A Visit to SeaWorld Orlando
Written by Staff Writer – 06/14/06
SeaWorld is one of the major non-Disney theme parks in the Orlando area. It is owned by Anheuser-Busch, who also owns Discovery Cove, the “swim with the dolphins” park. Unlike any of the Disney theme parks, SeaWorld’s main feature is sea-life, with the most famous attraction being Shamu the Killer Whale. Similar to the Disney theme parks, SeaWorld has a variety of shows and rides. On our most recent visit to SeaWorld, we met my niece, along with her husband and two children (4 and 6 years of age).
To get the most out of your day at SeaWorld, it’s best to plan ahead. Determine which shows, rides, exhibits are most important to you. It’s unlikely that you’ll have time to see everything. When you arrive at SeaWorld, pick up a park map at the entrance. NOTE: During the summer months, the park stays open later in the evening, giving you more time to take in all the fun.
Since the shows are offered at specific times during the day, you should first take a look at these and try to pick out those that are most important to you. We decided on three shows:
“Believe” is the new killer whale show at SeaWorld, starring “Shamu” and fellow killer whales. This is a beautifully arranged show, highlighting the trainability of the Killer Whales, the talent of the trainers, and the pure trust between the whales and the trainers. As with most of the shows, watch out for the benches with the “Splash Zone” signs. If you sit here, you’re almost guaranteed to get splashed — the kids love it!! Believe is located at Shamu Stadium.
Throughout the park, you’ll find various animal exhibits, such as the dolphin cove and the dolphin nursery, the manatee rescue, the shark exhibit, the penguin encounter and more. If it lives in the water, you’re likely to find it at SeaWorld. A good plan is to visit these attractions between the scheduled shows you have decided to attend.
Your day at SeaWorld wouldn’t be complete without a water roller coaster ride at “Journey to Atlantis”. It’s both a roller coaster (with a 60-foot drop) and a water attraction (you’re sure to get wet, maybe even soaked). Another SeaWorld attraction is a journey to the “Wild Arctic” in a simulated helicopter. If you’re brave enough, you can try “Kraken”, the floorless roller coaster.
When you’re ready for a rest, but the little ones are still full of energy, head over to Shamu’s Happy Harbor for children’s rides, slides and a maze of climbing fun. Note: When the children are climbing on the four-story structure of rope nets and tunnels, keep an eye on them. It’s easy to lose sight and the little ones may have a hard time finding their way down.
There are a variety of eating choices throughout the park, from a quick bite on the run to a full-service restaurant. Your choices are many and varied — pizza, seafood, deli sandwich, fajitas, etc. And of course Anheuser-Busch products are sold throughout the park.
For special dining options with entertainment, you have a couple choices. First, the Seafire Inn Restaurant features the Makahiki Luau, offering a feast of luau favorites served family style and an authentic Polynesian show. (Pricing is about $46 for adults and $30 for children.)
Second, you can choose to Dine with Shamu. This was our choice and we couldn’t have been more thrilled. The first pleasant surprise was that all the tables were set up on a patio along-side the Shamu pool. It’s a very intimate setting, with all tables having a great view. The killer whales swim around while you are eating your dinner and sipping your Anheuser-Busch beer (included) or soft drink.
After a quite delicious buffet-style dinner, a trainer described what it takes to become a trainer at SeaWorld, and we learned more about the killer whales and how they are trained and saw the results of their training in a very personal setting. The kids were excited to get up-close with Shamu and friends and they were treated to their own buffet of kid-favorites. I must comment that the Dine with Shamu staff is excellent!! After several visits to SeaWorld, this was my first dinner with Shamu, and I’ll definitely do it again. (Pricing is about $37 for adults and $19 for children.)
Another specialty dining experience is the Shamu and Crew Character Breakfast. The kids can get autographs and hugs from a fluffy Shamu, a dolphin or a penguin while enjoying a buffet-style breakfast. (Pricing is about $15 for adults and $10 for children.)
Note that you need reservations for the Makahiki Luau, Dine with Shamu and the Shamu and Crew Character Breakfast. Book early – you can do it online!!
See our Orlando SeaWorld attraction page for a location map and other information.
SEAWORLD WEB SITE
Take a good look at the SeaWorld website (see link below) to get a general idea of all that is possible, and be sure to print out the Show Schedule. You will need to input the specific date you plan to visit SeaWorld to ensure an accurate schedule. You can also take a look at the Park Map and try to plan the sequence of your day, though the website map is a little difficult to navigate.
Check website for regular pricing, promotional discounts, multi-day and multi-park discounts and Florida resident pricing.