Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer Vacation, Day 2

Today we went to Sea World.

While walking through the parking lot I was amused to see this sign, apparently put there for people who didn't realize driving into concrete & metal objects could damage their car:

We started with the dolphin show.

It used to be interesting. The dolphins would do tricks while trainers would teach some facts about them. Of course, there were the usual corny jokes and trainer-in-disguise accidentally falling in the water, but you'd still learn something. When I was a kid I found it cool, and would go home and want to read more about dolphins.

A lot has changed since 2009...

I wasn't counting on anything quite like the "Blue Horizons" show they now have. I don't know who came up with this unintentional comedy skit. They tried to cross a dolphin show with Cirque-de-Soleil and a sappy Disney skit, and somehow ended up with the worst of all 3.

The show allegedly tells the story of a Princess named Marina, who wakes up one morning and wants to swim with dolphins. After she makes her appearance, her royal gowns are ripped off by a metal cable (I swear to God!) leaving her magically wearing a neon pink wetsuit.

I can only imagine the looks of horror that these highly trained aquatic mammal handlers must have felt when shown the script. I suspect even the dolphins were embarrassed.

But I digress.

Next, in a flurry of water and theatrical smoke, the male lead shows up. He begins lip-syncing a number about life in the oceans, and when he hits the line "dive into the water" he dives into the water (get it?) then, while he's still underwater, his singing part continues on the speakers. Even a little kid a few rows up noticed this and said "Mommy, how can he sing when he's underwater?".

To make the show even more absurd, a lady in a bird costume comes flying out on overhead wires. Her name was Aurora, which, as a Sleeping Beauty fan, I find horrifying.

For this she got a degree in marine biology.

She swings randomly over the water and the crowd, while we all hope the cable doesn't snap. Because nobody wants "killed by a falling lady in a bird costume at Sea World" in their obituary.

During this the dolphins do a few tricks, but you're so horrified by the theatrical train wreck occurring before you that you barely notice. At one point the bird lady swoops down into the water and lifts the male lead into the air, giving everyone an excellent look at his package.

Hey ladies! Can you see my lunch bag in the last row?

Next, 2 guys in black wetsuits wearing weird spiky yellow helmets came out to do a trapeze act.

I have NO IDEA what this guy, or his outfit, has to do with dolphins.

Somewhere in this visual cacophony they released birds, although seagulls were frequently passing by anyway. The dolphins did the occasional leap, and were likely laughing at the idiot primates watching this spectacle.

“I’d give this show 2 opposable thumbs down- if I had any.”

The performance ended with giant yellow ribbons unfurling over the stage and guys with giant flags waving at the audience. When it was all over I could only think of the immortal line from This is Spinal Tap, "there's such a fine line between clever and stupid."

Since they left them out of the show, guess where you'll find the dolphin facts? At the freakin' gift shop! Around displays of overpriced shot glasses, pendants, and baseball caps they have little signs saying things like "the Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins used in our show can swim 23 MPH and dive to 1200 feet!". And, inevitably, they sell dolls based on the show's characters.

Save your money, Marie. They'll be at Big Lots before Hanukkah.

I was put in charge of getting lunch. This is never as easy as it sounds. You have to find a table by out-competing other families for one, leave a kid there to scare others away (we use Frank for that) try to get orders from everyone, and then wait in line.

No matter how dressed up the food places are at an amusement park, they're still just a glorified McD's, manned by teenagers trying to deal with frantic idiots on vacation who are trying to grasp why a PBJ with chips is $8.

So I finally get down to being the next person at line, and find (as usual) that I picked the wrong line. The lady in front of me suddenly began reading orders of varying complexity off her iPhone, "I need one cheeseburger with cheese and mayo, but no lettuce. Another with cheese and ketchup, but no pickles. One without cheese or lettuce, but extra tomatoes. A chicken sandwich with ranch and pickles, but no tomato" and about 8 other orders. She kept turning around while talking, I assume to make sure none of us in line were about to lunge with a spork.

I sympathized with the unfortunate teenager on the other side of the window. Maybe she's on his blog tonight, too.

Sea World has a rollercoater called "Journey to Atlantis". Why people think a 2 minute ride needs a theme (beyond emesis-inducing loops & dives) is beyond me. I just want a good ride, but they felt a story about being on it to save Atlantis and help people to remember their relationship with the sea was absolutely necessary.

The ride has one interesting feature- an elevator (rather than an incline) to take you to the top of the 2nd drop-off. And, of course, it was about halfway up the elevator, in the shaft, that the ride stopped with us on it.

So here we are, trapped in a roller-coaster car in a dimly lit elevator, watching fake ocean scenes go by on the walls, and overhead the speaker is blaring at full volume "YOU NOW FACE THE FINAL CHALLENGE! THE FATE OF THE KINGDOM OF ATLANTIS FOREVER WILL BE DECIDED BY YOUR ACTIONS IN THE NEXT FEW MOMENTS!" over and over and over again. I wished I'd kept my spork, so I could slit my wrists.

Marie announced she had to pee. Craig asked me how his hair looked. I was hoping to see Atlantis go down in flames, and was pretty damn happy when we began moving again. As soon as we got off they told us the ride would be shutting down for a while.

For all the silliness, we had a good time today. Isn't that what summer vacations are for?

And that's the way it is.


gloria p said...

That description of the dolphin show made me laugh harder than I have in a long time. I guess kids brought up with video games and Disney extravaganzas need all the hokiness they can get to hold their interest. It's too bad that well trained animals aren't enough on their own.

Anonymous said...

Actually the dolphins are trying to tell us that the Vogons are going to destroy the Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass.

The Quirked Eyebrow said...

Thus far, I am enjoying your vacation. :)

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I learned a word that means "the process of being vicariously embarrassed for someone else."

The trainers at the dolphin show? Fremdschämen. SO MUCH Fremdschämen.

Anonymous said...

Haha, I used to love Seaworld when I was a kid. Did you see the "Believe" show or whatever it's called? :) I remember it being awesome.

Allison said...

I think that guy has a big package. The water must not be too cold, I guess.

cliffintokyo said...

That's the way, Aha, Aha!
Bet nobody thought to ask the lead dolphin what he thinks.
Perhaps we should ask him to do a post on this blog?
Hmmm, just as I suspected, rather unimpressed.....but more polite than some of the spectators!

Unknown said...

Hollyworld. Ick.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you make Seaworld sound like such a thrill. Remind me not to visit!

I'm a Disney kid. I have been to Disney World (not land) 15 times since 1992. I absolutely love that place. My favorite Disney World parks are, in order, EPCOT, Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. If I had to skip one park when visiting it would be Animal Kingdom, but the other 3 are must sees for me. I really have never had any desire to spend large amounts of time and money at other amusement parks, although I do go to other amusement parks. Disney, though, is for me! We're going there for Thanksgiving...can't wait.

Try to enjoy the rest of your vacation, and stay away from hot tubs that drunk people are enjoying. Not only was that disgusting, but I bet she pee'd in it!

ER's Mom said...

You have the best vacations!

Grumpy, M.D. said...

Kim- I actually like Sea World a great deal. the dolphin show has just, um, changed a lot.

Anonymous said...

I can only hope my vacation is half as much "fun."

Beth said...

When we visited Sea World in Orlando a few years ago, we watched "Believe!", the orca (Shamu!) show. Our response was "You can love your killer whale, but you really shouldn't love your killer while."

We debated "Blue Horizon", but we decided we'd had enough watching humans have intimate relationships with sea mammals.

Naomi said...

I last went to San Diego in 2001, but my favorite thing was the bird show at the zoo, which was sort of the polar opposite of the Dolphins A La Cirque de Soleil approach -- at the time, anyway, they focused on showcasing the birds' natural behaviors and abilities. I looked at the zoo website and they still have a bird show but I can't tell if the approach is the same or if they have pointlessly incorporated costumed humans since my last visit.

Neuroscience PhD said...

Thanks for the vivid description of how Sea World has gone even corporate-er. It makes me feel that I made the right choice back in 1992 when I had two job offers at the same time: a dolphin trainer (for minimum wage) or a research tech (for a real salary). I always wondered how my life would have been different had I chosen the dolphin trainer job. Now I know.

Anonymous said...

Wow, dolphins AND Atlantis! If they sell crystals in their gift shops, they can hit the New Age trifecta!

Anonymous said...

I refuse to go to Sea World. When I was young, my family went to Orlando's Sea World. They let so many people in the park that the seating for animal shows were filled over an hour before showtime. What did we get for our $80 in tickets? We looked at two animal exhibits, ate lunch, and went home. After reading your post, I'm happy to learn I'm not missing much.

Amanda said...

I've been considering dragging the kids to Sea World this weekend (we're locals for the Florida variant) and I'm just about convinced that I have to go just to stare in glazed-eyed horror at the dolphin show.

Heeee... awesome :)

Grumpy, M.D. said...

I had a good time. My kids love the place. And that's what's important.

Anonymous said...

I bet the guy's costume had a padded crotch and that's why his package looked big.
So the kids didn't learn about dolphins, so what? Craig has learned about bongs!

Kipper said...

That is the most perfect possible picture of dolphin side-eye to accompany that show description.

Anonymous said...

Love the painful play-by-play! Makes me glad i never went back after 4th grade! I lived in San Diego while they were building that monstrous roller coaster tower. Not exactly the prettiest landmark in the area. I did love seeing the nightly fireworks though! Enjoy the hard-earned vaca from crazy patients! And thanks for bringing your blogging fans and purists along for the ride!

Anonymous said...

Last anon here. Not sure whether to blame aoto correct or the migraine. . . Meant "lurker" not " purist" for what it's worth! Oy!

Anonymous said...

We got stock in Disney World ride Pirates of the Caribbean. "DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES" indeed. The ride did close for a while as well after they let us out.

pharmacy chick said...

Id go just for the package view...heh heh..hey sir..can i open your package?

wellillbe said...

Same wacky show as in FL location. At least here when we go to the killer whale show we get to wait in suspense to see if Tilikum strikes again.....I know bad joke

Anonymous said...

I remember hauling the brats to Sea World, Disneyland, etc.
Thank God they have to haul their own kids there now.
From my perspective these "entertainments" are 50% more stress inducing than a Vietcong ambush, and lots less fun.

Residentmaid said...

Wish you worked with me, you're funny. All our docs have agenesis of personality...

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