Overview:Unlike the San Antonio and Orlando parks, the original SeaWorld is at least near the ocean. Like the other parks, Shamu and his killer whale pals are the stars (man, that Shamu gets around!). Sharks, dolphins, sea lions, and other aquatic creatures get their moments in the California sun as well.
SeaWorld is a huge park with lots of shows, rides, exhibits, and things to do. You could spend the better part of two days exploring the park. (Check with the park to see if SeaWorld is offering seven-day or second-day admission for the price of a one-day ticket, a frequent promotion.) If one day is all you can spend, take some time to get a lay of the land, note the times of the shows, and plan a rough schedule before you wander around the park aimlessly. You could find yourself heading to shows that have long since started or are done for the day. During peak seasons, the park often presents nighttime shows with Shamu and fireworks. Check the schedule.
The park offers lots of extra-fee experiences, some of which include a dolphin encounter and other opportunities that allow guests to get closer to the animals. Check with SeaWorld for info, reservation details, and prices for activities such as animal interaction programs and behind-the-scenes tours.
It used to be that the most thrilling thing that guests could expect at the park was getting doused by Shamu in the show stadium's splash zone. Coasters such as Manta and Journey to Atlantis, however, now offer considerable thrills.
Operating Schedule:The park is open year round and generally stays open longer during the peak summer season and holidays.
Location:SeaWorld Drive in San Diego, California
Directions:From I-5: Exit at SeaWorld Drive and head west.
From From I-8: Exit I-5 North to SeaWorld Drive and head west.
Admission Policy:Reduced price for children 3 to 9. Ages 2 and under are free. Season passes and special promotions available for California residents.
- Get a 7-day ticket to explore the park at your leisure for the price of a one-day pass.Buy direct from SeaWorld.
- Are you planning to visit other California theme parks? Consider getting the Southern California CityPass, which offers considerable value. It includes a SeaWorld San Diego pass, a 3-day Park Hopper pass to Disneyland, and passes to Universal Studios Hollywood at a discount. Buy direct from Disneyland via Kijubi.
- Go San Diego Card
If you are planning to visit a lot of attractions in the San Diego area, and you enjoy packing a lot of activities into a day, the Go San Diego Card could save you some vacation dollars. 3-day and higher cards include admission to SeaWorld. The card also includes admission to 50 other attractions such as the San Diego Zoo, Belmont Park, and a Whale Watch Cruise. Make sure that you'll be able to take advantage of enough offers to make the purchase worthwhile. The Go San Diego Card Web page includes suggested itineraries that include potential savings.
Get more info and buy direct from Go San Diego Card.
- The marine life highlights include:
- The Shamu stadium show, "One Ocean," is the signature presentation. Combining choreographed music, stunts, video, and, of course, plenty of splashes, the large-scale show matches the killer whale's size.
- Shark Encounter sends guests through an clear tube into a big shark tank to get up-close and personal with the fearsome animals.
- Penguin Encounter offers views of the Arctic creatures. As a bonus for guests who visit on a hot California day, the exhibit is kept at a penguin-worthy 30 degrees.
- At California Tide Pool and Rocky Point Preserve, guests can view, pet, and feed the animals.
- The ride and attraction highlights include:
- Mant, a launched coaaster.
- Journey to Atlantis- A hybrid water ride/roller coaster.
- Wild Arctic- A ride/exhibit hybrid that "transports" visitors to the Arctic with a motion simulator presentation and then offers a chilly view of real whales and polar bears.
- Shipwreck Rapids- A river raft ride that's designed to get riders soaked .
- Families with younger children will want to check out the pint-sized rides, such as Elmo’s Flying Fish.
New in 2013:New water park
SeaWorld itself won't be introducing anything new, but its parent company will be rebranding a nearby water park as Aquatica California.
New in 2012:Manta
The high-tech coaster will feature a magnetic launch system and whimsical coaster trains in the shape of manta rays.
New in 2011:Sea Turtles and One Ocean
Green and hawksbill sea turtles along with loads of tropical fish will be on display in a 300,000-gallon aquarium with an underwater viewing window. Also, all three SeaWorld parks (in Orlando, San Antonio, and San Diego) will debut a new killer whale show this spring called "One Ocean." As with past presentations, there will be giant LED screens, original music, and special effects to help tell an overarching story--in this case, that we all share the planet and need to play a role in its ecological stewardship.