An Afternoon with Skipper the Penguin at the Aquarium of the Pacific #PenguinsMovie

A few weeks ago, T and I attended a special invitation-only event at Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific in advance of the Penguins of Madagascar movie release.

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.

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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!).

A lovely afternoon for the Aquarium of the Pacific. Always love the view here.

A lovely afternoon for the Aquarium of the Pacific. Always love the view here.

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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.

The march of the Penguins... of Madagascar (the movie) at the Aquarium of the Pacific on November 5, 2014.

The march of the Penguins… of Madagascar (the movie) at the Aquarium of the Pacific on November 5, 2014.

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T and I with the Penguins of Madagascar during a special event at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

T and I with the Penguins of Madagascar during a special event at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

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!).

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After that, T settled into some coloring crafts as we waited for our special presentation upstairs at the June Keyes Penguin Habitat.

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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.

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#penguinshake at the Aquarium of the Pacific’s special Penguins of Madagascar promotional event on November 5, 2014.

We then headed back downstairs to the event area to watch some dancing (#penguinshake, y’all).

How can something like a penguin walking down an aisle in an auditorium not surprise you?!

How can something like a penguin walking down an aisle in an auditorium not surprise you?!

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Hooray! The name of the new penguin chick at the Aquarium of the Pacific is...

Hooray! The name of the new penguin chick at the Aquarium of the Pacific is…

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.

Penguins of Madagascar Executive Producer and voice actor Tom McGrath (Skippy) with the stars of the Penguins of Madagascar at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Penguins of Madagascar Executive Producer and voice actor Tom McGrath (Skipper) with the stars of the Penguins of Madagascar at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

McGrath signed movie posters for attendees at the Aquarium of the Pacific's Penguins of Madagascar cross-promotional event Wednesday November 5, 2014.

Voice actor and Penguins of Madagascar Executive Producer Tom McGrath signed movie posters for attendees at the Aquarium of the Pacific’s cross-promotional event Wednesday November 5, 2014.

McGrath meeting one of the penguins at the June Keyes Penguin Habitat at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

McGrath (who voices Skipper in Penguins of Madagascar, both the movie and the television series) in a meet-and-greet with one of the penguins at the June Keyes Penguin Habitat at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

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.

McGrath speaks to attendees at the Aquarium of the Pacific about the upcoming movie Penguins of Madagascar (in theaters November 26, 2014).

McGrath spoke to attendees at the Aquarium of the Pacific on November 5 about the making of the movie Penguins of Madagascar (in theaters November 26, 2014).

A screen shot from the upcoming movie release Penguins of Madagascar (in theaters November 26, 2014).

A screen shot from the upcoming movie release Penguins of Madagascar (in theaters November 26, 2014).

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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 looking over the swag from the Penguins of Madagascar movie event at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

T looking over the swag from the Penguins of Madagascar movie event at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

One per customer, T. Lucky for T, I didn't want my swag.

One per customer, T. Lucky for T, I didn’t want my swag.

Yes, they talk!

Yes, they talk!

T asks, "NOW Can we go to the gift shop?!" Man, I don't think I've ever captured such a joyous look on this kid's face in all his life. Must be the free shave ice (and gift shop).

T asks, “NOW Can we go to the gift shop?!” Man, I don’t think I’ve ever captured such a joyous look on this kid’s face in all his life. Must be the free shave ice (and gift shop).

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!

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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.

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