The week before Christmas my family and I had the chance to travel down to Orlando for a vacation. Aside from visiting my parent’s vacation home in Wisconsin Dells this was our first real family vacation since my ten-year old was a baby. To say that this was a much-needed thing for us would be an understatement! We felt that our two boys who are on the Autism Spectrum were finally doing well enough developmentally for us to attempt a big trip. (Go big or go home, right?) While we were there SeaWorld Orlando was kind enough to have us come and spend a day at the park.
Prior to our trip I was the only one in my household who had ever been to SeaWorld and it had been at least 25 years since I went. I was so excited to take my husband and the kids because I remember my trip to SeaWorld still after so many years. It was one of my favorite tourist attractions of all time and I wanted it to be that for my kids too.
We do have quite a nice aquarium here in Chicago and they already love going there whenever we can but I knew SeaWorld would be unlike anything they were used to. I had tried to prepare them but I think in their minds they just figured it would be like going to the aquarium here. You walk around and look at a lot of small to medium-sized fish in glass tanks and get to touch a couple of small to medium sea creatures. They have seen the Beluga whales at the local aquarium so I think they thought the whales at SeaWorld would be about the same size.
The reality of the whole day though was so much more exciting than I could have ever possibly hoped for! The kids were all smiles and were in awe of so many of the things that they saw. From the silly and boisterous seals and sea lions, to the reality that many sharks are not as big or as scary as they thought, to the beauty, magic and wonder of seeing a Orca (killer whale) for the first time and realizing how huge and beautiful they are all at once. The even better thing was watching my husband help them feed the animals and think it was just as cool as the kids did.
Something that was new for me that was not there when I went as a child were the rides. While we skipped the big, loud and scarier rides we did make a point of heading to Shamu’s Happy Harbor for the kids to play and go on some rides. The kids really loved playing here!
My ten-year old is not much for rides but when he saw the Net Climb his face lit up and he played here for a long time while the other two went on all of the rides. The Net Climb was four stories of netting, tubes and slides just perfect for loads of fun for any child who loves to climb.
My seven and five-year olds were all about hitting the rides. They went on the Jazzy Jellies, Ocean Commotion, Sea Carousel, Swishy Fishies, The Flying Fiddler and of course the Shamu Express. When we reached Shamu’s Happy Harbor my seven-year old was getting a bit tired and lagging a bit. As soon as he saw the rides though he perked back up and they had a blast before joining my ten-year old on the Net climb.
My thoughts on the day? My family loved it here! The kids learned so many new things all while having fun. Their favorite fact they learned? Humans are much more dangerous to sharks than they are to us.
If you’d like more information on any of the SeaWorld parks then be sure to visit their website for information and to see any current specials. You can also follow them on Twitter and Facebook or if you are like me with kids at home you can follow their YouTube channel. There you can watch some great animal videos with the kids and play some fun games and apps.
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