Our contributor Melanie recently had the chance to get hands on with some favorite characters at Sea Life Charlotte. While she is a member of the Sea Life Parent Council for The Adventures of J-Man and MillerBug and has received complimentary admission and perks from Sea Life, all opinions expressed in this article are her own.
Remember all of our family visits to SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord? Well we were invited back for another fantastic event as part of the 2015 Parent Council. My cartoon-loving toddler got the opportunity to meet The Octonauts for a second time! Last year she met Captain Barnacles and Peso in a fun meet-and-greet, but she was only one-year-old and unaware of the significance of any of it. This year she’s almost two and it was a completely different experience!
SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord decided to expand on their Octonauts feature from last year. Instead of just getting a standard meet-and-greet where you can take photos, they’ve established The Octonauts Training Academy for more fun. It’s an interactive six station program that starts as soon as you walk throug the door. Each station is marked with a huge sign featuring one of the characters. You learn what it takes to master that character’s skill and some fun facts about ocean life.
To help you keep up with your training, you’re giving a special kit. Now that you’re an Octonauts Cadet, you need some extra gear. Get fitted for your special cadet hat, activity sheet, and set of completion stickers. SEA LIFE kept it simple with these great tools to keep your children engaged without requiring that mom and dad hold a ton of stuff.
Our favorite fun zone had to be the touch tank. There were so many different creatures that I couldn’t keep up with what all we were seeing. My two-year-old could easily reach over the tank and touch some of the inhabitants. Her favorite (and mine) were the starfish (don’t worry moms there’s a sanitation station nearby to keep your little ones germ free)! The best part of the touch tank is that SEA LIFE stations a worker there at all times. That way children can be supervised and educated. Overall, it’s an amazing sensory experience that kids of any age shouldn’t miss out on.
We made our way through the familiar layout of the aquarium. Everything flows together, and you don’t have to worry too much about a little one running ahead. They’re never too far and can be caught in a jiffy. Believe me I ran after my daughter quite a few times as she excitedly ran from station to station.
I was excited to see The Octonauts fun zone at Sting Ray Bay. They’ve added fun sand buckets with magnifying glasses attached so kids can further inspect the huge tub full of stingrays, other fish, and Freedom the Zebra Shark! Something so small really transformed my daughter’s experience with this exhibit. Usually she puts both hands on the tank and peers in, but this time she used her magnifying glass to look a little closer.
At SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord, the aquarium was designed with children in mind. There are tanks that are on their level, numerous places to sit, walkthroughs that only shorter legs could handle, and peep tanks that allow them to climb inside without getting wet! These bubbles are our favorite, and I’ll admit that I’ve even sat in them to get a closer look.
As we neared the end, we checked out the jellyfish. I’ve only ever seen these sea creatures floating in the surf or already beached on our coast. I grew up being terrified that one would somehow sting me. I’m so glad that there was a chance for us to check out them out without being scared. They’re beautiful creatures! SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord also has a fun feature that allows you to change the colors of the jellyfish by switching the light color of the tank and surrounding area. Super cool!
You conclude every visit at SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord by exiting through the indoor play area into the gift shop. During the limited time Octonauts experience, cadets were treated to a meet-and-greet with their favorite Octonauts characters Captain Barnacles and Kwazii! It was the perfect opportunity to take photos, give high fives, and even have a dance off. Yes, my daughter decided she wanted to dance with The Octonauts. Captain Barnacles happily obliged.
Cadets who complete the six fun zones could even stop by the desk in the gift shop to grab their personalized Octonauts training certificate and a cool SEA LIFE necklace for participation. Your child is sure to feel like a real winner after their visit. Not only will they know a little bit more about sea life, but they’ll have a new sense of pride for completing The Octonauts Training Academy.
SEA LIFE Charlotte-Concord hosted their Octonauts Training Academy from August 7-23 with scheduled meet-and-greet times each day. And the best part was participating in any of The Octonauts features didn’t cost extra! It was built-in to the ticket price. Even though the Octonauts have exited the building, there is still plenty to see and do at Sea Life Charlotte. For a limited time, you can order your tickets online for as low as $11.95. Plus participating Subway restaurants in the Charlotte area of North Carolina are offering free children tickets with the purchase of an adult ticket. But, if you aren’t able to take advantage of these savings, they’ve lowered the walk-up price to $18 per adult and $14 per child. Children two and under are FREE!
If you’re in the Charlotte area, please take advantage of this cool local attraction. I was skeptical at first but the joy it brings my toddler will keep us going back. It’s a great experience for the entire family.