I’ve always been a glass-half-full kinda gal so if I had to find one silver lining in all the COVID craziness, it would be that 2020 has helped us explore our staycation options and, boy, did we find a new fave.
I’ve lived in South-East Queensland for 90.7 per cent of my life. That is factual (I even got out the calculator). I’ve also had more than my fair share of staycations because my family and I love a long weekend away to recharge the batteries. So, when COVID wiped out my family’s plans for an upcoming interstate adventure, rather than dwell on the disappointment and succumb to cabin fever, we put our flights on ice and our thinking caps on our heads to come up with a list of cool new staycation weekends that would be equal parts fun and memorable while also being easy and close to home – all vital ingredients to any successful #staycay. We each hit the Googles and began throwing ideas around. Funnily enough, there was one idea on each of our lists – a weekend at Sea World.
Sea World has been an institution on the Gold Coast since the 1970s. Many will have visited the park over years, cramming as much fun and excitement as possible into one day. Actually, that’s the way our family has always done theme parks in the past: Be there just on opening time, cover every square inch of the park map, do every ride, visit every display, eat all the fairy floss and then pack two tired kids and their equally-as-tired parents into the car after closing time. That way you’d feel like you’d squeezed all the value out of your entry tickets.
Sea World Resort is located immediately adjacent to Sea World itself and herein lies the magic of the Sea World staycation. When you buy a family accommodation package, you get unlimited entry to Sea World for the length of your stay which means you can cruise in and out of Sea World as many times as you like. Perfect. Got tired kids who need a breather? Head back to your room for a little time out before making your way back into the park for more fun. Worked up a summer sweat and want to cool down? Head back to the resort for a dip in the pool before going back into the park to take in the afternoon shows.
Having two days up your sleeve to complete Sea World is another winning theme park strategy – there’s no pressure to see everything in one day. In fact, there will be extra time to linger at Penguin Point and be mesmerised by the way the little penguins swim laps of their pool in unison. Or, as was the case for our family, make three or four return visits to Ray Reef’s open touch pool, for your chance to gently stroke the amazing array of stingrays as they glide past all the inquisitive hands – they seem as eager as we were to make contact.
The other things you can do when you have the benefit of time with your Sea World staycation is hang out longer at Polar Bear Shores to watch Nelson, Hudson or Mishka play in their home. On our visits, the polar bears’ playground was strewn with toys just like any family loungeroom floor would be. You watch with as much joy as they have playing with plastic boxes, balls and the like.
When it comes to underwater awe, Shark Bay’s tropical reef lagoon and shark lagoon are filled to the brim with the most impressive community of tropical fish, rays, sharks and other bottom dwellers. As you walk into Shark Bay, you will be fascinated by what you can see looking down on the lagoon – the clear water is thriving with life. But brace yourself for what awaits further into this exhibit. A second, lower level transports you underwater where you’ll come face-to-face with these amazing sea creatures. This is one exhibit that you should not rush – there’s simply so much to take in!
While Sea World itself is an amazing part of the Sea World Resort staycation, don’t forget you’ve got the resort itself to explore and enjoy during your stay. Littlies will adore the waterpark and the resort pool is ever-so inviting. And when hunger strikes, there are many ways to satisfy the rumblings. After our first day at Sea World, our family chose to curl up together on a waterfront lounge at the Boatshed Bar and Grill for our fill of delicious barbecued delights and an extra special course of dazzling pinky-orange sunset. What a way to end a wonderful family day together.
While this story so far covers everything you’d ever want in an enjoyable family Sea World staycation, there is one way you can take your staycay here next level. Just add dolphins! There’s a raft of ah-mazing Animal Adventures you can choose from at Sea World, each taking participants either behind the scenes of an exhibit or up close and (very) personal with some of the park’s favourites. But if you’re going to do one Animal Adventure at Sea World on your staycation it’s got to be a dolphin adventure, right? Swimming in deep water with these most gentle, inquisitive and downright incredible mammals will be an experience that will live with you forever. For. EVER. The relationship the Sea World dolphins have with their trainers is equally as amazing as the way these mammals warm to us complete strangers. They enjoy pats and tickles on their belly as they swim by. They will follow you to shore and throw balls to you, wanting you to return the favour. They will work out which ‘mother’ in the group is trying to keep her hair as dry as possible and haaaates being splashed in the face by her kids in the pool, and they will splash her in the face incessantly until she can’t help but give in and laugh. This was 45 minutes of our lives that we will never forget.
For families based in South-East Queensland, the Sea World staycation really has everything. Without doubt, you will leave this short break with your family’s fun bucket topped right up and in a complete state of reconnection with each other, which are two key indicators of a staycay done right. All that’s left is to work out how to become a dolphin trainer?
*Sea World has the perfect staycay offer on right now. Stay anytime until December 23, 2020, from only $149 per night twin share in a resort double room, including accommodation plus unlimited entry to Sea World, Warner Bros. Movie World, Wet’n’Wild and Paradise Country during your stay. That’s a 50 per cent saving!