'Finding Dory' at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

You know those times when you experience something and you want to share with everyone you know, but when you search for the words they become elusive? Yeah. That's me right now. I recently went on a lovely trip to Monterey, California to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Lucky for you, I took tons of photos. Enjoy!

The trip was sponsored by Disney/Pixar, as a promotion for their upcoming animated feature, "Finding Dory," and although I was not compensated directly, my travel expenses were paid for. All the opinions of the fabulous things I'm going to be writing about remain my own. But I digress...

Finding Dory in theaters June 17. Photo courtesy of Disney.

Finding Dory in theaters June 17. Photo courtesy of Disney.

The excitement of traveling to Monterey was pretty heady stuff. The weather was California Spring Perfection, with maybe a light rain here and there. The California coast was one big show-off the entire time. Everywhere you turned your eyes were met with beautiful vistas. It was all pretty intoxicating. 

The view from the IC The Clement. photo: M.Darby

The view from the IC The Clement. photo: M.Darby

A group of us Disney Bloggers were invited to stay at the gorgeous Intercontinental The Clement Monterey Hotel directly over the water right by Cannery Row with gorgeous views of the bay from pretty much every direction. Be still my heart. 

Monterey Bay. photo: M.Darby

Monterey Bay. photo: M.Darby

Also, we were there on A Mission. We were there to Find Dory. So we were functioning with that exciting undercurrent of getting to interview the Pixar filmmakers and getting to watch some completely raw, footage of the upcoming film. Ah, Pixar, my love for you knows no bounds. 

My Big Fat Cuban Family - Finding Dory Event - Monterey Bay Aquarium

But the star attraction of this trip was definitely the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Arriving at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo: Shelby Barrone. OC Mom Blog.

Arriving at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo: Shelby Barrone. OC Mom Blog.

One short block away from our hotel it was an easy and pleasant walk to the Aquarium. Unassuming from the exterior. But inside were wonders waiting to be explored.

My Big Fat Cuban Family - Finding Dory Event - Monterey Aquarium

We received passes to the Aquarium and were also able to enjoy behind the scenes close-ups and interaction with some of the sea life. I may or may not have had a run-in with an octopus, but that's a story for another day.

The beautiful Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo:M. Darby

The beautiful Monterey Bay Aquarium. Photo:M. Darby

When I first entered the Aquarium, I decided to just do a "walk through" and take it all in. You know how when you're trying to see too much you don't quite enjoy what's right in front of your eyes? (Or maybe you're just too overwhelmed by all the awesome, but that's not important right now.) 

So I meandered through the aquarium. First with friends, but then I wandered off alone to experience just being there. 

The entrance boast these beautiful California grays. photo:M.Darby

The entrance boast these beautiful California grays. photo:M.Darby

I found myself outside overlooking the lovely tide pool basin, I was struck with how familiar it all looked. Being an über-nerdy movie buff, I remembered that one of the Star Trek films had been filmed right there. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home - the one where they have to travel back in time and bring back whales from the 20th century. I kind of geeked out and sent my kids a selfie with the caption, "Admiral, there be whales here!" (I guess you'd have to be there.) For the record, my kids totally got it and geeked out with me. A flurry of family group texts quoting Star Trek movie lines ensued. I love my people. 

"Admiral, there be whales here!" Star Trek IV:The Voyage Home. photo M.Darby

"Admiral, there be whales here!" Star Trek IV:The Voyage Home. photo M.Darby

Looking out over the tide pools, there was a wild mother sea otter who had come in to shelter from the wind and waves (and probably sharks) in the safety of the tide pool basin. She was already quite a celebrity as she had swum in only 2 days earlier and given birth right there  and was still caring for the youngling, much to our great delight and satisfaction. Here's the entire story, if you're interested. 

Mother and baby otter. I added the arrow because they blended in right with the rocks. photo: M.Darby

Mother and baby otter. I added the arrow because they blended in right with the rocks. photo: M.Darby

Speaking of sea otters, in the new film, you'll get to meet some for yourself. How can you resist these adorable little faces?

My big Fat Cuban Family - Finding Dory Event - Monterey Aquarium

Because we were there technically to "Find Dory" I spent lots of time in the Kelp Forest area. The swirling sardines are mesmerizing as they swim round and round the top of the kelp and glimmer and reflect the light. It was quite an intoxicating sight. 

My Big Fat Cuban Family - Finding Dory Event - Monterey Bay Aquarium

The Kelp Forest is a key location in the film "Finding Dory."  Full disclosure: I have no idea why. Even though we were treated to a sneak peak of the film during our time in Monterey, the brain trust at Pixar has opted to keep some surprises even for us Disney Bloggers. Well played, guys. Well played.

California sea bass. monterey aquarium. photo: M.Darby

California sea bass. monterey aquarium. photo: M.Darby

So, I contented myself with exploring and admiring. The aquarium hosts the inhabitants of the local northern California waters, while honoring their past with a throwback to 1916 when the building hosted the Hovden Cannery.

sardines at the monterey aquarium. photo: M.darby.

sardines at the monterey aquarium. photo: M.darby.

My Big Fat cuban Family - Finding Dory Event - Monterey Aquarium

We even attended a fabulous reception along with the Pixar "Finding Dory" filmmakers at the aquarium. That was an absolute highlight of the trip, as we found ourselves enjoying food and cocktails after hours in front of the one-million-gallon exhibit of the local Open Sea. 

There we were happily chatting and noshing while giant bluefin tuna and hammerhead sharks and giant sea turtles swam just inches away from us. Can you say, "magical?"

bloggers enjoying the Open sea exhibit.photo: M.Darby

bloggers enjoying the Open sea exhibit.photo: M.Darby

jellyfish mesmerize. monterey aquarium. photo: m.Darby

jellyfish mesmerize. monterey aquarium. photo: m.Darby

As we like to say in Spanish, "Es poco lo que te digo." (Translates to - "What I tell you is so little.") In other words, I could go on for days and days about the wonders waiting to be experienced at the Monterey Aquarium.

Also, can you even wait for 'Finding Dory?' (The correct answer is: "No, Marta. I can't wait!")

photo courtesy of disney/pixar.

photo courtesy of disney/pixar.

I am grateful to Disney/Pixar for hosting me on this once in a lifetime trip. Thanks also to the Monterey Aquarium for so generously sharing the secrets of our California waters. In the next few weeks and months, I'll be writing more about the things we got to do when we were not being blown away by the natural beauty of the Northern California coast and the Monterey Aquarium specifically. 

I will leave you with this: I promise you will want to mark your calendars now for Friday, June 17th, 2016 to experience the fun and magic that is "Finding Dory." 

"Have you seen her?"