For our next adventure we decided it would be fun to take the kids for their first visit to Sea World. Luckily I had found a Travelzoo deal that was good for a whole week of Sea World. I was a bit unsure as to whether there would be enough to see and do to warrant repetitive visits, but since San Diego has the beach and our timeshare had a pool, that was not an issue and we made it back twice during the week. Luckily both Grant (4) and Bailey (almost 7) were tall enough to go on almost every ride.
One of our favorite exhibits (adults) was the polar bears and the Beluga whales. It was a cool, overcast day and this exhibit is housed in a colder environment, so the animals were extremely active. There is a viewing area above the water and another below…this time it was the adults who had to be pulled away! We were told by other guests that if you intend to pay for an encounter experience with either dolphins or whales, the Beluga experience is the BEST. The Belugas seemed to be as fascinated by us, as we were to them. The polar bears were playing with floating balls and boxes in the water, and at one point when we were below deck one of the big white furry fellows dove from above and grabbed a fish for a snack…so agile, so fast and so beautiful! We, fortunately, made it to the Shamu show with 5 minutes to spare. Again, the crowds were sparse or the bleachers would have been full 30 minutes before show time. Bailey and Grant wanted to sit in the “splash zone” despite the repeated warnings that the audience in that section would get wet, very very soaking wet! Grandma and grandpa chose the high ground and got to look down on the action. Mom and dad sat a few rows back. The warnings were accurate! The kids were ecstatic and soaked! Even daddy got a good dousing, when he went to retrieve Bailey before the show was over. The show was amazing as usual although frequently interspersed with “how wonderful Sea World is for rescuing animals”. No doubt the messages were added to counteract all the bad press after the Shamu incident, and also the PETA picketers. It was now time for lunch and it was clear why so many people had reminded us to take our wallets and credit cards! We chose the Calypso Bay Smokehouse. The food was excellent, but for a family of six we departed with much less cash in our pockets. Another highlight of our day was when the kids got to feed the sea lions. The $5 container of sardines was well worth cost of the excitement and fun. Unfortunately the birds and cranes in the area have learned about the free handouts (aka California welfare) and have mastered the art of swooping in and gulping the sardines in mid-air or right out of the hands of babes. Maybe 30% of the two servings of sardines actually made it to the sea lions and then of course, they were barking loudly for more! We didn’t get to see the dolphin interactions until later in the week, but again one of our favorite memories. Each session is slightly different, but the trainers show off their skills and get the dolphins to slide by the edge close enough for the kids and adults to pet them as they pass by. The dolphins even played ball with us (and the other 100 people around the periphery). We had to drag both kids and adults away AND go back for a second show. Even after two days and light crowds, I am still not sure we saw everything. Apparently California schools did not get out until the following week, so there was no waiting in lines for rides most of the time. We didn’t go back for the fireworks or evening shows, because we pretty much wore everyone out. And then, of course, there was the beach and the pool at the hotel to use as an incentive to leave Sea World. We certainly all agree that a great time was had by all!