Thursday, November 8, 2007


During the week that we were in Florida, it pretty much rained or was threatening to rain most of the week.  The best chance of having a dry day was the Thursday & Friday before we left, so on Thursday we took the girls to SeaWorld.  I remember visiting SeaWorld when I was very little and really enjoying it.  We were pretty sure the girls would enjoy it, since they both love animals (seeing the fish tank at Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney the day before was their favorite thing), and there would be a lot of animals there that they hadn't necessarily seen before.  It really was a big hit!

As we were making our way into the park on the first day, we saw a bunch of pink flamingos, then some big sea turtles and other birds that like to stick close to water.  No, I have no idea what kind of birds they are.  But apparently there are some native Florida birds (i.e., not owned by SeaWorld) that hang around and try to snatch any fish you try to feed the animals.  One even tore into a bag of trail mix that was in our stroller while we were in a show - we discovered the evidence afterwards.

Stringray Lagoon

After the flamingos and turtles, we visited the stingrays.  It's a giant, shallow pool full of stingrays. There were some huge ones in there.  You can pet the stingrays as they swim by - they feel like wet mushrooms. Anna said she wanted to pet one, but then changed her mind when she had a chance. Beth chose not to pet them, either. You can buy trays of little fish to feed the stingrays, so I got a tray.  You're supposed to hold the fish in the water so the rays swim over your hand and suck the fish out.  So I did that while Anna watched.  Then she actually tried to feed them, too - she dropped the fish into the water, basically, but I was impressed that she even touched and picked up the fish.

Dolphin Cove

From there, we went to the dolphin cove.  In hindsight, we should have gotten in line to feed the dolphins on Thursday, but we didn't, and the line was way too long on Friday when we went back (you get a 2nd visit free with your tickets). That would have given us a better chance to get to pet the dolphins, too.  But we just stood by the edge and watched the dolphins swim by, play, and jump. Anna got startled a couple times when all of a sudden a dolphin would come out of the water right in front of us unexpectedly, but she still liked watching them and trying to pet them.

Pets Ahoy!

SeaWorld's shows are actually pretty good. I remember loving them as a kid, but I still enjoyed them going back this time. The first show we went to was one where cats, dogs, ducks, other birds, and a pig are doing all kinds of scripted things on a stage.  I know I do it no justice with that description, but it was very cute and very well produced.  For example, one of the props is a hot dog cart, and a dog runs up and cranks the handle, causing a door to open, and 5 or 6 weiner dogs run out.  It was definitely the girls' favorite show - they had big smiles on their faces and clapped all through the show. Of course, I couldn't get a good picture in there.

Penguin Encounter

From the pets show, we went to the penguin encounter.  It's basically a large, enclosed area that is really, really cold inside, with a big glass front where you can see penguins both on "land" and rocks and underwater.  There's a slow-moving walkway that you stand on while you observe.  There were lots of penguins standing, jumping in the water, zooming through the water, looking at you through the glass…

This was Anna's absolute favorite exhibit.  She wanted to go back to see the penguins again and again.  Since she loved it so much, we got her a stuffed penguin, and her famed kitty and blankets were rejected when we got back to the car.  She even slept with penguin instead of kitty that night.  We wondered if maybe the penguin would be the "new" kitty - and for a day or two, it was, but as much as she loves penguin, she eventually remembered kitty, and now holds both of them all the time.

Pacific Point Preserve

We then went to the area that held the seals and sea lions.  This is another exhibit where you can buy trays of fish to toss to the animals, which are in a very large pool with rocky cliffs to climb on, on the other side of a glass fence.  I got some fish, and the sea lions definitely knew when someone had food, because they would all swim as close as they could and even prop themselves up on the barrier and ask for it.  Anna wanted to try feeding the sea lions, but these fish were much bigger than the ones for the stingrays (that is, much slimier, too), so Anna quickly changed her mind, but enjoyed watching.

Shark Encounter

We then went to the shark encounter - a very cool exhibit where you literally walk through the tank of fish & sharks, looking up and around through very thick plastic.  There is semi-creepy music playing, as if something's going to get you. When you first walk in, you're looking at a variety of fish, amongst some rock formations with many holes for moray eels to hide.  Here, Anna told me that she was scared of the holes. Who knows what lurked inside - maybe the giant dead lizard from our villa!  I told her not to look at the holes.

Next in the exhibit was a tank holding a lot of scorpion fish, other tropical fish, and an unusual-looking stingray that had purple spots all over it. Across from that was a tank full of pretty large barracuda.  Anna and Cara referred to them as the "cookie monster fish."  Anna really liked watching the barracuda for some reason. Then we saw a tank full of sea dragons, which I found pretty amazing.  They're just like sea horses, only they have lots of appendages sticking out of them that look like leaves - and it really hides them. You have to look kind of hard to see all of them among the real plants.

Next was the main attraction, the moving walkway through the shark tank. Very cool!  As you approach the tunnel, you walk past several sets of shark jaws.  Anna wanted me to walk as far away from the jaws as I could. In the tunnel, both Anna and Cara stared and pointed at all the sharks.  For some reason, Anna kept saying to me, "It's not scary! It's not scary, daddy!"  I would point out a shark to her - "look, there's one!" and she'd respond, "Yeah! And it's not scary!"  I don't know if she was reassuring herself that it wasn't scary, or if she was so relieved to be away from the holes that she really didn't find it scary!

Horses, whales, and walruses

SeaWorld is owned by Anheuser-Busch, so they had a stable with several of their clydesdale horses.  They really are pretty large horses.  After seeing the clydesdales, we went to the Wild Arctic exhibit, where we saw beluga whales, a polar bear, and a 2 walruses.  We got a better look at the walruses swimming underwater on the lower level - they were HUGE.  The picture we got doesn't really give you a feel for how big they were.

Whale & Dolphin Show

We then went to see another show involving lots of dolphins, false killer whales, some acrobats, high divers, and birds.  This was a very good show - Beth & I's favorite.  It of course had the dolphins and whales jumping and flipping, and it was cool seeing two dolphins push a trainer along the surface of the pool by his feet.  But the coolest move was when a trainer was being pushed by his feet underwater by two dolphins, while simultaneously twirling him around and around as they pushed him.


Manatee Rescue

After a quick meal and Shamu cookie which turns parts of Anna's face black, we went to the manatee exhibit.  Very fat animals that don't do much but swim slowly through the water and maybe sleep at the bottom of their lake for 20 minutes at a time before they get a breath.  This turned out to be Cara's favorite exhibit.  Both girls referred to the animals as "Barbara Manatee," because there's a Veggie Tales silly song where Larry the Cucumber is watching a soap opera about a Barbara Manatee.  We got Cara a stuffed manatee, which she loves to carry around, calling it "Matee!"


The last thing we did at SeaWorld the first day was see the killer whale show.  It was 5:30 by this time, and Cara finally gave up and fell asleep on mommy.  The show didn't go as smoothly or as quickly as usual, because apparently the killer whales that were performing decided they were done halfway through the show, and the trainers eventually had to get them to go back to their holding area and get some different killer whales to finish the show.  The whales really threw the trainers high into the air in this show.

The weather cooperated with us perfectly that day - it only rained (and rained hard) twice, and both times it did, we were sitting in the stadiums watching a show, so we never got wet.

Back for more

Since your 2nd visit is free and Friday was a sunny, we went back the next day.  Anna squealed "Yeaaaaaaah!!!" when we asked if she wanted to see the dog & cat show again.  She, of course, wanted to see the penguins again, and again.  And although she wanted to see the sharks again, she did tell me before we even got there that she didn't want to see the holes.

We saw the sea otter show, the dog & cat show, and wanted to catch the whale & dolphin show again.  I got a little video of the whale & dolphin show - the girls still really enjoyed it, but were clearly much more tired than the previous day, so Anna, while she's clapping, isn't smiling like she was the first day. I should have taken the video when she had her big smile on. Oh well.

As we were leaving the park, I got a little bag of gummy bears and gummy gators, which you can see below was very popular with the girls. Cara again couldn't stay awake in the car on the way to Titi Toni's and took a power nap with her manatee.

I think the girls had big fun at SeaWorld, and even though we didn't make it to Disney's Magic Kingdom this time, I think it may have worked out better.  We don't think the girls would have like standing an hour in lines for a ride - especially the 2nd day.  Anna may have done OK with the TVs and cartoons I hear they have playing as you wait, but Cara definitely wouldn't have been able to stay still that long several times in the day.  We'll come back when they're bigger - it wasn't our last trip to Orlando!

All our SeaWorld pictures and videos are in our photo gallery, under Vacations and Trips, 2007 Family Reunion, Seaworld.

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