Sea World San Diego
Sea World is the only park in which you can get up close and personal with sea creatures and get an education while having fun. You can meet Shamu the killer whale, watch the Dolphins play their tricks, visit the sharks in their natural habitat, go to the North Pole on an icy safari and peek at the Penguins – and you get all that fun for a bargain.
You can add an “experience” to your visit, like Dolphin Interaction Program or Beluga Interaction Program.
The park also offers a large variety of dining options and the prices are much more reasonable than other Theme parks.
Tip: As usual, it pays to plan ahead. Go to SeaWorlds website and browse the various activities and show times.
Shows that you shouldn’t miss are One Ocean (The Shamu Show); Sea Lions Live; Blue Horizons (Dolphin show); A trip to Wild Arctic; Shark encounter. For thrill seekers, try one of the rides: Journey To Atlantis; Manta; Shipwreck Rapids and Wild Arctic (the ride).
All those shows, exhibits and rides will be described below in more detail. Also, see special Christmas celebration details at the end of this article.
Whatch the video at the bottom of this article for an overview of the park.
Explorer’s Reef is a covered but open exhibit that allows visitors to interact with a variety of fish. Young children especially enjoy petting Mantas, Cleaner fish and Bamboo Sharks.
Right next to the reef you can explore the newest souvenir store, The SeaWorld store. You probably should refrain from taking the kids there as you enter the park. Otherwise, you will be carrying their souvenirs all day long.
One Ocean (Shamu show)
Shamu and his friends the killer whales (Orcas) show off their natural and learned behavior with the help of their trainers. The show used to be called believe, but was upgraded to the current show recently.
Tip: Go to Shamu stadium at least ½ an hour early. The good seats get filled up very quickly. Better yet, go there one hour before the show and enjoy watching the whales from the underwater glass window overlooking one of the habitats.
Expect to be dazzled by high-flying tricks, the music, the multimedia presentations, the new fountains and the playfulness of the whales.
The show is about 25 minutes, but the pre-show is part of the experience. During your wait, you will be presented with video clips about our planet and oceans. The clips will educate you and inspire you to take better care of our environment. Also, while waiting you and your kids can use your cell phones to interact with the sea creatures.
Tip: You will get enough warnings about this one, but here is my warning too: If you sit in the first 8 to 12 rows you are guaranteed to get wet. The Orcas really enjoy drenching the audience. You can always buy a plastic poncho and brave the tidal waves.
At the back of the Shamu stadium, you can get even closer to the whales. The glass window viewing area provides an amazing look at the whales playing or feeding.
Blue Horizons (Dolphin Show)
The dolphins are still the main actors and they still like to show off their flying tricks and enjoy splashing the audience.
Along with dolphins, you will see appearances by pilot whales, birds and high-flying dancers and divers. The whole show is accompanied by great music and songs.
The show is about 23 minutes. As usual get there early to get good seats.
Used to be called Rocky Point Preserve. This is where you get to meet the Bottlenose Dolphins up close and personal. You can actually touch the dolphins and feed them (only fish purchased at the nearby stand). You can also peek at the dolphins through the underwater viewing glass, while listening to educational information.
Due to the popularity of this encounter and dolphin diet requirements, SeaWorld set specific times for feeding them. Check the times on the map/schedule and get there early. You may have to wait in line for a while to get to feed the dolphins.
Tip: Watch out for seagulls trying to steal the feed fish from your hands.
You can also watch Otters play or feed nearby.
Sea Lions Live
Take a peek at the lives and times of 300 cold weather Penguins in their natural habitat. You will encounter many species of penguins like Emperor; King; Adelie; Gento; and Macaroni. Watch them above water, on the snow and then watch them as they dive into their underwater habitat.
Tip: The temperature is very cold inside this exhibit, so make sure you are prepared. Also, the exhibit tries to mimic the natural Antarctic environment so except the exhibit to be very dark during summer (Antarctic winter).
You can enjoy this exhibit in 2 ways: Go on the conveyor belt and be guided through the habitat, or go up the stairs and stroll at your own pace. The upstairs viewing deck has benches and TV screens for some educational programs about the Penguins.
Tip: As you step out of the exhibit, make a sharp left and enjoy the warm weather Penguins playing in their small garden.
Come face to face with sharks of all shapes and sized as you walk through their habitat. The highlight of the exhibit is a 57 ft. acrylic underwater walkway. You will see sharks swimming all around you. Some of the species you will encounter are Sand Tiger; Bonnet Head; Black Tip and White Tip. Watch out for fallen shark teeth along the edges of the tank.
Tip: As you are leaving the exhibit, don’t forget to take a picture inside the huge mouth of a shark!
Tip: Sharks loose their teeth all the time. If you look closely along the edges of the tunnel you find some shark teeth.
Sesame Street Bay of Play (Shamu's Happy Harbor)
If you have kids make sure to schedule a stop at this play area for kids of all ages. This gives the adults a chance to relax and the kids a chance to let lose.
This Sesame street inspired area is full of rides, games and interaction with characters. It replaced the long-running Shamu's Happy Harbor and I think it is a big improvement. New rides are Abby's Sea Star Spin; Elmo's Flying Fish; and Oscar's Rockin' Fish.
Activities left over from the old play area are The cargo nets, slides, bouncer and water play area. For a little workout, you can join the kids climbing the nets and going down the slides.
wild arctic is the newest exhibit at sea world. you start your arctic exploration by riding on a jet helicopter – which is a motion simulator. The chopper takes you on a wild ride to a remote research station. Along the way, you will see breathtaking icy wilderness and you will encounter a few mishaps.
Tip: Riders who prefer a smoother ride, select the middle seats of the helicopter.
If you don’t like simulator rides, there is an alternate route that takes you directly to the observation area. You can watch the same scenery – from the helicopter point of view – on a giant screen and then head to the research station on foot.
Once you land at the research station you can observe polar bears, white beluga whales, walruses, and seals. your observation starts from above the ice and water – then gradually takes underwater. Along the way, you will pass through an ice tunnel with a 25-foot long ice wall.
Tip: put your hand on the ice, see your hand sinking in the ice and making a print, and find out how long you can last.
The gift shop at the end of the exhibit is full of cute stuffed polar bears and beluga whales.
Tip: the weather in Arctic is freezing cold. so make sure you have a jacket or sweater.
Ride the tube rafts and start your whitewater rafting adventure. You will get splashed a little along the way, but you are guaranteed to be drenched by the end of your ride.
Tip: For people who don’t like to stay wet, SeaWorld provides drying booths near the exit of the ride.
Tip: If you skip the ride because the line is too long, you can take your revenge and have some fun. Use one of the water cannons along the path from Shipwreck rapids to Cirque del la mar to drench the raft riders.
The ride starts deceptively slow and relaxed. You will first go through an underwater tunnel. Using giant HD screens, sound effects and slow rocking motion, you will feel like you are really underwater – with great views of Mantas and sea creatures. Then all of a sudden a door opens and you are launched onto the high-flying adventure. This rollercoaster has a lot of twists and turns but no 360 loops. The ride lasts close to 2 minutes.
Once you are done with the ride, head over to the new Manta aquarium where you can pet the mantas or see them in action through large acrylic windows.
Journey to Atlantis
Along the way, you will encounter evidence of the lost civilization of Atlantis and you will come face to face with sea creatures.
At the end of the calm boat ride, you are lifted up and then dropped onto a winding rollercoaster.
Tip: This is a busy ride. Expect long waits. Best time to visit is when the park opens or when the big shows are in session (Whales and Dolphins).
Sea world Sky Tower
A 320-foot tower with a climbing, rotating cabin. While spinning around at a very leisurely speed you can enjoy commanding views of San Diego and the bay. you get a totally different flavor of the ride depending on the time of day. try a ride around sunset and a nighttime ride. Only one regret about this ride: I wish the viewing windows are kept spotless so I can take better pictures.
SeaWorld Christmas celebration
SeaWorld turns into a winter wonderland during the holidays. Christmas decorations adorn every corner and some of the sea creatures are celebrating too. Just walking around between attractions will put in a festive mood and fill you with the holiday spirit.
As you enter the park you will be greeted with an amazing tall Christmas tree festooned with beautiful ornaments and lights. Your favorite characters, like Shamu, will be on hand to take pictures with your family.
Some of the must-see holiday attractions are: Polar express 4d; Snow World; Shamu Christmas show; Clyde and Seamore Christmas show and Christmas Tails (Pets).
Polar express 4D is a special version of the popular movie with the same name. The 3D effects will put you inside the action, but the added dimension of special effects tricks your senses into believing. There are a few surprises that I don’t want to spoil for you, but a warning too:
Tip: Do not set in the front seats. Try to find a place in the middle rows and right in the middle of the row you select. Obviously, you have to get in early to be choosy. We were late getting in and had to settle for the 2nd row. We still enjoyed the show, but we had to strain our eyes and nicks to see everything. We also missed an amazing special effect that did not reach the front rows.
Snow World is an area set aside for snow play – with real snow and a sledding area. Kids of all ages can play with the snow and have snowball fights, but the sledding area is reserved for kids 12 and under. Also,expect to see falling snow along the path to Snow World.
Shamu and his friends are up to their usual tricks at the Christmas show but set to great live holiday music. The whales perform under the stars and seem to dance to our favorite Christmas carols. We also noticed that the whales avoid splashing the audience too much due to the cold weather.
Otter Show. Santa gets held up and can’t deliver the Christmas gifts. “Biff” fills in for him and finds out that OP makes the naughty list again. OP and his accomplices “borrow” the list to make changes. The whole team goes looking for the list, but OP sneaks it back to its place – just in time for the gifts deliveries.
Clyde, Seamore and OP otter have a new story to tell at the Sea Lion and
We missed the last Christmas Tails show (at 3:15), but I heard from a lot of people – especially with young children – that they loved it. The basic story line is that the dogs, cats and birds through a big holiday party.
All in all it was a very great way to celebrate the holiday for the whole family.
Sea World San Diego
500 Sea World Drive
San Diego, CA 92109