Sea World graciously provided 4 media passes to allow my family to spend the day at the park while we were in San Diego. Thank you Sea World!!! The kids had no idea so it was fun to pull up to the Sea World parking lot and have them discover where we were! We had a great time, but I definitely learned some things that can help you and your family MAXIMIZE your day.
How to Maximize Your Day at Sea World (and stay sane):
- Get there early: This is a no brainer, but I’m going to say it anyway. Sea World has a seasonal schedule (so check before you go!) but when we went (January) it didn’t open until 11. We had planned on getting there about 10:30, but then got distracted on our drive when we saw the San Diego temple and had to pull over! We ended up arriving around 11:15- Sea World Rush hour! Instead of being parked and ready to enter right at 11, we didn’t get into the park until about 11:30. I know that sounds silly, it’s just a half hour, but if you’re spending your hard earned money on sea world tickets you want that extra 30 minutes in the park! Plus if you are there early I bet you won’t fight the parking & entrance crowds as much.
- To Pay for Upgraded Parking or Not? We decided to pay for the upgraded parking. And I’ll tell you why: Sea World does not allow outside food into the park (you CAN bring water). There are , however, some nice picnic tables right outside the exit. We decided to spend the extra $5.00 on parking (regular parking= $20, up close parking= $25) and save $50 in food by bringing our own lunch. This made it easy and quick for me to stay at the picnic tables with the kids while the hubby ran to our (very close) car and grabbed the cooler full of food. We ate a quick lunch and went right back into the park to continue the fun!
- Pick a meet location in the event someone gets lost: Another no brainer one, but sometimes in the excitement this gets forgotten! Pick a place (usually by the entrance) where your child can go to wait for you if they find themselves lost. Show them what the employees dress like/look like so they know who to ask for help. Take a quick photo of your child on your phone so you can show employees what they look like and what they are wearing that day, JUST IN CASE! You can even write your cell number on their arm in sharpie if it is an especially crowded day or you have a kid that likes to bolt.
- Go straight to the back of the park: There are little touching pools right at the entrance where everyone gets hung up, catch those later in the day and head to the back of the park while everyone else is waiting for their kids to touch a sting ray (plus there are bigger/better touching pools elsewhere in the park).
- Ride the sky tower early in the day: Riding the sky tower is free and an awesome view, and if you do it early on in your day it will help you get a grasp of the lay of the land and orient yourself with the park.
- Plan your day around the shows: the iconic animal shows are the highlight of Sea World! Make sure you get a schedule of the shows when you first enter the park (you can even get it online prior to going if you want to have it all planned out before you get there). While you are riding the sky tower decide with your group which shows are a “can’t miss” and set 20-30 minute head’s up alarms on your phone. You will need that much time to make your way over to the stadium and secure a decent seat, as they are spread out and fill up early. Don’t worry, they have some pretty great pre-show entertainment to keep the kiddos from going crazy. And use the down time to snap photos, review your schedule for the day, and rest your weary feet! And don’t miss the sea lions & otter show! That was, very surprisingly, all of our favorite!Oh, and they are NOT kidding about the splash-zone! Look for markers on the rows indicating where the splash-zone begins and ends. If you have little ones (or older ones…) that will be upset if they are wet, make sure you are up high enough.
- Use the time between shows to wander through the great exhibits (don’t miss the sea turtles, that was my favorite!) and catch a ride or two. If you have little ones you wont want to miss Sesame Street play area! In addition to several rides for the littles, there is a great jungle gym/playground area that my kids were very sad to leave.
- Have a plan B for carrying your baby: Strollers are prohibited in some of the exhibits, so if you have a non-walker keep this in mind! Bring a carrier or plan on waiting outside the exhibit with the babe.
- You’ll want to plan on being there a little before opening all the way until closing. We were there 11-6:30 (park closed at 6 but they let us stay at the touch pools near the entrance after closing time) and still didn’t see it all. If you are there during the summer when they have longer operating days, take advantage of it!
- Check out the website before you go to make sure you are up to date with any seasonal closures or announcements.
- As your leaving don’t forget to snap this iconic photo!
Highlights from our day were:
- The Sea Lion & Otter show: Like I said that was all of our favorite! The Orcas are always impressive, but I wasn’t expecting much going into the Sea Lion & Otter show, it was fun, funny, and quite impressive! We were there the first week of January and they were running a Christmas special, it was a blast. It is so neat to see how up close and personal those trainers get with the animals.
- The Manta Roller Coaster: I seriously did not even realize that sea world had rides?! I know! This is a can’t miss coaster if you are a thrill seeker. It’s definitely for older kids (and adults!) So if you’re there with young-uns this is a good time to split up and take them over to the Sesame Street play area. We didn’t do all of this until the very end of the day so my kids only got about 30 minutes to play in the Sesame Street area. They were not pleased about having to leave so soon. When we were there Sea World closed at 6pm. We all wish we had another hour or two in the park!
- Sea Turtle exhibit: There are several cool exhibits including the shark encounter, penguins, beluga whales and more. But the Sea Turtles were my favorite.
There were so many choices and options of things to do while we were in San Diego, and so little time. I am so glad we had Sea World on the list! My 6 year old said it was his favorite part of the whole trip! Let me know your favorite part of Sea World San Diego in the comments below, and don’t forget to tag #SeaWorldSanDiego on social media.