Gold Coast 2015 – Day 3 – Seaworld…

I’m not sure what it is about being on holiday that always causes me, and everyone else, to be awake and up early. Aren’t we supposed to be on holiday? Aren’t you supposed to be able to lie in when on holiday?

Sandy was indeed fairly insistent that I rested as much as possible this morning, but that body clock is a strange thing and I was up and active shortly after she left to take Jennifer to the kids’ club for arts and crafts activities. Joey decided he’d go with me to the nearby supermarket to collect a few things I missed from yesterday’s excursion. We duly added several more plastic bags to our growing collection and I dropped Joey off at the kids’ club after we returned. I had planned on making a start on breakfast but I thought I’d join the others at kids’ club for a bit first – to maximise on the quality family time we’re having together here. There were about a dozen or more kids and a spattering of adults there this morning, and everyone was making pop-up bees using foam cups and electrical tape – quite inventive, really.

I left kids’ club shortly before the rest of the clan so I could cook us all up some more bacon and eggs for breakfast. If it’s possible to actually overdose on bacon, I swear I’ll find out before the end of this holiday. I did plan on buying some reasonably priced bacon this morning but it slipped my mind. Luckily, Sandy spent half a day’s wages on some packaged bacon from the on-site convenience store yesterday, which was just about enough to feed us all. And by ‘us all’, I really mean Jennifer, to whom I cannot say ‘no’ every time she looks me in the eye with her deliberately cute face and asks “can I have that piece of bacon you’re just about to eat, Daddy?” I think I managed 2 fork’s full from my pile before it had all gone.

After we’d eaten, we all sat around the table to ‘discuss’ our plans for the rest of the week, what theme parks we would do on which days, etc. We wanted to go back to Dreamworld after Wednesday because of the maintenance they were performing on the Tower of Terror ride and we also wanted to take the weather into consideration. We have an encounter with the dolphins at Seaworld booked and paid for, so that was a non-movable line item on the agenda as well. Doing the water theme parks on the hottest days would make the most sense. However, both kids have been given the freedom to decide what they would do on their respective birthdays. Sadly, it seems my powers of persuasion have somewhat dwindled over the years, since none of my own well-though-out plans for the rest of the week managed to get a look in. One does wonder exactly who is in charge of this family nowadays. I like to ‘believe’ I still am – it gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling to do so.

It seams that Seaworld is on the cards for today and the rest of the week also looks pretty full on. Whether we’ll maintain enough stamina remains to be seen. One thing is looking and feeling increasingly certain – we’ll probably need a holiday after this trip!

I packed us all some lunch snacks – water melon slices, apples, pineapple chunks, ham rolls & salami rolls. Throw in a couple of bottles of water and a can of soft drink and we were set for the day. We managed to get on the road by around 10am and made the short drive over to Seaworld in under fifteen minutes.

Having found a spot to park that was decidedly not to Sandy’s liking, despite her refusal of my offer to move the car to a ‘better’ spot, we mulled around about the boot of the car, wiping sun cream all over our arms, legs, faces and necks. This would normally be a real hassle with Joey but fortunately, he accepted our earlier bribe of an extra dollar just for putting up with being smeared with sun cream on a daily basis. Ah the memories. I do still remember a time when we would ‘never bribe our children’ but would instead always ‘do the right parenting thing’ – vaguely. I can’t remember the exact point in time it happened, but we’ve definitely shifted from ‘did we feed them enough vegetables, sit with them to do their homework, wash and neatly dress them, provide them enough encouragement and mental/physical stimulation?’ to ‘it’s the end of the day … are they still alive?’

With my eyes still stinging from inadvertently wiping my eye with my sun cream soaked hand, we made our way to the park’s front entrance. I asked to be directed to the correct line and we were dutifully sent to the very long one. Although we bought and paid for our tickets online several weeks ago, we still had to collect them. Initially, I thought the line of about 50-60 people would not take too long but after not moving forward for about 15 minutes, I walked up ahead to see what the delay was. Apparently, of the 8 ticket booths physically present, just 2 were manned. There’s nothing like a really good start to your theme park enjoyment … and this was indeed nothing like a really good start to ours for today either. Eventually, more staff did turn up and the queue started to move again. With the recent success we had at Dreamworld, we did try to ask about our concession cards, but apparently the good folks that run Seaworld are greedy, money-grabbing bastard leeches, which was a recurring theme right throughout the entire day. As if to add insult to injury, the printer stopped working as soon as it was our turn to be served and so we were led into the park and told to come back to guest services at the end of the day to collect our tickets. Hmmm.

Not to be deterred by our auspicious start to our Seaworld day, we wandered into the park to explore. I think we were about 30 meters in when we noticed lots of barriers with tarpaulins all over the place – the sort you might find encircling a building site. Apparently, our ‘future enjoyment’ is being very well catered for, since many park attractions and entire areas are closed for renovations at the moment. I can’t recall the exact number of things that are closed but I would guess around 30% of what Seaworld has to offer would not be on offer to us today – including the entire section for which Joey wanted to come to the park in the first place. Hmmm. That left Sandy and me with an extraordinarily tricky balancing act in trying to coax Joey into holding it all together for the day. Jennifer, on the other hand, would be much easier to please, since there were a couple of new attractions that were running that were new to us. Sandy decided she would head off to find something to entertain Joey, whilst Jennifer and I would head towards the thrill rides.

After mortgaging the house to by a small bucket of fairy floss and a snow cone for my little girl, we tagged onto the end of what we thought was the queue for one of the new attractions. Fortunately, we only wasted about 5 minutes before realising we were in the wrong queue. Once again, we were lucky in that the crowds weren’t terribly huge today, as we found that the queues for the rides we wanted to go on weren’t really that daunting in the grand scheme of things. Unfortunately, the ride was not designed to allow you to put your bag down and collect it after the ride. Since it was just me and Jennifer, the upshot of this was that I needed to spend $2 on a one-time-use locker to store the backpack and hats we were toting. I find this sort of money grab abhorrent and difficult to tolerate. In effect, you are forced to pay to ride – even though you’ve already paid royally to get in to begin with. In the event, the ride was very good and we could have gone straight around to go again, but Jennifer decided she wanted to do the next ride already. So, I collected the backpack and hats and we walked the 20 meters to the entrance of the next ride. Sadly, we were again confronted with the need to dispense with ‘any loose items’. Fortunately, according to the rather pleasant young woman that was manning this ride’s entrance, there are ‘lockers conveniently available for us to use’ just for this very eventuality. Yes, I’m afraid to admit it but, I lost it, and went off into a tirade of epic proportions – muted only by the fact that I was with my little girl and doing my level best to moderate my outburst. Must I effectively be forced to pay $2 each time I wanted to go on a ride!? Did I not already have to pay once just to come through the front gate? Where do I go to complain!? I must say that the poor young girl did actually ‘deal with me’ very well – even though she did seem a little shook up initially. They obviously have this problem often and know exactly how to diffuse the situation. What I really wanted to do was to slug someone. However, since it wasn’t this poor girl’s fault in any way and since Jennifer was with me, I was actually on my best behaviour (although you’ve no idea how infuriated I was on the inside).

Fortunately, we were queuing with some rather nice people that seemed to feel my pain and afforded me the opportunity to vent somewhat. Actually, that felt really good and did wonders for ‘getting it out of my system’. Jennifer and I had fun on the ride and came out the other end with smiles on our faces. Due to the wonders or modern technology, I was appraised of the fact that Sandy and Joey were at the water play area, so the two of us meandered on over there, with the odd stop here and there to peruse things like the sting ray pool and a couple of other little things here and there.

With the entire family now whole again, we spent much of the afternoon in this section of the park enjoying ourselves. Indeed, this is the one section of the park where we had the most enjoyment the last time we were here also. Between the kids’ climbing jungle, the harnessed climbing frame and the water ships, we did have a lot of fun before drying off and changing into some dry clothes again. Joey managed just a single element on the harnessed climbing structure before deciding it wasn’t for him but the fact that he went up at all was really quite unexpected anyway.

With the excessive heat of the day now starting to wane, we meandered over to the penguin area, where Sandy was under the impression that he ‘Penguin Feeding’ line item on the park schedule meant that we could actually feed penguins, as opposed to watching the penguins being fed. Unfortunately, she made the parenting error of telling Joey that he would get to actually feed the penguins. When the reality of the situation finally became clear, that gave us all the more need to ‘manage’ the situation further with his disappointment again, as all he wanted to do from this point onwards was to ‘go home’.

With a little persuasion, we did manage to all end up piling into the dolphin show stadium, where we spent the next 45 minutes waiting for, and then watching, the rather nice dolphin show. Joey wanted some popcorn, which they were conveniently selling down at the front of the stadium. Unfortunately, at $7 for a cup, it was over twice the cost of the already ridiculously expensive popcorn being sold elsewhere in the park, Sandy decided she’d wander off to mortgage only half of the remaining house instead. She came back with a box some 3 times the size of the cup container being sold and ‘only’ paid $6.99 for the privilege.

The dolphin show was good, although I do still feel like I’ve sold a bit of my soul for having enjoyed it, and we allowed the majority of the crowd to leave before getting up and wandering back to the front of the park again. The jet-ski show was in full swing when we got there and I left Sandy and the kids to watch some of it whilst I went and collected our now ready park tickets, which we’ll use to come back here again on Thursday as well as for the Movie World and Wet ’n’ Wild theme parks later on in the week.

After a bit more shopping on the way out of the park, we found our car and made a beeline over to the nearby Hog’s Breath Cafe. Fortunately, Mondays and Tuesdays are ‘kids eat free’ days. I decided that the kids would each have 2 starters, a prime rib and a rib & steak combo with all the trimmings and deserts, whilst Sandy and me shared a salad. Apparently, it ‘didn’t work that way’. Despite the kids ‘eating for free’, we still somehow managed to top $100 on the final bill. Bastards!

Back at Ashmore Palms, despite everyone being somewhat droopy eyed, the kids didn’t forget the earlier promise to go swimming again, so Sandy spent almost an hour with them at the pool, whilst I unpacked and sat to upload all the day’s photos and to write this blog entry. Showers all around and the usual bedtime routine has come and gone and the kids are now slowly drifting off to sleep. I think we’re back at Dreamworld again tomorrow. I wonder what happened to that bloody rest day!