Tampa Lowry Park Zoo Offers Scary Good Fun

Looking for a scary good time? Or perhaps a not-so-scary Halloween scene?! Tampa Lowry Park Zoo offers goulishly good fun for all ages.

ZooBoo presented by floridacentral Credit Union
October 10-12, 17-19, 23-26, 30-31 & Nov. 1 • Opens 7 p.m.
scary scenesTampa Bay’s largest family Halloween event continues, with hair-raising haunts, family favorites, and some spooky species. The “Haunts” are on a skull rating system, with 7 skulls being the most terrifying! Both London Frightmare and Tangled Terror are in the “incredibly intense” category and are intended for mature audiences. The all new London Frightmare transports guests back in time to uncover dark secrets in the most haunted city in England while Tangled Terror has mad scientists in search of revenge! Slightly (only slightly) less intense haunts are the Pharoah’s Tomb of Revenge where artifacts come alive as the Curse is unleashed, and Wake the Dead, a graveyard of zombies and ghostly apparitions seeking to keep some of the visitors for themselves.

If this sounds a little too intense for you, have no (ahem) FEAR: There are family options for the more squeamish in the group (Read: SeaWorld Mommy, LOL).

zoo boo collageThe Little Beasties Bungalow features a not-so-scary world of friendly Halloween scenes and colorful lights. In the Spooky Fun Fair, kids will find bounce houses and skill games like Monster Basketball, Pumpkin Pitch, and more. Zoo rides will also be re-named for the season and are included in price of admission including Batty Bumper Boats, Pumpkin Patch Express (kiddie train), Roarin’ Roller-Ghoster (family coaster), Flyin’ Boo-nanas (kiddie flying bananas ride), Flume of Fear (water flume ride), and Scary-Go-Round (carousel).

Spooky Species is an opportunity to encounter Flying Foxes and Bats, along with Stingray Bay, the select animals on display for this special nighttime event.

Tickets are $18 for adults and $14 for children (ages 3-11). Zoo Pass holders receive discounted admission with valid I.D. at ticket windows. Hours are 7-11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 7-10 p.m. on other select nights. Find updates at www.LowryParkZoo.org and follow ZooBoo on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

Spooktacular at SeaWorld… A Boo-tiful Thing

Last weekend we enjoyed the fall family fun that is SeaWorld Spooktacular! From trick-or-treating along the shore, to Halloween themed shows and entertainment, Spooktacular is a Boo-tiful thing to our family (and it’s included with park admission!). Spooktacular takes place weekends throughout the entire month of October, from 12 – 8 p.m.

Spooktacular Collage 2014The Sesame Street Countdown to Halloween show at the Seaport Theater, is a family fave. Human host Jamie interacts with the cutest monsters around for a not-scary-at-all musical good time. I especially love The Count (ahh ahh ahh!) and Transylvania 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5. It’s a play on the Big Band classic Pennsylvania 6-500. Kids of all ages will be singing along with Elmo, Telly Monster, Abby Cadabby and all their Sesame Street friends.

New this year is the Dine With Shamu Halloween Spooktacular Brunch (added item, not included in admission). Enjoy a delicious menu of seasonal items while sitting at a reserved table that brings you up close to majestic killer whales and Halloween surprises — a family photo with a Halloween Spooktacular frame, a free cookie decorating kit and a trick-or-treat bag with goodies. Pass members, buy your tickets through the pass member portal for discount admission.

PumpkinGuts2014Every year we enjoy The Longshoremen doing their “Pumpkin Guts” routine. Set just outside the SeaFire Inn restaurant, the performance staring an amazing and talented comedic trio will have you busting a gut (pun intended) as they try to scoop out the pumpkin guts to carve them. Spoiler Alert: They don’t have much success at anything but making a MESS!

Down at Penelope’s Party Zone, kids can get creative at the Jo-Ann CraftZone or dance to the live DJ’s family-friendly tunes. Though my son HAS the Turtle Trek app at home, he enjoyed playing on the huge screen, while his little friend made a picture at the coloring desks. Walking down and up from the party zone, big AND little kids couldn’t help but stop and push the buttons that make water dance out in the bay. Every detail has been thought of, and guests will be amazed at how much they’re immersed into the sea-themed magic all around.

Make sure to have your child’s photo taken with the myriad under-water creatures who grace Spooktacular while you trick-or-treat or partake in the games and goodies available for purchase along the bay. Because there is such a wide variety of creatures, there are usually not very long lines. Insider tip: Parents can trick-or-treat, too! (We’re kind of partial to the Junior Mints and Lemonheads!)

Whether you’re there for the treats or entertainment, you’ll have a boo-tiful experience at SeaWorld Spooktacular. See you there this weekend! And the next. And EVERY weekend in October!

Ticket deal: For a limited time, parents can get 50% off an Annual Pass for kids 9 and under with the purchase of a full-paid Annual Pass.  For more details and to purchase, visit SeaWorldOrlando.com.

Spooktacular at SeaWorld Orlando is Coming Soon

I love Halloween. I love dressing up. I love getting the house all “decked out” for a night of family-friendly fun. I’m not much into getting scared. For me, SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular is right up my alley, and is one of the most fun events of the year. It seems to get better and better all the time.

Starting October 4, SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular takes place from 12 to 8 p.m. October: 4-5, 11-12, 18-19 and 25-26.

spooktacular2013bNew this year is a Dine With Shamu Halloween Spooktacular Brunch. In what’s being called “an immersive and memorable brunch experience,” families will enjoy a seasonal menu while being up close and personal with SeaWorld’s majestic killer whales. Plus, Halloween surprises are promised including a family photo with a Spooktacular frame, a free cookie decorating kit (something my 7-year-old loves!), and a trick-or-treat bag with goodies.

This year’s candy line-up in “Waves of Trick-or-Treat Fun” includes Tootsie Rolls, jelly beans, Airheads… just to name a few. The great fun is not only in getting to indulge in lots of yummy treats (aka “sometimes foods in our house, LOL), but stopping by all the themed characters and stop points. There is SO much to see.

Insider tip: Most guests enter the trick-or-treat line from the entrance closest to the
park entrance. To get in with less waiting, position yourself near the “other” end of
the trick-or-treat pathway, on the other side of the park… past the arcade, area
near the underwater viewing side of Shamu Stadium.

Make sure you check out Penelope’s Party Zone over in the Bayside area. There you’ll find craft stations, bubbles galore, fun music including a live DJ, and the most adorable sea-themed characters you can imagine!

Keep that dancing idea going into the night at an hour before closing. Princess Penelope and all her undersea friends can “get down” in the Village Square at the front of the park. It’s always a blast.

Admission to SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular is included with SeaWorld admission, whether you have a day pass, fun card, or annual pass!

Add-ons include: Sweet Treat Decorating, and the Dine with Shamu Spooktacular Brunch.

See you there. (I’ll be the one in costume!)

Last Weekend For Spooktacular

A DOG fish at SeaWorld Spooktacular

It’s a RUFF life! LOL Fun Dogfish at SeaWorld Spooktacular

I can’t wait for tomorrow! We’ll be at SeaWorld Orlando for Spooktacular… the last weekend of the year!

New to this year is Penelope’s Party Zone. It’s a fun nighttime event that is included with admission each weekend evening. (It’s the reason I LOVE getting annual passes at SeaWorld… all this fun is part of it).

I’m especially excited to see Kristen Cumings, the JellyBelly® artist in residence who will be making a rockhopper penguin portrait during this final weekend. Her mural will be made with more than 10,000 JellyBelly jelly beans! Kids will be able to create their own Spooktacular Jelly Belly artwork, too! Sounds beautiful. (And delicious if I sneak a few… which I will!)

See you and all my silly and spooky fun friends this weekend!

Spooktacular 2013—Starfish “Star” Treatment

We’re huge Spooktacular fans. We usually attend every weekend its held (as you may have read here… or here!). Sometimes TWICE in one weekend. It’s that much fun!

Spooktacular2013

There you’ll see whimsical witches, jazzy jellyfish, exotic creatures from the deep and in the air, and friendly starfish galore! It may be called “Spook”tacular, but there’s nothing spooky about it. It’s lots of not-scary, no-spooking, just plain fun!

Brought back again this year is the very fun Super Starfish of the Day contest! To enter, when you get to the park, post a photo of your kids (or YOU) in costumes at SeaWorld Orlando by noon (weekends only) on their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages using the  #SeaWorldSpooktacular hashtag. They announce the winner shortly after 12:15 p.m. on the various outlets. That lucky family then gets Quick Queue passes, all day dining passes for the day, complimentary cookie decorating session at Penelope’s Party Zone, reserved seating at shows, and a complimentary merchandise photo at any location in the park to always remember their Spooktacular day!

Spooktacular 2013 SeaWorldNew this year is the Spooktacular Dance Party.

Princess Penelope and her undersea friends (including a dancing Shamu in costume and Daisy Dolphin in HER finest!) dance to such favorites as Monster Mash and the popular dance party fave Gangham Style, LOL. My little man did NOT want to leave, even though he told us more than once he was “soooo tired.” Once he got to the party, though, he got a sudden second wind and was rocking out with the gang amid a cloud of bubbles and characters galore. The rockin’ fun kicks off at 7 p.m. and ends at 8:30 p.m. (although the “soooo tired” kicked in for him FINALLY at 8, so we didn’t quite make last call. Ha!).

In the past my little guy had a different costume for every weekend. He’s a little older and this year we’re “saving” the big one for the final weekend and dressing in fall colors or Halloween-type clothing. That’s one of the cool things about trick-or-treating there… you don’t have to have a costume (and you don’t have to be a kid… or even HAVE a kid). Best yet, all this fun is included in regular admission. There are no extra fees to attend any of these events (although you can go to to Count von Count’s Spooktacular Breakfast (with awesome photo opportunities with the characters) for an additional fee of $24 for adults and $14 for children (ages 2-9).

Starry Night, a Jelly Belly® creation by Kristen Cumings

Starry Night, a Jelly Belly® creation by Kristen Cumings

I’m especially excited to watch Jelly Belly® artist in residence Kristen Cumings as she creates a portrait of a rockhopper penguin from thousands of Jelly Belly jelly beans October 26-27 from 12–8 p.m. inside the craft zone (on the last weekend of Spooktacular) as a tribute to the opening of Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins. During that time, kids can decorate a Jelly Bean Spooktacular mural as well!

Today we’ll head over there in time to trick or treat (again) and watch our favorite street performers The Longshoremen. (Showtime for Sunday, October 13 are 2:25 & 3:55.) They

What would SeaWorld Spooktacular be without some Pumpkin Guts!?

What would SeaWorld Spooktacular be without some Pumpkin Guts!?

perform Along the Shore and do the routine Pumpkin Guts this time of year. It’s one of our favorite parts of the season, as the guys truly crack us up. Check them out if you can, and have a great time on your next visit to SeaWorld Orlando! We’ll be the people sitting in front so close to the pumpkin guts that we have “real” guts on us! (Think of it as an orange SPLASH Zone!)

SeaWorld Spooktacular 2012

SeaWorld’s Spooktacular ends with two 3-day weekend celebrations this Friday, Saturday and Sunday (October 19, 20, and 21) and wraps up the last weekend of October (26, 27, 28). All festivities are from noon to 8 p.m.

This year’s activities include:

Trick-or-treating — Kids with or without costumes (and parents with or without kids even!) are invited to stroll around Bayside Theater and beyond for yummy treats from M&Ms and Junior Mints to Ring Pops, Jelly Belly Candy Octopus at SeaWorld SpooktacularCorn, Mentos, Starbursts, Smarties, Twizzlers, Black Forest Gummy Bears and AirHead Extremes! (The first two listed are chocolate which just might have to be eaten on property as not to melt. That’s the story I gave my son when I pinched them from his bag, anyway.)

SeaWorld Spooktacular hug sea princess and mermaidInsider tip: The main “entrance” to the Trick-Or-Treat area is just inside the park to the right, by the birds. That walkway is more heavily traveled
that first hour or two. If you walk around to the back of the park,
past Sharks, past Nautilus Theater, and around
near the
SEAGarden, you’ll have less traffic.

Penelope Party Zone at SeaWorld Spooktacular

Party — Down in the stage area of Bayside Theater is Penelope’s Party Zone. DJs spin kid-friendly tunes while colorful fish and PUMPKIN fish giggle and dance with the kiddos. Both Shamu and Daisy Dolphin are on-site for photos in their cool costumes. New this year is a free craft table sponsored by Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores where kids can make Penelope Party Zone craft at SeaWorld Spooktaculara foam witch on a broom. Or, if an edible craft is more up your alley, there’s apple and rice cereal treat decorating (for a nominal fee). We’re fans of the apple decorating! Thankfully they had plastic clamshells to bring home our creation. (Can you say “sugar overload”?!) Also in our party lineup is making a sand sculpture. Last year we made a fish and this year, in honor of the new TurtleTrek he made an adorable turtle. The sand activity is $10.

Virtual Costume Parade — While you’re near Penelpe’s Party Zone, look for the Photacular station between Bayside Theater and Wild Arctic. Show off your costume, and it might be part of a pre-show costume parade before the Shamu Rocks show!School of Fish teacher at SeaWorld Spooktacular

Underwater “Fantasea” — All along the watefront and around the park, you’re sure to run into spectacular characters like the school of fish teacher and her “students.” Play along with their games and shenanigans!

school of fish student Spooktacular SeaWorld 2012

Special Shows — In addition to the ever-popular Sesame Street Countdown to Halloween, street Longshoreman SeaWorldperformers also have some fun holiday entertainment up their sleeves. We’re partial to the Longshoremen, a Three Stooges-type live-action routine that, at this time of year, features PUMPKIN GUTS! Longshoremen SeaWorld 2012

Spooktacular is included in your regular SeaWorld admission ticket price. SEA you there!

“Count” You In For Lunch with Sesame Street at Busch Gardens?

SeaWorld has its very special Spooktacular breakfast throughout October… But Busch Gardens has a Monster Mash Lunch. Only ONE. October 22, 2011.

Join the fun at Sesame Street Safari of Fun for the Spooktacular (um,  no wait, that one’s taken…) spooky fun lunch.

The Count will be making appearances at both SeaWorld AND Busch Gardens!

The special dine costs $22 for adults and $15 for children 3-9. Passholders don’t forget your 10% discount. Each family will get one 6 x 8 photo with The Count in addition to having a really great time. (Admission to the park is required, and not included.)

Make reservations at: SesameStreetSafariofFun.com and click on Dine with Elmo to book the Oct. 22 dine, or call 1-888-800-5447.

Half-Price Kids Tickets Through October 31, 2011 at SeaWorld

Nothing Spooky about this Friendly Witch!

Now through the end of October, kids get in for half-price at SeaWorld*. With each full-paid adult ticket, a child’s ticket (kids 3-9) can be purchased for half price and you both also get to enjoy the “second visit free” promotional with the discount. Additional children get $10 off their admission.  Just in time for SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular!

Guests enjoy trick-or-treating by the water side, and Halloween-themed shows throughout the park. Clyde and Seamore tend to go all out and street performers, like the Longshoremen, will make you laugh with their take on apple bobbing and pumpkin carving.

For an additional cost, families can dine with “The Count” from Sesame Street. This seasonal special is a lot of fun! Tasty breakfast, Elmo, fun for the whole family… what’s not to love? Click here for the link to purchase tickets. (Passholders don’t forget to log in to the main website to receive your discount.)

Kids can wear costumes, or not. The choice is up to them. Our 4-year-old insisted on a different costume EACH time we went last year. And as season passholders, that’s a lot of visits. (For the record, wearing a tee shirt with a baseball on it does, indeed, count as a ballplayer costume! Ha ha.)

Longshoremen Remove the "Pumpkin Guts."

Here’s a peek at the “Halloween Party” routine. I suggest when you see it live giving the stevedores some “room” to do the show. It is a splash zone. A pumpkin-spraying, arms-waving, guts flying good time.

Be sure to bring your camera as there are lots and lots of great shows, and whimsical sea creatures all around who are more than happy to take pictures with your little one. (And grownups, too!) Shamu, Opie Otter, Daisy Dolphin and the rest of the characters can also be seen out and about posing in their costumes. There are even some mermaids “swimming” about. I wonder what Shamu will be this year?!

I see something fishy at Spooktacular!

My favorite from last year was a little girl dressed as a jellyfish. What are your kids wearing? Any awesome marine-inspired costumes?

Tell me how you enjoyed Spooktacular last year. Anyone help Abby find her wand? Did you see the roller-blade-wearing sea weed? What was your favorite part? I’d love to hear from you!

*Adult admission is $81.99 plus tax, and children’s half-off admission is $36.99 plus tax with each paid-adult ticket. Visit SeaWorldOrlando.com or call 1-888-800-5447 to purchase tickets.

Not Spooky at All: SeaWorld’s Spooktacular

Halloween is, for some, a time to get scared, to play “tricks,” and to dwell on the… shall we say… creepy things of this world… and things other-worldy. (Insert Vincent Price maniacal laugh here.) For me it’s none of those things. It’s about playing dress up, making new friends as you “forage” for candy and other tasty treats, and having an excuse to be just plain silly.

Last year my then 2-year-old really enjoyed Halloween Spooktacular at SeaWorld. He wore a pumpkin T-shirt since it was a bit hot for his “real” costume, but there were kids fully decked out as well as wearing street clothes. All were welcomed and treated as if they were the most adorable child there.  (In case you were wondering, his “real” costume was Smarticus the gladiator. His mom (yours truly) was “Mother of Boy” instead of Helen of Troy. Dad was… wait for it… Dadius Gladius–pronounced: Dad he is, glad he is. Yes, we’re that nerdy. And yes, he was adorable!)

Walking down the entrance to the “Spooktaclar walkway” (as we call it), we were greeted by bubbles, bubbles, and more bubbles. For a toddler, this is one spectacular way to be welcomed to the festivities! Whoa. A fish on roller skates just whizzed by us. Or was that sea weed? And a butterfly catcher?!

Down a ways we came to the first candy stop. Big inflatable barrels shaped in an anemone-type shape are practically overflowing with tiny, tasty treats. Mister Shy-when-he-wants-to-be is hesitant to go up at first. “Hey there, little guy,” the SeaWorld worker says. Smiles are exchanged, and my young man is loosening up. He gets a bit more comfortable as he continues on and even gets “brave” enough to have his picture with a beautiful mermaid. (Usually mommy is the only girl lucky enough for this.) Fully acclimated to the sights and sounds, we were off to fill our goody bags. (Yes, parents are allowed to sample, too. Score!)

On the way to Abby Cadabby’s maze we pass by dog fish. And catfish. And other assorted creatures of the deep (and some from someone’s fabulous imagination!). Photo opportunities abound, and I took them up on every one!

Older kids were not as impressed with the maze as my toddler was, but for his age-group it was perfect. At different way points, Abby’s friends posted signs about which way to go. Parents read aloud and kids answered silly/cute questions. Eventually they reached the finish line and they all, including mine, seemed pleased with themselves.

Along the shore you can find the hysterical Longshoremen at SeaWorld

One of the highlights, however, was watching the Longshoremen perform their pumpkin routine. You won’t find their schedule posted on the daily map (rats!), but you can find them “along the shore” most afternoons making people laugh. I think we sat down for their show every weekend of the event. FYI: “pumpkin guts” can be made using rope, shaving cream, and a tiny bit of orange tempera paint. Who knew?

Next stop: Shamu’s Happy Harbor where Penny Penguin, Opie Otter, and other strolling characters show us their costumes. Shamu (the character version!) can also be seen donning a fanciful getup. (Say, I wonder what he’ll be for Halloween this year!) After a few photos, and rides!, we made our way to the Pets Ahoy theater.

Seasonally, the fun is changed for a couple of shows a day and the Sesame Street gang, not the pets, are the stars. The Count takes over for the “Countdown to Halloween” and delighted fans sing along. OK. Their parents sing along, too.

While no frightening laugh track is piped in over loudspeakers and the only things jumping out at you are the dolphins and whales out of the water, SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular is our kind of fall festival. Good, clean fun. Adorable children. Smiles. And pop! More bubbles.

Sharks, Sea Dragons and our Pup at SeaWorld

As SeaWorld super fans, we were fortunate enough to have received the coolest costume from a friend… a shark. Our then 9-month-old looked adorable as we carried him through the theme park. (What? Were you expecting me to say we just had him wear it on Halloween?!)

First we went through the aquarium at Shark Encounter. Our little ferocious beastie pointed at all the creatures in the outer aquarium, and sat on the wall to gaze at the barracudas, daddy protectively holding him in his high vantage point. “See me? I’m a shark!” he seemed to tell the barracudas. “I scare YOU.”

Next we checked out the leafy sea dragons. It’s hard to believe they are alive, the blend in so well with the seaweed around them. Their camouflage is quite effective as they float through the water. My little guy wasn’t really that interested in them, they blended in so well. Eyes widened, however, as we entered the 60-foot glass tunnel. Directly overhead a huge shark swam. One tiny boy’s neck craned up. “OK. Now it’s your turn to scare me!” I’m pretty sure I heard him think.


Shhh. I'm hiding.

At the gift shop across the way it was our son’s turn to exhibit camouflage. Yes, we looked like dorks putting our child in a box of stuffed animals, but by gosh he was the cutest shark pup there! It kind of reminded me of that scene in E.T: The Extra Terrestrial when the alien blended in among the toys. That’s our little guy! The creature amidst the chondrichthyes.

SeaWorld’s Spooktacular is coming up. I’m sad we don’t have another shark costume for him to wear now that he’s a toddler. Maybe he’ll be some other sea creature this year. Maybe he’ll be a Longshoreman! Whatever costume we come up with, he’ll have fun collecting goodies and sweets. He’ll walk through the walls of bubbles and marvel at the seaweed-costumed characters on roller skates as they whiz past us. Hummmm. Maybe they’re actually leafy sea dragons. I wonder….