SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration Photo Contest opens today, November 11th. Guests who have attended this Orlando theme park in the past five decades are encouraged to share their favorite snap shot with the rest of the world. Photographs will be collected through December 6th, so hurry and enter your amazing memory for a chance to win a trip to San Diego for the grand opening of the 50th Celebration on March 21, 2014. All of your expenses will be paid, so what are you waiting for? Surely you have a memory or two you’d like to share! (Read about mine below, and if you don’t submit your own photo, feel free to vote for mine.  😀 )

Another contest at SeaWorld this week features AnimalVision, SeaWorld’s new interactive, 24/7 HD window into the world of the penguins, sea turtles and stingrays. This Wednesday 11-13-13 at 1:00pm e.s.t., follow @SeaWorld on Twitter, submit a photo of yourself doing your best penguin or turtle impression and look for yourself on screen. Sounds like a lot of fun! View the penguins above ground, in shallow water and deep water here. Once online, you can watch from different angles and views, take and share snapshots, download games, and enjoy watching the wildlife.

SeaWorld Penguins

My Amazing SeaWorld Memory

My most cherished SeaWorld memory comes from a trip to SeaWorld that I didn’t even go on. I’ve been to SeaWorld many times, mind you, just not on the trip that makes up my most amazing SeaWorld memory. In fact, the summer my second son was born, I purchased a season pass, which allowed my newborn, four-year-old son and myself, dozens of visits to SeaWorld Orlando. It was a wonderful summer filled with many pleasant memories.

The trip I am writing about came about a decade later when my oldest son’s class was going on a field trip to SeaWorld. After scraping up the money for him to go, a note was sent home to all of the parents telling us that each child was allowed to bring some spending money on the field trip to purchase something at the gift shop. That morning before school, I emptied out my purse only to find a few dollars and change. Knowing many of the kids at my son’s school would be given a lot more money than that, I apologetically gave it to my son and wished him a great day on his field trip.

That afternoon, he came riding his bike up the driveway (along with his younger brother and little sister, whom he had to wait on every day) filled with excitement. He went into great detail telling me about the stingrays he petted, how he was allowed to sit in the splash zone at the Shamu show, and all of the cool animals he had seen. He didn’t mention his gift shop purchase, so I assumed he spent it on candy or something else of little value, since I had given him so little to spend.

15-year-old coffee mug from SeaWorld

My most amazing SeaWorld memory is symbolized by this 15-year-old coffee mug my son bought me during a field trip.

The next day when my son was getting ready for school, he reached into his back pack and said, “Oh yea, Mom, I forgot to show you what I got at SeaWorld yesterday!” Bracing myself for a rubber snake, I was amazed when he pulled out a carefully wrapped coffee cup from the Rain Forest Cafe at SeaWorld. He handed it to me and said it was the only thing he could find that he thought I would like!

It’s been at least 15 years since that day. As you can see by the photo, the coffee cup has had a lot of use. Every time I select it from my hodge podge collection of coffee cups, I am amazed that my young son thought of me above himself that day at SeaWorld. The little frog inside the bottom of the empty cup smiles up at me, and I’m filled with a wonderful memory.

My children are all grown now, and this particular son now has a three-year-old daughter. He has moved away and no longer lives close to SeaWorld Orlando. If this photo of an old, used coffee cup from SeaWorld were to win the prize, I would return the favor and give him and his family the trip to SeaWorld San Diego. It would be my way of giving back an amazing SeaWorld memory…while I enjoy another cup of coffee.