Where do I even begin?!… Our day at SeaWorld San Diego truly was one of the most wonderful family days we have ever shared together. My husband and I surprised our two daughters with a long weekend getaway to San Diego and SeaWorld. My husband and I both LOVED visiting SeaWorld as a kid, so it was a no-brainer to take our girls as soon as the opportunity arose! Looking back on our day at SeaWorld, I wouldn’t have done anything different: we saw and did everything we wanted! So I thought it would be helpful to share our day of adventures below, plus 10 tips and tricks!
:: Our Day At SeaWorld: How to SEA it all in one day ::
We visited on a Friday in October, which was special since the park added adorable Halloween touches in celebration of “SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular”.
One of the beautiful aspects of SeaWorld is how easy it is to navigate the park and experience it all! The park opens at 10am which was so convenient for us as it allowed us to sleep in, casually get dressed and go out for breakfast before our day of fun began. No rushing and no fear of missing out, my kind of start to the day!
When you walk through the park entry, you can conveniently pick up a schedule for the day and a map of the park. Yes, it is a giant park with so many exciting must-see attractions, but once you are inside you feel right at home and far from overwhelmed.
While we were looking at the map we were greeted by a really helpful park employee and he sat with us and explained what we were to expect at each show and helped us decide what we needed to see and do. From there, we created our “MUST SEE” list. There are multiple shows and showtimes each day, so we decided what was most important to us, and scheduled our day around it. Each show is approximately 20 minutes long and we found that we only needed to show up about 5 minutes prior to grab good seats. Shows were a perfect opportunity for our family to laugh, eat snacks, and be amazed!
We started our morning at Shamu’s Underwater Viewing, where you get the opportunity to go underground and watch the whales swim around and eat. Honestly this was probably one of my favorite parts of the day. These whales are so amazing and beautiful and being that upclose and personal is honestly breathtaking!
From there we went straight to Sea Lion & Otter Stadium to watch Clyde & Seamer’s Big Halloween Bash and giggled and danced our way through it. It was a very entertaining show and due to our visit being in October the show had a fun Halloween theme.
After the show we walked over to Shamu Stadium and found our seats for the Killer Whales Education Presentation, where we enjoyed learning a little more about the SeaWorld and the whales.
By this time everyone was ready for lunch so we stopped in at the nearby Shipwreck Reef Cafe for burgers and chicken nuggets!
After lunch we walked over to Dolphin Point to watch the dolphins swim around and interact with their trainers before we watched Dolphin Days at the Dolphin Stadium.
Dolphin Days is a fabulous and upbeat show that you don’t want to miss! It offers great music with a group of very energetic dolphins and pilot whales. This show has so much to offer the whole family!
After the Dolphin Days show we decided it was time to pet some stingrays, sharks and sea urchins in the Explorers Reef & the Aquaria Touch Pool. Our oldest was a little fearful, but our brave 1 year old loved the hands-on experience.
From there we went back to Shamu Stadium for Shamu’s One Ocean show. It was amazing! Watching these whales jump and interact with their trainers is absolutely incredible!
Coffee Break!!! By now it was about 2pm so definitely time for a Pumpkin Spice Latte at the SeaWorld Starbucks!!!
Our youngest fell asleep in the stroller so it was time to show our 4 year old all of the Sea Habitats. With Starbucks in hand we visited the Penguin Encounter and the Wild Arctic. Besides Shamu, the habitats were my daughters favorites. She especially loved the Wild Arctic because of the Polar Bears, Beluga Whales and Walruses. This area is a must-see and a nice change because it is indoors. You can also push a stroller through these indoor exhibits.
Just a skip away from the Penguin Encounter is the Pets Stadium so we joined their afternoon Pets Rule show. For not being a sea life show, it was surprisingly one of our favorite shows! The trained cats, dogs, pigs and other animals were extremely talented and very entertaining! The girls loved this show!
After our little one was rested and ready for round two we took the girls and wondered thru the Aquaria: World of Fishes, Shark Encounter, Turtle Reef and Otter Outlook.
By now it was getting close to closing time, so we stopped by Pacific Point to feed the seals and sea lions before we let the girls run free at Sesame Street Bay of Play.
We saved Sesame Street Bay of Play for last because it is a mini amusement park in itself. They offer a Sesame Street themed play area, splash pad and small rides for the younger kids. It was the perfect spot to let them run off any leftover energy they saved from the day. The girls enjoyed going on a few rides; Elmo’s Flying Fish and Abby’s Sea Star Spin before we went home. It was the perfect ending to a fabulous day!
IF YOU ARE TRAVELING WITH YOUNGER CHILDREN… BRING A STROLLER:
We brought our Double B.O.B Stroller and it was truly a lifesaver. It wasn’t hard to maneuver through the crowds, there are plenty of stroller parking spaces available outside of each event, and it was great having a seat for each girl. Anytime the girls wanted to rest or relax, the stroller was perfect. We were able to store our food and drinks conveniently in the stroller, as well as our extra clothes and belongings. Our 1.5 year old even enjoyed an hour long nap halfway through the day as we strolled through the Wild Arctic. We didn’t have to skip a beat, and she was happy and content. If you are planning on visiting SeaWorld with little ones, do yourself a favor and bring your stroller! I promise you will be glad you did. If you can’t bring a stroller with you, the park has single and double strollers that you can rent for the day.
The park has you covered! Everywhere you turn is a convenient drink or snack stand to grab a goodie on the go and there are multiple full-service restaurants throughout the park. SeaWorld offers souvenir cups that you can purchase that also provide free fountain drink refills throughout the day at their drink stations. You can bring in sealed water bottles and children’s water bottles so we went that route, it helped keep everyone hydrated and happy throughout the day.
We enjoyed a sit-down lunch at Shipwreck Reef Cafe. My husband and I had cheese burger meals while the girls enjoyed chicken nugget kids meals. They also provided a fun patio that overlooked the Shipwreck Rapids ride, so the girls had so much fun cheering on the soaking-wet riders.
But, I must say that my favorite shop in the whole park was the full-service Starbucks located in the Seaside Coffee and Bakery! Yes, SeaWorld has us Starbucks-lovers covered!
SeaWorld sells the cutest Shamu treats throughout the park and in all of the restaurants, (just about every yummy goodie is in the shape of a whale), but my cookie-loving daughter fell in love with the giant Shamu frosted sugar cookie from the bakery.
Other food options: Calypso Bay Smokehouse, Mama Stella’s Pizza Kitchen, Cafe 64, Flatbread & Fry Cones, Pineapple Pete’s Island Eats, Pretzel Shop, The Dock House Baja Grill, Island Market, Fusion Smoothies & Wraps, Turkey Legs and Coral Market. You will not go hungry, I promise!
Due to our girls ages and sizes we were only able to take the girls on the 3 kid-friendly rides in Sesame Street Bay of Play or the Skytower. But, if you are visiting without small children there are multiple rides that look great and you should try: Shipwreck Rapids, Wild Arctic, BaySide Skyride, Journey to Atlantis, Riptide Rescue, and Manta all look exciting.
MY SEAWORLD RECOMMENDATIONS: 10 Tips & Tricks to successfully get you through the day!
1.I highly recommend the following 4 shows: Shamu’s One Ocean, Clyde & Seamore, Dolphin Days, Pet’s Rule. Schedule your day out when you arrive so that you can find time in your day to see them all! We planned out our day so that we went to most of the shows in the morning and spent the rest of the day in the exhibits, it was perfect for the four of us.
2.Pack a few snacks to get you through the day and then spend the money to enjoy a sit-down lunch with the family. If you are a soda drinker, buy a souvenir cup and enjoy the free refills at the fountain drink stations conveniently placed all around the park. Remember you can bring in water and water bottles, which is helpful on a hot, sunny day!
3.Pack extra clothes for your children. If you are planning to sit in the “soak zones” at the shows, believe me… you will get wet! There is also a splash pad in Sesame Street Bay of Play and the kids will want to run around in it.
4.Pack jackets for the cooler months/evenings and sunhats and sunblock for the warmer months.
5.If you are visiting with younger children… Bring a stroller, if not to push the kids around, at least to hold all of your belongings! SeaWorld has done a great job with stroller parking locations so it is more helpful to have one than it is a hindrance.
6.Visit Shamu’s Underwater Viewing. It is mind-blowing amazing to see them so up close and personal… and it is a great spot for a family photo with Killer Whales swimming behind you!
7.If you need to take a break in a cooler area, push your kiddos in the stroller through the Sea Habitats.
8.If you are rushed for time, grab food and bring it into a show. Consider it Dive-In-Dining.
9.You are going to have so much fun and you are not going to want to leave… we were there from open to close, so plan ahead and wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
10.Of course my number one recommendation is to… Take lots of photos! This is a trip your family will never forget!
Our day at SeaWorld was a WHALE of a good day!
This post is in collaboration with SeaWorld San Diego. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase through my link, I will make a small commission for it. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free. Thank you!