Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Accessibility Review: Land Shark Stadium

Parking at Land Shark Stadium was easy. It does take a little driving around it to the one open gate for parking because they do not open it all up for a baseball game, but it is not hard to spot the open gate. The handicap parking is located pretty close, although you do still have to cross the main in and out traffic lane for the parking lot to get to and from the spots and the stadium. It really is a poor design to have the traffic lanes go around the stadium in front of the parking spots. It makes it dangerous for anyone to cross the car traffic to get to their car as well as making it hard for people in wheelchairs to be able to just fit between the cars often stopped too close together.

Actually entering the stadium was easy. The main reason was there were absolutely no crowds. This meant it was easy to go on the elevator without having people that do not need it trying to hog the elevator. They also have a person outside the elevator after the game making sure priority goes to those that really need it. This is great because really few besides those with wheelchairs, strollers, or walkers should need the elevator because right there is a short escalator out of the park. All the seating is on the lower level except for suites and football games. Also, to get just to the level of all the seating you do need the elevator/escalator and it is not avoidable like it is for many parks if you sit on the lower level.

We sat in section 125. The seats were pretty good. The view was great from centerfield. The bar in front was not a problem at all. The seats are also raised up in front and pushed back from the row in front, so that the view is not ever blocked by people standing in the row in front of the wheelchair section. This is due to their being a ramp up to the section right in front of the section. This ramp makes the section sort of its own and keeps it from having the general section traffic ending up crowding it, which is an issue at many ballparks. Mik also liked that each spot had a cup holder.

The only issue I had with the wheelchair section was that they only sell you one companion seat next to the wheelchair spot. The other ticket is for what they say is the row behind the wheelchair row, but technically that does not exist. There was not usher to explain, but I am pretty sure this supposed row 29 ends up being folding chairs behind the wheelchair row. Boy would that be a messy traffic jam trying to get in and out of the section during the game if there were even just a few families in the section that had people in the supposed extra companion row behind us. As it was, though, it was no issue because we were the only ones in the section. We just took a set of two permanent seats with a wheelchair space next to it in the wheelchair row.

Overall Land Shark Stadium is a rather blah one for baseball, but it is pretty good accessibility wise. Even Mik felt strong enough about the accessibility to tell me after the game to make sure I said in the accessibility review that it is not a good baseball experience stadium, but it is a great accessibility experience. Of course, the really low attendance and lack of crowds helps with the accessibility working out good, but even with crowds the elevator situation should still be under control. I only think the companion row could cause a real issue for crowded games. Hopefully, the new Marlins Ballpark that is to open in 2012 can maintain and even improve the accessibility experience. It would be very sad if the ballpark improved the baseball experience and took a step backwards in accessibility.

Kj’s Baseball Collection: Embroidered Marlins

The souvenir selection at the Marlins game stunk. The Team Shop is mostly about the football team that plays at Land Shark Stadium. I almost did not want a ball from here, but I ended up finding a somewhat interesting one with an Embroidered Marlins logo on it. It also has on it the MLB logo embroidered.

Mik’s Mini Bat Collection: Black Marlins

Mik’s last mini bat of the trip was from the Marlins game. He chose the black mini bat. It has a teal, white, and black Marlins word logo on it.

Game 30: Baseball Cards

About the last third of the trip Mik and I had been getting one pack of baseball cards at several of the ballparks and other baseball spots. We mostly stuck to getting a $2 pack, but a few places we spent a little more. We decided to totally splurge at the last ballpark and bought a box of 2008 Upper Deck First Edition packs. There were 10 packs and a pack of a few extra StarQuest cards inside. It gave us something to do before the game considering how dull Land Shark Stadium is with nothing to see until the actual baseball game begins.

Mik’s Food Scrapbook: Land Shark Stadium

At Land Shark Stadium the concession stands were rather limited not just in the food variety choices but in the number of concession stands. I had a Papa Johns cheese personal size pizza. Mik tried it and we both agreed it was not that good and certainly did not taste fresh. We normally like Papa Johns and that is what I always order when I watch him for the weekend, but it is way fresher as delivery than here at the ballpark and I have a feeling it is not even made on site.

The main thing Mik had was chicken tenders with chips. He loved the chicken tenders and rates them one of the best he has had and definitely the best of the trip. He did not really like the Saratoga chips, though, because they were rather bland tasting. They also ended up soggy from being under the chicken tenders. Non-soggy and with more salt they might not have been too bad.

Mik’s Food Scrapbook: Lion Country Safari

While at the walk through part of Lion Country Safari we stopped at their cafeteria area and had lunch. Mik had a chicken sandwich, chips, and Milano cookies. The chicken sandwich was okay, but he said there was not enough chicken for the size of the bun. The bun overpowered the chicken flavor and he found it was better to just eat the chicken separate.

Smashed Pennies: Lion Country Safari

Visiting the gift shop was one of the highlights of the walk through part of Lion Country Safari. Not only because Mik got his lion here, but also because they had a penny smashing machine. Mik and I both got one with a lion head image. Mik also got one with an image of a gorilla. Around the border of both designs it says Lion Country Safari 1967-1997, West Palm Beach, FL.

Day 71: Lion Country Safari

On July 29, 2009, before our final game of the trip we visited the Lion Country Safari attraction because it was right next to the KOA we were staying at and tickets for it were included with our campground stay. It turned out to be a pretty fun thing to do, although I never would have done it if they tickets had not come with our stay at the KOA. It is not as good as an actual African safari, which both Dad and I have done before, but was a cool thing for Mik who has never been to Africa and only done the much inferior safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The main reason it is better than Disney is that it actually feels like it is large enough to be a natural habitat, although the rather frequent fences make it not the same as the animals in the wild of Africa.

We started with the walk-through safari part, which is sort of a little amusement park/zoo. There are a few animals to see area the walk through park, but it more like seeing them in a zoo than the more in the wild feel of the safari. They have a few rides, but we only went on the carousel. Dad and I also played about half the mini golf course before the humidity got to us. Even Mik could have tried a few holes if he had wanted because they had four wheelchair accessible holes. We did not spend much time at the walk through part because of the Florida humidity. There really was not much of interest either unless you actually wanted to feed the animals.

The drive through safari was the highlight of Lion Country Safari. It is not as good as a real African Safari, but it is still fun. They even have a CD that you can pop in to the car radio and listen to as you enter the different habitat areas, so you can learn about the different animals you are seeing as you go. The first time through I forgot to get my zoom lense out of the bag in the back of the car, but I did have my video camera and below is a video I put together of some of the okay to good footage I got on the Lion Country Safari.

Mik did not want to go around a second time and I really wanted to go around with my zoom lense. Since the campground was right there outside the park we dropped Mik off back at the Kabin. Dad and I then drove the safari loop again. It was worth doing again not just to use my zoom lense to get some better photos, but also because some of the animals, especially the monkeys were more active this time around.

Overall the Lion Country Safari was enjoyable, but I honestly never would have done it and still would not do it for the actual cost of admission because the walk through part was not worth it and the $18 per person is not worth it just for the drive through part. I am glad, though, that we did use our tickets that came with our campground reservation, as it was still fun to do.