ORLANDO – Growing up in Puerto Rico, Celivette Diaz always dreamed of visiting SeaWorld.
“All of my cousins would come to Florida and talk about SeaWorld,” Diaz said. “They would tell me how amazing it was and I was always so jealous.”
Luck seemed to be on her side, because a few months ago, her parents surprised her with a trip to Florida. It just so happened that her trip would fall during a time where SeaWorld hosted their annual Wild Days event.
According to SeaWorld’s website, “Wild Days connects guests to the wild and wonderful world we all share, with educational and interactive shows that give guests the opportunity to meet leaders in the world of animal rescue, rehabilitation and preservation.”
“I didn’t know anything about Wild Days,” Diaz said. “I’m happy I managed to make it to the second weekend because I love penguins.”
This year, Wild Days takes place every Saturday and Sunday on the last three weekends of January. Each weekend has a different theme to it. Diaz visited on the second weekend, which was Penguin Lovers’ Weekend.
Only for this weekend, SeaWorld’s Animal Ambassador Julie Scardina hosts a special penguin focused event where you can meet a penguin.
“I’ve had a lot of fun today,” said Diaz’s sister, Valeria. “They give you a map with spaces to get stamps from different places in the park. Once you get them all you get a free key chain.”
Wild Days is not just a one-on-one with animal experts. People of all ages can take part in various interactive games, up-close experiences and interesting, learning sessions at the 14 zones scattered throughout the park. Once inside select zones, guests can collect one of six stamps that leads to a free key chain and a behind-the-scenes tour of SeaWorld’s rescue area.
One of Diaz’s favorite places in the theme park was the Dolphin Cove area. This part of the park is where SeaWorld houses their dolphins and has them available for underwater viewing.
“Dolphins have always been my favorite animal,” Diaz said. “I would always see them on the television, but to see them so close to you is wonderful.”
Wild Days always draws in the crowds at SeaWorld. Even though the high today was 56 degrees, park hours were extended by 30 minutes because of the popularity of the event.
“It’s crazy how busy the park is right now,” Kendall Starke said, an employee at one of SeaWorld’s attractions. “Usually now we’re in the middle of post-Christmas time slump.”
SeaWorld aims to educate people on the ways to keep animals and the environment safe. They have a special show that aims to teach guests about the care that their orca’s receive on a daily basis.
Even though she has always been a huge SeaWorld fan, Diaz was a bit disappointed in the company back when the documentary “Blackfish” came out. She, like many, believed that SeaWorld was mistreating their orcas.
“I was angry at them for a long time after watching the movie,”Diaz said. “But being here today and seeing how much love and care they give their animals tells me everything I need to know.”
The last weekend of Wild Days will occur on Jan. 30 – 31.