A couple of weeks ago, we were bored at the weekend, so we thought we’d use our season passes to go to SeaWorld and have a nice walk around to see the animals. After watching the dolphins and petting the sting rays, we took in a stadium show before continuing our walk around. After a bit of idle wandering, I saw a sign for The Sea World Polar Express Experience. I immediately got excited, as it was clear that this was a Christmas themed exhibit, and I even overheard someone saying that kids could meet Santa!
So even though my sciatica was acting up and I was pretty tired out, I excitedly suggested we head over and take a gander. I assumed that there would be a train ride involved, and I figured Dexter would be over the moon with that.
Of course, when we arrived at the entrance (which seemed to take FOREVER to walk to, as it was on the other side of the park), I was disappointed to see that my poor guy wasn’t actually tall enough to go on the ride! But since we’d gone all that way, we decided to do the “walking tour” bit instead.
After standing in line for quite a while, they finally opened the doors, and we were directed to a small theatre room with a big screen. As we were first in, it allowed us to choose our seats carefully, and I made sure we were right next to the exit so we could be the first ones out.
After a few moments, once everyone was seated, we were treated to a highly modified 10 minute version of The Polar Express. Having not seen the film before, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but Dexter was ENTHRALLED with it, and he was good as gold through the whole viewing. I expected that this was a prelude to some big exciting experience, but I was mostly left disappointed, as once we left the viewing room, we were simply sent through a huge hallway with loads of wrapped up Christmas presents along the way. We walked for around five minutes, along with the rest of our group until we came to another room, which was filled with ice and a giant Christmas tree. It overlooked a large pool where there were assumedly further sea animals inside, though we didn’t actually see them.
We got a few photos around the tree, though, which was cute because Dexter was totally amazed by the lights and baubles, and his reaction was so lovely to see.
After we’d had our fill of the twinkly lights, we made our way around the bend to where a line had formed to see Santa, himself. I was adamant that I wanted Dexter to meet him, as we’d really dropped the ball last year and hadn’t taken him anywhere to see him. I knew we still had lots of time, but just in case we didn’t have another chance, I was prepared to wait in line. Mark wasn’t as keen and left us to go and find out how long the wait actually was. He came back to say it was going to be 15 – 20 minutes, which wasn’t really a big deal to me. So we conversed a bit with the others in line and watched kids playing on the icy walls and made our way slowly through until it was our turn.
As the people in front of us posed for their photos, we were met by a happy elf lady who asked Dexter his name and kept him entertained until it was his turn with the big man.
Santa himself was really and genuinely awesome. He looked the part, was gentle and sweet and tried very hard to engage with a suspicious little toddler. Dex kept giving him the stink eye. And even though we’d worked with him on a response to “What do you want for Christmas, Dexter?” (The answer, of course, is the one thing Dexter can and will shout on command – “FOOTBALL!”) he was painfully shy and refused to actually participate in the conversation.
But at least he didn’t cry.
Santa took time to chat with mommy and daddy so that Dexter would see that he was okay to engage with, but the little man just wasn’t having it. Ah well. There’s always next year!
Anyway, the pro photographer took our picture, and the lovely assistants used our camera to capture the moment, as well. Sadly our camera wasn’t as good with the low light, but we weren’t going to pay $20 for a photograph, even if it was slightly better. Maybe if Dex had been smiling or really happy, but not as it was.
After our short visit with Mr Kringle, we again went walking through hallways which led us into a big room with several windows. Each window overlooked some new animals. Some were under water, while others were on ice. Dexter’s favorite was the polar bear, which he spent ages trying to kiss through the glass.
There weren’t many people around, and it felt kind of creepy in this great big area. It was also very quiet with very little to do. I was still hoping that there was more to see and do, but aside from a hot chocolate stand manned by elves (a steal at $4.00 per cup *ahem*), it was just a long walk back outside into the sunshine.
As we left, though, I did notice that at the entrance was a big steam train that we hadn’t noticed on our way in, so we grabbed a quick photo of that just so we could have SOME memory of what we’d been so excited about before.
So while it was nice to have the chance for Dexter to meet Santa, and the rest we got while watching the movie was appreciated, the entire experience left me feeling (for lack of a better word) quite cold. I can’t really recommend it as a must-see experience, but it killed time and kept my kid happy for a little while.
Perhaps the actual train ride (at least I have to ASSUME the non-walking tour included a train ride?) made for a better experience. I guess we’ll have to wait a few years to discover that for ourselves.