As an aside, I learned an important lesson on this trip: when walking to a room five floors up, keep a tight grip on the room key card, lest it sail over the balcony and land in dense shrubbery, never to be seen again. At least I provided a great deal of amusement to two children and several adults.
Above: a Mariott property in Orlando, near Sea World. Shot taken from a fifth-floor balcony.
It is also home to some more exotic creatures, such as this little guy, seen in situ above a store in Downtown Disney:
Another creature, not unique to Orlando by any means, is the Margaritaville chain of watering holes. They're not terribly good, nor cheap, the wait is always long, and the drinks aren't all that good. (As one might infer, this was not my choice of destination.)
Nota bene to any child services people reading this: she's not my kid, and she was served no alcohol. Empty margarita glass used for entertainment purposes only.
Meanwhile, we contemplated the sign below for quite some time, ultimately concluding that it seemed like good advice:
Speaking of alcohol and minors, what does the phrase "tequila bar" say to you? Does it say "place that serves tequila" or "gee, let's take several children under the age of three to have lunch here"? Madam, I know it's Epcot, but, really, does every place have to cater to your children?
The highlight of the trip was our shark dive at Sea World. Two people at a time squeeze into wet suits - for anyone who has never had the pleasure, it's like wearing a girdle as outerwear; to say it isn't figure-flattering is an understatement - and enter a shark cage. Oxygen-filled helmets are tethered to an external air supply (so the whole experience can be done without getting one's hair wet). The cage takes a thirty-minute trip from one end of the tank to the other and back again, during which time clear plexiglass separates visitor from a few dozen predators. (As the shark says, "Let's do lunch.") The beasts are perfectly willing to come visit the cage, so one can get close and fairly personal with a half-dozen species of shark. As an added benefit, the tank is indoors, and the water in the tank is about 52 degrees, which makes the experience particularly nice when it's 92 degrees and close to 100% humidity outdoors. Shamu, eat your heart out!