All-New Sandcastle-Themed Water Playground Expected to Bethe Largest of Its Kind in Florida
Wet ‘n Wild Orlando celebrated the grand opening of its newest attraction, Blastaway Beach™ – a family-friendly, sandcastle-themed water playground. It’s expected to be the largest water playground of its kind in Florida and Wet ‘n Wild’s first new attraction in over four years.
Built around a sandcastle rising 60-feet high, Blastaway Beach™ spans an acre and features 15 slides and expands across two pools with 160 soakers, jets, waterfalls and water cannons. Designed especially for families, the new area has a single entrance and exit, creating a secluded environment that is safe and fun for all ages.
To mark the occasion, Wet ‘n Wild asked local elementary school students to submit artistic representations of Blastaway Beach™. Fifty winners were selected and invited to bring their families to enjoy the new area. Wet ‘n Wild also gave the first 35 families to enter the park free access to Wet ‘n Wild’s All-U-Can-Eat Barbeque for the day.
This week I’d like to focus on two great apps for smartphones from Busch Gardens and Sea World. I have often being accused of being attached to my phone while in the parks, but in this case, this is a good thing. These apps are amazing! They have some great features that I will explore a little further with a bit more detail.
First off, the layout for both Busch Gardens is similar as you can see from the pictures below. On the first screen upon opening the app for the first time after downloading it, you will be asked to choose which park location you’d like to choose from to install that specific park’s information on your phone. Seen below are the screen shots for the Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Sea World Orlando. The next screen you will see is the home screen with a built in compass. The screen is broken up into categories of Animals, Search, Shows, Attractions/Rides & Wait Times, Restrooms, Stay Connected, Food and Explore More. I have also taken a picture of the park maps with some of the search options.
Across the bottom of each screen you have the Home, Events, Camera, Map and More options. With the Busch Gardens map above I just zoomed out to see the whole park. For the Sea World map I opted to search for the companion restrooms at the park.
Since the features are practically identical for the two parks, I will focus just on one from this point forward since I went to Sea World most recently and much of the functionality is brought out best while in the park based on GPS location.
For the Animals section you are able to sort alphabetically by name or distance from your current location within the park.
Search allows you to type in a keyword and gives your results in alphabetical order, but also shows your distance and a brief description. If you are wanting more specific information about dolphins, click on the listed links.
One of my favorite things about the app is the show listings. I love all of the shows Sea World to offer and the function of sorting by name, distance or show time is great! I used this to find my way to explore a new show for me: A’Lure. It directed me and kept constantly updating my distance to the show.
Similar to shows, Ride & Wait Times allows you to sort by name, distance or wait time if you are looking for something to ride.
Again with the Restrooms you are able to sort by name or distance. If you want GPS directions, just click on the name of the restroom and the app will direct you with step by step map using GPS.
On the Stay Connected tab, you can get more information on Sea World by following them on Twitter, liking them on Facebook, following the Sea World blog or signing up for the email list.
Much like the other categories, with Food you can sort by name or distance. Once you select a location you can see more like sample menu items and pricing.
For the Explore More section of the app you can learn more about Tours, Camps, Animal Interaction programs, the Quick Queue program and the All Day Dining Deal (which I highly recommend).
Events lists upcoming things like concert series and special events for the next few months along with more information and specific dates.
I absolutely loved the Camera function of the app. It was so cool to take pictures in the park and add fun borders right then to save to your phone to upload or send to friends and family. However, this was the only part of the app that I had some issues with it acting a little buggy going back to my phone’s home screen instead of to the app’s home screen when I was done take the picture.
You can see the interactive footsteps on the map once you have selected your destination. Along the top you have options of searching or pre-selected categories of Animal Connections, Shows, Rides, First Aid, Restroom, Nursing Facility, Defibrillator, Drinks, Snacks & Refills, Companion Restrooms, ATM, Amenities, Dining, Lockers, Guest Information, Events, Gifts & Souvenirs, Smoking, and Clear All. You can select multiple options at the same time and can move the map around as well as zoom in and out. Also included is the ability to recenter the GPS to your current position.
If you are wanting to contact Sea World or get more general info about the park, like their address for GPS, you can find this under the More – Contact Us/General Information section.
Park Hours is pretty self explanatory and shows the hours for each day of the month when you click on the calendar.
The directions tab is particularly useful if you don’t have a GPS program. When I went to the Directions my phone verified my current location and calculated distance and time based on GPS.
There is even a built in Weather app to give you the forecast for the day.
If you are wanting to learn more about Sea World’s mission and pledge to environmental education and protection, visit the Commitment section under More.
I think my favorite thing using the GPS was the Car Finder function. When you park your car you drop a pin to mark the GPS location of where you parked. When you are leaving for the day you can revisit the car finder to find your car! No more do you have to try to remember where exactly you parked. I found this to be very reliable and it even recognized when I reached my car.
All in all, I am very impressed with the Sea World and Busch Gardens apps. Even though I know my way around the parks well enough to not need a park map, it is nice to have the GPS to show you the shortest distance or alternate routes to get where you are going. There are tons of great features that these apps offer using the GPS technology and search functions. I use these apps pretty much every time I’m in these parks, especially for the show times to see what I can catch on a whim and also for wait times and exploring what is in the area. Honestly, the only thing I had any issues with was the camera function on occasion. I’d say it worked fine three out of five times I tried it. I think these are some of the nicest apps for parks in the area and wish some of the other parks would adopt some of these features and ease of use. Check them out next time you’re in the area or even if you just want to check to see what is going on in the parks in advance of your trip!