I know this admission will get us booted from the cool kids’ table, but we are not a roller coaster family (note: my daughter and I rode the Steel Eel and made a pact never to do it again). So a trip to an amusement park for us means spending a lot of time enjoying the other amenities that a park has to offer. Thankfully, SeaWorld has those in abundance (disclosure: I’m a member of SeaWorld’s Wildside).
Our first day at the park started at the dolphin tank, where we watched the lovable mammals leap, dive and swim. Although we were unable to feed them, the kids were mesmerized just the same. In fact, no matter how many times we passed the dolphins, my boys were anxious to stop and dip their fingers into the water in hopes of touching one.
Next up was an enormous aquarium, featuring stingrays, sharks and other fish. At our local zoo, the stingray hang out at the bottom of the exhibit and barely move. Watching the magnificent animals fly through the water was an amazing experience. But it was the sharks that captured my boys’ imaginations. They were mesmerized by the sharks as they circled the tank. My 5-year old son, formed an attachment to the largest shark in the tank and named him “Big Daddy Shark.” Throughout our visit, he wanted to return to the exhibit to check on his new friend.
The Penguin Encounter, featuring several types of arctic birds and a moving walkway was another family favorite. The exhibit felt authentic right down to the chilly environment and fishy smell.
Although my 9-year old son would never admit it to his friends, Sesame Place was his favorite part of the park. He and his brother, ran, climbed, splashed in the massive play area and even braved the Shamu Express.
No trip to SeaWorld would be complete without checking out the shows. While my daughter and I loved the world famous “Azul,” which featured beluga whales, dolphins and high flying acrobats, the rest of the family enjoyed “One Ocean” – a multi-sensory celebration of life underneath the sea featuring Shamu. The kids also liked “Pets Ahoy” a comical show featuring a menagerie of animals performing a series of skits. I was most impressed that the majority of the animal performers were rescued from local shelters.
Our favorite ride at the park was Rio Loco. My daughter and 9-year-old son, decided to brave the crazy river with me. The ride was exciting and fun. By the end of it, we were soaked, which was the perfect antidote to the 90 plus degree temperatures.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t the shows, rides or even the sharks that made this trip most memorable for my 9-year-old. While observing the sea lions, my son had a close encounter with one of the animals. As he leaned in for a closer look, my son locked eyes with the sea lion who was enjoying a tasty meal of raw fish. Suddenly, the sea lion flung a half-eaten piece of fish toward my son. Before he could react, he was hit squarely in the face by the flying fish. Now that’s an interactive theme park if I ever saw one.
Question: Have you visited SeaWorld? If so, what do you like most about the park?