IF YOUR CHILDREN are madly in love with animals and want to learn as much as they can about land mammals to aquatic species I cannot recommend Seaworld Orlando, Busch Gardens in Tampa, and Discovery Cove enough.
I recently visited all three theme parks courtesy of Seaworld Parks and Entertainment. The general theme is animals are central to each of their parks from Seaworld's One Ocean (left), the Shamu show that exhibits the amazing feats of killer whales while emphasizing protection of our oceans to Busch Gardens where hands-on experiences teach children and adults about animals and conservation to Discovery Cove where you and your children can swim with rays and dolphins and feeding tropical birds by hand.
Each park offers something entirely unique for families. You can watch aquatic shows at Seaworld, visit aquariums, and see animals like penguins, polar bears, and walruses. At Busch Gardens your children can learn about cheetahs, elephants, African plains animals like giraffes, rhinos, and antelope along with the option of partaking in thrill rides. And on Discovery Cove, you and your family can spend the entire day swimming with rays, dolphins, tropical fish and wading in the water and feed tropical birds.
There are many reasons to take your children to Seaworld theme parks, but the two that stand out for me are acquainting your children with animal species and also educating them on how to conserve and preserve these animals' habitats. It is important to start early and teach children about how endangered species while they are young Making a positive impact on animals when they get older will literally mean the difference between their demise or survival, so education is key.
After spending considerable time at each of the theme parks here is what I recommend for families:
BUSH GARDENS TAMPA
Feel yourself being swept away to the African plains on an open-truck experience that takes you up close to the wonders of our 65-acre Serengeti Plain, where you'll meet some magnificent animals. We fed lettuce to giraffes who came straight up to our truck which was quite thrilling.
Hand-feed a giraffe. Learn a thing or two about zebras you never knew until you got this close. Understand exotic species like bongo, eland and ostrich as your guide helps bring you closer to the wildlife and wild places in this world we share.
Photo opportunities on the Serengeti Safari are unbelievable. Be sure to bring your camera so you can share your Serengeti adventure with everybody back home.
Price: $33.95 per person plus tax
Park admission is required and is not included
Program is Approximately 30 minutes in length
Open to: guests open to ages 5 and up. This program is wheelchair accessible.
The all-new Grand Reef at Discovery Cove in Orlando features multiple levels of exploration, from shallow waters to deeper swimming adventures and white sandy beaches, to snorkeling among canyons inspired by reefs from around the world.
TIP: Spending a day as a family at Discovery Cove may seem a bit pricey. Here's the trick: Your Dolphin Swim Day Resort package includes unlimited admission to your choice of SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica or Busch Gardens Tampa during your vacation. For only $50 more you can add Seaworld Orlando, Aquatica, and Busch Gardens Tampa (a $100 savings off the regular price).
You cannot go wrong with a day at Discovery Cove with the perks that go along with the price!
Penguins Up-Close Tour: Are you passionate about penguins? Partial to puffins? If so, travel from pole-to-pole with Seaworld on a 45-minute walking tour. Go behind-the-scenes of Penguin Encounter to hear from
animal care experts about what it takes to care for these unique birds. Get the rare opportunity to see a puffin up-close and interact with penguins in their own habitat.
I was quite amazed at the penguins. I certainly didn't know what fully to expect, but they are gentle little birds that clearly love living in a close-knit community.
Price is $40 adult/$20 children plus tax.
Park admission is not included and is required.
Seaworld offers so much to see and do. There are animals at every turn. New conservation and animal education is on-hand throughout the park. Plus, there are additional opportunities to get up close and personal with the animals for an additional charge.