Tag Archives: all-you-can-eat

Thank God for Sea Lions

Today we visited what I suppose some could call a happy place.  We were so excited too.  Our trip to San Antonio brought us to a place I had never been (nor the kids), although my wife and her sister and mother had.  Today, we visited Sea World!  Sea World, home of Shamu…  Although I am told by so-called reliable sources that Shamu is just a trademarked name the folks at SW apply to all of their orcas in honor of the very first Shamu; I remain convinced that there likely is only one Shamu, albeit cloned thrice.  She is 44 years-old and looks good for her dolphin age.

So, Sea World…  Magical home of marine mammals!  And yet, not so much fun.  Why?  Well, let’s see.  There’s really only one reason for this but that reason set off a chain reaction (as they usually do) which threatened to ruin our entire day.  Yesterday we had so much fun at FIesta Texas.  And Fiesta Texas has a water park (not a few bubbling fountains, a full scale park) attached to it where admission is free once you’re in the main gate of Six Flags.  That is unusual because most places will charge a separate entrance fee.  When I say “most places” I’m included Sea World.  What we did NOT realize was that by entering the park the moment they opened (as we did) and heading first to see a show we would miss our opportunity to visit Aquatica (Sea World’s water park).  You see, after taking in a spectacle involving two beluga whales (never thought I’d string those words together) and a kids’ show involving Elmo (for Rita’s sake) we found that the water park had “reached capacity” and would not reopen until 4PM.  Let’s review.  It’s 105 degrees.  There is no shade anywhere.  The water park was closed.  We asked the nice young lady at the gate how they were so sure that the park would reopen at 4.  “Do you ask all the people inside to exit at 4 to give others a chance to enter?” asked my mother-in-law.  “No,” came her reply.  “Then how do you know it won’t still be at capacity?”  I think the park employee must have been frustrated because her responses just kept making less and less sense.  She said she could “guarantee that the park would reopen by 4, unless it couldn’t reopen until later than that, although maybe earlier than that but that it definitely would be open again this day.”

Needless to say, we never did enter Aquatica.  Even if we had been back at that gate at 3:15 on the dot (when they reopened) we could not have stood that line with no shade and both of our kids.  So after an hour or so of literally sitting around near the park entrance trying to decide where to go next, we decided to try to see the Shamu show.  It was on the far side of the park.  We walked over and found out that Shamu Stadium (yes, that’s what it’s called) was full.  On our walk back toward the gate, for we were about to leave, we passed no less than three major rides that were closed for mechanical reasons.  One of these, a log flume, appeared to have actually been stuck while in motion leaving stranded a few dozen park-goers about 50 feet up in the air.

We were just about to give up completely and go back to Six Flags when we stumbled up Sea Lion Theater.  I cannot tell you how much I get a kick out of sea lions!  And apparently I’m not the only one.  While my son was a bit more tepid in his reception of the giant flippery ones, my daughter could not contain her amusement.  She and I laughed and laughed.  The show was a cute production featuring Clyde and Seymour (sea lions) who run some kind of detective agency in the 1940’s.  Who knows?  It was adorable, especially the part where the otter ran across the stage for no apparent reason.  We enjoyed that show so much that we returned later that evening for another show — this one featuring the same sea lions but the premise was a revue of a trip to Sea World through their eyes.  Funny stuff; except that old Clyde and Seymour apparently made it to the water park and rode every ride they desired to ride without a line.

All in all it wasn’t a terrible day and we were able to make the most of it.  We always seem to manage that pretty well.  The kids, cranky at times, held up well and, though I was in great pain from my sciatica, I enjoyed it despite myself.  My mother-in-law and I, never two to not get what we paid for if we can help it, took advantage of one final aspect of this operation.  Upon entrance, the park sells a wristband for $30.  The wearer can enter any of six restaurants (read: food shacks) on park grounds and eat or drink as much as he or she likes.  However, there’s always a catch.  And this catch stipulated that each time through the line, one could grab one entree, one side OR dessert, and one drink (fountain drinks or bottled water but oddly, not tea).  Let me tell you, Wilma and I had a ball as we walked into every one of these six shacks that we passed on foot.  “No, no, guys, you go ahead.  We’ll catch up.”  We’d break from our group and in the span of ten minutes or so we’d have made four trips through the line stocking up on mostly water but also “whale tail cookies”, ham sandwiches, and jello.  Take that, Sea World!  Trust me, we more than got our 30 bucks worth out of that deal.

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Baseball, Texas Style

I’ve never been the world’s biggest baseball fan.  There are too many games to follow and each one seems to go on for an interminable length.  But having moved to Texas recently, when my wife asked if I wanted to go to a Rangers game I thought it might be a good idea.  Actually, it happened to be a corporate event tie-in thing with her company.  We would be paying a flat ticket price and sitting in the “All you can eat” section of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.  Could they have given it a more appealing name?  I couldn’t see the stadium level over my head but I’m pretty sure there must have been a giant LCD screen hanging from it which read: “Hey baseball fans, come and watch the fat folks eat!”

We took our son, not a voracious eater himself and left our daughter with my sister-in-law.  She was tired (both of them were, really).  The whole experience was pretty cool.  The particular section we found ourselves in is attached to a restaurant with, as its name implies, an all-you-can-eat buffet.  So it wasn’t anything fancy but for the cost of the ticket you know I was going to get my hot dog’s worth.  The spread consisted of boxes of popcorn, large tubs of peanuts (in shell), hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, and as much soda as you could legitimately consume.  I grabbed four hot dogs as we proceeded to our seats.  Then I remembered that my wife and son might want one…

Our darling son, all of three years-old, really seemed taken by the action on the field.  I even showed him the proper way to place his hand over his heart during the national anthem.  And yet after the first inning, with a temperature still over 100 degrees, we opted to watch from inside the feeding trough, um, restaurant.  Eventually my wife was stricken with the idea to tour the stadium.  We headed for the exit, three more dogs in hand.  And a beer.  I don’t drink beer but at the ballpark I must.  We wandered around the entire main level, encircling the bowl that is the stadium.  We stopped along the way for souvenirs and ice cream.

Finally we came back to our seats.  After all that it was only the fourth inning.  Little man was getting sleepy so we once again headed for the exit, through the restaurant, grabbing a few more franks on the way.  Who are you to judge me?!  We stopped to pick up a pretzel for my sister-in-law, her one request of remuneration for babysitting.  While waiting in line a couple of guys in front of us turned around, looked at my son, and said “You look like you could use this.”  I looked up to see them offering us a signed baseball they had gotten by taking the actual, official tour of the stadium earlier in the day.  Nice gesture.  Very classy.  On our way out of the stadium (yes, dammit, I grabbed some more hot dogs) we stopped to get our promotional item.  Oddly, it was a football carrying the Rangers logo on it.

The picture below, however, sums up the night perfectly.

Play ball!