On our baby-moon/family holiday to the Gold Coast in Australia we decided it would be fun to take Master X to one of the 5 theme parks in the region. Although we enjoyed our day, there are a few things we wished that we had
known adhered considered before heading to Sea World, or any amusement park, for the day with Mr 18 months.
Check ticket prices
Mr A did some research into club memberships and discounted tickets the day before we were due to go to the park, and discovered that our car insurance with gave us a 10 per cent discount on entry. The morning of departure, MR A spent a deal of time on the phone to the company site to be told that they could not honour the deal, and instead he had to call another service who may be able to assist. Brilliant. I made the executive decision for us to just purchase the $79.99 web advertised price at the gate.
The cab pulled over to the curb to let us out and we were faced with some pretty long lines. I was reiterating under my breath hopes that the longest line was not the one we needed, and I was right! Bam! My excitement quickly dissipated when we saw the gated price of $89.99!!
Moral to the story – check to see if the web price is the gated price, and give yourself a week to process any discounts.
Take a stroller
We are totally into carrying Master X and after our successful time in Japan only 4 months ago, relying on the carrier for nap times seemed well reasonable again on this trip.
It was very hot and humid, and due to my sciatica and pubic pain from the pregnancy the carrying was left up to Mr A. All the carrying. Of our almost 15 kilogram son. I looked with envy at all the stroller toting parents, who looked much refreshed compared to my husband who looked (I’m sorry babe) like a wrung out sweat rag from carrying non-compliant, wandering and energetic Mr 18 months. Although our stroller is crap, we did manage to use it without drama at a Canberra Festival recently, and we should have learnt from that experience that wheels are better than tears!
Moral to the story – take a stroller
Make time for munchies
This is one thing we won at – packing snacks and stopping at the right time for food and water breaks. It was a fairly hot day when we trekked to the park and I packed water in abundance (okay, a little lie. I packed one bottle of water and filled it up from the bathroom faucet), baby packets and fruit. Mr 18 months loves packets and fruit so that was a winner. And thankfully so because the kids meals were full of grease! While Mr A and I waited for our fried lunches Master X hoed into his packets and then only picked at our plates. I am not sure what your kids are like, but grease and toddler tummy = explosions. Trust me – you’ll thank me for the snacks.
It is important to offer food and water often, before they are hangry (hungry + angry). The rides and characters were a great distraction because we missed the hungry cues until too late and had to wangle a tired little man among a growing crowd of people. Not fun!
Moral to the experience – take toddler friendly foods!
Timing is everything
Most things to do with a toddler being happy is about timing. Getting the food in their bellies before they realise they are hungry, distracting them before they see the puppy walking near to us, and picking up on the nap time signs before they are overtired. We had been at the park for about 4 hours when we realised that the heat and overwhelming nature of the theme park was becoming too much for everyone (waddling mumma was getting pretty tired), so we caught the monorail back to the entry gates. Lucky for us there was a taxi already waiting, but it could have ended in disaster if were reliant on a bus or if the cab was not there! After only 5 mins, Master X passed out in the taxi. He was so tired we were able to transfer him back to our hotel room without even a peeking eye.
It is difficult to time these things. I go by gut and physical measure. If my energy is waning then the likelihood of our little one also being tired is high!
Moral to the story – take it easy!
All things considered we had a good day. We felt that the tickets were priced at about double what they were worth considering that much of the park under construction. The compensation offered was free entry to one of the other theme parks, but when you have a toddler the other parks are not suitable. The pricing of the food was not too bad considering. I recall going to Disneyland in Tokyo a few years ago and balking at the price and quality of meals. At least the food was of a good quality, and the prices for our meals were about $25 each for fish, chips and a drink. Of course, there were not many dietary-friendly meals which meant a long evening for me as I was bloated and sore from the gluten, but otherwise good quality.
We were also disappointed with the lack of animals, expecting that a place named Sea World would have substantial aquarium facilitates. I also don’t think the dolphins looked too happy in their enclosures that reminded me of the fish breeding farms back home. The best part was the toddler-friendly amusement Nickelodeon section to the park. Master X also loved the under water viewing area for sharks, but again the enclosures did not seem nearly large or deep enough for the size of the animals.
Our toddler enjoyed his day at the park, but we won’t be planning a return visit even when he is older due to the ticket pricing and the animal enclosures.