My hubby and my girl went for a special night out together two Fridays back and he’s sharing his experience of his unique and exclusive sleepover/ staycation! This is his second blog post by the way – you can check out his maiden review documenting his iFly experience, if you’re interested.
The Invitation – Ocean Dreams, Spooky Seas Edition
I was privileged enough to be invited to experience this special edition of the Ocean Dreams sleepover program at S.E.A. Aquarium last Friday (in place of my wife, the real blogger). We couldn’t go as a family because children below the age of 6 are not allowed at the program so my wife had to stay home with my boy who absolutely can’t do without her.
Anyway, I guess you can guess from the name “Spooky Seas” that it was because that Friday was … HAALLOOOOWEEEEEENNN!!! Let me now share with you what my girl and I went through. But before we start, I’d like to seek your understanding for my poor photography as I’m hardly even an amateur. If you’d like to see more gorgeous photos of the place, you might want to check out my wife’s earlier post on S.E.A.A.
Day 1 – Registration
We missed this whole bit because of extremely bad traffic. But we could see that by the time we arrived, the participants were all “spooked”-up with Halloween props and had their ice broken already. Registration started at 6.30 pm for this edition but I understand that it starts at about 5.30 pm for the usual sessions. The camp leader quickly connected us with our group leader Hakim and we conveniently deposited our luggage in the holding room.
Day 1 – “On Board the Cursed Ship” – The Typhoon Theatre
The first activity for the night was at the Typhoon Theatre. We watched a short prelude just outside the main typhoon theatre before entering the main typhoon theatre for the main show.
The typhoon theatre show promises to engage you with almost-alive visuals, exciting sound effects and a sitting platform that is capable of making movements to simulate the sinking of a ship. Well usually you’d have to pay a few more bucks for the Typhoon Theatre in addition to the entrance ticket for the S.E.A.A. but for this sleepover program, it’s totally free! This was our first time at the Typhoon Theatre and we were quite impressed with the combined effects ☺
Day 1 – “Broom Rides in SEAA” – a guided tour in the aquarium
This is probably the most substantial program for Day 1. Our group leader Hakim took us on a guided tour around the whole aquarium. Now, without me explaining any further, can you now understand why I said at the start that this is an EXCLUSIVE sleepover? Just imagine having a knowledgeable and entertaining (and ghastly-looking) tour guide showing you through almost every tank in the gigantic aquarium, without the long queues or crowd that would usually dampen your visitor experience! That was what we were treated to.
I was also particularly impressed with the way Hakim entertained the kids in our group and educated them on some of the fish we saw during the tour. In fact, my girl still remembers that starfish should be called “Sea Stars”, and that jellyfish should be called “Sea Jellies” instead. Why so? I’ll leave you to make your best guess!
There were also some activities along the tour to engage our lil’ ones. As you can see, the lil’ ones had no chance to feel bored at all with such a power-packed program for Day 1.
There were even games for the kids peppered through the program that night!
And you can never believe the fun the lil’ ones had at the interactive touch pool. Imagine only 3 kids to a tank of touchable sea stars, sea cucumbers, and other fish, crabs and shell creatures. They could go like, “Daddy, which one do you want me to touch now???” Exclusive indeed!
The Added Halloween Touch
This edition was just different, I must say! They’ve really added the “spooky” touch to the whole experience with (1) the group leaders dressing up,
(2) the tanks decorated with pumpkins and skeletons,
and (3) the activities throughout the tour focused on collecting “ingredients” for a potion.
They only fell short of dressing up the hundreds or thousands of fish the Halloween way!
Day 1 – The BIG SLEEP!!!
After the tour, we were guided to collect our belongings and ushered to the biggest tank in the whole aquarium – the Open Ocean aquarium. The kids responded with awe upon seeing this gigantic tank of numerous big living creatures. This tank houses many gentle sea giants including the leopard shark, goliath grouper, saw fish, mahi mahi and a big squadron of magnificent manta rays, all living surprisingly, harmoniously.
The kids took a while to enjoy viewing the fishes before we proceeded to having night snack (which was provided) and setting up our sleep areas.
A photo before we head off to sleep!
I was told that the entire gallery area of the Open Ocean aquarium, which consists of several levels or tiers, will be the sleeping area for the program. Each group will be allocated a designated area so there’s little concern about the security of your belongings or lack of privacy. Wait a minute, what privacy am I talking about? Hundred of fishy eyes are staring at you throughout the night anyway! Sleeping bags and blankets are provided so you’ll probably only need your own personal stinky pillow or bolster, which was what my girl brought along, if you have to know.
There is a spacious toilet in this area with adequate facilities for you to wash up or even take a shower.
After washing up, we tucked ourselves nicely into our sleeping bags, all ready to sleep. Before sleeping, I had some daughter-daddy time with my girl talking about some of the fish right in front of us and enjoying the exclusivity of sleeping right in front of that awesomeness. Across the huge tank, we could see a few glass windows which belonged to the viewing panel of the Ocean Suites! I was thinking to myself, “how lucky I was to be given this chance”!
It does get rather cold at night so it’ll be good if you are more prepared for that with jackets and stuff, in addition to the blanket provided.
Day 2 – “The Awakening”
Soon after we woke up, we all had a very pleasant surprise – we were greeted by 2 divers in the tank with a friendly message!
After taking some photos with them, we proceeded to have our morning snack. After packing up, we headed to meet the dolphins, who were actively zooming past us or performing underwater stunts to entertain us.
Hakim seized the chance to teach the kids about some interesting facts about dolphins – they sleep with 1 eye open and that their tails flap upward and downward, unlike fishes that flap their tails sideways. I suddenly recalled my primary school teacher nagging at us, “dolphins are not fish, they are MAMMALS!” That explains the difference!
Next, we were at a dining area of the Adventure Cove (yes it is just adjacent to the SEAA) having our breakfast. The kids were entertained with a simple potion-brewing activity and the groups were given prizes for their different achievements during the activities.
Day 2 – Meeting the Giants
The last activity of the day and the program was a visit to the house area of the Open Ocean aquarium. This is a restricted area which is not open to visitors in general. Only participants of special programs such as the Ocean Dreams program get the privilege to enter. Basically, we got to visit the TOP of the aquarium where we slept beside the previous night! And because they were worried that we may drop our belongings (like handphones, cameras or accessories), we were not allowed to bring in our cameras so no photos for this.
Hakim explained that they do 3 types of feeding for the many different species of fish here.
1. Targeted surface feeding – where specific food is fed to specific fish (like the manta rays) at the water surface
2. General surface feeding – where generic fish food is sprinkled over the surface for most of the fish
3. Underwater feeding – where divers will deliver food to the fish that hang out at the seabed
Depending on the time that you visit the house area, you may get to witness different types of feeding. For us, the targeted surface feeding of the manta rays was just over. But we were lucky enough to witness the general surface feeding. Tonnes of fish food was sprinkled over the water surface and that really created an “aqua-stampede” amongst the fishes as they swarmed to the surface for the food.
To our surprise, the 3 magnificent manta rays came near the surface for their share of common food too! And when they do so, we were really shocked to realize how large they actually were, compared to when viewed through the thick glass of the aquarium the previous night. Hakim added that the 3 of them are about 3.5 metres wide, with the largest in the world growing up to 9 metres wide!!! My jaws dropped when I imagined a manta ray of that size.
Hakim elaborated further that a 9 metre-wide ray would almost fill up the height of the side glass wall of the Open Ocean tank which we slept beside the previous night. Well, I leave it to you to picture that size when you visit the SEAA next time.
Interestingly, the fish food that they fed them with ranged from pellets to small fish and huge prawns. The idea of feeding fish with fish caused a bit of discomfort for me for a while. The Japanese man in my group exclaimed that the prawns they fed the fish with were huge and that he should have a share of the prawns since he paid for them through paying for this program. Now, that’s a thought!
This was the last item in the program so we were directed out of the area and the kids bade farewell to one another and to their well-liked group leader Hakim.
So overall, we had a great experience during this program because:
– it was exclusive (we got to tour the place with near-zero crowd and a guide),
– it was unique (the experience of sleeping in front of a huge tank),
– and it was special (we got to experience new things like the Typhoon Theatre and visit the house area)
If you are looking for a unique, exclusive and special sleepover with your family, give this program some serious thought!
Thanks for the wonderful opportunity to experience a different sort of staycation!
If you’re interested in checking out Ocean Dreams, check out their website for details on pricing, programming and future dates. It costs $193/adult and $173/child or senior, with $20 discounts for RWS Invites members and Annual Pass holders, and they do have a family package for 2 adults + 2 children at $688/ $608. You can get discounted tickets to Adventure Water Cove for the morning after if you’d like to visit it after the sleepover.
To read more of our staycation posts, please check out the following posts.
[Note: Even though we love staycations and have stayed at many hotels in Singapore, I’ve only begun to document our stays of late so this is a growing list. You can read about our stay at Equarius Hotel, Festive Hotel @ RWS, Oasia Hotel, Village Hotel Katong, Village Hotel Changi, Crowne Plaza Changi Airport]
Disclosure: We enjoyed Ocean Dreams with compliments of Resorts World Sentosa.
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