September 10, 2009

SeaWorld Dolphins Feel like Pancakes. And hot dogs.

When the nice people at SeaWorld San Diego invited us to be a part of the final weekend of the Dolphin Discovery show, the longest-running show in the history of SeaWorld at 13 years, I was pretty excited. I mean, how many people get to play with dolphins as part of a live show? And how many people get to do this with their young child? And how many people get to do this while also getting to have a new wife?

Yes, you heard me, a new wife. As part of the Dolphin Discovery show a dad and his child (in my case children) team up with a SeaWorld trainer that poses as the mom of the family. Halfway through the show, she falls in and the unsuspecting crowd gasps in disbelief until she’s rescued by a dolphin. So, I had a new wife this past weekend. But it didn’t last long. Apparently I’m not her type of mammal.

Anyway, we were invited to be the family that gets to interact with the dolphins and I was excited for Swee’Pea and TheMonk to get the opportunity to do so. There was only one small problem. Swee’Pea didn’t want to do it.

When we explained what she would have to do (stand up before hundreds of people and say her name and age and do what the trainers asked of her) she was not all that enthusiastic. In fact, one of her late night conversations with her brother, overheard on the baby monitor, was something like, “I don’t want to be on stage in front of all those people.” So, I did what any other good parent in my shoes what have done. I bribed her.

Swee’Pea isn’t sweet in name only. No, she has a real love for sweets that I’m sure she gets directly from her mother. So, it came as no surprise when I asked her if there was something special she wanted at SeaWorld for her to do this show that she looked me straight in the eye and said, “I want cotton candy. All to my self. That I don’t have to share.”

Deal! And because she was dead serious about the not sharing part, I offered a similar proposition to TheMonk who promptly requested a light-up sword similar to a light saber that they sell for $4.99 at SeaWorld. Deal!

But just to be sure they, I showed the clips on YouTube of the Dolphin Show and explained what they would have to do and why they would have a “pretend mommy” for the show. They seemed satisfied. I was cautiously optimistic.

When we arrived back stage to discuss our roles, I was promptly greeted by a smiling young lady who thrust waiver liability forms in front of me and asked me to sign “Here, here and… here.” Most of the forms were all, “You won’t sue us if Dolly the Dolphin decides that your kids would make a tasty snack.” I think I might have sold my kids to the circus with that last signature but I can’t be entirely sure.

But anyway, before we knew it, we were standing up on stage waving to the crowd as we were introduced. And then, the moment of truth. The emcee asked Swee’Pea what her name was. I cringed. I crossed my fingers. I might even have closed my eyes, dreading the fact that Swee’Pea, my shy little girl, would freeze up and not play along. But then I heard, loud and clear over the loudspeakers, her name resonating through the stadium as she shouted her name in the littlest girl voice you can imagine. Hail the power of cotton candy.

TheMonk followed suit and then I was being introduced to Duncan the Dolphin who, I announced to the crowd, felt a bit like fluffy pancakes. The kids were then escorted to the main stage where they announced that Dolly felt a lot like hot dogs. Then, they were encouraged to have a water fight with Dolly. I would like to report to you that Dolly lost that water fight. But that would be a big, huge lie. At the end, I’m not sure who was wetter, Dolly or my kids.

But that didn’t matter. After my wife fell in the water we were escorted back to our seats of honor where we enjoyed the rest of the show. As soon as the show was done and I escorted two soaked 4 year olds out of the stadium, Swee’Pea had a burning question for me.

“Where’s my cotton candy, Daddy?!”

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  1. Very cool. I’m pretty sure my kids would NOT pet a dolphin. You got off easy, you know that, right? Cotton candy and a play sword? Man.

    Comment by Martie — September 11, 2009 @ 7:04 am

  2. What a truly special and memorable event. You look like a very proud dad in those pictures. How cool.

    Comment by Natalie — September 11, 2009 @ 7:45 am

  3. That is SO COOOL!!!!! I am so jealous of you and your kids. Playing with dolphins AND getting candy/a sword? What a fantastic day!

    Comment by Jess — September 11, 2009 @ 7:55 am

  4. How fun for you all! I did a dolphin encounter in Hawaii, and I LOVED it.

    Comment by kathygee1 — September 11, 2009 @ 8:33 am

  5. What a wonderful memory for the kids! And High-Five to SweePea even if you did have to bribe her!

    Comment by Aunt Raina — September 11, 2009 @ 8:50 am

  6. I think you just lived Tad’s dream. That looked like so much fun!!!

    Comment by Deanna — September 11, 2009 @ 9:52 am

  7. Awesome. My kids would freak the eff out if they were that close to a dolphin. Although I probably would freak out too. I am not a fan of sea life.

    I regularly bribe my kids with candy. Shhhhh, don’t tell my husband.

    Comment by Kirsten — September 11, 2009 @ 12:43 pm

  8. Next time I come I’m bringing the red suitcase stuffed with cotton candy!

    Comment by Grandmother — September 11, 2009 @ 1:28 pm

  9. Wow – what an incredible experience! Are you saying that they are shutting down the show permanently – or just for the season?

    (BTW – no picture of the cotton candy?)

    Comment by Stacy — September 12, 2009 @ 9:27 pm

  10. Ha, when we were there, we saw this show and my kids thought it was the funniest thing ever. I’m a little sad that they are canceling it. But yay to you guys for getting to participate.

    Cotton candy? Man, she’s easy. My girls would have done it in a heart beat. But bribery is a scary thing with them.

    Comment by Issa — September 14, 2009 @ 2:56 pm

  11. Oh my stars, my daughter would have paid ME to let her pet the dolphins! She just turned 4 and already tells me she wants to go to Atlantis so she can swim with the dolphins. (Hello, successful advertising.)

    What an amazing adventure you guys had! I’m positively GREEN with envy. (It’s kind of a dream of mine too to have a dolphin encounter.) What fun.

    Comment by Kate — September 14, 2009 @ 10:27 pm

  12. Very cool. We saw the saw last month when we were there. I didn’t realize it was the last season of the show. I’m glad we caught it when we did.

    Comment by Nancy — September 16, 2009 @ 1:30 pm

  13. What an amazing experience!
    And yes, I’m not above bribery. I find it goes a long way, sometimes.

    Comment by PrincessJenn — September 17, 2009 @ 12:33 pm

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