Jun 9, 2011

Lions, Tigers & Whales Oh My!

Like every May, this last one was a busy one. Our friend Lynde’s birthday is a week after mine. This year Lynde wanted to go to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Marine World Africa USA to all of you old-time Nor-cal kids), and invited us along. This would be London’s first visit, and after how much fun we had with her that day, it's definitely not the last. We half debated on buying season passes for this year, but think we’ll wait until she can tell us she wants to go often. For now, she’s pretty good at just going with the flow and only demands food and naps.

The place has definitely changed since my visits as a child, and even changed some since Cameron and I last visited the weekend after our wedding. Most notably, the tigers have a new show pavilion and all the shows seemed much shorter in length. I swear the shows only lasted 15-20 minutes, tops, when they used to be 30-45 minutes. I’m sure there’s a limit at how many minutes a day the animals can perform and being that it was a Saturday, they may shorten the show lengths to have multiple shows each day.

We started the day off watching Shouka the whale. We got to the show stadium early, so Lynde and I took London to watch Shouka swim in her tank out back. As soon as London saw Shouka, she got excited and mesmerized. She watched Shouka for a good 5 minutes, squealing every time the whale swam by the window.

London remained mesmerized during the show. We also worked on her patty cakes when people were clapping throughout the show. Every time it was time to clap, I’d tell London “Patty cake” and she’s clap her hands. By the end of the Tiger show, London would clap when she heard claps. We’ll see if this sticks, but everyone seated around us sure enjoyed it when she clapped.

Matt, Lynde and Cameron headed to a ride after the whale show. The tigers were nearby so London and I went to watch the white Bengal tiger pace around its cage while one of the orange Bengal tigers lounged next door. London seemed to enjoy the coaster cars rushing by over our heads. By the time the crew made it through the line and finished the ride, it was time for the tiger show. And after that a diaper change was in order.

I have to say, who ever designed the bathroom we used to complete this task was an IDIOT! Discovery Kingdom is about conservation, so the bathrooms are equipped with air hand dryers – noisy ones, which are only amplified by the cinderblock and concrete buildings that house the bathrooms. The diaper changing station in this one was located next to all the dryers, one less than two feet from us! London was not a happy camper between the scary noise and being strapped down on the table. I know it reminds her of the doctor and being pinned down for shots, but she’s just too wiggly to not use the straps and be able to change her diaper at the same time.

To say I left bathroom stressed and anxious is an understatement. Luckily, Matt & Cameron wanted to go on a ride Lynde had no interest in this one so she volunteered to watch with London so I could go on it. Twirling in fast circles upside down is a great stress reliever! That would be the last ride for all of us that day. Matt & Lynde would stand in line for one, but give up after a 30-minute wait – all the lines seemed to be 90-120 minutes long.

While we were separated from Matt & Lynde, we checked out the Walruses. One was showing off, swimming back and forth right against the window and clapping, which was captured with an underwater mic and broadcasted through speakers. Our new patty cake champ was clapping right along with the walrus. We got an up-close view of this huge beast and its tusks several times.

The last big attraction we took in, after walking the park while London took a nap, was the Shark tank. London had loved the sharks at the Aquarium in Minnesota, and she loved the ones here. At one point, she was standing up leaning against the tank window and would keep looking back at Cameron and me and pointing back toward the tank. We have to take this kid to the Monterey Bay Aquarium soon!

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