A Swim Down Memory Lane At Sea World

My history with Sea World is a long one and while my experience with the Wild side ladies was one for the record books it isn’t what created this long time love of the park and all it stands for.

Let me take you back to when I was a kid. Ok, maybe more of a more grown up kid. I guess that’s the best way to describe myself when I was somewhere between the ages of 15 and 20. Still a kid in a grown ups body with huge expectations of the future, no idea how much work it would take to realize those dreams, and how fast I would refocus those dreams to include time for chocolate cake and the Lifetime channel. But that’s when Sea World San Antonio (formerly Sea World of Texas according to Wikipedia) opened their gates. I lived about 45 minutes from this amazing place and, to my family, it was one of the best things that happened to us all. So many memories were shared there… all of them good. I can’t remember a single negative thing that happened over all the years we went….although I’m sure my parents could share a few moments… But you have to admit that’s pretty amazing considering how volatile my sisters and mother and I can be at times. (Hay we are human and all female… Need I say more?)

One of my fondest memories, and I have many, is when my parents took us to see Kayla (thank you again Wikipedia for keeping that name handy for me) the first baby orca (Killer Whale) born at Sea World of Texas right after the park opened in 1988. She seemed so tiny swimming along side her massive mother during all the shows, sometimes mimicking the jumps the other whales would do. Sea World was so proud of her that they had TV’s in many areas of the park showing the video of her birth. Watching her mother furiously spinning as the baby orca came flying out was one of the most amazing births I’ve ever seen by any creature and has always stayed with my memory. I can’t see a picture of a whale without thinking about that beautiful experience.

Another great attraction that Sea World San Antonio had back then, and they still have, was concerts. All the concert goers would show up early and anxiously await the time when they would let us through the gate. Then when it opened we, by that I mean my boy friend and I followed up by my parents and “smarter” but much slower aged family members, would race with the crowd as fast as we could run to find our favorite spot on the map. All the concerts where held in an area of the park where they had a giant map of the United States painted on it. Who ever got to the space first would lay down, arms and legs spread out, claiming it as our own. Close enough to the stage to see the great artists but far enough away to not get smushed by the crowd. One also had to be able to get to the potties without having to break our necks or pee ourselves as we weaved in and out of the other “campers”. We would lay out towels and blankets and have a camp out right there in the middle of SeaWorld waiting for the bands to start to playing. We would take turns hanging out on the map while the others in our group would go walking around and enjoying the sites and sometimes hitting the penguin hut for a little shade and relief from the heat. We saw some of the greats there, at least on the country music side of great. I’m talking about Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, and even George Strait. And many, many others. In hind sight I wish I’d kept a list since all of the big stars who arrived with opening acts because I know some of them became big stars too. It would have been nice to say I saw them when they were just an opener. How cool would that make me?? ….. I know… I would be AWESOME!

Sea World San Antonio still carries an exciting concert schedule every year and even though the big painted map is gone, with Celebration Cove sitting in its place, my memories of that time in my life will never fade. And now the concerts are held in the Nautilus Amphitheater which I’ll admit offers many more benefits then sitting on the hard concrete baking the sun… You know… things like shade!! To check out some of their upcoming 2011 events including concerts and other special events check out this LINK.

In between seeing all the wonderful aquatic shows and waiting the endless hours till the concerts would start another great place we would visit was the Boardwalk. Its still there too after all these years! It was filled with basic carnival games such as the Skee-ball, the ring toss, throwing bean bags at bottles, betting the guy in a tux couldn’t guess your weight. (My mom won that one to the mortification of the man!! He was a cocky SOB till my mom walked up. I’ll never forget it.) With my boy friend of 5 years in tow (Yes, 5 years or so with the same guy. I was in luuubbb.*rolling my eyes*) we would make several visits a day to take on the challenge of the bean bag bottle toss. He was a pro and could usually knock over all three bottles with one bag. (He played baseball in high school.) Almost every time we would go he would knock round after round of bottles over winning me little stuffed animals that I eventually upgraded for bigger prizes. And the large prizes of choice were stuffed penguins!!! By the time we finally broke up years later I had an entire penguin family. If I had to guess I had at least 20+ of these foot tall cutie pies stashed around my bedroom. I still have a few of them left over from back then but I passed the rest of the colony on to the various children I’ve encountered over the years. I had to grow up sometime didn’t I?

That’s when my addiction to penguins began. (Seriously, I may need help y’all.)

After that first year in the 80′s, and for many years later, my family and I would always get season passes to Sea World San Antonio. And all those years of visiting the park, and seeking out some air conditioning, has also instilled a lifetime love (When I say love I mean squealing like a school girl, giggling, jumping up and down like an embarrassing freak in public when I see one type of love. Yep… I need help.) of penguins. I remember practically living in the penguin hut staring longingly at them as they would dart in and out of the water. Looking for the one little guy that was the spunkiest and naming him Fred. Always Fred. Trying to convince my parents that I wanted one and that I could just let him hang out in our freezer to cool off. In between racing from stadium to stadium to make sure we saw each show we would always make time to stop in and see the penguins…several times a day. And I even started making the penguin hut the final visit of the day just so I could say “see ya later” to the little gentlemen. That is where my life long love of penguins started and its never dwindled.

So to say I’m a fan of SeaWorld is a little bit of an understatement. It’s part of my history and now, with the introduction of the Wildside bloggers, its an amazing part of my life.

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