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SoCal Guide – Sea World San Diego

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Want to hold a sea star? Or get up-close and personal with sea turtles? Watch an orca whale leap from the water, see penguins dive into icy water or observe beluga whales below water? Want to meet a dolphin (and probably get splashed?) Then Sea World San Diego is the place for you!

Sea World San Diego Guide

As a San Diego native, my family and I have been going to Sea World for as long as I can remember. The park has changed quite a bit over the years but some things have remained constant throughout; Sea World San Diego has always been a unique experience, safe, clean and well-kept with offerings of education alongside the fun!

Sea World San Diego Guide

Start your planning with a park map and plot out your day. It is quite possible to see all of the exhibits in one day (if you aren’t lingering too long in any one place) however it might be a challenge to see all of the shows. Show times often overlap so I definitely recommend choosing your must-do and make sure you get to those shows early (at least 20 minutes, but 30 minutes is even better on busy days) for the best seat.

Remember to pay attention to the “soak zone” areas and protect your belongings; This includes your littlest ones…I was once drenched head-to-toe at the Shamu show on a chilly day, along with my very peeved six month old! Make sure to stop off at the Shamu Underwater Viewing area for an intimate look at the orcas swimming. They often come right up to the glass to say “hello”!

Sea World San Diego guide

Shamu’s One Ocean is a must-see. Even though trainers no longer join the orcas in the water, the show is still very exciting. Seeing enormous killer whales leap so effortlessly is a magnificent sight to see! Pet’s Rule animal show is one of our family favorites too. Sea Lions LIVE is fast paced, funny and very popular so make sure you get there early for a good seat!

Cuddly creatures at Sea World San Diego

Sea World has always been the place for unique interactions with marine life and now with the addition of many rides, Sea World San Diego is a place for mild and wild thrills as well! Manta is the newest coaster and afterwards you can visit the interactive manta ray exhibit. The rays flop right up next to the ledge and let you “pet” them!

Touch manta rays at Sea World San Diego

Journey to Atlantis is my kid’s favorite; they love that 60-foot drop! And my husband  likes it too…it’s a very refreshing splash on a hot day!

Journey to Atlantis - Sea World San Diego

Sesame Street Bay of Play is the place to let little ones burn off some energy. There are several rides (aimed at the younger set) along with ropes to climb, fun house mirrors, slides and carnival games (for extra coin). We even won a giant giraffe pillow on the ring toss last time!

There is a baby and toddler soft-play area as well. Elmo and friends make an appearance at scheduled times for photo opportunities with guests.  There is a water-play area here for hot days. The Sesame Street Bay of Play is a popular area that can get quite congested so we usually stop here first thing in the morning.

Sea World San Diego

Sea World San Diego

There are several places around the park where guests can interact with sea life. At Dolphin Point you can literally pet and feed a dolphin…and probably get wet, these guys are very playful and sometimes full of pranks!

Tide pools at Sea World San Diego

We have yet to see Explorer’s Reef but with four touch-pools it sounds like it will be another incredible interactive experience. These photos are my son through the years at the Tide Pools.

Interactive sea life at Sea World San Diego

One of the more amazing attractions is Shark Encounter. After viewing the sharks from above, guests journey through a tunnel that transports you right into the shark tank! As sharks float above and around you, you’ll be thrilled and terrified all at the same time!

Next door to Shark Encounter, be sure to visit Turtle Reef and see these gentle giants floating inside a floor-to-ceiling tank (and they are usually eating lettuce for lunch!)

Turtle Reef - Sea World San Diego

The Wild Arctic Flight Simulator ride takes guests on a fantastical journey that lands them on a glacier. Afterwards get close to real arctic animals like polar bear, walrus and beluga whales. This is one of my favorite areas of the park because you can view the belugas both above and below the water.

Polar bear at Sea World San Diego

Everyone enjoys the ice wall feature inside Wild Arctic! You can run your hands across it (some guests press a penny into the ice to make a hole). Across from the Wild Arctic area you can visit the Penguin Encounter which is my most favorite place. A long moving sidewalk takes you through the exhibit where you can view nearly 300 penguins in action. I love watching the penguins swimming so quickly underwater and then propelling themselves straight out to land on the rocks…I could watch that all day!!

Sea World San Diego

Sea World San Diego offers Premier Experiences that put guests right into the water with beluga whales, penguins or dolphins (for an additional fee). You can also get a more in-depth experience or a behind-the-scenes peek at marine life with one of several tours that Sea World offers.

The park has many great choices for dining including my favorite, Calypso Bay Smokehouse (it’s hard to resist when you smell the barbeque ribs and chicken!) Sea World offers a very reasonably priced All-Day Dining Deal for guests, which includes dining at four of their popular restaurants for the entire day you spend at the park.

There is also the unique dining option of eating alongside the orca tank at either Breakfast with Shamu or Dine with Shamu. Both are buffet-type meals with delicious sounding dishes on the menus.

Tide Pools at Sea World San Diego

Stop over at the Sea World San Diego website to learn more about their park, educational programs and both day and overnight camps for students and families. Sea World is a place to learn, discover and also have a lot of good family fun!

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