Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Animals and Auntie Heather

Last week we took Ellie for her first visit to Busch Gardens. As you probably know, my sister has worked at Busch Gardens as a singer for years now, and through her employee benefits/generosity, Eric and I found ourselves in possession of two free yearly passes now that we're back in Florida. Ellie has been on a hardcore animal-loving kick lately, so we figured we'd take her to check out the animals and see her Auntie Heather perform for the first time. It was a blast!

We have been working on some baby sign language with Ellie (more on that in a future post, I hope), and one of her favorite signs to do is the sign for "dog." However, as of last week, she was majorly generalizing: basically, anything that wasn't human was a dog. That included all animals and birds. So before we went to Busch, Eric and I brushed up on some exotic animal signs to show Ellie. I'm not sure how much of it she picked up just yet, but we had a great time taking her all over the park to look at all the different animals and telling her what they all were.

First stop: the gorillas

Ellie and me in the gorilla habitat

Turtles and birds

She loved all the birds!

Checking out the elephants with Daddy

Waving hi to a peacock


Not only did we see live animals, but we saw them in topiary form, too.

Topiary tiger

Ellie impressed by the giant, green, leafy "dog"

The coolest animal encounter was the tiger pop-up, this little glass box you can climb up into to come face-to-face with a tiger. When we arrived, one of the tigers just happened to be sleeping right next to the glass box, so the viewing was good. Eric took Ellie in there to see what she thought of this giant striped "doggy," but frankly, she was unimpressed. Eric, however, was quite surprised at how RIGHT THERE IN YOUR FACE the big guy was. He snapped a picture with his phone while they were in there, and when he came out and showed it to me, THAT'S what Ellie got excited about. She saw that picture and nearly lost her mind, frantically exclaiming and signing, "DOGGY! DOGGY!" She wasn't excited about the live tiger right in her face, mind you, but the picture of the "doggy" on Daddy's phone was the coolest.

Eric and Ellie checking out the tiger

Photo op!

Eric's iPhone picture!

In more "I don't get what this baby is thinking" talk, she was also particularly excited about the seagulls. THE SEAGULLS.

Chasing down birds in a dining area

Regardless of Ellie's weird animal preferences, we had a blast showing everything to her. I'd love to take her to the zoo again now that she's older (her first time, she was only four months old). I think she'd get a kick out of it.

Of course, we also had to stop for some silly photo opportunities as we walked around the park.

Ellie on safari!

Hanging out with the hippos

And, although she's far from old/tall enough to ride them, we had to introduce Ellie to roller-coasters.

Watching Kumba go flying by

Of course, we had to be sure we were back at the Marrakesh Theater in time for the main event: "Let's Get Loud" featuring the incomparable Heather Baird. We got to the theater just in time to grab our seats as the show started. I wondered if Ellie would like it, because she does love to dance, but OH MAN did she like it. She was shaking her little bon bon, clapping, singing along, the works. She could hardly contain herself.

VIDEO: Ellie watching Aunt Heather's show

Enjoying the show

Hi, Aunt Heather!

Whoa! Did you see Aunt Heather's moves?!

Yay, Auntie!

Afterwards, Ellie had some fun goofing off with the cast, especially with Aunt Heather and her friend Casey.

With the cast after the show

Ellie and Aunt Heather

Aunt Heather changed out of her stage-wear and then joined us for a little walk around. She suggested we take Ellie to the "Critter Castaways" (animal) show, which was a smashing success. Ellie ate it up, and she was finally able to see some "doggies" that were actually doggies.

Waving to the animals

A cat climbing a rope

Parrot playing dead

Pretty girl!

Aunt Heather had to leave us then to go get ready for her final show of the day, so we said good-bye to her and did a bit more walking around before calling it a day ourselves.

We had so much fun, and we're so grateful to Heather for our passes so we can go back again and again this summer. They have a new Madagascar show opening up this month that we'll be sure to take Ellie back to see, we want to take her to the little toddler water park in the Sesame Street area, and now that she's learning more signs (she can now differentiate between birds and "dogs"), she'll love to see the animals again. So, hopefully we can get back for quite a few more Busch Gardens days before we move to Jacksonville. Thanks so much for the passes, Heather!

1 comment:

Lauren said...

How awesome that you guys have passes! I love BG so much. How cute that Ellie got to see Heather perform, she is so awesome!!!