SeaWorld Orlando has been on my must-visit radar since before we even moved to the beautiful sunshine state. The last time we had visited a SeaWorld park was back in 2003 when our middle son was barely two months old and we were on the other side of the country. I do remember having a fantastic time, though, and have wanted to bring the whole family back since. Well, we finally crossed that “must-visit” off the Florida bucket list! SeaWorld hosted us for a fun family day of coasters, food, entertainment and more at the Orlando theme park! Check out how we spent our very first time visiting SeaWorld Orlando!
We received four free tickets to enter SeaWorld Orlando in exchange for an honest review of our experience. The opinions in this post, however, are 100% ours and were not influenced at all by what was provided. This post does also contain affiliate links. Please see my Disclosure policy for more information.
Our SeaWorld Orlando Adventure
It was such a beautiful start to the day! If you’ve been in Florida for any period of time, you know that June is a month where the weather is very cranky, temperamental and predictable. I say predictable because we KNOW it’s going to rain or storm at some point.
We rose early and headed out with every intention of being at the gate once it opened. Though we missed that by about twenty minutes, we still arrived with plenty of sunshine to enjoy! We found a great parking space not too far from the front and made our way through security. For those who know we travel everywhere with food and epinephrine for our son with food allergies ~ no questions were asked about the food in our son’s bag, nor about his epinephrine auto-injectors.
Fortunately, I had printed tickets in hand, so, once we were through security, we were able to make our way to the ticket gate and into the park fairly easily. It wasn’t really that crowded at that point of the day.
First Stop ~ Satisfy The Family Habit
As is customary for our crew, the first place we always stop when visiting a new venue is to get a map. I’ve been married for nearly 23 years to the same man and my husband has NEVER missed an opportunity to grab a park map. He just loves knowing where he is and how to get to where he is going efficiently. Fortunately, our boys have followed suit and also love getting themselves oriented as soon as we arrive somewhere.
On the SeaWorld Orlando map, we were able to see where all the shows were and what times they took place. Before we had arrived, we had an idea of what we wanted to accomplish, but we had nothing set in stone yet. We took the time to find where each of the coasters were located and where to find certain exhibits (such as the Manta Aquarium). We then mentally mapped out which way we wanted to head, what show times we wanted to attend and where we wanted to eat at some point.
With that, we started exploring!
But What About Meal Planning?
Oh, my goodness. There are so many places to eat at SeaWorld Orlando ~ and a variety of cuisines from which to choose. There are table service restaurants and numerous counter-service options, not to mention ice cream parlors and pretzel shops throughout the park. You name it, they have it!
Of course, all that can add up in one day, especially for a family of four or more!
Fortunately, we stumbled upon a FANTASTIC deal (and I’m not kidding!) SeaWorld has an All Day Dining Deal. The deal allows guests to eat and drink as often as once every hour during their one day stay ~ and for one low price!
Hubby was all over that. I mean, for $39.99 per person, you would be able to:
See what I mean? Yup – a no-brainer for us!! My boys LOVE to eat and having the chance to grab something every hour during our visit at SeaWorld just made the day better. Since there was a kiosk right there near the entrance, we purchased our meal deal even before we enjoyed any of the attractions! (FYI – the meal deal does not go into effect until 11 am).
For those over the age of 21 who love their draft beer and wine, there is an option where you can purchase a meal deal at $54.99 per person, which includes one of those two drinks per hour.
SPEAKING OF DRINKS!!! This was a big deal for us, too. SeaWorld Orlando has refillable souvenir cups for purchase, which allowed us to stay hydrated ALL DAY LONG for one set price. There are various refilling stations throughout the park where you can grab your favorite soda, create a new blend (where Coca-Cola Freestyles are located) or cool down with an ICEE!!!
Coasters, of course, are not the only exciting thing to see, ride or do at SeaWorld Orlando. Throughout the park, there are numerous opportunities to see marine life. There are pelicans, belugas, dolphins, stingrays, penguins and more! It’s amazing how many animals have the opportunity to call SeaWorld home!
After our life-altering journey on Manta (no, seriously, people ~ it’s actually an amazing coaster!!), we took a tour through the Manta Aquarium. First off, it’s nice and cool in there. Most of you know that it gets pretty hot here in Florida.
As we strolled through, we saw a variety of fish, including several Pacific blue tang fish.
We also saw a small octopus that was breathing in and out, in and out. It was kind of weird and fascinating all at the same time!!!!
I actually loved walking under the overhead tank, which allowed us to see fish from a completely different perspective. You can get a little dizzy looking up like that, but it’s fun to watch them swim by in such order and grace.
As we came out of the air conditioned aquarium, we found ourselves heading towards Stingray Lagoon. In the lagoon, there are dozens of rays swimming around in a giant open and accessible pool ever so gracefully. It’s a hands-on exhibit, so guests can take a moment to reach out for a slippery “high five” from one of the rays.
Hubby and the middle teen took turns sticking their hands in the water. The youngest wanted no part of this one.
Later in the day, we walked by a tank filled with young adorable dolphins. This one was fun because these little guys were all about playing games with those of us who were watching them from the other side. I could have honestly sat there for hours…and hours…and hours. However, there was still a ton to see and, well, the boys were eager to move forward.
Spectacular Animal Shows
I still found a way to satisfy my dolphin fix, though. As you probably gathered from above, I am a HUGE dolphin fan ~ the animal, not the team (cough, cough). In the past, I’ve had the tremendous fortune of getting up close and personal with these beautiful marine creatures. I love watching their graceful movements through the air, under the water and next to their trainers. They seem like the ocean’s puppy dog, ready to either cuddle up or play at a moment’s notice.
Okay, so to satisfy that dolphin fix for me, the family took a short time out from the heat to sit and watch Dolphin Days. This approximately twenty minute show had us all mesmerized as we gazed upon the stunning beauty and talent of the ocean’s most playful ambassador, the Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin.
Of course, dolphins aren’t the only marine life who love to show off. I can remember watching the orcas back in San Diego and I so wanted to see them here at the park in Orlando. That meant that seeing the show One Ocean at Shamu Stadium was high on the priority list. Now, for this one, I actually convinced the family to take the chance and sit in the splash zone.
Ummm ~ I really don’t know how long it’s going to take for the boys to forgive me!!!!
In addition to dolphins and orcas, SeaWorld also has shows that feature sea lions and otters, as well as nighttime shows that light up the dark blue Florida sky. Sadly, we were unable to catch a glimpse of these, but that just gives us even more reason to go back! Right?
Have The Need to Entertain Littles?
Now, my boys are a little past the age of Sesame Street, but we still made our way down there to check it out. We actually made it just in time to see the Sesame Street Party Parade coming around the corner.
I have to admit ~ I may be a 40-something year old woman, but it made me smile to see Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch, Bert, Ernie, The Count and Big Bird smiling back at me. I guess we never really grow out of certain aspects of our childhood.
After the parade, we made our way to Oscar’s trash can to see if “he had returned home yet.” Hubby decided to disregard the sign Oscar had posted and knocked on the can anyway. Oscar immediately answered and told Hubby to “Scram!” ~ so we headed off towards Mr. Hooper’s Store before finally “leaving town.”
Other Experiences Throughout the Day
Antartica: Empire of the Penguin
This was such a fun little attraction with two ways to experience it.
The first way is to skip the actual ride portion of the attraction and head straight towards the exhibit. Before you get there, I do believe you do get to watch two quick videos, but then you can sit there and watch five species of South Pole penguins enjoying their day in the cold.
There is also a ride associated with this exhibit. It’s a trackless, motion-based simulator experience where guests can choose either the “wild” version or the “mild” version. We let the boys go on the “wild,” while Hubby graciously accepted a stepdown to ride the “mild” with me (I don’t do things that go in circles quickly). Either way, both vehicles take you on a journey with a little penguin named Puck. At the conclusion of the story, the vehicle smoothly drops you off at the penguin exhibit to catch your own glimpse of some real tuxedo-laden beauties in action.
Whether they are floating, swimming, sleeping, eating, etc ~ they are so much fun to watch. It’s next to impossible to walk out off that exhibit without a smile on your face (unless you get cold very easily and then I can understand).
Did It Ever Rain On Our SeaWorld Orlando Adventure?
You bet it did! As noted earlier in the post, you have to expect at least one torrential downpour at some point during the day in Florida when you visit in June (or anytime during the summer). We were fortunate and only had one soaking deluge without thunder or lightening, but we did find ourselves sheltering under a huge, covered staircase for about a half hour.
When that happens, that’s what you do at SeaWorld Orlando. You find shelter. Outside of a few attractions that have indoor exhibits, there is little to do in the park when there is inclement weather.
So, you just make the most of it. You talk to your family about what they have enjoyed so far. Play a few games TOGETHER on your phones. Play an “I Spy” type game. People watch (without being creepy). Talk about what you’re going to do next or what animal fascinated you the most. The rain will pass, most likely, so take the time to make a different kind of memory while you’re waiting.
Oops – I forgot to talk about food!!
Earlier in the post, I had mentioned that we picked up the All Day Dining Meal Deal. However, I haven’t said anything about how we used it!!! I’m going to save some of the details for a second post that will highlight our food allergy experience at the park, but I will share that, as a family, we had no shortage of food and were never hungry.
Because Hubby wanted to maximize our options, we kept an eye on the clock and ate nearly every hour. Three of us would share an entree, a dessert and a drink, while the youngest (who has food allergies) used his refillable souvenir cup to get his own drink. He had food of his own for the most part, but we did take the opportunity to speak with one supervisor at one venue and do have a successful dining experience to share. More about that in the upcoming post.
So, what didn’t we experience?
To be honest, there was a lot we didn’t get to fit in that day. We didn’t see the sea lions, otters or belugas. We didn’t get to ride the other two coasters or even check out Infinity Falls (due to the weather). However, instead of being frustrated about it, it just gives us a reason to go back!!! We took our time to explore and enjoy the things we did see and loved every second of it.
We even enjoyed seeing these guys who were entertaining the crowds with their crazy antics!!!
This one is staying on my bucket list until I get the chance to cross it off (fingers crossed that’s soon!). On selected nights during the summer, SeaWorld Orlando invites guests to visit and explore exotic worlds of light and music. With a DJ to create the mood, the night is filled with glowing sea creatures and a spectacular display of fireworks. A few of my friends had the fortune of experiencing this just recently, which is what sparked my curiosity even more! Check out my friend Meagan’s post!
Calling It a Day
In the end, it’s all about how you frame your day AND your attitude. It’s going to rain from time to time and rides will be down on occasion. Make the most of the moment you have and the opportunities placed before you. There is a memory waiting to be created if you just allow yourself to be a part of it.
For more information on SeaWorld Orlando, check out their website: https://seaworld.com/orlando/
Things to know about SeaWorld:
- Their restaurant staff is food allergy aware ~ though they do allow those with medical conditions involving food to bring in items from outside the park.
- They have been named a Certified Autism Center.
- They have rescued over 33,000 marine animals.
- There are special opportunities available to experience unique animal encounters and tours.
- There are many educational opportunities available at the park
Things to know before you go:
- Personal belongings do need to be stored in lockers before riding certain attractions. At the time of this piece, lockers are available at $2 for two hours or $8 for the ability to switch lockers around the park.
- Remember to think about that meal deal and the refillable cups I mentioned above!!
- Don’t forget to pack cold packs for those who have to bring food or medical supplies while visiting the park.
- It gets hot out there! Stay hydrated and use sunscreen!!!
Do you know about the special military offer from SeaWorld / Busch Gardens parks? Be sure to check out my post about how you can visit SeaWorld and Busch Gardens with your family for free now through July 15th!
For more information on SeaWorld’s Rescue Missions, check out this video, From Park to Planet: