Sea World – The Good And The Bad

We spent yesterday with my daughter and her family at Sea World in San Diego, and as expected, those two grandkids of mine ran all four of us adults ragged, and still had energy to spare! Don’t let those oil company clowns fool you, there is no energy crisis. All we need to do is harness up whatever it is that gives children under age 10 their pep and we’d have enough power to run the world!

Miss Terry had never been to Sea World before, and I had only made one previous visit. We both came away with mixed impressions. The tricks they teach their orcas and dolphins to do are truly amazing.

Unless you have seen a four hundred pound dolphin leap high in the air to jump across a rope, or a massive killer whale launch itself out of the water and spin on its tail, you just can’t know how impressive it is.

The interaction between the animals and their handlers is really something to see. We watched a petite teenaged girl perform a beautiful water ballet with an orca, and then ride on its nose around the pool. Later, several of the beautiful black and white creatures slid completely out of the water to pose for photographs.

Sea World is a great place for kids to learn about wildlife, from petting and feeding giant batwing rays, to handling starfish and hand feeding dolphins. My son-in-law, Jim Robinson, enjoyed introducing daughter Hailey to the starfish and sea urchins in the man made tide pool.

But there is a flip side to the Sea World experience that left a bad taste in our mouths. Everything is so darned expensive, and in some cases it’s a downright rip-off! Yes, I understand that it costs a lot of money to operate a place like this. But do they have to rob you at every turn?

A one day admission pass for anyone age 10 and above is $65, and kids ages 3 to 9 are $55. You can get some better deals online or at local hotels, but you can still expect to pay $50 or so for an adult ticket, and a child’s admission will set you back $40 with a discount. So for a family of four, it’s going to cost close to $200 with discounted tickets.

However, as they say in all of those late night television infomercials, “But wait, there’s more!” Parking is $12 a day for a passenger car, and $17 for an RV. And once you get inside the park, keep your wallet handy. Every time you turn around, someone has taken your picture, a copy of which you can get for $10 to $15.

I expect to pay more for snacks and food at a theme park. After all, they have a captive audience. But for what a burger and fries set me back, I could have had a nice sit down dinner at a Chilies or Applebee’s kind of restaurant.

Tiffany was understandably upset when we went to the Dolphin Encounter, where for $6 you get three dead minnows to feed to the dolphins. As soon as they gulp down your three fish, you are quickly herded out unless you want to spend another $6 on three more minnows. Not because there is anyone else in line behind you waiting their turn (there wasn’t), but because if you’re not spending money, you’re history.  

We hung around for the evening Shamu Rocks show, and by then it was dark and downright chilly. They had vendors working the crowd, selling cups of hot chocolate, and Jim was going to buy some for the kids until we learned they were $10 a cup! Hey, for that kind of money, I want Shamu himself out of the pool and carrying it up to me!

Don’t get me wrong, we had a wonderful time, and we’re going back this morning, because Tiffany has Hailey signed up for an in the water dolphin encounter program. (I have no idea what that costs, and probably don’t want to know.)

I just wonder how many hard working parents will never be able to bring their kids to Sea World because the high prices for everything are simply out of their reach.

Thought For The Day - Middle age is when work is a lot less fun and fun a lot more work.

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