On Saturday, I took my 2.5-year-old Jack to the new dolphin show at the Aquarium, "Our Ocean Planet." We had seen the dolphins briefly once before, when the Aquarium had $1-admission for a weekend in December. On that occasion, us cheapskate plebes were only given the chance to watch the squeaky guys swim around during training. Still, Jack loved it. So when I got wind of a promotion with the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance (a great group) to get free tickets to the new show's opening weekend, I jumped at the chance. (Once a cheapskate, always a cheapskate.)
We had to pick up tickets for the 11:30 show by 10 am, and the waiting proved tough for my toddler. He's still too young to really appreciate much of the aquarium: His favorite "exhibit" was the water tubes near the entrance, which make funny noises and feature floating bubbles. We got into the dolphin exhibition room at around 11, at which time Jack promptly crashed on my shoulder. Luckily I was sitting next to Joyce, the proprietor of one of my favorite local kid blogs, Kid Baltimore. We chatted until show time, when Jack woke up, reluctantly at first, but was quickly energized by the dolphins' acrobatic feats.
Throughout the half-hour show, the dolphins flipped, jumped over balls, perched their heads on the edge of the tank, let trainers ride them, and provided all manner of adorable fun. Joyce, who's kids are older, felt that the show could've used more educational content and less scripted patter and she's certainly right—the segment where bewildered kids were made to stand and wave flags in a tribute to global unity was painfully stilted and silly. But the educational content would have been lost on Jack anyway: We just wanted to see the big fishies do their back flips. Of course, he will likely be less impressed with the tricks on subsequent trips, so it would be great to see more substantive material in the future. Joyce's suggestion that they have a caretaker come out and talk about caring for the animals or take questions from the audience is a great idea.
Also, for a future post, I'm planning to round up some of the best web resources for local families—Kid Baltimore will certainly be one of the them. If you have suggestions, please leave them in the comments or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
[photo courtesy daveb_md via flickr.com]