Just for the kids
the heat and baking sunshine can be uncomfortable and that’s where Sea World, with its combination of rides and old-fashioned water dousing activities, is a saviour.
The Dolphin Experience is world famous and has been operating since 1971 when it offered waterski shows that combined comedy, aqua ballet and action. Now the emphasis is on conservation and rehabilitation of marine life. And the current show, Imagine, is quite simply enchanting.
In fact, probably the only time silences descended upon SeaWorld is when we took a seat in the sheltered auditorium, thankful for a cool breeze.
We studied the surface of the dolphin pool – well it is more of a tropical sandy-bottomed lagoon – as our host roamed the arena with a head mike, educating us about our mammal friends. A trainer, agile and with the physique of an Olympic gymnast, was in the middle of water, up to her waist.
Several loud gasps escaped from the audience – us included – as she shot up skywards, her entire body propelled by the nose of her dolphin who then, without a wobble, guided her back into the water.
The trainer led the applause as the dolphin playfully nuzzled her neck and then dived below before appearing with a flourish of water at the other end of the pool. All in the blink of an eye.
A couple of lucky guests were called forward to pat the dolphin’s nose as he wriggled forward on the viewing platform. Their mammal squeaks are adorable and, not being a particular fan of zoos,I was relieved to see these animals thriving in captivity. It’s no secret that dolphin numbers are at risk – every tuna fan is aware – and the speech delivered about nurturing and breeding at Sea World was not lost on the audience.
It was still hot as we left the dolphins so we headed to Sea World’s Castaway Bay for a cool off. It happened a little bit earlier than expected as we were soaked by a cheeky family riding the Battle Boats. These are mini pirate ships fitted with water canons to drench unsuspecting tourists. But we soon get our own back – pumping up one of the canons fitted land side in a hysterical water fight. Later, clutching an ice cream and a latte as we dried off, we moved to the water park where Max and other kids frolicked in miniature water-filled playgrounds of slides, jets, showers and shade.
No visit to SeaWorld these days can be checked off without seeing a burger-flipping yellow sea sponge. It was the pantomime to top them all – SpongeBob ParadePants dancing around Bikini Bottom.
Max took off to get us a seat so we could see SpongeBob in the flesh, or rather giant inflatable suit. But I was happy to join him. Even I appreciate it’s not every day you get the star of a multi-Emmy Award-winning TV series, movie and merchandising genius willing to entertain you in an acrobatic jet-ski stunt show. His co-stars Sandy Cheeks (a squirrel), Patrick Star (a starfish), Eugene Krabs (a crab, naturally) and Squidward Tentacles (a squid) danced in sequence behind.
Next time we promise ourselves we will squeeze in a trip toWet ’n’ Wild, although I’m already shuddering at the thought of its new water slide, the Constrictor, where riders hit speeds of up to 30kmh.
Perhaps that’s one for Dad to try – he can test his nerves flying down an enclosed flume slide into a series of corkscrew turns before snaking back and forth in a series of spirals on multi-person rafts. Yep. Definitely one for him.
As we departed to the sound of a familiar pirate hollering just like in the cartoons “Are you ready kids!” and turned on to the highway past the Palazzo Versace hotel, it was hard not to notice that the Coast was pumping. Add to that the casual, friendly vibe of Queenslanders and a visit to the state’s theme parks creates memories that last forever.