Recently, we spent a day at Sea World Orlando. It was a last minute one day visit, so nothing was planned prior and sort of just winged it. And, you know what? It was great!
We arrived within an hour of the park opening. It was easy to navigate and find parking. General parking was $25 and preferred was $35. They offer a slight discount when pre-purchasing the parking pass. Since it was a last minute visit, we did not pre-purchase and went with general parking, which wasn’t a far walk at all. Many Orlando area hotels and all affiliated with SeaWorld offer a free shuttle to the park. Before driving over or getting a cab, check with the concierge to see if anything free is offered as a guest. If your hotel doesn’t have a shuttle and you don’t have a car, cabs are always plentiful in Orlando and most Disney resorts have them on hand 24/7. Another great (and cheaper) option is Uber. I’ll have a specific post on getting around Orlando in a later post.
Walking to the gates, you’ll pass some great spots to grab a few good family pictures. Once inside, you’ll pass some gift shops, restrooms, and an area you can rent strollers and wheelchairs. We decided to rent a stroller for the day, because we weren’t sure how much walking we were going to do. As with most parks, the stroller rentals are not cheap. For the day, we rented a double stroller and it was about $25. I was pleasantly surprised with how smoothly the stroller rode, how easily it turned, and the amount of storage. It also included a shade, which is super important on those blazing hot summer days.
The amount of rides at Sea World continues to grow. During busy seasons, wait times for these rides can be long. For anyone that doesn’t want to wait in the long lines, the Quick Queue service is available. For an additional fee, you can upgrade your ticket so get unlimited quick queue on the rides. If you’re staying at a hotel affiliated with Sea World, such as the Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at Sea World, you will get this service for free. Check with your hotel concierge, if you’re not sure if this is available.
For the adults and big kids
Believe it or not, there are a ton of thrill rides at Sea World! There are three that I liked best.
Journey to Atlantis is a water coaster. I’d consider it the most mild out of all the thrill rides at Sea World. It has the elements of a water ride, with the huge drop, but also goes through the story of Atlantis and surprises you with a rollercoaster at the end. The height for this is 42″, but if your little one isn’t much of a thrill seeker, you may want to have them sit it out. One fun place your kids will love is the area off the gift shop, at the ride exit (you do not need to go on the ride to access this area) that has a small aquarium area. The glass floor was a favorite for us!
Manta is a unique roller coaster, as you feel like you’re gliding through the sky like a manta ray…literally you are in the position like you’re flying. When you first get on the ride, you’re seated, then the seats rotate forward to put you in riding position. It’s a little crazy at first, but gives you a unique coaster experience. The ride is smooth and swoops over the park and water. This is an extreme thrill ride, with a height minimum of 54″.
Mako is a newer extreme coaster and is currently the tallest and fastest coaster in Orlando. In fact, it’s actually a hyper coaster, which means it’s a complete circuit coaster with a height of at least 200 feet. The height minimum for this ride is also 54″. You are seated on this one. The ride has some huge dips and goes along the lake. This was originally supposed to have a virtual reality aspect, but it never came to fruition. Definitely gets your adrenaline pumping and one of my favorite coasters to date.
I love roller coasters and have gone on many over the years. My least favorite roller coaster ever was Kracken. I don’t remember anything specific about this ride, except that my head was banging the headrest the entire time and I left the ride with a horrible headache. It was so bad, I had to actually take a rest and did not feel right the rest of the day.This may have just been a fluke, but that was the first and last time I’ll go on that one!
For the little ones
Later in 2019, Sesame Street at SeaWorld is scheduled to open. We saw the construction and concept pictures for this area and it looks like it’s going to be great for kids! Because of this construction, the area that usually has some kiddie rides was closed. However, the Sea Carousel was still open and we did about 3 consecutive rides on it.
The next few things are under the little one section, but they really are for everyone! Unique, fun, and (shhhh, don’t tell the kids 🤫) educational.
The Antartica: Empire of the Penguin ride is a MUST for everyone. There are two versions of this ride, wild and mild. We chose the mild ride. It’s a trackless ride that shows how penguins’ lives in Antartica are, through the eyes of a penguin named Puck. The end of the ride was my favorite part. You can get up close and personal with the penguins, both under and above water. They are so close and so cute! The area is quite chilly though, but worth it!
There are various shows and experiences, some for an additional fee, offered with dolphins. We opted out of those, but did spend some time at the Dolphin Nursery. This is an area that you can see the dolphin mommas and babies swimming. You can go right up to the side of the water and there are some places to peak at them below water. This was perfect for us because we could look at our own speed. The dolphins were so active and our kids loved it. However, this is something that does close if inclement weather is approaching.
Shark Encounter was another super cool experience. There are various areas you walk through with aquariums, shark artifacts, and information. But, the best part of this is the underwater tunnel that goes through the shark tank. There is a belt that you stand on, similar to ones at the airport, that slowly guides you through the tunnel. It was an awesome point of view with tons of great photo ops.
Throughout the year, seasonal shows are offered. Usually, these are family friendly and inside, so they’re a great way to cool down. Check the show details and times when you first arrive at the park so you can plan accordingly.
And, of course, a trip to SeaWorld wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Shamu Stadium. The current show running is One Ocean. The amphitheater is huge and there is ample seating. But, if you’d like to sit in a certain area, specifically the splash zone (FYI you WILL get wet if you sit there), be sure to get there early. One of my favorite parts of the show, was before it even started. They honored all service men and women, past and present, by asking them to stand and giving them a round of applause. I found it very touching and a true class act. The show did not disappoint either. The whales were beautiful and show was amazing. Another must do for everyone!
Food and Drink
We did not sit down for a formal meal while at the park, but did indulge in some of their snacks and drinks.
One of my favorite snacks are soft pretzels. When I spied Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen, I knew I had to make a stop there. They had a wide variety of pretzels, pretzel nuggets, pretzel pizzas, and pretzels with meat and cheese baked in them. And, to my excitement, there was an entire section devoted to dipping sauces for the pretzels. I went with the traditional pretzel nuggets and cheese sauce. They were really good, at least the ones I was able to get because everyone wanted to try them too! Definitely a great place for a snack.
My kids each got soft serve ice cream. However, it looks like the quick service place we went to is now closed, which is really too bad because the kids enjoyed it. Additionally, there were tables outside in the shade to sit and enjoy.
Another surprising thing about Sea World is the wide variety of beer available. The kiosks throughout the park offered both mixed drinks, as well as specialty beers. In our party, one person tried a blueberry beer and another a grapefruit beer. I am not a beer drinker, but they both gave rave reviews. One special that was offered last summer and is being offered again this summer is one small free beer to each guest over 21. To get this beer, you had to go to a specific place in the park. The exact dates and place in the park where this will be available in 2019 hasn’t been announced yet. They also had a craft beer festival in the fall 2018, probably to compete with Disney’s Food & Wine Festival at Epcot. It looks like this will be returning in 2019 too.
Sea World offers a variety of dining deals. All of which are an additional cost. If you plan on eating all three meals and a lot throughout the day while at the park, this may be a good option for you. Personally, the cost per person adds up and, with all the crazy rides here, I’m not sure indulging on all this food is a great idea.
All in all, we had a great day at Sea World! We are usually planners, but didn’t have a set plan this time and it worked out perfect. Sea World has a variety of things to do, many of which you can experience while walking through the park, like the Dolphin Nursery and other areas where you can observe animals like flamingos. We did the majority of rides in the morning, when lines were minimal, so we were able to cover a lot of ground.
If your day is planned out, I’m not sure you’d need more than one day here, unless you want to experience everything.
A lot of experiences are at an additional cost, and have mentioned a few in this post. The daily tickets alone are not cheap. Frankly, additional charges like this sort of annoy me. Luckily, my kids didn’t want to do anything, but you could easily end up spending a couple hundred dollars!
I’d recommend going to Sea World for one day. It’s perfect for families with babies all the way up to teens. If you are working this into a longer Orlando trip, buying tickets, reserving parking, and any other experiences you know your family will want to do before you get there will save some money.
There are many new experiences coming to Sea World in the next year, that will continue to draw large crowds. Have you been to Sea World recently? How was your experience?