I'd been to Sea World San Antonio once before as a college student with my boyfriend (now husband) and it was a great time. As expected, the experience was quite different with a toddler.
My husband and I were far from carefree with our stroller and diaper bag and while we thought we'd have extra helping hands by bringing along our niece, 13, and nephew 9, it ended up giving us a taste at what outings with a larger family and children at various stages would be like - naturally fun of course.
Here are seven Sea World tips for maximizing your fun at Sea World when a baby or toddler is involved. Also special thanks to the folks at Sea World for our park passes!
I thought my bag, would be for my wallet and baby's essentials: diapers, wipes, changing pad, a change of clothes, sunscreen and sun hat.
But somehow before we even got off the parking lot, my husband had shoved the camera in the bag and my niece and nephew followed suit with their hats and other miscellaneous items.
You can avoid lugging extra items by having everyone who is able to bring their own bag or by following tip # 2.
By the way, Sea World has great family changing rooms with changing tables for children in diapers. They are situated between the men's and women's restrooms.
I thought a lightweight umbrella stroller would make the most sense, but I was wrong. A stroller with storage is ideal for carrying water bottles and diapering essentials underneath. Also you don't have to worry about strollers during the shows, the park is full of stroller parking lots for their baby and toddler patrons.
Shows happen at limited times throughout the day, so using the website and planning is essential if your time is limited. We visited Shamu's Believe show first and I'm glad. It was truly special and inspiring for kids and adults alike.
The trainers' presentation about their connection with the animals was touching. They also incorporated a child from the audience who hopes to become a farmer when she grows up. She got to see Shamu land on the stage right in front of her.
The show was a wonderful reminder to instill in children that they can do whatever she wants in life if she believes she can. However, in the moment I simply said, "I love you" and hugged her tight.
My toddler enjoyed all the shows, pointing at the animals and watching attentively. Shamu was my favorite, along with the Pirates 4-D movie. The must-see uses sight, sound, wind and water make you feel you are part of this on-screen pirate adventure.
In case you were wondering, all of the shows are included with the admission ticket. We only paid extra to feed the dolphins (worth it) and of course to eat and drink).
We learned this early on in our trip. My nephew wanted to sit up close and let Shamu and his friends splash him. My niece was not even entertaining her hair getting wet and my toddler was clinging to daddy so she wouldn't get lost in the sea of people. It seemed no matter what we were doing, someone wanted to do it another way or move on to the next activity. So my husband and I decided that we'd split up during the shows and meet out front.
We also should have done this with other activities. My husband, failed at convincing my nephew to join him on the Great White roller coaster ride because they we're having "technical difficulties," so once it started up again, hubby decided to relive his childhood alone.
That was all fine and dandy, but we missed the Sea Lion show. I wished I'd been more aware of the time and taken the kids, but I'll know better next time.
To get even with my husband for his indulgence, I made him watch my sleeping daughter while my nephew and I fed the dolphins.
Did you know that Sea World has an evening experience called Summer Nights?
Not only will you avoid peak temperatures, but the shows are different with spoofs, lights and special effects.
Unfortunately, we couldn't stay past 5 p.m. in order to make my niece's volleyball game, but my sleeping toddler confirmed that five hours was enough for her. So we'll plan a separate trip to experience the evening ambiance that Sea World offers.
Bottled water is $3.00 a pop. At 90 degree temperatures we spent more on water than we did on food. However, it was hot and worth every surcharge penny. We noticed however that some families bought coolers and used lockers to store them. What a great way to save on drinks and snacks.
If you feel like carrying it, you could also take a reusable bottle to fill up at the various cafes and vending stations throughout the park.
There are tons of opportunities to spend your dollars on items to help you remember your experience at sea world. However, there a couple of ways to get more out of your purchases.
We bought souvenir lunch packs for the kids. You could choose between chicken tenders and one other item and french fries and you get to keep the Shamu lunch box. Souvenir cups are also available for drinks.
Another hit purchase was a reusable Sea World water bottle with a min fan attached. It kept the kids hydrated and cool throughout the day.
Finally, instead of going with more stuffed animals and t-shirts (my daughter has an abundance) we purchased a sea themed picture frame. In it will place our family picture that we took with our digital camera instead of paying for the one taken by Sea World. She'll remember the day for years to come.
Visiting the Sea World Park is a great way to introduce your child to the world under the sea. All you need to do is plan ahead, take your essential baby supplies and not overwhelm yourself with trying to do ALL of the activities in one day. Simply prioritize and enjoy the smile on your little one's face.
By the way, babies and toddlers under 3, get in to Sea World free!
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