Saturday, December 15, 2012

SeaWorld for the Holidays! (Florida Field Trips #7)

Welcome back to my Florida Field Trips series!

Our family had a marvelous time at SeaWorld Orlando yesterday during their Christmas celebration.  My husband and I took our five younger kids, ages 7-15.

Just one of many photo ops...
The park is decorated for the holidays, and best of all, many of the shows are themed for Christmas.  Live musicians all around the park added to the holiday spirit.  I wasn't having very good luck with my camera yesterday so pardon the lack of good show and night pictures here.
Christmas toy king

Saxophone quartet

In the snow globe
Of course, they have all the regular year round attractions as well, like the Shark Experience, the Turtle Trek, and the Blue Horizons dolphin show.  The only attraction that is closed right now is the Penguin Encounter, since they are building a new Antarctica Empire of the Penguins exhibit to open in the spring. 

Exhibits and shows aside, the older kids (of the five we brought) would have been quite content to just ride Manta, Kraken and Journey to Atlantis all day long. 

Kraken roller coaster

Manta picture from summer trip

My youngest daughter loves Shamu's Happy Harbor with all the kiddie rides and splash pad, so we had "Mommy and Me" time yesterday while the others went with Dad.

The Sky Tower is also now included in admission.  The view from 300 foot up as the rotating room ascends is quite something to behold.  

We attended three of the Christmas shows and my husband and I loved them.  (Most of the kids enjoyed them, too, but like I said, they go more for the rides.)  Some of the Christmas shows only run in the evening, you need to get to them 45 minutes ahead of time to get a decent seat, especially on the nights that the park closes at 9 and there are fewer shows.  Other nights, the park closes at 11 and there are more shows, but that may be too late for families with young children.  Check Park Hours and Show Schedules and click on the calendar for the day you wish to attend.  Most of the shows run for about 20-30 minutes.

I was especially touched by the "O Wondrous Night" show, which is a musical living nativity.  The singers are amazing, and though there were plenty of comedic moments, it was very reverently done, incorporating contemporary adaptations and medleys of religious carols.  While we waited for the show to begin, a spirited guitar and fiddle duet entertained us for a Christmas carol sing-along. 

(This picture is from a summer visit.)
The next show we attended was "Shamu Christmas Miracles" in the whale stadium.  I always enjoy seeing the whales (magnificent creatures!) and loved hearing the carols as background music to their performance, but I'd have to say my favorite thing here was the awesome saxophonist who played carols before the show!  

We bustled out of the whale show to make it to the "Winter Wonderland on Ice" skating show in the Bayside Stadium.  We sat up in the balcony, which gave us a great overall view from above, but I found it hard to take decent pictures without a telephoto lens.   

The other drawback of balcony seating during Winter Wonderland is that when the Reflections Fireworks and Fountain Finale fireworks go off at the end of the very last show of the night, you can't see the ones way up high in the sky.  

The 100 Christmas trees in the "Sea of Trees" out in the water also change colors to the music at various times during the day.  The Wild Arctic ride has been transformed into Polar Express Experience for the holidays, but we didn't go to it this time.  The two other Christmas shows are "A Sesame Street Christmas" and "Clyde and Seamore's Countdown to Christmas" (sea lions).  I'm hoping to see them next time we go. We want to tuck in one last trip before our 2012 tickets expire! (My mom bought ours for us this summer and we've certainly gotten our use out of them!)

The cool thing is that if you buy a ticket now, they will give you a Fun Pass good for admission all the way through the end of 2013!   Yep, Florida residents can buy one day and get more than a year of park admission!  Adult Fun Pass tickets are $89 plus tax, and kids are $81 plus tax.   (If you really only want one day, you can pay $10 less per ticket on-line only.)  Or you can purchase an annual pass and get free parking and other perks.  A SeaWorld annual pass is $149, but you can pay extra to extend the admission to the Aquatica water park and Busch Gardens amusement park.  Check for the best ticket options for your family.

A word about food:  SeaWorld has great restaurants, but for a large family on a budget, you can bring your own food and eat in the picnic area just outside the entrance gates.  You can bring snack portions of food into the park, but not big coolers or full lunches.  

Enjoy SeaWorld!

Virginia Knowles

1 comment:

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