Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The 'Wildlife' of Discovery Kingdom

We were able to use our “free” tickets to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom this past weekend. I say “free” because my wife won four tickets, which didn’t include parking, and we also needed an additional ticket in order to get the whole family in. We didn’t feel like it would be fair -- or even legal -- to make one of the boys stay home, so we drained the checking account and headed for Vallejo.

When I was growing up, Six Flags was called Marine World Africa USA. I guess they felt like they needed to change the name when they started adding more roller coasters, or more flags. It’s now like a combination of Disneyland and SeaWorld, but with more Oakland Raiders fans, so it’s classier.

It’s really a great place. The roller coasters are world-class. Every one of them is guaranteed to loosen your bowels and help you find Jesus. And the animal shows are amazing. For the most part.

Right inside the gate, our boys were holding parrots on their arms, and in true modern theme park fashion, we were offered the chance to buy pictures of our adorable boys holding the large colorful birds for $2000 each. We opted for the cell phone pictures with the park photographer’s head in the foreground blocking half the shot.

We bypassed the snack shack selling $15 sodas (Free refills all day! Come for the rides, stay for the diabetes!), and headed straight for the attractions.

We saw tigers.
We saw lions. (They were all sleeping, but still lions.)
We saw giraffes.
We rode massive, thrilling roller coasters.
We saw a walrus show where a 3000-pound walrus the size of a pickup truck harrumphed its way up onto land, waddled over, and kissed its trainer.
We saw an elephant demonstration where the elephants were rolling on the ground, sitting up like begging dogs, and lifting 300-pound logs with their trunks.

Then we went to the dolphin show, and sat down close to the water in “the splash zone.” Son Number Two was incredibly lucky and was one of only two kids picked out of the crowd to go and help the trainers during the show. The dolphins were shoving the trainers out of the water fifteen feet into the air and doing backflips. One trainer rode a dolphin like a surfboard, and another rode two at the same time like a chariot. Son Number Two really wanted to ride one also, but apparently that maneuver is reserved for the highly-trained adults in wetsuits. He did get to give them commands, feed them fish, pet them on the noses, and get royally soaked by their splashing tails. He was on cloud nine, and he and his brothers all decided they wanted to be dolphin trainers when they grow up.

Just when we thought the day couldn’t get any more exciting, we went to the Wildlife Theater Show. We were right.

The Wildlife Theater Show started out pretty well, I guess. A pig went trotting past us down the front aisle as a parrot came out and announced that the show was about to begin. Then the human announcer arrived. He was a little too animated for my taste, but he was tolerable. Next, one of the trainers walked out with a two-toed sloth draped over her like she was holding a small child. That was pretty cool.

Then they brought out a skunk. OK...
Then a North American porcupine. Alright, that’s pretty neat.
Then a white-nosed coati on a leash. A coati sort of looks like a raccoon and an aardvark had a high speed collision. He climbed up a wooden pole.
Then a bobcat on a leash. The bobcat just walked around.

Then they brought out a house cat. On a leash. Hmm…

The house cat jumped from a post onto the wooden pole. Wow, it has claws. So did my grandpa’s cat. Hmm… A house cat. In the Wildlife Theater. OK.

Then they got back on track and brought out a serval on a leash. A serval is a spotted and striped African cat that sort of looks like a cheetah mated with a house cat on stilts. It jumped eight feet straight up in the air to snag a fuzzy toy off an overhanging pole. Pretty impressive hops for a cat on a leash.

Then they brought out a milk snake. It was not on a leash.

For the grand finale of this incredible, fifteen-minute show that inexplicably included a house cat, they brought out…another house cat.

This was a completely different house cat than the first one, they assured us. This one also had claws and was able to climb the wooden pole while on a leash. And then, as if that was not enough entertainment to blow our minds, they told us the second house cat’s incredible back-story. He was from two towns over. They got him when he was young.

Wow, Six Flags, you really outdid yourself here at the Wildlife Theater. I’m glad we hit some of the other highlights prior to this, or we may have been too exhausted from all the excitement to continue on the rest of the day.

House cats? Really? If you are willing to try and wow me with house cats, I have a few other cost-cutting measures you might want to consider.

For instance, on our walk through the park we saw a few "roaring rapids"-type white water adventure rides. Maybe you should ixnay those and have the park-goers just stand in a line while one of your employees sprays them down with a garden hose.

You could also just replace all the roller coasters with a low-speed minivan ride to the Walmart to buy socks. Flash Pass holders could get to ride shotgun.

Instead of the big, impressive dolphin show, we could all just go up to a small glass bowl and look at a goldfish. The lucky spectators chosen from the crowd could get to feed it a tiny pinch of fish flakes.

Tigers and lions? Too expensive to feed. You could go with little barky Chihuahua dogs and maybe a well-trained lab rat or two. The nice white ones, though. Not the giant, menacing black rats. No sense in scaring the children. And the elephants could easily be replaced by cows. Their poop is smaller and they eat less. Maybe even Texas longhorns if you wanted to get crazy. And you could always oust the giraffes in favor of the far easier to handle, guinea pig. Throw in a few old Labrador retrievers and you’re in business.

Also, if the six flags are getting too much for you to maintain, don’t be afraid to ratchet that number down. One Flag Discovery Kingdom still has a nice ring to it.

House cats aside, we really did have a fantastic day, and at the end of the “Wildlife” Theater Show, guess what animal all three of my boys waited in line to pet?

The house cat. Go figure.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2013 Marc Schmatjen

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