Several years ago when we lived in Florida we would go to sea world pretty regularly. I never really enjoyed the experience. Between the three dollar bottles of water, the whiny kids who wouldn’t or couldn’t go on any of the fun rides, the expensive crappy food, and the outrageous parking I usually walked away feeling financially violated and irritated.
The last time we did anything of that sort was almost five years ago when we were in Florida. We’ve been in San Antonio for almost three years now, have had the option to go back to Sea World on complimentary passes for the whole time, and only just now managed to make time to go. Recently, I went with my heels dug in and being dragged the whole way. Michael was not going to let me forget the promise we had made some time ago that we would come here “later.” When my sister and her family came to visit, making the pilgrimage to see Shamu while here, “later” became a more imminent requirement. I could no longer get away with telling him we would come later, I had to be more specific.
Unfortunately, the dates we initially selected to go had all been rained (or more accurately flooded) out. When Monday came and the forecast looked clear I was informed that I should put in leave and do the paperwork for the complimentary tickets for Tuesday. While I was arranging tickets I did the unthinkable and ordered the all you can eat meal plan (at a substantial discount) and pre-paid parking. This unusual decision has turned out to be a blessing. One of the things that tend to bother me the most when we do things like this is the almost endless string of over priced drinks, snacks, and bad food that end up as a necessity and trend towards doubling the cost of the ordeal.
While I grumbled at the cost of my “free” tickets when I ordered them yesterday, I haven’t had to pull more than fifteen dollars out off my wallet all day, and the pain of yesterday was over before we left the house. I was able to buy four dollar bottles of water and Diet Coke with abandon all day, didn’t feel like force-feeding Michael when he declined to eat the food he ordered for lunch, and somehow didn’t feel quite as cheated when the ten dollar plate of something that was supposed to be Chinese beef and broccoli turned out to be almost inedible. In reality I probably only saved a relatively small amount, but I felt better about it all day, and as a result I didn’t take it out on Liz or the kids.
Along the way, the kids all had a great time. Sydney and Isaac both conquered their hesitations (I won’t publicly call it fear) to ride two of the most intimidating roller-coasters in San Antonio. Michael was delighted by the dolphin show and slapstick clown humor that was part of the pre-show act as well as demonstrating a love for the wilder of the kid-friendly rides like the Shamu Express and distaste for the calmer ones like the ferris wheel. Liz seemed to enjoy leading Michael through exploring the penguin house and other events while I shepherded the bigger kids through rides Liz didn’t feel like experiencing. All in all, the day was a success. And the best part of it all… I don’t have to go back for another five years or so!