Saturday, July 31, 2010

Are we there yet?

by Great Biscuit

San Antonio has always held a special place in my heart. It was the first place in Texas that we lived after relocating from Alabama; and many of my elementary school memories center around the River Walk, the San Antonio Zoo, Castle Golf and Showbiz pizza.  It was a great place to be a kid.

A couple of years after we arrived in San Antone (as it likes to be called), we moved out to west Texas.  Shortly after the move, my dad’s grandmother grew ill and he went to Miami to spend some final moments with her. He took me along and it was my first time ever on an airplane. We had a fantastic trip and one of the highlights for me was a visit to the Miami Seaquarium. From that point forward I was fascinated with dolphins, but didn’t really have an opportunity to view them here in the Lone Star State. That all changed around the time we moved to the central Texas hill country.

In the years after we left San Antonio, the town had continued to grow and evolve. Two of the most exciting additions were Sea World San Antonio and Fiesta Texas. (The latter of which eventually became Six Flags Fiesta Texas.)

Sea World opened at the end of my ninth grade year (May 1988). The event was heralded by a TV special and a ton of local advertising. I was definitely excited to head down and check it out. We wound up going during spring break of my tenth grade year and I immediately fell in love with the place.

Many things have changed since those early days. Stadiums have been redone, shows come and gone, rides have been added, a water park was installed and the company was bought out. Yet, the park still has a familiarity to it.

Those of you who read my last trip report may recall that First Lady Biscuit also loves the ocean and sea life. I introduced her to Sea World San Antonio a few weeks before our wedding when her family came down for a San Antonio vacation. We’ve been back at least a dozen times since and usually get season passes every other year or so. The photo in my last installment was from our 10th anniversary when I surprised her with the Beluga Whale interaction. Both of our children love the park as well and get excited every time we go.

Last July, my sister in law and her family came down, and we bought Sea World one year passes. We used them again on Labor Day when we stayed at the Marriott Rivercenter with my parents and my sister's family. We wanted to get one more trip in this summer before the passes expired which meant it had to be before we left for our Minnesota trip. After looking at the calendar, we decided to go with the weekend of June 26th.

In addition, Tracy and the girls all had vouchers for a free ticket to Six Flags Fiesta Texas through their school reading program. We decided to do both in one weekend and invited my parents to join us. They had a prior commitment for Saturday afternoon, but decided to drive down Saturday night and join us for dinner. Since we had all stayed down on the River Walk last Sept, we decided to go with a hotel that was closer to Six Flags. I booked us two rooms at the Comfort Suites just four miles from the park and we were set.

During the planning stage, I decided to skip the water park and rides at Sea World, and I was irritated to hear that the new dolphin show Azul had not yet opened. I had looked at the show schedule ahead of time and come up with a touring plan that allowed us to see all the shows on our list without having to rush to anything or backtrack.

Our plan was to leave home at 11:00 AM, make the three hour drive to San Antonio, catch the shows on our list, and then meet my parents for dinner. The drive started out fine. I had hooked up the portable DVD player in the car and each girl had a screen on the seat back in front of them.  They threw in some sort of Barbie's Magical Butterfly thingy something or other and they were good to go.

Initially I planned to stop for lunch at the Culvers in the big town of Buda. Unfortunately, the place had closed so we settled on Arby’s for the grown up biscuits and Mickey D’s for the young ‘uns. We were soon back on the road and making good time. Traffic was moderate and life was good. And then we hit the traffic. We had just arrived in San Antonio when everything suddenly came to a complete standstill. For the next two hours we snaked our way through 6 miles of anguish. There was a bridge under construction and all traffic was being diverted to the access road.

I was fuming by the time we got through it. This was NOT in the plan. Had I know it was this bad, I could have gone the back way. I was going down a laundry list of shows and attractions, and trying to figure out we could squeeze it all in. My wife, being ever the pragmatist, reminded me that we had already seen the shows anyway and that we would just do what we could do.

Mercifully, we finally made it through the construction and traffic was moving once again. I was able to calm my nerves a bit, and by the time we reached the park I was mostly settled down. The parking lot didn’t look too bad and I was able to get a spot fairly close in. We grabbed our gear, stopped in the entrance plaza to get everyone properly sunscreened and headed to the gate. It had been a rocky start, but our vacation had finally gotten underway.


  1. Well, I'll beat Roger to the punch. Dude! You are SO THEM! Who leaves for the park at 11:00 with a 3 hour drive ahead of them?! OUTRAGEOUS!!!! You're lucky you got into SW at all.

    I actually love me some SW. We went to the one in San Diego 2 years ago and really enjoyed it. Totally different vibe than Disney World. Not as much standing in lines. And no Brazillians.

    One major change at SW since they opened; now their killer whales are truly named.

    Too mean?

    In an completely unrelated note: I am in fact celebrating Big Block of Cheese Day today. The girls and I went to Costco the other night and among the things I bought was, you guessed it, a big block of cheese. Sharp cheddar to be precise. ZZUBY asked, "what's that for, Daddy?" When I responded, "Big block of cheese day," she didn't even seem surprised.

    Got up early this morning to pack my lunch for work and decided to slice me some cheese. That's right, ZZUB quite literally cut the cheese.

    Which is how I celebrate BBOC day.


  2. GB that makes me feel a little sick to my stomach for you. Two hours of park time stripped away by traffic? yuck. I remember Showbiz Pizza!! That place was awesome! I try to remember how much I liked it when I'm stuck at Chuck E Cheeses, where a kid can be a kid, and I'm spending half my pay check so my boys can walk out with a top, sucker, tootsie roll and a little frisbee.

    Glad to see your trip is underway and you are headed for some good times with your family!

    Zzub, your post was so cheesy.

  3. You have to take off your Disney eyes when it comes to Sea World. With the water park and rides out of the equation and the dolphin show closed, there wasn't enough left to fill a whole day. There were basically three shows we wanted to see and a couple of other things that were nice but not necessary.

    That stunk when CEC bought out Showbiz. It was never the same after that. Showbiz had so much better theming.

  4. Does anyone else remember Farrel's Restaurants? I guess they still exist, but just not here anymore. Basically, if Main St USA were a restaurant, it would be Farrel's. I adored this place as a kid. Probably, because it reminded me of Main St USA.

  5. I remember Farrel's! Didn't they have a "pig trough" that was like Beaches & Cream's Kitchen Sink? lol

    GB, great start to your vacation! Well, the writing is great, the actual start, not so much. That stinks that you got stuck in traffic. Sounds like you made the best of it, though. Can't wait to hear more and see some pics! --praisehisname

  6. Never heard of Farrel's, but we did have a nifty place down this way called Peoples. Zzub's Big Block of Cheese Day reminded me of it. The used to have this giant block of cheese on the salad bar that you could slice pieces off of.

    Hey Denise! How goes it! The rest went much smoother.

  7. UGH!!! Traffic is THE WORST!!! Living close to Atlanta, you never know when a six mile stretch of interstate might turn into an hour long wait. It's horrible. My husband calls me a tea kettle behind the wheel..."when I get all steamed up, hear me shout." There really isn't much that makes me more frustrated.

    But I'm glad to know y'all are sunscreened up and ready to party at Sea World! I'm ready to hear all about it. The NMs would like to explore some of "the other side" or Orlando in the next year or so, and Roger is particularly interested in hitting Sea World. I know Orlando and SA aren't exactly alike, but I'll be interested to hear your report.

    Looking forward to the rest, G to the B!


  8. Hey GB! I've heard some great things about the San Antonio area. One of these days......

    I am not a huge SW fan, but can understand why many are. I don't care WHERE I'm going, though, I NEVER want to hit traffic like you did! What a bummer! Hope your well-laid plans weren't messed up too much.

    NM is a tea kettle behind the wheel! DED!

    I thought only crackpots participated in Big Block of Cheese day. Oh, wait. Never mind.

  9. I'm beginning to wonder... is there a major theme park in this country NOT accessed by roads with some of the worst traffic in history?! Remember, it takes an hour and a half on I-4 for me to reach The Mouse, which can easily turn into 4 hours with rain; I feel your pain GB. :(

    But I think I've come to know the Biscuit Clan some, and I strongly suspect you'll resurrect this day and wind up having a fabulous time at Sea World anyway!