I love learning all I can about a vacation spot before I go (especially with kids). It had been 10 years since I had been to Sea World. It's changed a lot.
The first thing we came to was the dolphins. There was a whole group of people lined up to pay money to feed them. That would have been cool, but not something that was in our budget. We went around the long line and got right up close to the dolphin pool. It was pretty awesome. We got to watch them swim and splash and be fed by the trainers. I'm glad we explored the dolphin area instead of being put off by the long line of people. The dolphin show wasn't happening since it's being redone, but we still got to see these gorgeous creatures.
Speaking of shows...
The Shamu show is a lot different (and less cool) than it used to be. I miss all the cool tricks the whales did with the trainers. There's a lot more technology and lights and sounds to the whale show, but less actual whale tricks. It was still fun to see the beautiful killer whales jumping and swimming, but I was a little disappointed in the lack of awesomeness.
We sat right down front in the splash zone and didn't get a drop on us. I didn't mind, but the kids weren't happy. We also saw the Sea Lions Live show. We got there right as it was starting and sat on the very back row, but the stadium is small enough we had no problem seeing. It's a really fun show!
The kids loved the California Tide Pool. They got to touch and pick up starfish and (bravely) touch sea urchins. They got such a kick out of the tide pool we went back a second time.
The Forbidden Reef was another favorite of my kids since they got to touch the bat rays... make sure you check out the eels in the underground viewing area... super creepy!
My kids love the hands-on stuff, so feeding the flamingos was really exciting to them. The sharks, polar bears, beluga whales and penguins were favorites of the kiddos too... There is SO much to see!
There was a pet show, but we didn't check it out. We had too many sea creatures to visit to worry about cats and dogs.
Alyssa and Caleb had fun running all over the Sesame Street Bay of Play Zone. Nina and I chilled in the shade. The play area is quite large, so if your kids are younger you'll probably be doing a lot of chasing. There are a bunch of small rides in this area too. We did the spinning-type ride, but other than that they're basically for younger kids.
Sea World has a couple of awesome water rides. The Journey to Atlantis was my kids' favorite. It had a couple of unexpected (and scary) parts. It was a blast!
Alyssa got soaked though and when it got dark she froze. Bringing a jacket is helpful, even if the weather is nice.
The Shipwreck Rapids was also fun. My kids barely got wet at all. I think it's because they were the lightest ones in the little boat thing. Us heavier people got SOAKED.
My entire backside, from my neck down to my pant legs were drenched... and the water is cold! We put our stuff in a locker so it wouldn't get wet, but I put my cell phone in my back pocket (can't live without it!). Well... my back pocket is the area that got the very wettest! Poor phone... I shoulda put it in my bra :)
The Sesame Street 4D movie was super cute... Sesame Street will always be loved at our house! It could be a little intense for really young kids because of the spraying water and such, but it was pretty mellow compared to some 4D movies I've seen. It lasted about 20 minutes.
and now on to the food... mmmmm... food.... They don't allow in outside food or drink, other than bottled water (and they do check bags as you enter) so you'll need to either leave for lunch or plan on eating there.
The food at Sea World is AMAZING. It's a little pricey, but the quality is fantastic! It's like something you'd get at a nicer restaurant. I hate paying ridiculous prices for food at theme parks that tastes like food you'd get at a theme park. This stuff is so delicious!
We did the dine all day option. I believe it was $25 for ages 10+ and $13 for kids... Because we ate two meals there it was totally worth it. It came with a main dish, a dessert and a drink each time you went through the line at any of the restaurants. We ate at the Shipwreck Reef Cafe and the Calypso Bay Smokehouse.
This smokehouse sampler platter with dessert and drink would have been over $20. You can see how the $25 eat all day thing is totally worth it! AND it was SO SO SO yummy!
The kids meals are $7.50 each. They only have hot dogs or chicken strips to choose from, but they come with a lunch box and a kids cup. Caleb loves his two lunch boxes.
We stayed from open to close 9am-9pm. It was just the right amount of time to do everything.
The night time Shamu show is a lot of fun. I would suggest bringing glow necklaces. I was wishing we had some. The light sabers are $5 each and my kids each paid for their own and were really glad they did. They do a lot of big screen crowd close-ups of people with their glowing light sabers and we were on the screen twice... it was quite the thrill for my monkeys. I'd avoid the splash zone after dark. It gets chilly once the sun is down. After the show they do fireworks and then the park closes.
I LOVE Sea World. My kids really enjoyed it too. I would highly recommend it! Make sure you get discount tickets. We got ours through Get Away Today. This is the second time I've used them to book a California vacation and I love them! I wish I was back at Sea World right now..... What's your favorite part of Sea World?