all the snow. Kidding, kidding...this is actually about 20 miles north of....f%cking Atlanta? Can you believe this...it snowed almost all the way to Florida - I kid you not.

 

We had our "up north" gear on all the way to Fort Myers Beach!

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Yep - snow in Atlanta, Georgia. We were thinking of going to Dollywood or SFOG, but wayyyyyy too cold for that. We settled on the (much warmer) Georgia Aquarium instead.

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When you enter, there are themed sections that branch off in all directions.

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They have Beluga whales in one...

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Penguins in another...

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This one kept going after Michael's shoe...it was hilarious watching it. He wasn't kicking the glass or anything...that penguin just wanted to eat that shoe! Everyone was cracking up watching this little guy try to take one of Michael's toes! lol

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Mmmmm...grape-flavored starfish.

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They had tiny sea horses...

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To big-ass groupers. I'll be seeing (eating) you later, my pretty...om nom nom.

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I guess that I never realized that manta rays were this effing big - holy cow!

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But the real star of the show is the world's largest fish - the gargantuan sized whale shark.

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We were really impressed with this aquarium. The exhibits were educational, large and just beautiful!

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This thing looks like it just crawled out of someone's belly in a Ridley Scott movie.

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So beautiful, but I wouldn't want to step on this guy.

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Michael got to pet a starfish and some other aquatic-like things.

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Medusozoa is a much cooler name for jellyfish.

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It was difficult getting a good pic of the pirahna because all they want to do is swim around fast looking for people, animals and other fish to chomp down to the bone.

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It's not Manta the roller coaster, but it's still pretty awesome.

 

Part 2 at BGT coming soon...thanks for reading!

Edited by Philrad71
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Hey everyone!

 

It's been a long time since I have done a trip report for TPR. Largely because I am getting older and lazier,

 

 

hey!

 

I'm six years older than you. . that ain't an excuse

 

 

(now. . back to reading your actual trip report. . LOL)

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yeah, the Georgia Aquarium is awesome. . tho I die a bit inside every time I see that "ATT presents: Dolphin coast"

 

Did you get a chance to eat there? the food court, tho expensive, is pretty good.

 

and I love the educational shows they put on there (tho the actual dolphin show, and the 4D film sections are just tourist traps, I think).

 

My favorite part is the giant wall into the whale shark aquarium. (surprised to not see a pic of you/Michael in front of it.. . ?).

 

glad you had a good time tho, and can't wait to see the rest of the trip!

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Thanks Bert - and you're right...my age shouldn't be an excuse to be lazy with my trip reports!

 

We actually didn't eat or do any of the add-on exhibits. The lady at the AT& T Dolphin Coast (are dolphins now part of the 4G network? ) was ushering us in and told us that the show started in 5 minutes and when we got to the entrance, they said that we were too late. No biggie though as we were getting pressed for time and needed to hit the road anyway. We did catch the sea lion show, which was very good.

 

I was equally impressed with the robot security guards that they had wandering around in their parking lot as I was with the aquarium! lol

 

We did buy the photo package, but I will have to get those all scanned and uploaded...thanks for the reminder as I forgot that we had bought those!

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^ Thanks a lot!

 

Yes, we would highly encourage a visit - it's not cheap as far as aquariums go, but if you can pre-buy from their website or Tickets At Work (Club TPR), you can get some decent deals.

 

The tank with the whale shark is a walk-through, or they have a moving platform that you can walk on. I believe that they mentioned it being the largest salt water tank in the US (if not the world).

 

They also talked about how they specifically feed the fish differently and at different times so none of them will eat each other! Whale sharks typically eat plankton and small stuff, but I wanted to think that they had a couple of other shark species in there with the whale sharks, rays and other fish.

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^ Thanks a lot!

 

Yes, we would highly encourage a visit - it's not cheap as far as aquariums go, but if you can pre-buy from their website or Tickets At Work (Club TPR), you can get some decent deals.

 

The tank with the whale shark is a walk-through, or they have a moving platform that you can walk on. I believe that they mentioned it being the largest salt water tank in the US (if not the world).

 

They also talked about how they specifically feed the fish differently and at different times so none of them will eat each other! Whale sharks typically eat plankton and small stuff, but I wanted to think that they had a couple of other shark species in there with the whale sharks, rays and other fish.

 

do they still have 4?

 

I know one of the Belugas died since I was last there (in 2016), but I think they still have 4 whale sharks in that tank.

 

I'll likely go back in 2019, since skipping Dragon*con this year to do another trip instead.

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Great TR so far, Phil. I find aquariums so nice and calming to walk through. At least, most of the ones I've been in.

This one looks especially nice. Thanks for taking the time to photograph most (if not all) of it.

 

And whale sharks are very cool.

 

And, you guys have a ....

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Woah...made the front page, so now the pressure to update this report is on...thanks guys!

 

So after our stop in Atlanta, we forged on until we got to Lake City, FL where we spent the night. Some people might think that as soon as you hit the Florida state line that the temps are going to skyrocket & everything will be all sunny and warm, but while that might be true at times, other times not so much.

 

When we did a family Disney trip back in '07, we had the same issue with record low temps. While it kinda sucked for it to be almost as cold as home, it did keep the large crowds out of Disney.

 

Would the same hold true for BGT the following day?

 

Let's find out!

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Okay - first things first. I have yet to post food pics, so that needs to change right this instant.

 

I have never eaten at (or even heard of) Gator's Dockside before, but for being a Buffalo wing snob, I admit that they actually had really good wings!

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And the waitress was kind enough to let me choose two sauces so I could make my own concoction of Yucatan and Mango Habanero (two of their hottest flavors).

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And BOGO beers for Happy Hour? Hell yeah!

 

This is exactly why I want to move to Florida!!!

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Yay...we finally made it!

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I will say that one thing BGT could use is a smaller tram for the handicap parking. It felt like we had to walk a half mile to the entrance and I thought that we may have very well been better off parking in the normal lot and taking the tram to the front gate instead.

 

I did admit to feeling a bit upset when we saw a younger couple as well as a family of four all jump out of their vehicles and not one of them looked to have any type of handicap at all. Then we have Michael where it's still a struggle for him to walk and we have to park a 1/2 mile away.

 

I guess it's becoming a real issue where people will borrow their sick relatives handicap placard and use it for their own personal use.

 

I know that there probably are people that have them that may not have significant illness, age or walking issues, but people that intentionally abuse it when there are people that really need those spots just makes me want to throw up. I don't know how many times that I have witnessed this at super markets, malls, restaurants, etc.

 

Ugggh - I hate people.

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This hotness is new since our last visit.

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Yay for Christmas in Florida - even if it really isn't Christmas yet and it's 48 f%cking degrees outside!

 

48 degrees or not, I am liking the lack of crowds!

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So after we got Michael his rental scooter, where would we go first?

 

Cheetah Hunt?

Falcon's Fury?

Cobra's Curse?

Montu?

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Of course not...you silly gooses.

 

Of course this is the first place we hit. Don't you all know me by now? LOL!

 

More BGT coming soon - thanks for reading!

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Phil, it was great to see your awesome aquarium shots - and best of all, to hear that your partner, Michael, is on the mend. Hearing what you went through last year definitely puts one's life into perspective! Am hoping that 2018 brings health and good times your way. Sending you both very best wishes and positive thoughts for The New Year! (And lots of theme parks along the journey!

 

Alice

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^^^ & ^^^^ Awwww...thank you both for the nice comments, Alice and Larry!

 

It certainly was awesome just to be out, despite how chilly it was. After sitting in a hospital room every day for six months straight, it could have been sleeting for the entire week in Florida and it still would have been wonderful!

 

^^ And that is why I mentioned the below...because I knew someone would probably try to call me out on it.

 

I know that there probably are people that have them that may not have significant illness, age or walking issues, but people that intentionally abuse it when there are people that really need those spots just makes me want to throw up. I don't know how many times that I have witnessed this at super markets, malls, restaurants, etc.

 

Believe me, I see more abuse of this than you can imagine. People jumping out of their cars in a handicap spot to run into the market, while others are forced to unfold and push a wheelchair through slush/snow for 100 yards.

 

It's this simple - if you can easily walk without assistance, you shouldn't be parking in those spots. Leave them for those that can't walk or can't do so without assistance.

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^ Michael is not my father - he is my domestic partner of 14 years.

 

Yes, there is a big age gap and most folks might appear to be surprised or even freaked out by that at first. Once they get to know us though, they "get it" because we are like two peas in a pod and we're just two fun, love-able guys!

 

Thanks for the nice comment on the report - and that is awesome about your grandfather introducing you to coasters!

 

Hope to have another set posted tomorrow!

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^ Michael is not my father - he is my domestic partner of 14 years.

 

 

 

LOL. . that reminds me of years ago. . when I got a new boss, and he was trying to be friendly and get to know his new group.

my desktop photo on my computer at the time was Nick and I at the top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii (linked below).

 

and he glances at it when talking to me (in front of the group) and goes: "OH!! is that you and your Dad on a mountain??"

 

LOL. . yeah, I corrected him, "um. . nooooo.. that's my Husband and I in Hawaii". . . and for the next 3 months, he barely interacted with me other than work related stuff (he was SO embarrassed. . and of course, I told Nick about it the moment we got home and we LAUGHED and LAUGHED).

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Great start to the trip!

 

I couldn't believe how far the walk from preferred to the tram was at Busch Gardens. I wasn't planning on parking in that lot but they gave me a free upgrade to it with my preferred pass. I'm guessing this was the area with the handicapped parking as well?

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Off to a great start, Phil. Looking forward to more.

 

Thanks Boldikus - I figured that I needed to start pitching in with the theme park and booze reports so you, Bill & Zach don't have to post them all!

 

LOL. . that reminds me of years ago. . when I got a new boss, and he was trying to be friendly and get to know his new group.

my desktop photo on my computer at the time was Nick and I at the top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii (linked below).

 

and he glances at it when talking to me (in front of the group) and goes: "OH!! is that you and your Dad on a mountain??"

 

LOL. . yeah, I corrected him, "um. . nooooo.. that's my Husband and I in Hawaii". . . and for the next 3 months, he barely interacted with me other than work related stuff (he was SO embarrassed. . and of course, I told Nick about it the moment we got home and we LAUGHED and LAUGHED).

 

Ahhhh...you get that too, eh Bert?

 

We get that a lot - it's expected, but we understand. My team at work all know Michael and were texting me me just about every day while he was in the hospital asking how he was doing. Never mind how I was doing!

 

And best of all, both of our families are super accepting and they all love us and we love them. And even my ultra conservative Christian relatives have all came to accept us and love us for who we are. We couldn't be more blessed, really!

 

To be honest here, I don't know if Michael (or I) would have been able to pull through what we went through if it wasn't for the love & support that we received from all of our families and friends.

 

Great start to the trip!

 

I couldn't believe how far the walk from preferred to the tram was at Busch Gardens. I wasn't planning on parking in that lot but they gave me a free upgrade to it with my preferred pass. I'm guessing this was the area with the handicapped parking as well?

 

Thanks Michael!

 

I'm not sure if it was in the same lot as preferred or not. I don't think so because it was after you go under the road/bridge with the tram. I didn't see a tram stop anywhere near where we parked in handicapped, but perhaps I may have overlooked it. Sure seems like they should have another one there, but it wasn't the end of the world. Just took a little long to get to the gate (frequent rest stops).

 

Sorry about that! I still love the trip report and can't wait for the next part!

 

That is quite alright and thank you for the nice comments! As mentioned people make that assumption all the time - it's all good.

 

And let's get to business with a few more park pics...I will try to get the entire report done by the time the Bills game kicks off in Jax on Sunday!

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Now...where were we?

 

Ahhh yes...here is a shout out to a certain someone on here. I would put a winkie in here, but for some reason my semi-colon doesn't work now. WTF. lol

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God, I freaking love Cheetah Hunt.

 

Seriously one of the most overall fun rides that I have ever ridden.

 

The lines weren't bad at the park at all, but this and Cobra's Curse were boasting close to hour long waits (normal), so I bought the QQ for one skip the line pass and used it on just those two rides.

 

It was entirely worth it though. I didn't want Michael waiting for me for that long and I HAD to ride both of these coasters!

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Cobra's Curse was also "weeee fuuuunnnn!!" like Cheetah Hunt. But no where near as exciting or long.

 

I was hoping that the cars would have spun like a Tilt-A-Whirl more, but I still very much liked the ride. A very unique coaster with really awesome theming.

 

I got to ride in the front with a coaster enthusiast from Wales - she was very cool. If you are on TPR, Hiii Welsh lady!!!!!!

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Florida parks have all the cool topiary.

 

I prefer topiary kissing swans to real ones - those demonic b%tches are mean as sh%t! I swear that swans and geese hate human's guts so bad that they would rather just peck our eyes out and then proceed to feast on our flesh than to look at us. lol

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The elephants were about the only animals out that day. The others said "Eff that noise, we're staying inside where it's warm!"

 

I noticed a similar reaction at DAK when we went in '07 when it felt like we were in Alaska instead of Florida. I think that we saw a hippo and a giraffe on the entire safari expedition. lol

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The other animals we saw was a gator getting ready to go all "Om nom nom" on a turtle (at least from our angle).

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And I will end this latest installment with an "Absolutely no caption needed" photo.

 

Thanks as always for reading - more soon!

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Nice update.

 

I thought the same thing on Cobra's Curse. I was surprised it didn't start spinning until the second half and when it did, it spun much less than the other spinning coasters I've been on. But the theming and superior layout compensated for that fact.

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I will try to get the entire report done by the time the Bills game kicks off in Jax on Sunday!

 

I'll have a teal beer in your honor at the stadium, Go Jags! (also report so far, I love BGT and REALLY need to get back over there sometime)

 

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