Shopping at SeaWorld: steampunk and wood carvings and pin trading

Discussion in 'Sea World / Discovery Cove' started by Editoria, May 3, 2018.

  1. Editoria

    Editoria Earning My Ears

    May 20, 2005
    I used my AP for SeaWorld Orlando on May 2 after not visiting since late 2017, so this could qualify as a trip report. All I do is walk around, look at the animals, poke about the shops and eat stuff (if using the All Day Dining deal I affectionately term my “band of gluttony”). This post instead deals with some of the new and limited-time merchandise I saw that day during my random wandering.

    Since SW offers AP perks monthly, I stopped in the Under the Sun gift place along the Shoppes at Waterfront, across from the Seafire Grille, to pick up my complimentary lanyard for the year — promoting the Infinity Falls vertical-lift raft ride that will debut this summer, with a nice, waterproof badgeholder. The door I entered had a small display of new merchandise that delighted me: steampunk!

    Many of the offerings were octopus-themed, with an assortment of magnifier-lens keychains featuring other creatures: a seahorse with gears, an orca, etc. The bronze-colored resin glassware in three types tempted me, but not at theme park prices: a tentacle holding up a martini glass (or ice cream glass, in my case), a small coffee glass with an octopus embracing various nautical bits, and an even smaller demitasse/shot glass with an even cuter octopus wrapped around it. (If ever I assemble a winechess set, these guys would have to be pawns for one side, maybe with the taller martini glasses as rooks.)

    During May, SeaWorld hosts Judy Derench, a woodcarver who studied marine biology, so she knows how to create accurate pieces. Her booth is outside the Under the Sun shop, and she quietly carves new pieces when not chatting with guests. She asked that any pictures of her work not be posted on social media, so I did not take photos. She’s local, living in Orlando and sometimes appearing at Disney, as well as various arts festivals throughout Florida and the East Coast of the United States.

    In addition to the marine life one would expect to be offered at SeaWorld (squids!), half of Derench’s stall has land animals and other carvings. I saw bears, geckoes, rhinos, a painted dragonfly, lions and some gorgeously carved snakes. There were a few stands of wooden mushrooms, too.

    The size, detail and type of wood determine the price: she has small mice and penguins that might fit the budget for a child, on up to two large, single-piece (not glued or assembled from multiple bits) carvings replicating the dinosaurs from “Fantasia.” Someone bought the tyrannnosaurus rex and triceratops, she said, but she still had the stegosaurus and brontosaurus during my visit, as well as Asian-styled dragons (no Figments here).

    I marveled at her talent, and appreciated how Derench explained her approach to woodworking. She signed each piece I bought and wrapped it carefully in shredded, recycled paper. (Note to APs: while you get your AP discount with most other merch you buy, SeaWorld does not cheat the artists out of their income this way. No discounts, even though you take the receipt from Derench’s stall up to a cashier at the SWO register to pay.)

    Derench said she’s set up at SWO to late May, then might return in December. Although it’d be nice to support her by buying something, she mentioned as we chatted that she’d rather people be honest with her and tell her they won’t be buying, rather than saying, “I’ll come back later.”

    SWO features a kids festival all the weekends in May (the children’s area was closed off May 2, being spruced up before the big debut, I assume), and they are using this to tout their new pin trading program. A kiosk outside the Shoppes at Waterfront was one of several places throughout the park I saw pins, lanyards and starter sets. Patti, the woman staffing the area, had a small corkboard for trades and said she would have a lanyard, too. Veteran pin traders from Disney will know how this all works. The AP email I received for May showed some interesting pins I did not see in the displays: the souvenir Shamu-tail bowl of ice cream, among others.

    I did see all sorts of marine life, including one that kinda looked like an otter floating upside-down and holding a fish hook. I asked, and Patti the cashier pointed out this was actually a manta ray, rightside-up. Silly me. There is one AP-only pin so far, she said. I expect more to debut, and I wonder how all the pins from prior years will fit into the new scheme. If I had any older SeaWorld pins, I’d pay more attention.
  2. FLOIR

    FLOIR DIS Veteran

    Dec 23, 2009
    This is actually where the recently announced Sesame Street at SeaWorld will be located, supposed to open in 2019.
  3. judyann

    judyann Earning My Ears

    Nov 10, 2013
    Thank you so much for your kind words about my woodcarvings!! I thoroughly enjoy working with SeaWorld and combining our conservation efforts, from park to planet. It's been a rewarding experience educating guests from around the world about how beautiful artwork can be made from "fallen" tree branches and drftwood.

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