Adventure Island in Tampa officially began its season of “Island Nights” on June 10th. And the folks at Adventure Island graciously invited me to bring my family and check it all out. Considering how much my children love water and how HOT it has been in Tampa already, we jumped at the chance to see what this water park is all about.
For three nights a week during the summer, Adventure Island opens its doors to families late into the evening. Guests are welcome to cool off at night on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from June 10th – August 14th.
And why would anyone want to hit a water park in the evening? If you’re asking that question, you’re obviously not from Florida. The sun here is HOT. Floridians are constantly concerned about sunburns and sunscreen reapplication. Also the heat of a summer day in Florida, water park or not, can be a bit overwhelming. Even when the sun sets, the air stays very warm in Florida. So being able to soak our summer weary bodies without the intense sun makes an evening visit to Adventure Island a very cool and refreshing plus.
So what did we think? My boys and I had a fantastic time. Truly. There are water rides for every age: splash pools for toddlers, age appropriate slides, climbing fun, water guns and dumping buckets for bigger kids, and then every combination of water slide for the oldest kids.
And by oldest kids I mean adults. Because there is something about a water park that makes every adult a kid again.
There are good deals for Florida and Georgia residents so check their website for ticket prices. However, be prepared to pay an extra $12.00 for parking. And if you want to rent a locker (which is very convenient) they cost $12.00 a day too. Also, I’ve heard that you need to get to the park early during the day to stake out a spot. We didn’t have any issues with a place for our things during the evening (we also rented a locker) but it is something to be aware of as the park gets busy.
Here is a quick video of our visit. It’s quick because I spent most of my time having fun. But it should give you a feel for the place during the evening. Plus my very sad seven year old at the end of the video (he did NOT want to leave, he had the time of his life, truly) cracked me up. Poor kid. But his tears are a sincere indication of how much fun he really had at Adventure Island that night.
FTC Disclosure: Adventure Island paid for my family’s parking and admission.
When I was about five years old I distinctly remember asking my mother if she could tell me how to get to Sesame Street. Her response?
“It’s very far away.”
“Far away” translated in my child’s mind as far as anyone could go, maybe even as far as China. And so for years I thought Sesame Street was in China.
My inner five year old was thrilled to learn that Sesame Street has arrived here in Tampa Bay. Elmo, Big Bird, Burt, Ernie, Grover, Cookie Monster… they’re all part of the new Safari of Fun at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
This past Thursday, I loaded my youngest into the car and drove down to Busch Gardens for a special media event kicking off the opening of Safari of Fun. After being under construction for some time, I have been dying to see the new updates so we were there and ready to go at 8:30am that morning.
As part of media day, all of those attending were assigned a personal escort for the day. We were lucky enough to meet Rick, a wonderful guide and patient host as my son ran here and there around the grounds of the newly updated Safari of Fun.
So what’s it like?
Safari of Fun is an upgraded make over of the old “Land of the Dragons” area – but with more to offer. The entire area has been adapted to a “Sesame Street” theme for which I give a thunderous round of applause. The age of children visiting this area adore Sesame Street – pairing the two makes a lot of sense. All of the old rides are there still, plus a few more. They have added a new kiddie sized swing ride, an echoing exploration area, a spacious new splash park and the brand new Air Grover – a junior coaster perfect for brave preschoolers and young elementary school aged kids.
There is also a new theater show starring the Sesame Street characters which is presented several times a day, there is a new space for daily Sesame Street character breakfasts, and across the park in Timbuktu there is a new 4D Sesame Street movie now being shown.
But what did my kid really think of it all?
Well, I took video so that you can see his reaction for yourself. He even gave me a little wrap up interview the following day. But in a nutshell, he adored it. Sure he was a little nervous around the characters but he could not get enough of the rides and climbing areas which are perfect for his age. He was too scared to try out Air Grover but my friend Maria was kind enough to share her video experience with her three year old. We can not wait to get back and bring my six year old (who is itching to try out Air Grover). Next time we’ll bring our bathing suits too and try out the new splash park.
I also have to point out how professional the staff there are. Rick was a great help and each staff member assisting children on and off the rides could not have been kinder or more patient. They explained they have a “no cry policy” and will stop the ride in an instant if any child is upset. Thanks to all of the staff for making my child’s experience so much fun.
The only slight disappointment was the 4D movie. While funny and well done, the extra “effects” were a little much for the preschoolers in our group. There are quite a few surprising direct sprays of water which caught the kids off guard. We were fairly soaked by the end of the show and one kid was in tears (mine had his hands over his face asking if it was over yet). Older children might love these surprises, I know my six year old would crack up at them. However, Sesame Street is more appropriate for younger kids so I’m just hoping they tone down the scary water sprays but crank the fun, more gentle effects like bubbles, etc. My three year old doesn’t want to try that again but we’ll be taking my six year old for sure.
Finally, check out the video I made of our day at the Sesame Street Safari of Fun. We truly had a blast and we can’t wait to get back there in a couple weeks.
Here is Maria Melee from Your Mama Reviews riding Air Grover with her three year old son. (By the way, how cool is this set up? Many props to the Busch Gardens folks to bring this video option to all of us on Media Day.)
I’m a sucker for Disney. Which is no suprise I suppose, considering I live in Tampa and visit family in Orlando often. The Disney thing is just part of the fabric around here. However, while there are great ticket options for Florida residents, Disney still isn’t always the most affordable place to just stop on by. So when I heard about this recent promotion, I was feeling the Disney love in a pretty big way.
Disney is offering guests a free day at one of their parks in return for a day of service. That’s right – give your time and energy to a local organization, school or community center and you will get a free pass to Disney (which is an $80.00 value… yep, it costs $80.00 to visit one park for one day).
Check here to find out where you can participate in your local community.
Full disclosure: I got nothing free for posting this. I wasn’t even asked to post this. I just think its a fantastic program, that’s all.
This Sunday, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Seaworld with a fabulous crew of mom bloggers. All thanks to Ted Murphy at IZEA and Wendy Piersall at Sparkplugging.com, we were able to spend an entire day at the park soaking up all things aquatic. I had never been to Orlando’s Seaworld before and was very excited to see what all the fuss was about. And while I wasn’t able to bring my children, I got to see the park through the eyes of the other mom blogger’s children – all while plying them with cotton candy.
So who did I go with? Well the wonderful Shellie from Blog 4 Mom , the brilliant Susan from Egg Marketing and Sometimes Parenting Sucks , the wildly witty Britt from Miss Britt, and the beautiful Melanie from Modern Mami. And had I ever met these women before? Well, here and there on Twitter or in passing at Blog Her last year – but for the most part we met as strangers. But c’mon. Give us some credit. We blog, we’re moms, we had pleeeenty in common. We really had a wonderful day together and I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to hang out with them and their families.
Now what about the park? From sea exhibit to shining sea exhibit, I had an amazing time. Since it is February, the weather was perfect and the park was not very crowded. We walked casually to each section, we never felt too overwhelmed by other visitors and enjoyed every sea creature we saw.
The dolphin area was amazing. Visitors had the chance to feed dolphins and reach out to pet them if they happened to be at arms length. You could truly enjoy this creatures curiousity – they are such wonderful and social animals. The under water viewing area was impressive. The dolphins peered right back at us, swimming slowly by. I think they were equally entertained.
After checking out some wonderful manatee (and debating with husbands whether they are technically considered “cute” – which they are), we went to the Blue Horizons Whale and Dolphin show. I happened to capture the finale on video to share with my children and all of you.
Afterwards, we grabbed some lunch and then headed over to the shark exhibit. I really enjoyed being able to move through the shark tank and see them swim over us. I also appreciated seeing how thick that glass was separating us and the sharks!
The big event for the afternoon was the Shamu Show “Believe”. We all made sure to get spots as close to the front without technically being in the “splash zone”. If the kids had a choice however, we would have been right down front, bracing for wave impact. Nope. We mom bloggers are practical, we stayed dry. But I did catch that finale on video also.
At this point, the kids had been pretty good about following our agenda so we let them run wild in Shamu’s Happy Harbor while we chatted. Or should I say, the moms chatted and the dads braved the climbing contraption with netted tubes three stories above us. While we compared blog tips and tweeted from iphones, the dad’s sweated their way through it all, each coming back down exhausted and a bit overwhelmed. Be prepared if you head up into that maze yourselves, it is not really built for adults sizes or large crowds and can get very warm!
Our final stop was for the wild at heart. A few of the mom bloggers braved the Kraken – a ginormous roller coaster found at the back of the park. It absolutely took my breath away and was an incredible ride. Awesome for sure, but it left me seeing stars a bit on the way back to the car. (Groan, am I getting too old for roller coasters? …never.)
All in all, it was an amazing day. Seaworld is wonderful park for every aged family member. While it brings a lot of the Florida sea life to visitors, it does a great job giving us real accessibility to the animals. Afterwards, visitors are left with an educational visit and a true appreciation for what is really living in our oceans.
Find some time when it won’t be crowded at Seaworld and go yourself!