Seaworld, Research, and Books

Friday, June 7, 2013

Last month was a big month for me in a lot of ways. Of course, there was Suddenly Royal and all of the awesome-ness that happened (like making best-seller lists and signing with an amazing agent that I adore). I also was working on my next novel, The Accidental Assassin. I know I haven't talked much about that project, but it's coming along well and I can't wait to share it with everyone! (On the 13th I will be revealing the cover and the synopsis, so keep your eyes open!)

But, on top of all that amazing stuff, it was my seventh wedding anniversary. My husband and I have been together for over ten years and I still find myself swooning over things he does or says. I may be the luckiest woman in the world.

To celebrate he booked us a behind the scenes tour at SeaWorld. Just me and him!

For those of you that have read Flukes, it's no secret that I adore dolphins and marine life in general. In fact, growing up I wanted to be a marine biologist. So every time we go to SeaWorld, I am soaking up information and storing it away for the next Flukes book. And this behind the scenes tour gave me SO much information to work with in future books. We have Fun Passes, so we get to go pretty regularly. This means that we can take our time at the shows/animals that we want, because we've already done everything. However, this time, there was a new ride/exhibit that we hadn't seen! (In fact had opened just the day before.)

Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin.

We stayed at a nearby hotel that is linked with SeaWorld. This meant not only could we walk to the park (and avoid parking fees) but we were allowed into the park an hour earlier than everyone else. We had heard that the day before the line for Antarctica was over SIX HOURS long. I'm not a big fan of the heat and my husband is not a big fan of being crammed next to strangers for that long. (Okay, I'm not either. I mean, who really wants to stand in line that long?) So, we decided to hit up the new ride first thing and try to avoid the crazy lines. Our strategy worked and we barely waited for thirty minutes--if that. (There was this weird mix up where they miscounted us in a group for a ride car and we had to go around and do the intro video again. However, they gave us a great little 'skip to the front of the line card' for us to use later--which was nice!)

The little baby penguin they use to explain how these animals live was adorable and more than did it's job of getting our attention. The setting inside of the line was fun and interesting as well. (Not too mention air-conditioned--but more on that soon!) We decided to do the 'Wild' ride (there is a mild or wild version) and strapped in for the ride.

Now here's the thing... the ride isn't very long and isn't exactly the most amazing thing I've ever been on, but I did enjoy it. And I thought that the actual ride was pretty cool. The cars are not on a track, but are controlled by a computer program. You feel like you're in a hoover car to be honest. The wild ride wasn't any different than the mild ride (except for a little more spinning and bucking) so you don't have to worry about missing anything on one version or the other.

Now here comes the shocker... while in line (the first time) we found out that the penguin habitat was only 32 degrees and that the ride let out inside. Now, I don't know about you, but I hate the heat--but THIRTY-TWO DEGREES IS COLD! Especially when you've just been sweating like an art thief at the Louvre. It was really nifty though! The tank is a half wall of glass, where you can lean over and look directly into the penguin water. Watch out, though, because those cuties will splash you. And if you think 32 degrees is cold, just imagine it with frozen water all over your tank top!

Once we were done with the penguins, we spent some time at the dolphin nursery. I could have stayed there all day. Love, love, love them.

Our behind-the-scenes tour started mid-day and we made good use of our time. The tour was really interesting. We got to see how they transport animals (which was VERY helpful for RIPTIDE, my next Flukes book), their 'ambulance' for stranded animals, and one of their boats that they use to take animals back to the sea. I loved it. I live for little details and information like that.

The tour wasn't very long, but I did get to see, learn about, and touch some amazing things.

I got to pet a shark! It was only six inches long, but hey! It was a shark and I stroked it's little back!


We also got to pet a penguin and talk with her handler. I learned so much talking to the guide and the trainer. I loved it. And the penguin was EVERYTHING I hoped for! She was darling, if loud! But who could blame her? We were all starring at her.

We also got to see a hidden polar bear den. We also got lucky and one of the bears was playing in their for us to watch!

That night we saw the Clyde and Seamore parody show ( SeaWorld, I can't tell you how much I laugh at that show. It is so much fun! We never miss it when we're there.) If you haven't been to SeaWorld, make sure you catch this show. You won't regret it. (Tip: Get there early because the seats fill up fast and there is some preshow entertainment that you won't want to miss.)

(So peaceful!)

After the show while everyone else ran for the nighttime Shamu show, we hung out at Dolphin Cove. Hardly anyone else will be in there and it's like you have the dolphins to yourself. You can also hear the dolphins much better through their underwater mic. Last time we took the munchkin, we did this, and the dolphins stopped and interacted with her. It was such a special moment for all of us.

(The munchkin calls Shamu, Shampoo, and I
 can't bring myself to correct her. It's just so dang cute!)

So, thank you, SeaWorld, for giving people a place to learn more about our oceans and its inhabitants. You give people a chance to witness the beauty for themselves, so that we can understand just how important they all truly are.

 (Yeah, I'm a dork.)
If you've never been to SeaWorld, I think it's a great experience for kids and adults. I love bringing my daughter so she can learn about the animals. I love going because I enjoy learning more about the animals. And I always learn a little something new.

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