We got into the park and I handed Ian and Alec a map. I told them they could pick where they wanted to go and as long as they could get us there that's what we'd do. Then we just started walking while they decided what to do and where to go. We saw flamingos and Evan explained to my husband that they're pink because of the food they eat. Alec told us all that flamingos are extinct in the wild in Florida. We learned that male and females help incubate eggs and the reason that they stand on one leg is to conserve body heat. We went over to Manta but it was temporarily closed (we made sure Ian could in fact ride it) and then planned to try it out later in the day. Instead we walked over to the pelicans and learned many are hurt when tangled in fishing lines and nets. From there we walked over to pet and feed sting rays. Alec was too intimidated to do either and Evan was too short to feed them. You have to put a piece of shrimp between your fingers and place your whole hand underwater. A stingray will then swim up and over your hand sucking up the shrimp as he goes by. It was really neat!
We then headed to see the dolphins. We got splashed a bit but didn't mind since it was pretty hot. We went to see the turtles, manatees, and alligators. The boys played a video game where they had to race their turtle to the beach avoiding dangers like oil, fishing nets, hooks, and lines, while eating enough food to survive so they could lay their eggs. It was a great fun way to learn about the effects of pollution on ocean life. We made our way over to Atlantis, only to find that the ride was temporarily closed (now we're getting a bit annoyed & I was worried we'd never get to see everything). Since it was after 11 and the Shamu show started at noon on the other side of the park we headed there and planned on going back to Atlantis later. Ian really wanted to get splashed during the show so my husband sat with him while my mother in law and myself took the other two a bit higher up. We sat for 45 minutes while the stadium filled completely and the trainers attempted to coax the large male orca whale to the back tank. They were unable to coax him out and had to cancel the show. They added a 2:30 show but we decided to skip it and see everything else in the park we could while the bulk of the crowd was at the show. It worked and we finally made a good size dent in the park attractions.
We stopped for snacks and my husband told me he thought I'd better turn back into a power mom since we really hadn't seen or done much of anything. I argued that even if I had planned everything out we still would've wasted a lot of time since everything seemed to be broken down; not something I would've planned on. Evan went on a kiddie coaster while the older two boys found their way through a large maze of rope bridges. We went on a ride simulator to the arctic and afterward walked through the exhibit to see first hand beluga whales, walruses, and a polar bear (though only Evan and my mother in law saw the bear since they didn't go on the ride and he was back in his cave by the time the rest of us walked by). By then the rides appeared to be up and running so we headed back toward Atlantis. On the way we stopped to see and feed some sharks. We also went to see the sea lions and harbor seals. They came right out and up onto the rocks so we were able to see them quite well. Alec stayed behind with my mother in law and fed them while Ian and I headed onto our first roller coaster. It was called Kraken and wow! was it ever intense. He loved it and laughed through the whole thing.
We all met back up and my mother in law took the youngest two through the aquarium at Atlantis while my husband and I took Ian on the flume ride. There were actually several drops and it turned into a partial roller coaster at times. It was great. We walked through the aquarium after the ride and it was pretty small with just a single room containing jelly fish, a few sharks and a tank of assorted reef fish. We went over and rode Manta. You're suspended lying face down for this roller coaster and it was wild! You go backwards head first into the loop, feel the spray from the fountains on your feet and come so close to the ground several times you feel like you could touch the grass. After the ride we walked through the aquarium there and saw sea horses, rays, and an octopus. By this time it was late afternoon and the boys were begging to guy souvenirs. So while walking around looking for just the right thing for each of them I noticed that it was dolphin feeding time. Alec was so upset we weren't swimming with them so I paid for us to feed them. We got to the ledge after learning how to properly feed them and it was great. They'd swim right up to you with mouth open and you could cup the underside of their jaw while placing a fish in their open mouths. Everyone loved it; except Alec! He didn't want to touch them and I was so grateful I hadn't caved and paid for us to swim with them. While he loves animals so much but he is very frightened of getting up close to them. He finally touched the dolphin with the very last fish of our entire batch. They feel quite muscular. I thought they'd feel like a ray but they don't.
|Feeding the dolphins|
|Watching the show|
|Petting and feeding the rays|