Have you ever chaperoned one of your kids' field trips? I know it sounds exhausting, but it's really worth it. And you get all kinds of perks, like getting into places FREE! (We're year-round here, but if your kids have already gotten out of school for summer, just keep this in mind for next year.) For really great and creative ideas, go over to Rocks in My Dryer and take a peek!
Normally, being surrounded by 90 overly-excited sixth graders isn't exactly my cup of tea. But the teacher asked me, and I hadn't been to Sea World in at least 15 years, so I said okay. I even dragged Ralph along, too, as I knew they would need a lot of help for this end-of-the-school-year field trip. Truth is, we realized this is realistically the only way we'd be able to take the kids to a theme park, as it's now $60 a person. To take the family, we'd drop $300 just to walk in the door! So when I heard that chaperones get in free (plus the kids get in free as part of an educational program) we decided to do it. [Homeschooling moms, you could look into the educational program on their site here. It says it's $5.60 a person (I think the school covered that part for us?), which is a tenth of the price to normally get in! And I'm sure other parks have deals like that, too.]
First stop was the dolphin show, as that was the show we'd been instructed to watch. It was pretty cool, but nothing like Shamu (which we didn't even see; more on that later).
The rides weren't open yet, so we amused ourselves by looking at the penguins, feeding the seals:
and observing a tortoise on its morning walk:
As soon as the ride part of the park opened, though, it was nothing but Journey to Atlantis for the rest of the day. The ride itself is pretty basic. You climb your way up a tall rail in a boat-shaped car:
and then come splashing down in a torrent of water:
That's it. But somehow the idea of getting drenched appealed to the kids more than any of the exotic animals, so they went on the ride about 500 times. It was even fun for them just to watch other people on the ride, as you could stand by the end of the slide part and get soaked from the splash.
Neither Ralph nor I had any desire to join them in the "fun," (especially since I was chilly enough to keep my sweater on most of the day), so we simply watched them. At least the park provided this guy and his buddies next to the ride to entertain us:
And it was really fun just seeing the kids enjoy themselves so immensely.
After a couple hours of this, though, we decided we should try and get them to see at least some of the rest of the park, so we tricked them into seeing the manta rays by telling them they were a shortcut to the other water ride, the Wild Rapids.
They loved touching and feeding the rays, but soon the rapids were calling their names, so we watched them on yet another ride. We had fun shooting them with water cannons :)
The rapids just didn't get them wet enough, though, so we traversed the park again to get back to Atlantis, after Ralph and I
and interact with the dolphins:
After another 10 or so times on the ride, Ralph and I convinced the kids to go to the Arctic exhibit by telling them this had a ride too. It didn't include water, but it was a fun helicopter simulation (and it was right next to Atlantis). The ride dumped us out into an area that led us through various exhibits with Arctic animals. The kids oohed and aahed over the beluga whales:
and the polar bears:
After that exhibit, it was back again to Atlantis. They went on until the very last minute, even though I cautioned them that a two-hour bus ride in wet jeans, socks, and sweatshirts might not be too pleasant. They didn't care, they were just having too much fun. And you know what? They didn't even complain when we went back on the bus. We figured they would start whining about how cold they were, but they were too busy comparing notes with the other kids about their day, and exclaiming that this was the best field trip they had ever been on. I think it was the best field trip I'd been on, too, as I had a blast watching them have so much fun. Ralph and I couldn't keep from smiling all day long, listening to the kids laughing and enjoying life to the fullest. Simply awesome.