Just For Kids Archives

March 15, 2014

SeaWorld Orlando educates and entertains kids with Just For Kids festival and Generation Nature initiative


SeaWorld Orlando is focusing on kids this month -- educating and entertaining them at its theme park and inspiring them with a new conservation initiative.

Beginning March 22, SeaWorld Orlando kicks off its Just For Kids festival. On Saturdays through April 12, kids can celebrate the company's 50th anniversary with activities just for them. The new Rockin' Rockhopper Party begins each day at 11 a.m. with a family friendly DJ outside Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. The party also includes live penguin appearances, snow moments, snacks, fun, games, face painting and caricatures.


On Just for Kids dates, younger guests can participate in an ocean adventure, learning about marine life and at the same time collecting a stamp and a limited edition Explorer's Card at each of four locations throughout the park. Kids who collect all four receive a free Junior Animal Ambassador Medallion. Tables are set up from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, SEA Garden, outside Shark Encounter and near Shamu Stadium. The new SEA Garden is an area where young guests can experience animal encounters during the festival.

Then end the night with Shamu and other characters at the Shamu Dance Party at the Village Square located at the front of the park. The party begins one hour prior to park closing with a stilt walker emcee who fills the square with music that the whole family can dance to, including popular line dancing songs. The Shamu Dance Party continues until 30 minutes after park closing.

This year's Just For Kids festival is a little different from the past two years and doesn't feature concerts by kid-centric artists or discounted animal up-close tours. It does run concurrently with SeaWorld's 18-month-long 50th anniversary celebration, which begins March 21.



During the anniversary celebration, guests of all ages may be tapped by the Surprise Squad to receive prizes and experiences in the park. Plus, there are more animal encounters than ever, such as the flamingo parade. I saw these birds head out from the back-stage area a couple months ago, and it was a really funny sight to see them strutting along casually with their trainers. Be on the lookout, too, for the new mobile bubble lab vehicle and a Splash Dance.


SeaWorld also hopes to spread its message of conservation through its Generation Nature initiative, which partners SeaWorld Kids with youth ambassador Bindi Irwin, daughter of famous 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin. The campaign aims to empower kids to make a difference with animals and nature and share their actions on multi-media platforms. GenN includes a website, digital apps, video blogs, online games and activities that highlight a new animal each month, such as polar bears, tigers, manatees and animals in back-yard habitats.

In GenN's inaugural month of March, sea turtles take center stage with a calendar that includes a video blog from Bindi about the obstacles these animals face.¬†Because many sea turtles are affected by pollution, and nearly all waterways throughout the world are connected, March's GenN Conservation Challenge is to help "clean your world."̬† Families are asked to send in pictures of the oddest item they find during their clean-up, and some of the photos will be showcased online at the end of the month.

Parents also can download a fun and educational app about each month's animal.¬†In March, the GenN app is "Ocean Tales: Turtles, Sharks and Dolphins"Ě and features books, games, puzzles, pictures and videos. The app is available for download on iTunes.


January 17, 2013

Tips for families attending SeaWorld's Just For Kids festival



SeaWorld Orlando's Just For Kids festival returns again this year on four Saturdays -- Jan. 12, 19, 26 and Feb. 2. I recently spoke with Muffett Baker, the theme park's entertainment production manager, to get her thoughts on the what not to miss at Just For Kids. Here are her recommendations for making the most of the festival and my tips for families.

This is the second year for the Just For Kids festival. What do you think made it a success the first year?

Muffett: This is a great time of year, and families wanted to get out and do something different after Christmas and the holidays were over. And, also, because it is geared toward the little kids and is something new. The artists we've brought in are part of their lives as something they see on TV.

Kristin: As a local parent, I'd have to say we were tempted by all the great discounts on the festival days. Kids are free for the Up-Close animal tours, which meant our family of four could have more one-on-one time with the dolphins and their trainers for $120 instead of $200.


What are the most popular parts of the Just For Kids festival?

Muffett: The concerts have been great. They are really popular, and they're so much fun. Most of the artists are geared toward children and they know how to do all the things that kids want to see and hear and do. And then we have other interactive things throughout the park that children just really like to be a part of.

Kristin: That certainly was the case with Imagination Movers, the first concert on Jan. 12. My eight-year-old daughter and I attended the concert, even though the target audience was really the preschool or kindergarden set. But because the musicians were so good about interacting with the audience -- jumping into the crowd, high-fiving as many kids as possible, directing them to stomp and clap -- she could participate without knowing the songs and have a fun experience. We both enjoyed the final song, when the Imagination Movers covered One Direction's "What Makes You Beautiful."

Speaking of concerts, if visitors do not get in line for tickets when the distribution begins at 9 a.m. on Saturdays, what are their chances of still getting to see the shows?

Muffett: I'd say pretty good.

Kristin: Last Saturday, tickets for Imagination Movers were still available at noon for the 2 and 4 p.m. shows.




What tips do you have for first-time visitors for the Just For Kids festival?

Muffett: Plan out your day for everything you want to do, but make sure you make time to either come and get your concert tickets or purchase one of the breakfasts for a guaranteed spot. (See my previous blog post for details on the special character breakfasts.)

Kristin: If you have more than one day to spend at SeaWorld Orlando, focus on the Just For Kids events on Saturdays because they only occur then. If your chid is older, like mine, and is unsure about the concerts, he or she probably still will like Shamu's Party Zone, located near the concert venue. This area features a live DJ, games, crafts and character appearances. Plus, there's a face painting station and snacks available for purchase.

For returning guests, what is new this year?

Muffett: We've changed the footprint of it just a little bit, and we've expanded a little. We've got a little more of everything we had last year, and we also have the addition of the Elmo Rocks! show.

Kristin: My daughter liked that the reward for visiting the Ocean Adventure education stations was more substantial this year. Kids who visit all four locations and collect the corresponding stamps each receive a Shamu backpack clip.

When you are creating special events like this for SeaWorld, what goes into the process?

Muffett: Last year when we started talking about this, we thought about what kids like to do and how they like to interact. Then we thought about what areas of the park would accommodate that. Happy Harbor is great for kids, but there is not a lot of other footprint to build on. So, if we wanted to do the concerts, we needed to come over here [Nautilus Theater] and support them in this area of the park so it can be easy for everyone to see what we've got.

As soon as Just For Kids wrapped up last year, we started planning for this year and looked at how it worked, what we could do bigger, what we could do better, what we could change, and what we could try new. I think right now we just want to expand [the festival] a little at a time.

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of SeaWorld Orlando during its Just For Kids festival. My opinions are my own, and this did not influence my article.

January 5, 2013

SeaWorld Orlando's Just For Kids festival begins Jan. 12



SeaWorld Orlando kicks off its Just For Kids festival for the second year on Jan. 12. For four consecutive Saturdays, the theme park is offering families special entertainment and discounts on some of its popular animal experiences -- and many of the offerings are included with regular park admission.

Children (and their parents) can hear concerts by some of today's popular kids' performers, a couple of whom you've probably seen in the past during Disney Channel's morning programming for its youngest viewers. The performers include:

** Jan. 12 -- Imagination Movers
** Jan. 19 -- Laurie Berkner
** Jan. 26 -- Choo-Choo Soul
** Feb. 2 -- Kratt Brothers

Concerts are at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. in the Nautilus Theater, and tickets will be distributed across from the venue beginning each Saturday at 9 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no additional charge for these tickets.


Want a guaranteed seat for the music? Then book the Shamu & Friends character breakfast at the Terrace Garden Buffet restaurant. The 9 a.m. meal guarantees admission to the 2 p.m. concert, and the 11 a.m. breakfast saves you a spot at the 4 p.m. concert.

During the breakfast, families will have meet-and-greets with SeaWorld characters and will receive a 6 x 8 family photo.

The menu, which is subject to change, includes baked ham, scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, biscuits and sausage gravy, bacon, sausage, French toast sticks, Belgium waffles, seasonal fresh fruit, breakfast pastries, yogurt, cereal, milk, juices, coffee, and assorted Coca-Cola products.

Reservations are required for the Shamu & Friends character meal, and children younger than 2 are free but require reservation. Tickets are $39 for adults and $29 for children ages 3 to 9.

Younger kids might also enjoy Elmo's VIP character breakfast. The popular red muppet brings one of his Sesame Street friends to a full-service breakfast -- with much the same menu as the Shamu meal -- at Sharks Underwater Grill. This breakfast also comes with character meet-and-greets, a 6 x 8 family photo, VIP seating for the 11 a.m. concert, and complimentary valet parking. Tickets are $49 for adults and $39 for children ages 3 to 9.


For my family, though, the best benefit of the Just for Kids festival is the discount on the animal encounters. For the Dolphins Up-Close, Sea Lions Up-Close, Behind-the-Scenes and Family Fun tours, one child is free with each paid adult. On these tours, guests younger than 18 must be accompanied by an adult. That savings can add up quicker than a orca can eat a pail of fish.


Regular readers of my blog may know that my 8-year-old daughter is in love with dolphins and aspires to train them, so the Dolphins Up-Close Tour is a perfect activity for us. (You can read about our experiences on my previous post.)

In addition to concerts and tours, SeaWorld is hosting fun zones on Just For Kids days:

** New this year is Elmo Rocks!, a concert with Cookie Monster, Zoe, Abby Cadabby, Bert and Ernie at Seafire Inn.

** The Lakeside Patio becomes Shamu's Party Zone, which features a family-friendly DJ, games and character appearances.

** An Ocean Adventure program takes young guests to four Sea Star locations in the park for educational activities. Kids can collect cards and stamps at each location and then redeem them for a prize.

SeaWorld Orlando pass members receive additional discounts during the festival, such as 20 percent off dining in all cafeteria-style restaurants and merchandise in the gift stores. Admission to SeaWorld is $89 for adults and $81 for children ages 3 to 9 with a Fun Card, which allows admission all year long.

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About Just For Kids

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the Just For Kids category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Jack Hanna is the previous category.

Mako Coaster is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.