Thanks to the Busch Gardens passes my sister was kind enough to get for us before leaving for Japan, our admission and parking were free, so the only cost to us was the time (and gas) it took to drive to Orlando. Free AND fun? Sign me up!
We left just after 9:00 a.m. on Sunday and arrived at Sea World just after 11:00. Our first stop was the "Blue Horizons" dolphin and bird show at 11:30. We made it to the theater just in the nick of time, and Ellie was entranced. She watched in awe, only stopping to cover her eyes when the music turned ominous (smart cookie, that one). When we left the theater, she was all, "Had fun with dolphins! Dolphins jumping! And princess!" (She thought one of the "bird" acrobats was a princess...hello, there, lingering effects of our Disney trip!)
Checking things out with Daddy
It's always wise to keep one hand on each parent at all times. You know, just in case.
Hiding during the "scary" part
A few shots of the show, including the "princess" at top left.
After the show we walked over to check out the new penguin exhibit, which was still under construction at the time of our last visit. Ellie hated the simulator ride, but she did like checking out all the penguins in their snowy habitat. We also hit a new milestone: she actually said "penguin" correctly. Since Christmas, Ellie has pronounced "penguin" as "conquin," but she finally (and sadly) got it right during our Sea World visit. I've always taken the approach of not repeating things she mispronounces, but rather saying them correctly so she can hear the proper pronunciation, which I suppose is the best course of action for the sake of learning. BUT, that means that she learns the proper pronunciations, which is always a little sad. It's like each suddenly correctly-pronounced word is just another piece of her babyhood, gone forever. DON'T DO THIS TO ME ON MOTHER'S DAY OF ALL DAYS, KID.
32-week belly pic at the penguin exhibit!
Being silly with Daddy (and Goldfish crackers) in line for the ride
On the simulator ride
Watching the penguins swimming around
Later, channeling her own inner penguin via headwear at a gift shop
By the time we finished with the penguins, we were getting pretty hungry, so we stopped for a pizza lunch.
Whale plate and whale cup. Subtle.
Then, we went over to the sea lion habitat and managed to catch them at feeding time! We stayed and watched for quite a bit, resulting in a lot of "Had fun with seals!" out of Ellie when we finally moved on.
Waiting for some fish
Eric, Ellie and the sea lions
If I know anything about sea lions, it's that they sure do get two-year-olds in the mood for a run through the park with Daddy.
And they're off!
We made a stop in the Shark Encounter exhibit...
She's not at all fazed by this, but heaven forbid the music of a dolphin show shift to a minor key.
Watching the sharks and big fish
...then we caught the sea lion and otter show. Ellie was particularly in awe of the walrus that made an appearance at the end!
"What. Is. That."
Scenes from the show. In Ellie's defense, that walrus is pretty...shocking.
On our way out of that show, we stopped for some photos at a very scenic spot.
With my pretty girl
Mother's Day photo with my kids!
Then, we made our way to the kids' area, where we met up with Shamu himself! Naturally, Ellie made sure to show him her piggies.
This kid loves her some costumed characters.
Ellie wanted to "ride the fishies" (the carousel), so we hopped on that, and much to Ellie's delight, Shamu joined us!
"Wait a second...what's happening back there?!?!"
"I'll just settle in right here, thank you."
Best buds sharing a carousel ride
After that, we very seriously debated letting Ellie play at the little splash pad in the kids' area, but she was getting pretty sleepy and we weren't sure if it was a great idea to toss an already unsteady, tired toddler into a slippery water park. Before we could decide, as if on cue, Ellie went running off and immediately tripped and fell (we're talking a full-on scorpion situation). She was left with a scrape on her forehead and both knees, as well as some bruised knees and elbows, and was pretty shaken up. So, yeah. We'll skip the water park.
Instead, we treated ourselves to a little Shamu ice cream bar. Muuuuuch better.
I wish I could sit comfortably in a stroller while people feed me ice cream. I mean, right?
And that was it! We picked up some beverages for the road and then made our way to the car for the drive back to Jacksonville. Ellie passed out in the car...
Sea life is exhausting.
...for about 20 minutes, and then was pretty unhappy the rest of the time. Luckily, we had the Magical Stop Crying In The Car CD at the ready. I bought this CD for her in the Dollar Spot at Target around Christmas time (solely because it came with a Sesame Street song book, not actually for the CD itself), and for whatever reason, no matter how unhappy she is, as soon as that horrible music starts playing, this happens:
VIDEO: Ellie responds to her car CD
God bless that CD.
All in all, it was an excellent Mother's Day. I loved spending that fun family time with my favorite people, and I know Ellie had a blast because she still hasn't stopped talking about it: "Had fun with dolphins! Dolphins jumping! Had fun with seals! Meet a whale!" Definitely a successful day!