My younger two children are animal mad. My younger daughter would regularly cradle our friend’s cat as though she was carrying a baby. At 18 months old, she carried a cat that was almost as big as her. My son loves playing with our neighbor’s dog. The teen is more like me…it’s good to have SOMETHING in common!
My son and I had the trip of a lifetime to Orlando. I was an #OrlandoMom and proud of it! Our trip was quite animal focused one day. We began the day at Gatorland — a park that is all animals all the time with none of the bells and whistles of an amusement. Part zoo and part animal rescue center, Gatorland gave my son and I an education on gators, birds, and other swamp creatures.
After spending time wrestling alligators and holding gigantic snakes, we trekked over to Sea World. I promise a post about Gatorland will follow. In the meantime, here’s what we did at Sea World…
…the kids got to feed dolphins! I was shocked when our tour guide led us to Dolphin Cove. She mentioned something about seeing dolphins up close, but I never thought that my son and I would be close enough to touch a dolphins snout! My son — in the picture he is wearing a blue t-shirt with a pattern on the front — fed dolphins small fish. He was so engrossed in the activity I know that he only stopped feeding the fish as he ran out of fish!
The experience of feeding dolphins was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for my son and I. I hope that some day I can bring my girls and husband. Every one should get a chance to hear and see a dolphin “up close and personal.”
After the Dolphin Cove encounter we were led to the Dolphin Nursery. The Dolphin Nursery is home to dolphin mothers and their newborn calves. I could have watched the moms and babies swim around for hours. The pool was so tranquil with just the odd splash as a calve collided with its mother. Sweet.
Our day was a wet one. It rained for hours. Thunder and lighting kept us corralled at the Penguin Encounters — home to more than 200 penguins and puffins. The kids listened intently to EVERYTHING our tour guide had to say. She was a wealth of knowledge. The moms were able to take a breather and dry off in the Penguin Encounters building. The kids didn’t mind being wet at all!
Next stop on our Sea World guided tour was the Stingray area. Prior to my visit to Sea World I would have said that you shouldn’t touch a stingray, but now I know that visitors can safely reach out a hand to stroke the tops of the stingrays. Over 200 stingrays, swim around the pool. It was fascinating to see how close to the edge some of the stingrays got. It seemed as though a stingray was always just out of my reach. Of course, perhaps the stingray sensed that my hand was stretched out in a tentative fashion!
One of the pluses about visiting Sea World on a wet day, is the variety of shows available. The shows are held in open air arenas, but if you plan your day to get to the show early you can snag a seat underneath the partial roof.
I was mesmerized by Blue Horizons. Blue Horizons is a theatrical experience that combines animals with actors. In many aquarium shows, the people performers are there to feed the dolphins or demonstrate a trick. In Blue Horizons, the actors are just as much as part of the show as the dolphins, birds, and whales. As the dolphins perform, actors swing on trapezes and dive off platforms in a synchronized pattern. The show is part dolphin show and part circus trapeze act.
I was not in a “let’s see another show” mode as we crossed the bridge to the Believe show. I know that I should have been more enthusiastic, but my son was wet and a little whiny and I was sorely regretting wearing long pants. Revived by popcorn for my son and a churro for me, with piping hot chocolate for both of us, my son and I were enthralled by the Believe show. The show features Sea World’s entire family of majestic killer whales performing awesome choreography to an original score by the Prague National Orchestra.
If you are interested in learning more about Sea World Orlando, go here www.SeaWorldOrlando.com for admission prices, hours of operation, and a comprehensive listing of rides and shows.
My trip to Orlando was paid for by the Orlando Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. My airfare, hotel, and ground transportation were paid for. The opinions expressed in this post are those of myself and my son.