Thursday, July 21, 2016

Travel Diary: Guide to Visiting SeaWorld San Diego

Entrance to SeaWorld

I just spent 3.5 days in San Diego and I can't wait to share my experiences! First up, is my tips and experiences visiting SeaWorld! This guide is best for friends and couples in the 20's and 30's. We spent an entire day (9am-9pm) at the park but if I was to do it again, I would have packed it in a shorter period of time and visited other parts of San Diego. That is not to say it wasn't fun as it was an absolute blast and one of the best attractions in the city!

Ticket Price: $69.99 for a regular 1 day pass
Gate Hours: 9am-9pm (This changes daily so please check before going)
Estimated Time to Spend: 8 hours
Wifi: Only available at entrance and Shamu Stadium

In this post, I'll break down the attractions by Rides, Animal Exhibits, Animal Encounters, and Shows. Then I'll summarize and give a suggested itinerary that will get you in and out while seeing everything!

View outside Bayside Skyride


There are 7 rides in the park and we went on 6 of them, missing on the Skytower. They are spread out through the park and ranges from rollercoaster, to rafts on water, to relaxing gondola style.

I've excluded the four rides at Sesame Street Bay of Play which are suited for younger kids.

Early morning view of Journey to Atlantis- no lines!

Quick Lowdown:
Journey to AtlantisPart roller coaster, and part log ride. This ride is exhilirating and will get you wet or soaked depending on where you sit. This is a MUST GO!


A classic rollercoaster that makes you feel like a Manta Ray and speeds along to give you a great view of the park. Another MUST GO!

Riptide Rescue

This ride spins in a circle with octopus legs. It's a classic amusement park ride but there's not too much thrill. I'd skip on this if tight on time


We didn't go on this but it's the revolving elevator that goes up the tower in the middle of the park. I'm guessing this would give you a beautiful view but the wait was too long for us to think it's worth it.

Shipwreck Rapids

Everyone gets soaked on this ride! Guests sit in a circular tube that goes down a water rapid. Although no big drops, the splash of water is quite exciting.


Experience a helicopter ride in a motion seat with a big screen. This was probably my least favorite ride, it wasn't very realistic and not thrilling either.

BaySide Skyride

At the edge of the park, there is a gondola style ride that gives you a beautiful view of the park and surrounding areas. It was really relaxing in the middle of the day

Riptide Rescue- They are about to get soaked!

In one of the gondolas at Bayside Skyride

*We didn't wait longer than 15 minutes for any ride on a Wednesday in July
*Speed walk right after a Shamu show to rides and there will be no line
*Lockers are available for 1 hour for free at Manta


Polar Bears

There are various exhibits showcasing marine animals throughout the park. Some of the animals we saw includes:
*Beluga, Walrus, Polar Bear in Wild Arctic.
*Penguins at Penguin Encounter
*Shark Encounter
*Turtle Reef
*Dolphin, Otter, Seal, Sea Lion near the center of the park

Sea Lions

Spending time with the Trainer

Animal Encounters

A really exciting part of the day was the chance to feed animals. The food is available for purchase for $5 for 4 pieces. The animals available for feeding are:
*Bat Ray
*Sea Lion/Seal
*Flamingo (50 cents for a handful, but not that worth it)

Just about to feed the rays! Make sure to watch the video below!

I would highly highly recommend you spend the money as it was such a fun experience!


One of the most anticipated attractions in SeaWorld are their shows. Since the recent controversy, they've added a lot of conservation, and education pieces into their shows.

Outside the Dolphin Stadium

There are 6 day time shows and 3 night time shows. Each of the stadiums has a "soak zone" which is where you would get wet. If you are near the last 3-4 rows of the soak zone, you will unlikely get wet and would be a great spot to get a nice view!

Tricks from the Shamu Stadium

We watched the Shamu's One Ocean, Dolphin Days, and Sea Lions Live during the day and found them all entertaining! In the evening we watched, Shamu's Celebration, Sea Lions Tonite and the Fireworks. They were still entertaining but quite repetitive so I would suggest just watching either the day or the night show.

Sea Lions Live Show

Suggested Itinerary

If you have lots of time to spare in San Diego, you can easily enjoy the park for the full 12 hours! However, if you are short on time, which most of us usually are when we travel, here's a suggested itinerary to see everything in 8 hours!

Get in the park right at 9am, families with small children will struggle with this and the first hour is an amazing time to see animals, go on rides, and take photos without crowds. I would go on either Journey to Atlantis or Manta right away and you can probably take 2 or 3 rides within 15 minutes. Then I'd check out the exhibits around that area for the next two hours.

Once you are tired of walking around, take a seat and watch a couple of shows back to back. Here's a good schedule to follow: watch Sea Lions Live at 11:30, Dolphin Days at 12:15 and Shamu at 1.

Outside of Calypso's Smokehouse

After that, grab a bite at Calypso's Smokehouse. We found the portion large enough to share between two people! Spend another 2 hours checking out exhibits and going back on rides that you want to redo.

The park is smaller than Disney or Universal and you can walk from one corner to another in about 20 minutes. So it's totally worth it to zig zag a little to avoid waits in line!

I had so much fun and I would really encourage you to visit SeaWorld next time you are down in San Diego. The park is well designed with lots of different activities. This is saying a lot considering in the past 5 years I've been to Disneyland/world 3 times, Universal twice and Ocean Park once.

Beautiful view at the edge of the park

Hope that helps and if you are visiting SeaWorld, feel free to ask me any questions!

*Admission was complimentary thanks to San Diego Tourism Authority*

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