Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A March Through SeaWorld

Since we moved to Florida, I've been wanting to take full advantage of our resident discounts for the theme parks before we had to start paying for the kids.  The boys love animals of all kinds, and they really love nature shows that focus on sea life (maybe it's a little bit of parental influence as I love them as well).  Anyway, I'd been bugging Bob about going to SeaWorld with the kids, and in March we decided it would be a good time to go.  Luckily, our Florida residential deal is pay for a day at the park and get the rest of the year thrown in for free.  They also have a preschool program where if you bring your kids birth certificates, they get free admission until they are five, so now all five of us plus Jim and Kathy have season passes to SeaWorld.  We drove down early in the morning, put the boys in their strollers, gave them a map, and got our Shamu on.
The boys are getting better at posing for pictures, but they do have a limited shelf life as this pseudo family photo Kathy took for us shows.
I can't say that I blame the boys.  Who wants to sit around waiting for pictures when there are animals to be seen.  Our first stop was the manta ray pool.  The kids LOVED it.  They've been to the sting ray bay at the zoo, but this was a pool teeming with mantas who would float by and splash you with their wings.  The boys didn't want to leave.  They were so excited to be able to reach in the pool and get close to the rays. 
Perhaps the biggest challenge of our time at SeaWorld was keeping the kids out of the water.  Everywhere we went, they just wanted to jump right into the middle of things and check it out.  Perhaps it's too much Kratt's Creatures with their theme song to "get outside, get into nature." 

We did pretty well on staying incognito as triplets.  The boys were dressed similarly, but with James sporting a pacifier and the others not, it makes it a little less obvious.  We are trying to kick our "pah-fie-yur" habit, but only half-heartedly.  I know that James needs to give it up, but he sure does love it.  He's getting better about leaving it behind, and probably soon he will be willing to give it up - fingers crossed - as I am not looking forward to having to be the bad guy.
After a visit with the rays, we stopped by the dolphin pool.  Michael and Grandma enjoyed watching from a safe distance.
Ryan wanted to get a little closer to the action.  He was pretty sure that if he got close enough, the dolphins would come give him a personal greeting. 
Perhaps, a little bit closer and those dolphins would be unable to resist his charms.
Unfortunately, we did the theme park my way - I wanted to just make the loop and see the shows along the way to limit the amount of walking certain members of our party with bad knees would have to do. It was a solid plan.  In the morning, the crowd wasn't too bad, we got right into the shows and had a wonderful time.  Here the guys are waiting for the dolphin and whale show to start.

Daddy and Ryan were really excited about the upcoming show.  When the music started Ryan and James put their hands over their ears.  They weren't too keen on the loud music, but they really loved seeing all those dolphin tricks.
Mr. James had an agenda.  Once he realized that the birds would be flying through the audience, he stood up, held out his arm like those Kratt brothers and tried to get himself a bird.  Sadly, no birds took him up on his offer despite his very professional looking arm move.
After the show, we went under the arena to see the dolphins from a different angle.  I don't think I have any pictures of Ryan at this point.  He was like the energizer bunny hopping around from place to place.
James kept telling me all about what he was seeing.  Despite that plug, he's starting to talk so much more than he was.  He's still not as verbal or as clearly understood as his brothers, but with two people to talk for you, why bother.  I think his vocabulary has really improved in the last month or so.
Michael, our traffic cop/enforcer/director of "boys," tells James how this is done.  Don't even think about trying to challenge his authority.  He might be the middle child, but he is definitely our alpha dog.
At the Shamu show, I think we started to see that the crowd had arrived.  We walked in about ten minutes before show time and had our choice of the rafters or the splash zone.  We chose to head to the top.  I think next time we go, we might have to sit in the splash zone.  The boys really enjoyed the show, and I think the closer we are, the more engaged they will be.
Ryan with Shamu in the background.  Bob and I had gone to this SeaWorld about five years ago, and the program was so much better back then.  The orcas seem to be much younger (that rowdy old guy who kept showing those trainers who's boss must have changed how things were done a great deal) and the trainers did not get into the water with the orcas at all.  They did have a youngster who was around two.  It cracked me up because he would go do a trick with his mom then go off to do his own thing.  It reminded me of my kids.
From the Shamu show, we tried to make a quick entrance to two other shows.  We failed.  They were full.  Bob had wanted to hit all of the shows first then go back and do the stuff in between.  I thought the boys would do better if we gave them other activities in the middle.  Sadly, by doing things my way, we missed out on two or three shows.  So, here in a public forum, just this once, I will admit that Bob was right (luckily this is far down in the post and most people have stopped reading, but still, I should get some credit, right?).
While we waited for the seal/walrus/sea otter show, we took a ride on the carousel.  Ryan likes to sit on the bench while his brothers ride high on the moving animals.  He loves to ride, but only to go around and around not to go up and down.  I'm pretty sure Bob thinks carousels are the devil.  The fits the kids throw to get on and getting off of the ride is paramount to sheer insanity.
We had some lunch, let the kids splash around in the water area.  In the above picture, Michael is in the middle, James is directly behind him and Ryan is running off to the right.  The kids loved playing in the water.  I brought a change of clothes, so after lunch, we changed outfits and went to see the seals.
I can not over emphasize how much James loved the pirate show the seals Clyde & Seymour put on.  He was enthralled.  He kept shouting about the map every time the otter ran across the stage with it.  Of course, we were so high in the stands, he'd yell "the mouse, the mouse" every time he saw it.
By 3 p.m., the park was crazy crowded, the shows were all packed, and the kids were tired, so we decided to head back home to Jacksonville with a quick stop to watch the pearl divers.  We had such a great time, and the kids keep asking to go back.  I'm sure we will once Florida is not hovering between completely submersion by rain and extreme heat.  I can't wait to see the new sea turtle exhibit, so we must return.  October, here we come.

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