Lots of people have a lot of strong opinions on Sea World. We would visit this theme park every few years when I was growing up, during our fairly regular visits to Orlando in Florida. For years, we would go to see the penguins, try out the log flume, and watch the sea lion show, which was always my favourite. Sea lions pretending to be pirates was too good for 8-year-old me.

Since the documentary Blackfish was released back in 2013, opinions of this nature-themed park have changed. I personally heard a lot about the criticisms of this documentary before I decided to watch it. This was a good thing for me because it meant that I took a lot of it with a pinch of salt. I have no doubt that a lot of what was mentioned was exaggerated, and a lot of the witnesses didn’t seem particularly reliable.

The fact remains, though, that there is a lot of poor treatment going on at Sea World. I couldn’t believe that animal trainers, including with the killer whales, didn’t need years of training or a degree in marine conservation to work with dangerous animals. They were normal people, and that doesn’t sit right with me.

There is no denying that huge killer whales are not meant to swim round and round in a small tank for days on end. The floppy dorsal fins was the thing that really convinced me that these animals are not happy and healthy.

However, this is not the thing that has made me unequivocally say I will never go back to Sea World.

On my last visit to Sea World, probably in around 2008, we were going through an exhibit about animals that live in cold temperatures. They had a polar bear behind one of the panes of glass. Now, if you think the tanks for the killer whales were small, you wouldn’t believe these conditions.

Polar bears can travel for around 19 miles per day for days on end, much like the killer whales that tend to travel up to 100 miles in 24 hours. This polar bear could travel about five metres if he wanted to. There was no fresh air, with a white ceiling penning him in. But he was barely moving at all. His tiny plunge pool remained empty while he sat on the edge and rocked backwards and forwards. The tiny space had clearly made him lose his mind. I couldn’t believe that some visitors were amazed at the polar bear, while I wanted to break down in tears. Couldn’t they see he was suffering?

Is there any worse torture in the world that that? Can you imagine a human being made to live out their final days like that? I don’t care how he had come to be in captivity, if he had been badly injured or born there, he definitely could have been released or – at the very least – had a much much larger enclosure with stimulation.

There has been the odd time when I have been tempted to go to Sea World to ride their world-class rollercoasters, but ultimately I don’t want to support an organisation like that. Luckily for people visiting Orlando, there are plenty of rides that are just as good – if not better – than Sea World’s offerings within the city. I would prefer another ride on the Hulk at Islands of Adventure any day!

I know that my reaction is quite absolute, as I don’t like zoos in general either. I do know that they say they do great conservation work, so hopefully there is some good in the company. Plus, I’m sure they have some fantastic staff members that really do care for the animals they look after.

 

What do you think of Sea World? Do you think that my reaction is extreme? Will you be happy to visit in future? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

Day 4 at Disneyland Paris had some of my favourite moments of the whole trip! One of the things I love most about the Disney Parks in France is how spontaneous the character meet and greets can be. While we were hanging around in the front lot, doing a bit of shopping and taking photos, three of my dream characters walked out. Mary Poppins, Bert, and a penguin all appeared by the entrance of Disney Studios. It was so exciting! Watch the vlog to see what happened.

In the evening, we had a great time running between the parks. We got to go on Crush’s Coaster for the first time, which was probably my favourite ride in the whole of Disneyland – and easily in my top five in the world. It was so smooth and huge fun.

Sadly, this was our last night of the holiday so we rushed over to the main park to snack on popcorn and weave our way through the crowds to find a spot for Illuminations. As we were late, we were further back from the castle and I actually preferred standing here. No people shouting at other people to sit down or move, and I could see more of the fireworks as well. Some were lost behind the castle when we sat right at the front, so I preferred being able to see the full show at all times.

Our feet were dead by the end of this mammoth day, but we made it back to the hotel and completely crashed into bed. Still one more day to go!

Some people are naturally more independent than others. While some people will happily travel the world on their own, others will rarely venture to the restroom without any company. I’m here to tell you why you should never worry about doing what you want to on your own. Most importantly, you should never let the opinions and availability of others dictate what you do.

Basically, if you want to go and see something at the cinema, make sure you get yourself a ticket, no matter who is with you.

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Time for another pair of Disneyland Paris vlogs! We are already on to day three of the five-day trip, so it’s going along quickly. In day three, we wait for hours to meet Minnie Mouse in her special 25th anniversary outfit. Was it worth it? Just about!

We also went on some rides, did more character hunting, and saw the new castle stage show. This one features all the main characters, as well as some more rare ones. The highlights are definitely the enthusiastic dancers with their crazy hats to represent the different lands in the park. It is too much fun.

This was followed by a few more rides, and Daisy Duck popped up randomly, accompanied by Sleeping Beauty and her prince. It was really fun to meet them so unexpectedly without having to wait in line for very long. The secret characters come out of a few doors throughout the park, and we found them near the Casey Jr train ride. Unless you knew to look down there, you definitely wouldn’t happen upon them so it’s a good tip to remember.

 

In the afternoon, we went on one of my favourite rides – Big Thunder Mountain. Another character highlight was meeting a very intimidating Darth Vader, who I had never met before.

We had a chilled evening going on the rides in Fantasyland, then had a great moment watching the Princess show in front of the castle while munching on Disney popcorn. Yum! Next, we headed to the New York hotel for some cocktails before heading back to the hotel after another hugely successful – and very tiring – day.

 

 

Finding the perfect lunchtime meal can be tricky when you work in an office. I prefer something that’s good value for money, fast, and, above all, tasty. With London lunches regularly costing upwards of £6 for a basic meal, finding something affordable is key.

So when Greggs* contacted me with a way to broaden my lunch horizons, I couldn’t wait to get started. The lovely people at the nation’s favourite bakery sent me five gift cards so I could try their new range of salads and juices, plus compare them to their competition. It’s a bold way to try to prove their food is best. To make it fair, I was asked to choose similar types of meals in each location, and I tried my best… though some went better than others! So let’s put it to the test and see which popular chain comes out on top. Will it be Starbucks, Pret, M&S, Boots, or Greggs?

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