Those Summer Nights at SeaWorld Orlando

I can’t even think of the words “Summer Nights” without hearing certain “Grease-ers” in my mind, dragging out the second half of that phrase in iconic ’50s warble. I’m singing a NEW tune, now as SeaWorld’s Summer Nights has me Makin’ Waves and wanting to Light up the Night!

The atmosphere at Shamu Stadium is like a night club, but for families. Everyone is moving and grooving to the all-new music, played and pumped up by a live DJ. A pre-show decades dance off, gets you on your feet (and your kids entertained) as the stadium fills (and note: you will need to get there early, as shows fill fast).

Our group took advantage of the show-before- the-show and proceeded to dance unabandoned! Wild giggles and shouts for joy were heard from our row, and that was just the warm up! You’ll also get to read some ocean/animal facts while you wait for the show to start. The kids with me wanted me to read every one out loud.

SeaWorld’s outstanding trainers and the ever-magnificent Killer Whales are the Main Event, though. You’ll be hard-pressed not to join in on the oohs and aahs from the audience as the whales leap from the water, or SPLASH the crowd. (And when they say the splash zone goes up to the second level… they’re NOT kidding. Take your cameras and cell phones at your own risk.)

We usually leave before the night shows since my son wakes up at 6:30 every morning (EVERY morning) and it’s normally a wise decision to match that early rise time with an early “to bed” time. I can’t think of a better time to break that rule, though, than on a summer night with friends and family. We all enjoyed the show so much and will be back a few more times at least before summer’s end (which, sadly, seems RIGHT around the corner!).

 

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SeaWorld-Themed SkinIT

SkinIT skin for iPadI’m a geek. I wear that “flag” proudly. Imagine my joy to see there are SeaWorld-themed “skins” for phone, laptop, iPad, Kindle, Nintendo DS and other gaming devices, tablets, MP3 players and eReaders. Nice!

The one pictured here is in honor of Turtle Trek’s grand opening!

Check them out here.

Manatee Born at SeaWorld Orlando

A sonogram taken July 20 clearly shows the calf’s spine and a heartbeat.

The pregnant manatee rescued in Merritt Island, FL on June 8 (read about it here) gave birth to a healthy calf July 18, 2012, sometime between 3 and 6 a.m. Both mother and baby are said to be doing well. The newborn is healthy, nursing and swimming close to its mother. SeaWorld’s Animal Care team has the pair under 24-hour surveillance.

The new baby gives its mom a little kiss!

The newborn calf sticks its tongue out, probably still “rooting.”

New calf bonding with mom in a back area pool at SeaWorld, Orlando.

Rescued Manatee is Pregnant

Pedro Ramos-Navarrate, Supervisor of Animal Care, and SeaWorld Animal Care Experts steady the female manatee in the rescue boat.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rescue team members work alongside SeaWorld rescue and rehabilitation workers to transport the injured female manatee rescued near Cocoa Beach, FL.

The 10-foot manatee rescued on June 8 from Sykes Creek in Merritt Island, FL from crab trap line injuries has been determined to be pregnant by SeaWorld animal care experts.

After assessing and treating her injuries to her right flipper, the 1,400-pound adult was given an ultrasound which confirmed the animal care expert’s suspicion (based on her large size). Manatees usually have a 12 month gestation period, though it is unknown exactly how far along she is at present.

Stranded Baby Dolphin Rescued by SeaWorld’s Animal Care Team

A baby dolphin, believed to be just 5 days old and with his umbilical cord still attached, was rescued Sunday, May 20, 2012 near Three Sisters Island in Volusia County. The male calf weighed slightly less than 35 pounds and was found in shallow waters under a mangrove.

Initial tests revealed no major health issues, but SeaWorld’s animal team will manually tube-feed the newborn every two hours. Dolphin calves usually nurse for 12 to 18 months.

“Dolphin calves typically nurse from their mother until they are 12 to 18 months old.”

Pedro Ramos-Navarrate, Supervisor of Animal Care, along with SeaWorld’s animal team are working tirelessly to ensure the calf continues to grow and thrive.

This successful rescue was the result of a team of Animal experts and volunteers. The Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute initially examined the dolphin. Once NOAA Fisheries Service authorized his rescue, SeaWorld’s animal rescue team brought the baby dolphin to SeaWorld for care.

SeaWorld’s animal rescue team is on call 24/7 to save and care for injured, orphaned or ill animals. This is the first bottlenose dolphin to be rescued this year.

Loggerhead Turtle Who Swallowed a Hook is Released Today Thanks to SeaWorld

X-Ray shows 4" hook in Loggerhead's throat.

Four weeks ago a sub-adult Loggerhead turtle was found by biologists from the Inwater Research Group near the St. Lucie Power Plant in St. Lucie County, Florida. The 100-pound turtle was taken to SeaWorld, Orlando on February 26 with transport assistance from Inwater volunteers.

Initial tests, bloodwork, and x-rays confirmed the need for immediate surgery. The turtle had ingested a 4-inch-long fish hook.

Senior Veterinarian Dr. Lara Croft, one of three SeaWorld Orlando staff veterinarians, performed the surgery. It was one of the largest SeaWorld veterinarians have removed. Showing remarkable resilience, the turtle has made a quick recovery.

Dr. Croft watches on as aquarium staff members prepare the sea turtle for the x-ray procedure.

After a few short weeks of round-the-clock care, the turtle was deemed fit for release earlier this week.

This morning, Dan Conklin, aquarium supervisor at Seaworld, and dedicated staffers carefully loaded up the turtle for the ride to the beach before 8 a.m.

At Lori Wilson Park, Cocoa Beach, the loggerhead got one last lift from his friends at SeaWorld as they carried it from the transport vehicle to the water.

Peter Pan (as I’ve affectionately dubbed for his Hook-beating ways) moved steadily toward the water with many well-wishers around. At a little after 9 a.m. flippers could be seen darting through the waves as SeaWorld again helped an animal in need. More than 20,000 animals have been rescued by SeaWorld experts. Their hard-working animal rescue team is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Peter Pan makes way for the surf.

Help a Turtle Out:

J-shaped hooks are easy for sea life to swallow, which is why anglers are urged to use the new “circle” hooks which are less likely to be ingested. Protect this and other threatened species by properly disposing of all trash, and securing fishing line that can also cause harm to our ocean friends.

Love me, and all my Loggerhead turtle friends and sea buddies, by being responsible when you're on, or around, waterways.

Celebrate the release by doing a Loggerhead craft!

Loggerhead Turtle Rehabilitated and Soon To Be Released Thanks to SeaWorld

This is one of the many turtles rescued and rehabilitated by the SeaWorld team.

I’m so excited that the sea turtle that had a 4-inch-long hook in its throat will be returning home to the waters of Cocoa Beach soon! Thank you SeaWorld and Inwater Research Group for finding and taking care of this beautiful animal and to the vets who removed the hook and helped it make a quick recovery!

SeaWorld Rehab Teams Are Ready to Roll when and where an animal needs them.

“The turtle, a sub-adult weighing approximately 100 pounds, was rescued from the intake canal at the St. Lucie Power Plant in St. Lucie County, Fla. The animal arrived at SeaWorld Orlando February 26 and immediately underwent surgery following x-rays and blood work procedures. Vets removed a 4 inch-long fish hook, and after a speedy recovery, the turtle is now ready to be released back into the wild.

The loggerhead was found by the Inwater Research Group – an organization committed to the research and conservation of coastal species and habitats – who also assisted in the animal’s transport.

According to SeaWorld veterinarians, the fishing hook was one of the largest the team has removed to date. To help protect this threatened species, make sure fishing line and all trash is disposed of properly. When fishing, use new “circle” hooks – turtles are less likely to swallow the circle-shaped hooks than traditional J-shaped, which cause suffocation or internal bleeding when swallowed. Also, if a sea turtle’s nest is seen, please contact authorities.

This year, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued nine sea turtles. For 45 years, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has helped animals in need — ill, injured and orphaned. More than 20,000 animals have been rescued by our experts.‪ SeaWorld’s animal rescue team is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ‪”

Remembering Our Son’s First Visit to SeaWorld

My son is 5. Oh how those words fill me with pride and emotion. It seems like only yesterday we had him, and soon after that were visiting SeaWorld. He had some health issues at birth, so that first visit included a monitor and lots of wires. He slept through most of the day, I admit, but his parents were refreshed and renewed, taking in all the loveliness and beauty around us. A dolphin baby splashed right by us at the nursery. We smiled, looking at our little baby squirming in our arms.

We took turns holding him and pushing the stroller. We paused to watch the sea lions. All in all, I remember imagining all the amazing things we’d do here at SeaWorld with this tiny little boy of ours. Sigh.

Jump to the present.

Aforementioned baby is now 5. Five! My head spins when this kid who used to be so tiny just flies by me, running top speed. It’s birthday time, and he (again!) wants a SeaWorld theme. (To read about our other party, click here.)

Already this week we’ve sorted his “buddies” (a.k.a. stuffed animals) for the event. He wants all the penguins to be in their own habitat. No, we can’t use real ice. He’d like the birds to be in an aviary. Yes, we can put out some bird seed, but our guests do NOT have to sample it. Our remote control shark needs a pond to swim in. “Can we use the baby pool if we still have it?” he asks. It’s a lot of fun having him figure out how he wants it all to look, and what he wants people to see and do.

I’m in high gear coming up with food items for the occasion. I found some adorable penguin appetizers made out of cream cheese, carrots, and olives. We’re also serving “hot-dog-topuses.” (Check out the items I’m working on at Pinterest and if you have a great party idea, send it on!)

I firmly believe that conservation begins with inspiration. Even at 5, my son is already developing a tremendous respect and love for those with whom we share our world. He’s mindful of recycling, reducing our use of natural resources, and caring for animals. It brings me great joy that even in his idea for a party he wants to teach others about marine animals and share the love and joy of being near them and appreciating their awesomeness.

It all started with a visit to SeaWorld nearly 5, FIVE, years ago. I’m grateful!

Preschoolers are FREE in 2012 at SeaWorld, Orlando and Busch Gardens

Preschoolers can enjoy all of 2012 for Free!

Children age 5 and younger get into SeaWorld AND Busch Gardens for all of 2012 for free! The Preschool Pass is good for unlimited admission with NO blackout dates the entire year. Every special event is included. Every festival. All of it! Click HERE to sign up.

Our resident preschooler is looking forward to the “Just for Kids!” festival featuring concerts by Lazy Town, Max & Ruby, the Doodlebops and Choo Choo Soul, along with plenty of family-friendly fun and activities on Saturdays, Jan. 14 through Feb. 4.

At Busch Gardens, Sesame Street Safari of Fun is ALWAYS a hit. New this year (and on our to do-list: Iceploration, premiering this February.

“Must-see” preschool attractions at SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld’s littlest guests can enjoy the wildly popular 4-acre play area, Shamu’s Happy Harbor.  It’s a kid’s dream come true, complete with kid-size rides, a 4-story net climb, and a great place for parents to relax while watching their kids have splashes of fun.  The park’s first family-oriented roller coaster, “Shamu Express” can be found here along with other kiddie rides to explore.

Of course no visit to SeaWorld is complete without being splashed by Shamu!  SeaWorld’s newest killer whale show, “One Ocean,” features majestic whales performing spectacular behaviors, including thrilling high-energy leaps, while educating and inspiring kids and their families to make a difference in this world.  And at “Blue Horizons” kids will be awed by graceful dolphins, false killer whales, a rainbow of exotic birds, and entire cast of divers and aerialists.

Kid-favorite “Pets Ahoy!” will leave children giggling as a menagerie of rescued dogs, cats, birds, rats, skunks, pot-belly pigs, and other animals performing a series of uproarious and amazing skits.

While older kids are flying, gliding and soaring on Manta, younger ones can experience the incredible underwater world of tropical fish and rays in the floor-to-ceiling aquariums.  Manta’s underwater viewing area is home to more than 3,000 species. Kids can even “pop up” in the middle of a small aquarium, surrounding themselves with hundreds of fish for some great photos.

At Dolphin Cove, kids (and parents) can touch and feed dolphins and also go below the surface for an underwater view where they just might see a dolphin blowing a bubble or two!

Plus, SeaWorld features a cozy Baby Care Center located at Shamu’s Happy Harbor with top-of-the-line changing facilities, private feeding rooms and pint-sized potties.  This brightly-colored building gives parents the privacy and comfort of a home-away-from home in the middle of all the fun and is a one-stop shop for baby necessities.

Busch Garden loves kids, too!

Don’t forget this awesome new FREE Preschool Pass also includes Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Just a short hour’s drive away, in addition to all the  wondrous animal encounters at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, preschoolers will delight in Sesame Street Safari of Fun, a sunny funny play land, filled with moments that your family can share for the first time — like a first coaster experience aboard Air Grover. And everyday smiles can be repeated time after time —clapping along to original shows, splashing in our expansive water play area and enjoying kid-size rides.

Sign up today!

The Free SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Preschool Pass is an exclusive online offer, available at SeaWorldOrlando.com or BuschGardensTampaBay.com. It is exclusively for Florida residents ages 5 and younger and is valid for unlimited admission – with no blackout dates – through Dec. 31, 2012 at SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. The Preschool Pass does not include parking or Premium Passport discounts or benefits.

After registering through either park’s website, registrants can pick up the Preschool Pass for their child by bringing a printed confirmation and a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate to any ticket window at SeaWorld’s or Busch Gardens’ front gate.

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I Danced with a Snowman at SeaWorld

I’m thinking about the last few weeks and pondering which things specifically have brought me the most joy. I have to say, without a doubt, that our family has enjoyed our time at SeaWorld the most. It’s quality time together where we wonder at the miracle of life, are wowed at the beauty of nature and all of God’s creatures, and sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of the season.

As season pass holders we try to visit every weekend during December. There is so much to do and see that you can’t see it all in one trip! Yes I enjoy the “big” things (O Wondrous Night is glorious, Shamu Christmas Miracles is breathtaking, The Polar Express is a wild ride, and the Ice Skating show “Winter Wonderland on Ice” is top notch), but my favorite moments are the small, simple pleasures.

My son is particularly fond of the elves who play with children near the dolphin nursery on your way to the waterfront and Seafire Inn. All children are invited to participate in their shenanigans that vary throughout the day. I’m always a little sad, though, when I hear someone rushing their child past them when the child SO wants to play for a moment. (And isn’t that the reason for visiting a theme park?) Those who do participate, get lots of giggles, a few tee hees, and an occasional oh-gee-shucks. I thought it was hilarious when Flaky tried to tell my little guy about mistletoe kisses. He wasn’t having any of that nonsense!

He also laughed at the toy soldiers who march back and forth by Christmas Village. You never know if their going to follow you, encircle you, or try to swipe a sip of your hot chocolate. If you see them, try to march along. They don’t mind. It’s actually encouraged!

After the Sea of Trees lighting, it’s a great time to stroll by the water to see what holiday baubles and goodies are available in the village, but it’s also a good spot for character spotting (and photographing!). While my husband and son took off to buy an ornament, I saw the snowman at water’s edge, just watching all the children. Gallantly he accepted my request for a dance, and we swayed to holiday music for a bit. What Christmas is complete without a dance with a snowman?!

Sure there a lot of people enjoying the parks, too, but it doesn’t seem crowded. The lines are not excessive, the shows are spectacular, and all the “little touches” SeaWorld has added this year make it even more special for us.

Come on down for a leisurely day of holiday fun. You may go inside a snowglobe, or be snowed ON along the shore. And if you’re luck, you too might get to dance with a Frosty Friend.

 

Starting tonight SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration takes place nightly through Dec. 31!  Waves of holiday spirit splash over the park during SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration. With everything from elves to Elmo, and Santa to Shamu, lifelong memories are made in a watery, wintery wonderland that only SeaWorld could create. Don’t miss out on the spectacular holiday shows, including: Winter Wonderland on Ice, Shamu Christmas – Miracles, Clyde and Seamore’s Countdown to Christmas, A Sesame Street Christmas, and the all-new “O Wondrous Night – the Greatest Story Never Told”, as well as the festive holiday décor and amazing Sea of Trees.