Entertainment And News

Mom Plans ‘Special Day’ With Her Son After She Couldn’t Afford His School’s SeaWorld Trip But People Are Questioning The Expense

Photo: PeopleImages.com - Yuri A / Shutterstock
happy young blonde boy

School field trips are always one of the highlights of grade school for kids, making it equally as disappointing whenever you weren’t able to make it for one. The kids who do attend talk about the trips for weeks following the outings, leaving those who couldn't attend feeling left out. 

To help prevent her son from going through this feeling, one mother on TikTok documented what she chose to do so her son wouldn't feel let down when he missed his class trip.

The mom planned a fun day with her son when she couldn't afford his class trip to SeaWorld.

“This is my baby Noah. He was supposed to go to SeaWorld with his class today, but unfortunately, I couldn’t afford it,” Amber Oakes, Noah’s mom, wrote in the caption of her post. “So I kept him home and wanted to try to make today special…”

Oakes decided that she would do a version of the popular trend where she holds up two cards with fun activities on them and lets the other person pick.

   

   

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Their chosen activities included dressing up and going to a steakhouse with her husband, Noah’s father, for lunch. After enjoying their steakhouse lunch, they broke Noah’s brother out of school and went to the movies to go see the new “Puss In Boots: The Last Wish” movie. The next card Noah picked decided they would sneak snacks in, likely to avoid paying the upcharge prices that movie theaters offer. But, Oakes ended up buying them soda and popcorn anyway.

By this point, a mental note of how much money they’ve been spending seems to have popped into everyone’s mind, as they’ve now gone to a steakhouse and movie theater, each even with three people.

“We may not be incredibly wealthy,” Oakes writes in the video, “But we are extremely rich in the one thing money can’t buy. Love.”

The final choice was at the end of the day, where Noah selected “Order Takeout.”

Some people were shocked by the amount of money Noah’s mom spent, comparing it to the cost of a SeaWorld field trip.

“For the price you paid for that day for everyone, he probably could’ve [gone] to Seaworld. It’s $70/ticket,” one person commented.

Another person wrote, “I’m confused. SeaWorld day passes for Orlando are $99-123 depending on sales. This day cost more than a ticket did.”

A third seemed to genuinely ask, “I’m curious how the cost of the field trip compared to the cost of your fun day? Was it that expensive? If so, that’s crazy!”

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Oakes clarified that the field trip had to be paid for at the beginning of the school year, at which time she didn't have the extra cash.

If you grew up like me, then upcoming trips didn’t have to be paid for until maybe a couple of weeks in advance. However, it seems like a lot of schools actually ask for the money and signed permission slips at the beginning of the year, meaning that Oakes would’ve had to cough up over $100 in addition to all of the other school trips, school supplies, and clothes she would have bought Noah for the new year.

“That's correct,” Oakes wrote in reply to another comment that confirmed the same thing. “It had to be paid for at the beginning of the school year. After clothes and supplies, we just didn't have it.”

Oakes isn't the only one in this situation. As the cost of living continues to rise, many parents are left without having any money in the budget for extracurricular activities for their kids. In fact, The Sun reported on studies that polled teachers and parents on the cost of field trips, which found that over 50% of children don't even bother telling their parents about school trips, with more than half of parents believing it's because their kids understand how dire their financial situation is.

Despite the likely expensive cost of Oakes' 'special day' with her son, research shows that it's worth it, with time spent with family providing equal benefits to kids as school trips.

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SeaWorld saw Oakes’ TikTok and decided to award her family with a special day of their own.

After seeing her viral TikTok video, which received over 9.1 million views, a representative with SeaWorld Orlando sent Oakes an email, saying how “moved” they were by the “beautiful lengths” she went to turn a bad situation around.

“We want to help you make more amazing memories with your family, and help you to surprise your son with a trip and visit to SeaWorld Orlando to experience the park together as a family,” the email read.

   

   

They made sure to add that Oakes should keep the fact that they reached out a secret from their son, so they could plan “this fun surprise” and make it an experience that he would never forget.

Despite all of the controversy that surrounds SeaWorld, many people pointed out how kind and generous it was of them to do something for Noah.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics.