When work was so hairy this fall I promised Norah that at the end of it we would take a special trip-just girls. Her request was SeaWorld, which is in San Antonio (a relatively short drive away). She had a few specifics including: staying in a hotel, swimming in the hotel pool, watching the Princess Bride, and eating lunch in a restaurant on the way home. Done and done.
We drove up early on Saturday morning, checked into the hotel and took the shuttle from the hotel to the park.
Now, the obvious question is probably-what the hell were we doing going to SeaWorld, and believe me I had my reservations. I am not oblivious of the controversy, nor was I particularly comfortable supporting this particular brand. However, I love my kid more than I needed to take a stand, so away we went. Since our visit I have watched the documentary Blackfish and read a bit more about the subject, and while I do not think SeaWorld is necessarily an evil corporate giant, I do definitely believe that Orca whales have no business being in captivity under any circumstances. There were protestors outside the front gate and Norah certainly noticed them. I decided to wait until after our trip to talk to her about what they were protesting, which we have done. I doubt we will be back, but I appreciate our experience for the opportunity to spend time with my awesome kid and for the chance to open our eyes to something bigger than just our own entertainment.
This was far and away her favorite part. It was a multi-level obstacle course with nets, tunnels, slides, ropes, etc. She went through it easily ten times. We got separated once, which was a little hairy, but that did not dissuade her from going back many times again.
The play structure was also a big hit. The park has a lot of big and fancy roller coasters, which of course we avoided. She did go on the little kid coaster, which shocked me. There is an area sectioned off specifically for younger kids, complete with a splash pad. She was not interested in getting wet, but did enjoy the rides and amenities the area offered.
There are several shows offered and we saw two of them, the first being Azul. It was the highlight of the visit--dolphins, Beluga whales, and acrobats.
We also saw the Shamu show, which was basically a 30 minute propaganda vehicle for SeaWorld's ocean clean-up campaign. We did sit in the splash zone and got a spray of Orca water.
Norah is a great kid to travel with and have these kinds of adventures. She (rarely) complains about anything, is enthusiastic, and appreciative of the kinds of things we get to do. It was close to Halloween so there were a lot of decorations and special events. It was not particular kid-friendly Halloween stuff (more haunted houses, headless zombies, etc.) so we steered clear of most of those areas. She navigated our activities the entire time, which was fun.
She used her own money and picked out a stuffed Beluga for herself and gifts for me, BVZ, Louie and Bubby. It was really sweet. She named the whale Winter and it has stayed in her regular rotation since she got him. She has never consistently with any stuffed animal other than Bear, but I think Winter is here to stay. She says Winter and Bear need each other.
We are spoiled by how (relatively) easy it is to be gluten free in Austin. Not all parts of Texas are like that. We stayed at a large Marriott and the only thing in the whole place I could find for her to eat were a $6 smoothie and cup of cocoa krispies.
We spent the morning lounging and swimming in the pool.
And then watching the Princess Bride.
She was a happy girl and that made me an exceedingly happy mom.