We were invited because T and I adopt and sponsor a variety of animals at the aquarium each holiday season. The adoptions make for wonderful gifts to others, especially those others in our lives who already have enough “stuff” and/or are animal lovers themselves. T also really enjoys picking out which animals he “gets” for which family members. To be honest though, I cannot remember who we got the penguin for last year (whoops – can I adopt a better memory perhaps?!). You can learn more about how to adopt your own animal(s) at the Aquarium here.
When the invite hit my mailbox I decided the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. We needed an afternoon out together one-on-one pretty badly because as I mentioned before the last several weeks had been about all things Jog-a-Thon and it was time for a break. All I told T that morning was that after school I was taking him out for a surprise afternoon with mom, and surprised he was. The entire time he was guessing places like “Legoland” and “Disneyland”; he even threw in a “that place with the Drop Zone” guess (which actually isn’t that outlandish of a guess… note to self time to go back there soon, too). So when we were on approach to the Aquarium, T was kind-of deflated, like “oh, it’s just the aquarium” (we’ve been members here for a long, LONG time, as in since before T walked and talked). However, once I explained that this aquarium visit was related to the #penguinsmovie he was like “OH!” and the afternoon quickly turned around (whew!).
We wound up having a total blast during our special afternoon out together. First, we kicked things off with some yummy (and unlimited, complimentary) treats from Wiki Wiki Shave Ice.
Then as we enjoyed our tasty treats, the four main stars from the film entered the reception area. There was a “step and repeat” area where we got to take pictures with the Penguins (thanks to Santa Monica Macaroni Kid for taking our personal pictures for us!).
After that, T settled into some coloring crafts as we waited for our special presentation upstairs at the June Keyes Penguin Habitat.
Once up at the penguin habitat, there were educators on hand to answer all the penguin-related questions we could have ever thought to ask. And trust me, T asked.
We then headed back downstairs to the event area to watch some dancing (#penguinshake, y’all).
What came up next was a complete surprise to me. I didn’t know that this event also happened to be a media blitz that was cross-promoting both the Aquarium and the movie. First, of course, there was the obvious marketing tie-in with the aquarium and their penguins as a main vehicle for promoting the movie release. But what some attendees (AKA us not-invited-as-media folk) didn’t know was that this was also a naming day for one of the penguin chicks, which is a Big Day at the Aquarium of the Pacific, movie release or not.
Turns out, the name of the newest penguin chick was “Skipper,” which just so happens to also be the name of one of the four main penguin characters in the movie and television series of the same name. No wonder why voice actor Tom McGrath was the Aquarium’s guest of honor for the afternoon. McGrath is not just the voice of Skipper the penguin in Penguins of Madagascar (both the television show and the movie), but he is also one of the Executive Producers for the movie.
The afternoon wrapped up with McGrath explaining some of the history behind the making of and the character development for Penguins of Madagascar. He then treated all attendees to a sneak preview of a select portion of the movie that explains just how the four penguins became such fast friends and partners in crime (about 5 minutes worth of film).
T even got some free “gift shop” for attending the afternoon’s events, which always makes a kid (and parent) happy.
We’d been to a few of the Aquarium of the Pacific’s special members-only events before, but this afternoon was particularly special. Thanks to DreamWorks Animation, the Aquarium, Tom McGrath, and the Penguins for a fantastic day out!
Penguins of Madagascar marches into theaters Wednesday November 26, 2014. For more information on adopting an animal at the Aquarium of the Pacific, go here. Please note that there was nothing given to me or T by either DreamWorks or the Aquarium in exchange for this blog post.