I haven’t been to Sea World since I was a child. From what I remember, I was completely enamored by the magnificent sea life there. I have been wanting to take My Sunshine for a while. We live closest to Sea World San Antonio so with my sister in town this weekend, we decided to brave the heat and the crowds with 2 preschoolers.
To be honest with you, I have seen Blackfish, the documentary about Sea World and killer whales in captivity, and I have mixed feelings about it all. I don’t know what all to believe from both sides. I go back and forth about how I feel. I ultimately decided to go because My Sunshine loves sharks and has been saying for a couple of years now he wants to be a marine biologist, also known as a “shark doctor” so I want to expose him to as much sea life as I can. As a mother I always want to nourish his interests and give him the information he needs to make his own decisions one day.
I know right now Sea World is under a lot of scrutiny but we were not prepared for what we faced at the gates. When we pulled up to the entrance, there were protestors everywhere, up and down either side of the road into the park and the police. Most of the protestors had respectful signs and were staying in the grass on the side of the road away from our cars peacefully protesting. Then there were protestors with signs with blood drawn on them and megaphones standing beside our car screaming at us. It was unsettling and shocking really. Although I know they are very passionate about their cause and want to get their point across, my 4 year old in the back seat asked me “mom, why are those people yelling at us”. I was disappointed in that kind of extreme display in front of a family park.
We arrived a few minutes after the park opened so we parked up pretty close and only waited a few minutes in line. I had ordered and printed vouchers online before we came. I had also downloaded the Sea World App that the website and signs all over the park had suggested. Depending on the app turned into a big mistake later. Our plan with 2 littles was to visit for just a few hours. We brought our covered, foldable wagon that we LOVE and the kids rode in shaded comfort.
We started out in Sesame Street’s Bay of Play where there are small preschool age rides, splash pads, climbing structures, Sesame Street shows and characters. My 4 year old was not overly impressed with the climbing nets, but loved the slides. Neither one of my kiddos will get near a character but loves to see them from afar. My sunshine also loved the rides, they were just his speed and the lines were pretty short. The best part for both he and my 14 month old were the splash pads by far. They LOVED the splash pads! When we got my daughter dressed, I thought I just forgot her swim diaper. When my sister went to change her out of the giant wet diaper she had been playing in, we had no diapers or wipes in the bag or some of the other clothes I had packed. It is possible that the bag was left open and things fell out without our knowledge, but it is very unlike me to leave the backpack unzipped. We think maybe someone might have reached into our backpack to see what they could get. If that’s the case, they got screwed and so did we! (we held a wristlet with credit cards and money which I now highly recommend). It may have been someone else or it may have been my most epic mom fail ever. Either way, we thought for sure Sea World would have diapers in one of their gift shops. As it turned out, all they sell is reusable swim diapers! No diapers or disposable swim diapers or wipes in the whole place! What is that about!? I could not believe it!! This made for a very interesting day.
After a couple of hours the kids were hungry and they had eaten all the snacks I brought. The Sea World website makes it sound like you cannot bring much food in but then they didn’t really check and everyone around us had brought in a lot of food. I wish we had. As soon as we were out of the water, everyone was hot including me who had not worn my bathing suit. Our plan was to go into one of the restaurants, cool off and get a bite to eat before going to see the Shamu show! Well that was a bust! The two restaurants near us were full so we were not even allowed to go in. The “snack” stands were a joke, some had more food than others but the one we ended up at had popcorn, churros and chips for the most part. Not impressed. Now we are hot and there’s not a whole lot a shade to be found. We sat outside the Shamu show area for about 20 minutes and when they never opened the gates and people are waiting around everywhere, we found out that the app and the website had the wrong show times and we had another hour before the only One Ocean Shamu Show. No one told anyone anything, we had to ask!
We were going to leave because we were all pretty hot, hungry and done with the day but it didn’t really feel right to come to Sea World and not see one animal. As we were heading out, the Azul Theatrical Animal Show was starting so we ran in. This was an interesting show with swimmers, divers and aerialists. My Sunshine really enjoyed it and thought it was funny, for me it was just ok. I liked the beluga whales and dolphins in the show but could have done without all the people. Once that was over, it was so close to the Shamu show time we just went for it. I was so glad we did. The killer whales are breathtaking. The show was short, had a lot of video time showing how much they care for the animals and was too loud for my 4 year old but my 14 month old was in awe! It was pretty incredible. I did find myself wishing we were on a fishing boat witnessing this in the wild, but you know then there’s reality.
It was a long, hot hike to the car and we were hours past when we wanted to leave but we were really glad we got to see a couple of shows after driving all that way. The kids loved it. My son was asking if we could go back the next day, but he also rode in the shade all day! When I asked him his favorite part, he said the splash pad! Well, that’s a pretty expensive splash pad dude. I’m not gonna lie, I got pretty hot and hungry and may have thrown around the term “sea hell” a few times and I definitely had a sea hell hang over Sunday. It was exhausting!! I know we didn’t have the best experience and with 2 littles in tow everything is harder, but I know we will go back because there is still so much more to see. The verdict is still out on how often we will go. I do know I will be a little better prepared. Later this week I’ll share my best Sea World advise, you know now that we’re pros. I’ll leave you with a picture where I am probably getting peed on, as I did all day! I would love to hear your best Sea World advice or your epic mom fail!