We returned home from the River Walk around 7:30 p.m. I helped Brian get 2 of our kids ready for bed and then I took my oldest with me to Starbucks to meet a friend. Dividing the kids near bed time made it easier to get our two youngest to sleep. Unfortunately, I shared a bed with my younger son and didn't sleep a wink that night! Oh well.
The kids were all awake by 6:30 a.m., which is normal for them. Since SeaWorld didn't open until noon, we had plenty of time in the morning to swim in the hotel's pool after breakfast.
We had the whole pool to ourselves. Yippee! The kids hadn't been swimming since late summer.
After swimming and showers, we ate lunch in our room (brought from home and stored in the room's refrigerator).
Finally, it was almost noon and time to head out to SeaWorld! It looked like it was going to be a beautiful day. Here is the sign at the entrance:
We had pre-paid for our parking online at a discount, so we just had to show our receipt. The parking lot looked fairly empty when we arrived. I was surprised that there was nobody directing us where to park--you could just park wherever you wanted.
When we walked up to the entrance, there were probably almost 1000 people in line. Not exaggerating. There were 2 lines, one on each side, and they snaked around and stretched out to the parking lot. It was 11:55 p.m., 5 minutes before opening.
Brian took the kids out of line to snap this picture in front:
Once the park opened, it took 25 minutes for us to actually get in the gate. Ok, now I don't want to constantly compare SeaWorld to Disney World....BUT, there are a few operational things that SeaWorld could learn from Disney World. Just sayin'. :)
Christmas decorations were out!
Once we were inside the park, we decided to head to the left and go to the dolphin area and the shark/coral reef tank. First we fed the dolphins. They were hungry!
Then we went next door to the shark/coral reef tank.
Alyssa was more interested in swinging from all the rails inside!
We then walked back in front of the entrance to get to the rest of the park. There was a mariachi band playing:
We headed for the Sesame Street Bay of Play next. This area just opened in 2011 so none of us had seen it. We saw Cookie Monster and Grover just standing around. There were no kids around them at all. I thought that was odd, since we were used to a crowd gathering around all the characters at Disney World. We stopped for some hugs and a family picture with these guys:
And then around the corner we saw some more characters with no lines.
The Bay of Play was nearly empty! The boys wanted to ride some kiddie rides. There were no lines at all.
We also spent some time at the big play area there. Cargo nets, slides, all sorts of things. There was a little kid play area down beneath it in the shade where Alyssa and I went.
For some reason, I did not take any pictures during the entire Sea Lion show. It was good. The kids were impressed at Clyde and Seamore's tricks and the show held their attention the entire time..
After the show, the boys wanted to return to the Sesame Street section. So I took them there for more rides, while Brian took Alyssa to another nearby playground.
It appeared that a lot of people from the Sea Lion show dumped into the Bay of Play because it was a little more crowded than it was before the show. There were slight lines for the rides now, but still 10 minutes or less. We rode Grover's Round-Up Carousel:
And the Shamu Express! (I took this photo from the SeaWorld website).
I think the kids could have played in the Sesame Street Bay of Play area all day. But it was 3:30 p.m. at this point and if we wanted to see more shows or go on more rides, we had to get moving.
To be continued...