In terms of scale and creativity, the world’s most popular marine life adventure park is a match for any of Orlando’s other theme parks. Opened in 1973, the park is home to thrilling rides as well as beautifully choreographed and flawlessly executed shows, including Believe and Blue Horizons. The park is also renowned for Shamu, SeaWorld’s mascot killer whale, and his many friends. Some attractions even allow you to touch or feed the marine life – an experience of a lifetime.
The park also provides a platform for the promotion of educational, research, and conservation programs. Each presentation at the park illustrates ways and means by which people can protect and safeguard the environment and the wildlife that occupies it.
TACKLING THE PARK
Seaworld is usually less crowded than Orlando’s other theme parks. Its gentler pace means that a visit after 3pm affords a cooler and less crowded experience. Try to set aside at least an entire day to cover all the attractions the park has to offer. Pick up a map from Guest Services, and plan your day. You can use the 400-ft (122-m) high Sky Tower as a point of reference while navigating the park.
Most of the presentations are walk-through exhibits or sit-down stadium shows. The stadiums seat so many that finding a good spot is seldom a problem. Bear in mind that if you sit near the front you may get wet. It is also worth noting that the shows are timed so that it’s all but impossible to leave one show just in time for another. This is done to reduce crowding, but it is possible to get a seat in the Clyde and Seamore (Sea Lion and Otter) show if you leave the Shamu stadium about four minutes early – while all the performers are taking their bows at the end of the show.
During peak season, head for the Wild Arctic, Journey to Atlantis, Shark Encounter, and Kraken attractions early in the day as they get very crowded later on and form long lines.
Young children enjoy meeting YYthe actors in furry suits who play the parts of Shamu and the crew – a killer whale, a penguin, a pelican, a dolphin, and an otter. They are usually found near the park’s exit around closing time. SeaWorld also has several restaurants to choose from if you are hungry.
EATING, DRINKING & SHOPPING
A recent addition, The Waterfront at SeaWorld is a world-class dining, entertainment, and shopping area spread over 5 acres (2 ha), which offers merchandise and foods from all over the world. Guests may choose from nine restaurants, ranging from full-service to cafeteriastyle. They include Voyagers Wood Fired Pizzas; The Seafire Inn, which offers stir fried dishes and hosts the Makahiki Luau show; the Sandbar pub, which serves sushi and martinis; and The Spice Mill, which features international cuisine. Dining at the restaurant allows guests to eat alongside killer whales, while at Sharks Underwater Grill, guests are served “Floribbean” fare as they eat just inches away from circling, menacing sharks.
The shops at The Waterfront include Allura’s Treasure Trove, where kids can design their own porcelain dolls, and Under The Sun, which offers knick-knacks and several collectibles. The souvenirs for sale are mainly soft toys and a range of SeaWorld memorabilia.
• You are allowed to feed most of the animals. However, the park restricts both the type and amount of food, which has to be purchased from them. Check with guest services for feeding times and food availability.
• Strollers, lockers, and climate controlled pet kennels are all available on rent.
• Parents with older children can rent walkie-talkies, so the group can split up and still locate each other easily.
• Visit Kraken first as this popular roller coaster gets very crowded later in the day and there are long lines to ride it.
• Bring a waterproof plastic bag for your camera, especially during the Killer Whale and Dolphin shows. The first 12 rows get wet.
• Journey to Atlantis is guaranteed to get you wet, so reserve this for the hottest part of the day.