Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Stacation Day 1: Georgia Aquarium

Our school system is on a "balanced" schedule, so last week was fall "break." I'm using quotation marks with both because, last week was not much of a break for me and I was left feeling slightly unbalanced. Unfortunately, we were not able to travel for fall break, so I had to travel vicariously through the pictures my friends posted on Instagram and Facebook. I'll admit to having more than a twinge of jealousy when I scrolled through pictures of various beaches, Alaska, Australia, and France.

I knew that if I didn't plan something for us to do each day, we'd be in danger of spending the whole week holed up at home with the Boy playing Minecraft, the Baby watching "Bubble Guppies," and the Girl wanting me to work on craft projects with her. Would this have been okay? Oh, probably, but I didn't want them to go back to school and hear all about their friends' fun vacations and have nothing to offer other than, "I made a diamond pick axe in survival mode." We didn't really leave metro Atlanta for any of the activities. Of course, thanks to suburban sprawl, our trip to Kennesaw, Georgia should qualify as a day-trip. But sadly, Kennesaw, Georgia hardly compares with the Palace of Versailles.


Let them have guns.
Palace of Versailles:

Let them eat cake.

Kennesaw meets Palace of Versailles:

Because what six year old girl doesn't want a birthday
cake decorated with weapons?

I hope that this is for a paintball party.

At the beginning of the week, I came up with an optimistic schedule for our stacation activities:

Monday - Georgia Aquarium
Tuesday - Sky Zone Roswell
Wednesday - Atlanta History Center
Thursday - Morning with Grammy, Movie Tavern lunch
Friday - In-town Day

As you'll see, after Monday, we didn't stick to the schedule at all. But, it seems to make everyone feel better if there's some kind of plan. Maybe it makes the randomness of the world seem less terrifying.

We started out with the Aquarium because it was the most ambitious destination. The Aquarium is  popular, which means that it can be very crowded. I know myself and my little crew and one of the things that we don't go in for is big crowds. Even on a slow day, the Aquarium is pretty busy, so you will probably not be surprised to learn that we haven't visited in three years. Sunday night I went to the Aquarium website and pre-ordered our admission tickets. I opted to get the early-bird special on tickets because we saved $7 per ticket compared to walk-up prices, and all we had to do was get there by 10 am. I assumed that if the Aquarium is offering a special deal to get there early, it is because it's pretty empty at that time, which sounded perfect to me. I also got passes to the Dolphin Tales show because we'd never gone on our prior visits to the Aquarium.

First off, if you're ever in Atlanta, I would highly recommend the Aquarium. It's the world's largest aquarium and it has some really interesting features. The Ocean Voyager tunnel is probably my favorite, because you really get the sense of being under the ocean:

We also enjoyed the Tropical Diver tank:

Randomly, there was a couple who seemed to be taking engagement pictures at the Aquarium. We saw them all over the place, but they spent a lot of time at the Tropical Diver tank, so take note, all you recently-engaged tropical fish enthusiast.

We also loved the sea otters, who were obediently following a trainer's commands to do all sorts of tricks. If sea otters can be trained to clap their flippers and do an underwater flip, I can't understand why the Dog can't be trained to not chase after every squirrel when she's on a walk. Perhaps I need to incentivize her with raw fish. The beluga tank in the Cold Water Quest area is also cool, and since the tank can be seen from the ballroom, you can actually watch the belugas swim around while you eat your overpriced lunch. Because Cold Water Quest is sponsored by Georgia Pacific, so you learn all sorts of interesting facts like the length of a beluga whale measured in rolls of Quilted Northern toilet paper and how many Dixie cups of water it would take to fill up the beluga's tank. (Spoiler: A shitload.)

The Georgia Explorer area was closed for renovations and we skipped the 4D movie because the Boy and the Girl said that they remembered it from our last visit and that it was lame. If I recall correctly, the movie featured a clown fish named "Deepo" (the primary Aquarium benefactors are the Marcuses, he being one of the founders of Home Depot) who delivered a somewhat preachy message about being environmental responsibility. I was not sorry to pass up the 4D effects which, regardless of the movie plot, require the audience to get sprinkled with stagnant water and sprayed with cold air.

The Baby had been moaning for a while that she was about to die from hunger, so I caved and we visited the cafeteria for a quick snack. At this point I should note that we were all searched and wanded with a metal detector upon entering the Aquarium. I thought this was to make sure that we didn't have any weapons, but now I think it was to prevent patrons from smuggling in black-market drinks and snacks for resale. Our bill for four drinks, a bag of Goldfish crackers, two bags of chips, and a hummus and pretzels container was $25. On the way home I spotted a sale sign at a Walgreens on North Avenue that was advertising a 24-pack of Dasani for $3.99. I bought one bottle of Dasani for $3.50 at the Aquarium. Oy! My grandmother who used to swipe ketchup packets from McDonald's because buying a bottle of ketchup is for the rich folks is spinning in her grave at her spendthrift granddaughter.

After I made sure that the kids finished every last drop of their drinks and ate the crumbs out of the bottom of the snack bags, we headed over to Dolphin Tales to get decent seats. Dolphin Tales is a Disney-esque show, only with a tenuous plot and strange costumes.

I think I saw similar costumes in the Captain Feathersword segments
on "The Wiggles." 
There was something about a shipwreck, and a dolphin constellation, and a sea monster, but really, the play is just a vehicle to showcase the dolphins, and we all thought the dolphins were pretty impressive. The trainers/performers really seemed to be enjoying themselves and the dolphins appeared to be well-treated and happy. I'm no animal expert, but you didn't get that "Save Me" silent stare from the dolphins that I got from the tigers at the circus and I sometimes get from the apes at the zoo. When the show finished, we opted not to spend the mortgage money on lunch at the Aquarium and ate at home.

So, don't just take my word for it that the Aquarium is cool. All of the celebrities pictured below have visited the Aquarium and what is more reliable than a celebrity endorsement??!

Jennifer Lawrence visited while shooting "The Hunger
Games" movies.
Elton John, his partner David Furnish and
their shoeless and nonplussed baby, Zachary.
Justin Beiber, sad because his wetsuit was full-body and didn't come in
size XXL.

Jennifer Lopez took her kids, Max and Emme (named for the
"Dragon Tales" characters) to the Aquarium. Interesting that
 the twins are clinging to the people to whom they are not related.
Speaking of the "Save Me" silent stare...

And the biggest stars OF ALL:

Hmmmm. Bethenny Frankle going heavy on the eyeliner and a stretched out Kathryn Heigl?
Wrong! It's world-famous stars Aimee and Zara of the Bad Girls' Club.
Yeah, me either. 
You know what kills me about these celebrities? I bet they got the Aquarium comped their food.

No comments:

Post a Comment