Activities & Resources
SeaWorld353in San Diego, CA 92109
Another exhiliarating show experience is the Blue Horizons dolphin show, in which oodles of dolphins and a few of their pilot whale pals meet Cirque du Soleil style aerialists in a delightful spectacle that includes aviary guest stars, breathtaking high dives, dolphin chicanery, and several rounds of dousing the audience. Anyone who's ever dreamed of swimming with a dolphin (and let's be honest - who hasn't?) will be grinning from ear to ear.
The sea lion show is more along the lines of sketch comedy, with a pair of dancing, barking, ball-balancing sea mammals making unexpected use of their flippers as they slip and slide across a watery stage. Half the fun can be watching the trainers cope with the impromptu mischief these critters splash up. Equally entertaining is the chance to interact with (and feed) the dozen or so sea lions who vie for audience attention outside the theater.
Other worthwhile attractions at SeaWorld include Rocky Point Preserve, where children can learn about, touch, and feed dolphins and other sea creatures; the Wild Arctic, where beluga whales and polar bears frolic in a simulated Arctic environment; the Shark Encounter, where a walk through a giant glass tube puts you about as close as you'd ever want to get to these man-eaters; Turtle Reef, where kids can find a moment of calm watching sea turtles glide smoothly by all around them; the Penguin Encounter, where a moving sidewalk sidles past several varieties of cute, flightless birds diving under and over the water without breaking stride; and the Journey To Atlantis water ride, a six minute journey in a Greek fishing boat with a 60-foot drop, water and fog cannons, and tons of special effects.
At 189 acres and growing, SeaWorld offers something for every age child, from touch tanks for little ones to rides exciting enough to please older kids such as the Shipwreck Rapids. Extra experiences worth considering (at extra cost) include in-tank interactions with dolphins and/or beluga whales, both of whom are guaranteed to swim over for some one-of-a-kind, hands-on inter-species bonding time, and private tours behind the scenes with penguins and other animals. There's no question that SeaWorld is about as educational and hands-on as a theme park can get.
Although a single ticket is pricey, a pass for the whole year can be had for as little as $5 more than a day's admission. Local parents agree that to get the most out of SeaWorld, try to go during the off-season, that is, not in summer, and plan to arrive as the gates open. The first half hour before the crowds come in can be "magic"; early birds tend to get special treatment from the accommodating staff.
Special Programs: SeaWorld offers a number of special opportunities, some of which qualify as once-in-a-lifetime treats. These include Sleepovers, Trainer for a Day, Behind-the-Scenes Tours, Dine With Shamu, and birthday tours. Our favorite is the Dolphin Interaction Program, a 90-minute educational adventure where participants can get in the water and play with, pet and learn about these amazing creatures up close. It takes place daily, year-round behind Dolphin Stadium. The cost is $190 per person, not including park admission. Advance reservations are required. Participants must be ten or older and taller than 48 inches. For more information, call 877.436.5746.
For Scouts, SeaWorld offers the Youth Award Patch Program. Educators lead the group on an afternoon of exploration and scouts earn a free patch. Call the Education Department for details, fees, and reservations at 800.25.SHAMU ex 3 or visit http://www.seaworld.org.
The line to purchase tickets can be long; purchase passes in advance online.