Let’s Go Mum reviews… Sea World!

We're hitting Sea World - yeah!

We’re hitting Sea World – yeah!

We all had such a great time on our recent visit to Sea World – I’d have to say that it is an absolute MUST for families visiting the Gold Coast, Queensland!

I had already planned a trip to Sea World before they very kindly invited us to review it – and I already had one must-do in mind that Sea World is famous for – the dolphin show. After all – how could you go to Sea World and not see the famous dolphin show? My two children (6 & 8 years old) had never seen one.

Sea World really is an institution when it comes to Queensland theme parks – I still have photos of me at the age of five feeding a seal, and my brother feeding a dolphin with a fish on a stick. Just to help you put this into time-perspective, I was wearing a stars-and-stripes long-sleeved mini dress, and my brother had on an orange terry-towelling sailor top on – ah, the seventies – those were the days!

I guess that’s the thing that sometimes compels you to revisit somewhere with your own kids – if you can still remember it with pleasure years later, then you want your kids to have their own happy memories of that experience too.

Sea World is popular year-round

Sea World is popular year-round

Sea World also happens to have a big location advantage for families on holiday and staying in accommodation at Surfers Paradise, Labrador and Broadbeach – Sea World is closer than Movie World and Dreamworld. So as soon as we got a spare afternoon, we headed straight to Sea World, as it was only ten minutes drive from Jupiter’s Hotel in Broadbeach (reviewed here).

At the entrance gates, we were lucky enough to line up behind a dad holding a pram who was muttering, “We’re going to miss the seal show if we don’t hurry!”. Sensing someone who was possibly a local, and so could lead us straight to the fun, I decided that we were going to stick to him like glue to find that seal show! He went in before us, but we soon caught him up, and a mere two minutes later we were smugly seated and watching the hilarious Fish Detectives Sea Lion Show.

The Sea World Fish Detectives Sea Lion Show is a must-see!

The Sea World Fish Detectives Sea Lion Show is a must-see!

The show was great. As I watched my kids roaring with laughter at the seals’ antics, I decided that I, for one, had already got my moneys worth – for surely there’s nothing better on this earth than watching your kids really letting loose and enjoying themselves?

I caught sight of the dad with the pram again. He was trying to convince his toddler to watch the show, and not jump up and down on the seats. I shot him a sympathetic smile – I remember those crazy-toddler days very well!

Seal show over, we all poured out of the stadium, excitedly reliving the magically shrinking sea lion (I won’t spoil the surprise in case you go – Samantha my 6 year old still believes the sea lion really shrank!), and then – joy-of-joys – happened upon the Dora Adventure Show.  Samantha, my Dora fan couldn’t believe her luck – sea lions AND Dora?! Amazing! Brooke, my 8yo tried to look cool and uninterested, but when she saw all the life-sized Dora characters dancing in, in this mini-episode recreation, plus all the other older siblings getting right-into the pantomime-reminiscent yelling, she also joined in with gusto – “Boots is eating the CHOCOLATE!! Look out!”

The Adventures of Dora Show was a big hit with the littlies

The Adventures of Dora Show was a big hit with the littlies!

Realising it was getting awfully close to dolphin show time, but with the kids already having a great time, I conceded that we would just have to make a run for it the second that the Dora Show finished – and so we did! We hoofed it right to the end of Sea World where the dolphin arena was located, and only just missed the opening (darn it!) of the dolphin show

The rest of the Imagine Dolphin Show was everything that I had hoped it would be for the girls – they had never expected these gorgeous animals to be doing such amazing leaps, somersaults and synchronised swimming – a stadium full of gob-smacked children and their parents, grand parents and carers couldn’t believe their eyes!

The Sea World Imagine Dolphin Show

The Sea World Imagine Dolphin Show

At this point, my Samantha proclaimed to all and sundry that she would now become a dolphin trainer when she grew up. Like any parent, I mentally began re-calculating her future uni degree expenses – things were looking grim – last week she was only going to be a Princess.

I spent the remainder of the show trying to catch a photograph of the dolphins all leaping out of the water together. Unfortunately, with a camera that fires two seconds after I press the button – grrrr. One hundred photos of empty water, tails or noses later, I sort-of got one – and so, here’s a picture!

Finally the camera and dolphins cooperate!

Finally the camera and dolphins cooperate!

Finally we had the luxury of slowing down, and strolled out of the dolphin arena – only to find something amazing that we hadn’t even noticed on our prior dolphin-sprint – Castaway Bay.

Simply put, Castaway Bay is a huge play ground for kids and adults alike – but with the most amazing toys!

Floating boats packed with kids and teens following a motorised water track were shooting streams of water into the faces of their avenging parents on the shore, armed with water guns of their own – some perhaps a little too enthusiastically!

There is a simply enormous climbing – pirate-y – oh, I don’t know what to call it – climbing frame? Entitled the Sky Fortress, it was huge and FUN! As the responsible adult (weee!), I accompanied the kids onto the (completely safe) structure – it was high and tricky, but the kind of fun you’re really not going to find elsewhere. I’d like to highlight at this point that I managed this in rather un-sensible shoes and with my handbag firmly tucked under my arm. Not strictly adhering to the rules of no loose objects which I only noticed after I came out – doh!

Up on the Sky Fortress - just don't look down!

Up on the Sky Fortress – don’t look down!

After ten minutes I was ready for a recovery coffee, but the kids weren’t coming out of there without a can opener – so I did what any responsible adult would do, and dumped them and crawled out.

As I emerged I found dozens of parents milling about – some worriedly checking the exit – others, probably figuring that their kids would emerge when they were hungry, were busy on their mobile phones. I assumed that they were probably posting brag-pics to Facebook – “Just lost the kids at Sea World – and they couldn’t care less!!”

 

Has anyone seen my kids? Bemused parents stalk the Sky Fortress exit

Has anyone seen my kids? Bemused parents stalk the Sky Fortress exit

I ordered my coffee, chocolate milks and three choc-chip muffins, keeping half-an-eye on the Sky Fortress exit – I knew my two children would sniff those muffins out the moment they were in my hands – there’s nothing more certain in this world.

Double-double chocolate snack, anyone? We're refuelled!

Double-double chocolate snack, anyone? We’re refuelled and ready to go again Mum!

Twenty minutes and two happy, chocolate-covered children later (and after Mum had checked-out the surf-shop – two new swimming costumes – check!), we headed off in search of more adventures…

Has anybody seen the Polar Bears? Brooke and Samantha stake-out Polar Bear Shores

Has anybody seen the Polar Bears? Brooke and Samantha stake-out Polar Bear Shores

Polar Bear Shores is a great exhibit which allows you to view real-live Polar Bears at play from three different perspectives –  under the water, at ground-level and from above.

We found them! Time for our Polar Bear close-up!

We found them! Time for our (very excited) Polar Bear close-up!

We had already heard about Henry the young Polar Bear, and when he and his mum Liya wandered out of their den we just couldn’t help squealing in excitement – me included. They were just so cute! The kids thought it was especially gorgeous when one of them started ripping into a tiny tree – awwww!

Hmmm - tastes like chicken! The Polar Bears know how to work a crowd

Hmmm – tastes like chicken…the Polar Bears know how to work a crowd

After the cheeky Henry and his Mum had retreated back into their den, we then found what Brooke now says was her favourite thing of all at Sea World – the Ray Reef. It was too late in the afternoon to feed them by the time we got there, but you could still pet these enormous Stingrays floating about in a big, waist-high pool. You could just reach in and touch them, which was really quite surreal – and made Mum just a liiiiitle bit nervous! What did you do today kids? Oh nothing, just petted some giant Stingrays…

Er...you go first! Samantha sensibly watches Brooke pat the Stingrays first at Ray Reef

Er…you go first! Samantha sensibly watches Brooke pat the Stingrays first at Ray Reef

Next stop was The Viking Flume river ride – 95% aaaaaah, and 5% AAAARGH! with one of those big drops at the end – and here’s a picture (taken earlier). You may notice that my eyes are closed in the following picture – this is a recurrent theme with me and scary rides – as is Samantha’s grin of glee, and Brooke’s scream of abject terror – I might add that Brooke is the one that always urges us to go on them.

The Viking Flume ride claims 3 more victims!

The Viking ride claims 3 more victims!

The reason why Sea World is just so good for families, is that it appeals to such a broad range of ages. Entertainment and animal shows, little and big kid (okay, and adult) rides, unusual animal exhibits – what’s not to love? Plus the kids are learning about their environment, and how they can be an important part of protecting it at the same time – double-bonus!

We had had such fun, but an afternoon, whilst amazingly good fun was nowhere near enough time to cover all that Sea World had to offer – luckily I had bought us all Sea World VIP Magic passes which allow unlimited entries to Sea World, and as it was so close to our accommodation, we were able to squeeze in another quick visit before our holiday was over!

 

Let’s Go info…

Valid for about a year, VIP Magic passes cover Sea World, Movie World and Wet’n’Wild too (triple-bonus!) – ours don’t expire until June 2015. Each VIP Magic pass costs $99.99 per adult or child. For a full listing of tickets and discount online prices, see the Sea World website here.

All prices are accurate for July 2014.

You can read all of our Gold Coast holiday reviews, including the Big 3 theme parks, accommodation and hire car reviews here

Have you visited Sea World? Tell us what your favourite activity was in the comments below!

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About LetsGoMum

Hi, I'm Barbara, mum of the Let's Go Mum blog. We'd love to hear from you! You can contact me anytime with ideas on where you think we should go or what you think we should try...just drop me a line at barbara@letsgomum.com.au!
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