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Jenny Hodges. Tampa Librarian. Book Lover. Slow Runner. Mom to Irish Triplets. Living and Traveling in the Autism World.



 

8. December 2013 22:15
by jennifer
8 Comments

Push Away the Screen: SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration, Dolphins Up Close, and Dinner at Sharks

8. December 2013 22:15 by jennifer | 8 Comments

Disclaimer: SeaWorld provided me and my family with tickets to enjoy Christmas Celebration, a Dolphins Up-Close Tour, and dinner at Sharks Underwater Grill. All opinions are my own.

 

For the past two years my family has begun a new family tradition on Thanksgiving Day: theme parks. Last year we went to Busch Gardens and had a great day. This year we were invited by Sea World to come up for the day and experience the Christmas Celebration Wintery Wonderland. They also included a Dolphins Up-Close Tour and topped it off with dinner at Sharks Underwater Grill.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this photo pretty much sums up our day.

Happy. Excited. Joyful. Bliss.

But I'm jumping ahead.

We arrived at the park around 10:30am, picked up our tickets, our dolphin passes (our tour was at 12:15pm), and immediately Ronin wanted to see if he was finally tall enough for Manta. But along the way we got sidetracked by the Manta aquarium!

With ten unique, naturalistic aquariums inhabited by more than 3000 marine animals—including hundreds of rays and a giant Pacific octopus—The Manta Aquarium had lots of animals for us to look at. And as a former marine biologist, I was able to point out most of them to my kids, and noticed quite a few times that I had a little crowd gather around as I described the similarities between the many echinoderms that were in the different tanks.  As shown in the picture above, a unique 360-degree pop-up aquarium put Ronin and Haley right in the center of the undersea activity. Ronin thought that was so cool!

Aquariums are sort of "our thing" so I always love to get photos of my trio just gazing at the sea life.

As you might be able to tell from our clothing, we had a coldfront come through Florida, so escaping in to the Manta Aquarium was a welcome relief from the weather. But soon enough we had Ronin pulling on our sleeves to see if he was tall enough for Manta.

Thankfully he was tall enough and all of us enjoyed the ride. After the ride we ran (literally) over the the Dolphin Tour! What a blast we had! We were in a small group of 15 people (adults and kids combined) and we got to learn all about the dolphin nursery at Sea World, the kids got to throw some fish at the dolphins. 3 mamas, 3 babies, and an "aunt." One of the babies was born in June, and the other two were born in early November. Super cute to see baby dolphins up close!

After the nursery we walked over together to the large dolphin training pool where the kids got to pet "Scotty" and learned some basic hand signals and Scotty danced, splashed, and the kids laughed and were so excited!

Right after dolphins we headed over to Sharks for lunch at 2:00pm. It was Thanksgiving Day so we wanted to have a nicer meal than some of your typical "theme park" fare and did we ever!

We were seated at the best table in the house! Dead center in front of the main tank. It was amazing. We had such a fantastic view and we all enjoyed a Hodges family scavenger hunt looking for fish in the tank while snacking on cocktail shrimp as big as my hand!

Looking over the menu, they had so many fantastic seafood options, but I wanted something custom made with no sauces, no pasta, etc., so our wonderful server wrote down my special order, and the executive chef Victor came out to specify exactly what I wanted.

Grilled scallops with asparagus. It was fantastic. The scallops melted in my mouth and it was amazing and so flavorful.

James also had scallops, though he had his with a heavy cream sauce, and pasta and he devoured it. Haley had coconut shrimp, and Ella and Ronin each created their own mac and cheese. It was made with REAL cheddar cheese. They went over and above to make sure that my meal was prepared exactly the way that I wanted it. Moral of the story...ASK for what you want. Restaurants are in business to make their customers happy, so just ask.

We all enjoyed our meals and the view and kept ourselves occupied eating and drinking for nearly 2 hours!

After leaving the restaurant we made our way towards Christmas Celebration.

Along the way to find the Polar Express we found the Christmas Spirit.

The Polar Express experience was amazing! It's a simulated ride experience and the 5 of us really enjoyed it! After the ride, keep your eyes on the lookout for Santa!

The holiday classic comes to life as guests are immersed in the heart-warming story of a young boy’s thrilling ride into an enchanted world. The sights, sounds, and scents of the season surround you. Also be on the lookout for Santa Claus after your ride. - See more at: http://attractionsmagazine.com/blog/2013/11/21/see-season-meets-sea-seaworlds-christmas-celebration/#sthash.IzeSWG6S.dpuf
The holiday classic comes to life as guests are immersed in the heart-warming story of a young boy’s thrilling ride into an enchanted world. The sights, sounds, and scents of the season surround you. Also be on the lookout for Santa Claus after your ride. - See more at: http://attractionsmagazine.com/blog/2013/11/21/see-season-meets-sea-seaworlds-christmas-celebration/#sthash.IzeSWG6S.dpuf
The holiday classic comes to life as guests are immersed in the heart-warming story of a young boy’s thrilling ride into an enchanted world. The sights, sounds, and scents of the season surround you. Also be on the lookout for Santa Claus after your ride. - See more at: http://attractionsmagazine.com/blog/2013/11/21/see-season-meets-sea-seaworlds-christmas-celebration/#sthash.IzeSWG6S.dpuf

The Polar Express Experience surrounds you in the sights, sounds and scents of the Holiday!

We continued along the Sea of Trees, and found a wonderful spot for daddy and his trio to relax their tired feet.

The holiday classic comes to life as guests are immersed in the heart-warming story of a young boy’s thrilling ride into an enchanted world. The sights, sounds, and scents of the season surround you. Also be on the lookout for Santa Claus after your ride. - See more at: http://attractionsmagazine.com/blog/2013/11/21/see-season-meets-sea-seaworlds-christmas-celebration/#sthash.IzeSWG6S.dpuf
The holiday classic comes to life as guests are immersed in the heart-warming story of a young boy’s thrilling ride into an enchanted world. The sights, sounds, and scents of the season surround you. Also be on the lookout for Santa Claus after your ride. - See more at: http://attractionsmagazine.com/blog/2013/11/21/see-season-meets-sea-seaworlds-christmas-celebration/#sthash.IzeSWG6S.dpuf

We continued on the path, and came across a wonderful Christmas village where I had my first Hot Toddy!

It was so tasty and warmed me up quite nicely. Once the sun had set the cold weather came back, and we were feeling chilled!

The trio each had a hot cocoa and split a s'more and it was more than enough for the three of them!

We enjoyed our snacks while listening to a group of Acapella singers perform Holiday favorites.

We continued on our way through the Village and saw a marvelous model train set, and we were also quite entertained by en elf. She had us stretch, jump and perform all sorts of elfish tricks.

It was shortly after this that the park closed! We missed so many shows and holiday attractions, but we had so much fun with what we saw!

We smiled, we laughed, we held hands. It was a wonderful start to the Holiday season, and I can't wait to return to SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration next year!

Have you ever been to SeaWorld, or Busch Gardens for one of their Christmas events?

Comments (8) -

Crystal H

This looks like so much fun. That food looks amazing too! Scallops and mac n' cheese...yumm.

Haley

We went to Busch Garden's Christmas Town this year and we loved it.  We still haven't taken her to Sea World yet, but I think we might have to do it soon.  She loves all the sea creatures and I'm sure she'd have a blast with all the aquariums.  

Brittany C at The Frugal Free Gal

Looks like y'all had a great time!

Tammilee Tillison

This looks like so much fun. I didn't know that Seaworld hosts a holiday event.

Everything Mom and Baby

Never have been! Looks like your family had a nice time Smile

Jeannette Fender

Oh my goodness - it looks like you had so much fun!  Although I don't know if I would have been able to eat the seafood after seeing them swim around - LOL!

Emily

It looks like you all had such a fun time!!  I do have to laugh at the irony of eating seafood at Seaworld!!

Jennifer

right? Isn't it funny?? I loved the irony!

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