Friday, May 2nd, 2014
“I am gowing to See Wyrld.”
That statement found its way into nearly every assignment my kindergartner worked on for the month leading up to our recent vacation in southern California. We had lots of activities planned for the week, but as far as Lila was concerned, it was all about Sea World in San Diego. My older daughter, in third grade, was equally excited–but interestingly, neither of them really knew much about the theme park. So when we arrived, they were blown away. If you’re planning a trip to Sea World, keep this in mind:
1. Shamu gets all the attention, but the dolphin show is even better. The bottlenose dolphins star in a 20-minute show called Blue Horizons that’s pretty amazing. Not only do the mammals perform amazing gymnastic feats, but so do the trainers, diving from on high into the pools below. And we were all stunned when one trainer zipped around the pool with each foot on the back of a dolphin (picture water skiing but using dolphins instead of skis). The Shamu show, One Ocean, is impressive for sure–it’s incredible to see enormous killer whales soaring in the air–but because the animals are so huge, they’re not as limber as the dolphins, which makes for a slightly less thrilling experience. Plus the show is at least five minutes shorter than Blue Horizons (at least it was when we were there; the web site says the shows are nearly equal length).
2. Be prepared to spend some money on feeding the animals. For my kids, a highlight was feeding the sea lions, and trying to feed the bat rays. Whereas you basically drop the bait into the mouth of the sea lions, feeding rays is a slightly more complex process: You stick a tiny dead fish between your knuckles, plunge your arm into the tank, and keep it still while the ray glides over your hand and slurps it out. If your kids are anything like mine–and most of the ones around us–they’ll get spooked as soon as they feel the ray, then they’ll drop the fish, and be looking at you for another $6 tray of bait in no time.
3. Don’t feel bad if you don’t make it on the rides. There are several, including a few for younger kids in the Sesame Street Bay of Play. But we were under a bit of time crunch, so we skipped the rides, and my children still came away absolutely loving their Sea World experience.
4. If you like penguins, you’re in luck. The Penguin Encounter was a jackpot for us (okay, mostly me–I adore those creatures), with nearly 300 penguins living together but separately: Gentoos with Gentoos, little Adelies with Adelies, huge Emporers with Emporers, and so on. You get to watch them hop in the water, swim briskly, and pop back up onto the ice as you’re transported down the exhibit via one of those “people mover” conveyer belts. And when you exit the building, you’re treated to a display of South American breeds, which thrive not in arctic temperatures but the warm San Diego weather. Who knew?
5. The sea lions will crack you up. We almost skipped Sea Lions Live, since we’d already seen two other shows that morning. I’m so glad we didn’t. Whereas Shamu and the dolphins have you oohing and aahing, the sea lions and otter in this show left us laughing. I can’t say it was the sea lion’s most dignified moment, but me and my family were howling when he clapped along to the beat of “Gangnam Style.”
We’ve been home from California for two weeks now, and Lila’s still finding a way to weave See Wyrld into her schoolwork.
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