Whoa. Expensive and oddly disconnected. i felt as if there was not much bang for the buck--and we were amongst many who decided that this was going to be their after Christmas fun. Crowds, crowds and crowds with no one really thinking about how crowds move and need to be directed. From the moment we checked in until we left, it was cheek to jowl with about a million other people. To start it was odd. We all waited in line with our upc printed tickets--squeezing down many lanes to use one of the two stations that one placed the card within a laser projected shape the other, a place we had to impress our right forefinger before the turnstyle let us in. Is this truly needed to get into a mediocre theme park? Why is it they need our fingerprint? If they need a fingerprint to get into SeaWorld why don't they need it before you get on an airplane? or a cruise boat? or before you enter a professional baseball arena? It is all "messed up" and feels terribly wrong. Wrong way to make the wrong impression.

It was Christmas full bore with Edwardian carolers singing and playing handbells all day in full period costumes in the brilliant California sun. Little niches throughout the park hyping the holiday spirit. Even Santa in a lawn chair bedecked in a hawaiian shirt with boogie boards. There were the Christmas "icon animals" (as touted)--a camel and a reindeer. There were clydesdales to have your picture taken with right next to the beer pavillion where one could have two "samples" in the compound. There was so much going on combined with the crowds, it was overwhelming.

There was of course, the Shamu show--We had the misfortune to not have the time to see the other Shamu show (the holiday one--that stretches the imagination about what they do--Santa rides Shamu? Shamu jumps through a candy cane wreath? Three wise men bring riches to shamu? it goes on and on). At our Shamu show, we were instructed to believe...and to believe that something black and white could save the world. Again, lots of splashing and hilarity around that. Lots of leaping dolphins and whales. Frankly, I felt sorry for the animals. I would rather have seen them in a big tank doing their own thing versus the trained monkey thing. We saw the leaping dolphins too. It was nice to learn from the peppy trainer that to become a trainer and work with the dolphins or Shamu all you needed was 1. an ability to swim, 2. be a great team worker and 3. Love animals! Imagine! It doesn't take much! Does it?

I can be a trainer! I would get to wear the shamu striped suit and have blonde hair.

We really liked the "feed the seals" set up where you could buy fish and feed the seals. They are loud and very convincing in their pleas to be given the fish...It was sad to think they were trained to beg to be entertainment. K and I loved a heron we saw (with the seagulls) waiting for lunch scraps.

It was sad that Sea World (a part of the Busch empire), an entity that has been engaged in conservation and animal protection, treats their animals in such a silly way. They do not address global warming, preservation of the rain forest, how we must change at a very basic level to begin the process of truly living in more harmony with nature. It could all fit with their entertainment...but somehow the brain part of the equation was left out. More game shows for the masses. Considering this conservation and consciousness aspect of what they represent, the amount of plastic consumed daily in the park is phenomenal and stupidly clueless. Why aren't they using the cellulose based plastics or shifting to unbleached paper? Why aren't they separating trash and encouraging the crowd to do so as part of their green/blue program. Why are they pushing these enormous cups with these molded plastic tops of a cresting Shamu that one pokes a straw in their head (for about 9 bucks)? More crap for the landfill. Profit is one thing--short term profit--and image which is built impression upon impression is another. Anheuser Busch is a smart and savvy company--they can do better with their messaging and purpose. It is tragic. They should decide to be a theme park or a player in the world of conservation and change--and match their messaging to it. Right now, it is very selective and frankly, not very intelligent.

Prior to the shows starting, one of the chipper performers would do the lead in...the first recognizing the fire fighters and emergency people during the recent fires which was verbal and very heartfelt. Then there was an enormous send off (complete with essentially a commercial on the Jumbotron) for our heros (those past and present in the military) that was fine..but felt somehow insincere when you realize that many vets couldn't afford to pay the admission price to get into the park. We saw quite a few on the street with their dogs in the Gaslamp district last night and the incongruity hit me. This war needs to stop. We need to have the funds to take care of our own. We need to rethink or better, think about what is going on and then proceed.

Who would have thought that a trip to SeaWorld would have gotten me on my soapbox? Back to California, please!