Oh, how we love the ocean and all the creatures that live in it. Our family spends a lot of time in Florida, and one of our favorite things to do is explore the beach and water in search of a new discovery. Because of that love we’ve instilled in her, Presley has been intent on swimming with dolphins since at least six years of age. She’s seen them multiple times at aquarium type facilities and even in the wild a few times. If you’ve been keeping up with us then you know Presley recently just turned 8. Our family is continually becoming more passionate about creating experiences and memories over materialistic gifts. So to celebrate 8, we decided to turn this dream into a reality and the closest place to make that happen was Sea World Texas located in San Antonio.
San Antonio is home to 1 of 3 Sea World locations in the country and that made about a seven hour drive for us but it was totally worth it (you can read about our full trip to San Antonio HERE and HERE). So first and most important, we travel the country and have been to numerous theme/adventure parks. Let me say that Sea World is easily one of the cleanest parks that we have ever attended. We were highly impressed with the cleanliness and up-keep of the property. I never saw any trash lying around. Nothing was dirty. Everything really was beautifully kept up. You could tell that they take a lot of pride in the park.
When we first arrived at the park, we checked in for the dolphin excursion. We still had over an hour before we actually needed to check back in so we made the most of our time starting with the dolphins.
We stood outside and watched the dolphins swim around, jump, play ball, and even with each other. Sailor and Presley were so tickled by the site. I think they could’ve stood there for hours even with that hot Texas sun beaming down on us. Down below, we were also able to get a different view of the dolphins as they speedily swam underwater.
Like any other family with a toddler, we’ve had the “Baby Shark” song on repeat in our house this summer so seeing the sharks was a must. There is something about them that is completely mesmerizing. Maybe I’ll swim with them on our next sea adventure. Kidding… mostly.
There was also a big aquarium called the Explorer’s Reef on that side of the park that included a ton of different types of fish, seahorses, stingrays, eels, and more.
The girls were fascinated by all the different types of creatures. Once again, Presley was reading the signs and trying to soak up all of the facts about sea life that she could.
Truthfully, I could do this all day long. I’m a huge fan of aquariums. I like zoos okay, but I’d pick the sea animals over land ones anyway. If only I was a mermaid…right?!
Each area had little ledges where the girls could sit or stand to be able to get a better view. As creepy as it was, I really enjoyed getting an unclose look at the eel (seen between Sailor and I).
Alright, so it was officially time for the dolphin adventure. After all, it is the reason why we were there in the first place. First off, we checked in for our adventure about five minutes before our time to go in and we waited with our group of 1:30 adventurers. Presley eagerly stood by the height sign showing that she met the 48 inch requirement.
An adult was required to swim with children under 18, so Presley asked if I would join her. Sailor is all about mama right now, so she needed extra snuggles as usual.
First thing after walking back is the prep talk about to ensure the safety of the dolphins and ourselves. My little rule follower listened very intently.
After the safety briefing, we got fitted for wet suits and water shoes because the water that the dolphins live in is colder than we swim in at the pool. After we are in our suits, we attended another safety meeting and got broken up into three groups. At that point, we are walking into the main dolphin pool where there were three dolphins, one for each group.
We got to kiss the dolphin and pose for a picture, we got to hand feed the dolphin and then we go for a ride with the dolphin! Presley and I’s favorite part was totally swimming with the dolphin.
Fun fact: Ever wondered why dolphin trainers feed the dolphins ice?! The fish that they typically eat are frozen before they arrive and not fresh like they would catch in the wild, so the dolphins lack enough water intake. The trainers also will feed the dolphins a different form of jello than what humans eat and that will help supplement their diet. Our dolphin actually loved to eat ice! Crazy, right? We saw first hand how much Sea World & the trainers employed there care about the animals in their care. It was also really fun hearing about how they practice/execute “rescue, recover & release.” I could give you more details about how they do this but you should go visit a Sea World and learn too!
While the dolphin adventure was a whale of a good time, there were more things to do and visit at this beautiful attraction. Let’s talk about sea lions. The sea lion show was really cool. Sailor especially loved watching the animals do tricks like balancing a ball in their nose. It was also really interesting once again watching the relationship between the animals and their trainers. Bonus: they had the coolest stage.
After the show, the girls wanted to go see the 7 little Sea Lion pups and feed the adult sea lions.
The sea lions had the girls cracking up as they gathered and made a barking sound waiting for the fish to be throw their way. It kind of reminded me of a wedding when the bride throws her bouquet and all the girls lung at it.
There were other shows like the beluga whales and white-sided dolphins. The dolphins were awesome to see because these are different than we would typically see at other places or in the wild. We all had a chuckle because we had literally just watched “Finding Dory” two nights before and the whales in the show reminded us of Bailey saying ‘boooooo’.
“Free Willy” was made three years after I was born but seeing an Orca Whale jump out of the water and flip was by far one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my life…check it out.
We were all blown away by the performance. I could watch this incredible show over and over again. They also honored our military at the start of the show. I’m not a crier, but the sacrifice of our military both past and present gets me teary eyed every time.
After meeting Big Bird, Elmo and some of the other gang, we packed up our stroller with some turtle rescue and whale trainer Barbies and headed back to Oklahoma.
The girls played with their dolls the entire way home and to this day, still… both of them express their desire to be dolphin trainers one day.We would have loved to have enough time to check out the water park inside of the Sea World complex, the rest of the shows, and the rides, but after checking out all of the amazing animal shows and experiencing the Sesame Street show and play area, we just couldn’t keep swimming anymore. I always love a park that leaves you wanting to come back again. Thanks for an amazing day, Sea World. We left extra tired with big smiles on our faces and wonderful memories that we’ll cherish for a long time to come.