I was minding my own business during an office event celebrating our Cannes victories this summer when someone put a raffle ticket in my hand. It was for the agency’s last drawing to win a trip to one of SeaWorld’s parks. The agency was giving them to lucky staffers as a reward (and to support our client). Having never won anything before – ever – it took me awhile to react when my number was called. Then reality hit, I was going to Antarctica, the one in Orlando.
I was sure the “we” on this journey would include my youngest cousins. But, it turned out it was to be a grown-up SeaWorld experience.
With the help of friendly and informative park attendants, and armed with magical red “quick queue” wristbands, we easily navigated the park.
First stop – Antarctica.
Our wristbands allowed us speedy access to the attractions. First up, a ride joining baby penguin Puck on his wild journey home. Safely belted in, we navigated spins, lurches, and short stops and ultimately landed in Antarctica with the Kings, Rockhoppers, Gentoos and Adelies.
At a brisk 30 degrees Fahrenheit, the fleeces we were told to bring kept us cozy. Well, most of us.
It was a phenomenal exhibit! The penguins swam gracefully at speeds up to 25 mph. Some were so still they looked as if they were waiting for the next train to arrive. It was mesmerizing to watch them in their habitat.
From there, the decision to see everything was a no-brainer. Armed with excitement and a sense of awe, we ventured across the entire park.
The Turtle Trek exhibit with its seven different species of turtles (who knew!) was enlightening. We loved the manatees and alligator fish we learned were called “Gar.”
…and the Stingray Lagoon complete with leopard stingrays.
…. and Pacific Point Preserve that howls with sea lions who sunbathe like we do.
We caught an amazing show at the Dolphin Theater.
And no trip to SeaWorld would be complete without a visit to Shamu Stadium, where we cleverly chose to avoid the up close “soak areas.”
At Shark Encounters, the bamboo spotted shark was a favorite. Did you know there are 350 different kinds of sharks, ranging from 8 inches to 60 feet in length, and that the liver takes up 90% of a shark’s cavity?
We then headed underground where a moving walkway, complete with background music, let us experience underwater life from a different perspective. Hard to believe that the only thing separating us from the sharks was plastic. A group of tourists thought it would be funny to hum the Jaws theme. Eerie!
We took a break from sea creatures to ride the Sky Tower and caught a bird’s eye view of the park and surrounding Orlando. Back on land, we stopped to admire the beautiful gardens, watched the flamingos stroll by and checked out some other land dwellers.
Finally, we were off to what we saved for last – the rides!
The Manta was, indeed, a scream-worthy roller coaster. Journey to Atlantis, an extremely vertical water chute. But, we chickened out. Maybe next time.
So, the grown-ups arrived to take over SeaWorld, but in reality, SeaWorld took over the grown-ups. At the end of the day, we were all kids again – awed, exhilarated and exhausted!
Thank you, SeaWorld, and thank you, Draftfcb!