7 SeaWorld San Diego Tips- Here is How to Still Have Fun - DayTripper (2022)

SeaWorld San Diego brought the name Shamu into the homes of everyone. But in the last decade, it suffered a lot of bad press. Despite it all, it still survives. But why is no one talking about it? Are there still some SeaWorld tips and tricks to make your trip successful? I decided to find out and give you a SeaWorld San Diego review you’ve never seen before.

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As a kid, I remember SeaWorld park vividly. Getting to watch the Orcas jumping from the water was life-changing. I wanted nothing more than to be one of those trainers that got to interact with those whales. I was in love. As I grew up, I wanted to become an oceanographer or marine biologist just to get up close with these amazing mammals. I’m sure a lot of other kids shared this dream. The only thing that held me back from pursuing that dream was my ineptitude for biology in high school. But that didn’t stop others from sharing in my dream. Then everything changed with a documentary called Blackfish.

When I traveled to San Diego for Spring Break with my family, my husband and I decided that we wanted to visit SeaWorld San Diego. We had our reservations about going but felt they deserved another chance. Knowing the changes the park has made since the documentary came out and knowing that seeing orcas in captivity is something that will be phased out in our lifetime, I wanted to make sure my kids got the opportunity to see true SeaWorld shows just once. As amazing as the shows were, this will be the last time visiting.

(Video) Sea World San Diego Tips: 9 Things to Know in 2021

This film opened my eyes to a part of the industry that I had never experienced before. While the movie focused primarily on SeaWorld park in Orlando, it’s something that I think about at every zoo I visit now. I’m not anti-zoo. I think they play a fantastic role in conservation efforts and in some cases in trying to keep different animals from becoming extinct, like the San Diego Zoo. When it’s done right, it brings awareness to why we need to protect these animals.

7 SeaWorld San Diego Tips- Here is How to Still Have Fun - DayTripper (1)

SeaWold San Deigo Today

The main reason was because of the overall experience. I felt that the park was overpriced, crowded, and small. Their sea life exhibits had a tinge of algae on the glass, were barren and the tanks didn’t show the magic of underwater life. We also felt that they were trying too hard to change their image. Their efforts were overkill, and it didn’t feel genuine. If you are like me and wanted to go at least once, here are my SeaWorld San Diego Tips and Tricks to make sure you have a good experience.

SeaWorld Tips and Tricks San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego Ticket Deals

They only have self-service ticket machines. There is no ticket booth to help you. This is innovative, yet frustrating at the same time. You can purchase tickets online too if you want to skip the self-service kiosk or get the Go City Card. Children 2 and under are free. Otherwise, you’ll be paying upwards of $70 per person for a single-day ticket. The price changes depending on the time of year. You can take advantage of discounts for AAA members, Military, Teachers, and Residents. If you are having trouble getting SeaWorld tickets, there is no one to help you at the park.

They also have a quick queue pass available to get you to the front of the line for all theme park rides

SeaWorld San Diego Tip #1: Buy Your Tickets in Advance

The best option is to get a Go City Card. This pass is a great deal. The pass includes admission to over 40 different attractions, museums, and a lot of California favorites, including both Zoo’s, SeaWorld, and the USS Midway. If you plan in outright, you can save yourself a lot of money using this pass. But you may need a few days poolside to recover.

7 SeaWorld San Diego Tips- Here is How to Still Have Fun - DayTripper (2)
(Video) SeaWorld San Diego: Top 10 Tips, Full Tour, Shows, Exhibits, Rides 🐬

Use the GoCity card to get to more attractions. You can by one by clicking here.

Parking Costs at SeaWorld

Be prepared to pay for parking. $20 for basic parking, $25 for upfront parking and $35 for VIP preferred parking. These are just the starting rates. Depending on if you are visiting during peak times, it could be higher. When I visited, it was closer to $40 for VIP. To avoid this cost, look into taking the Metropolitan Transit System bus from the Old Town Transit Center. It’s about a 15-minute ride.

SeaWorld San Diego Tip #2: Carpool, use Public Transportation, or look into the cost of an Uber or Lyft before parking.

See The Shows

Take advantage of ALL the SeaWorld park shows. They have amazing production value. Nothing I have seen has ever compared to this. They open up the stadiums 30 mins before the start and their staff entertains you the entire time. I’m not sure who enjoyed the pre-show at the sea lions live show more, my kids or me. The entire stadium was filled to the brim by the time the show started, so arrive early if you can. They also offer VIP seating if you want to spend a few extra dollars. Those that did have the VIP pass were more confused about how the perk actually worked, I’m not sure it’s a perk.

SeaWorld San Diego Tip #3: See all the Shows

The orca (killer whale) show is by far the most popular. They only have a few performances a day. We managed to get in right before the start of the show and sat at the very top. We were able to see just fine. Due to OSHA requirements, the staff is no longer allowed to get in the water with the orcas. I didn’t feel that it was a detriment to the show. The orcas still displayed a lot of the same type of behaviors they did before, minus the people riding on the whales. If you want to be near the splash zone, get there early.

SeaWorld San Diego Tip #4: Go Early to Get a Good Seat for the Orcas

7 SeaWorld San Diego Tips- Here is How to Still Have Fun - DayTripper (3)
(Video) 17 Tips for Visiting SeaWorld San Antonio with Kids

Aquariums

There are aquatic touch pools near a lot of the aquariums. The young kids will love them, and there are many opportunities to get to know some of these sea creatures. Staff is located near each of the pools to give education to guests and to answer any questions you might have. The pool at the front of the park is incredibly busy by the park entrance. Stop by these on the way out to avoid the crowds.

SeaWorld San Diego Tip #5: Save the Touch Pools at the Entrance of the park for LAST

They do have a few other aquariums, like the shark enclosure, sea turtle reef, and the main aquarium. There is even a good penguin encounter. The Shark Encounter included an underwater viewing tunnel which was nice. The other aquariums lacked exciting lighting and were overall dark and hard to see things in. Even the orca viewing area had a ting of algae.

The park is smaller than the San Diego Zoo and Safari Parks Half the park focuses on sea life and aquariums, while the other part is focused on theme park rides and games. We only logged about 3 miles of walking. Not bad, but not nearly as much as the other parks.

If you are looking for more animal encounters, I highly recommend checking out the San Deigo Zoos.
Essential Tips For Visiting the San Diego Zoo Before Going
San Diego Zoo Safari Park Tips and Fun Things to do

7 SeaWorld San Diego Tips- Here is How to Still Have Fun - DayTripper (4)

SeaWorld San Diego Rides

The rides at SeaWorld in San Diego are available for every age level. I found that you have to be over 42 inches to get on the majority of them. Under that and you are stuck on toddler rides, that go in circles. This was the biggest shock to me, seeing that so much focus was on the other activities and not the animals.

That’s not all bad news. They have a fantastic Sesame Street Bay play area for kids. It’s centrally located in the park and is an excellent way for the kids to burn off some steam. Water rides and a roller coaster are sprinkled throughout the park.

(Video) FREE SEAWORLD ORLANDO PINS! / NEW ANIMAL KINGDOM STUFF / TOY STORY 4 REVIEW

SeaWorld San Diego Tip #6: Rides in SeaWorld San Diego are for Big Kids or Small Kid Not Both. Plan Accordingly

For those that are going on the rides, and are over 42 inches, there is an option to pay more to get to the front of the line!!! Yeah… more money! Sorry, if you couldn’t tell, I hate when companies charge more. Without a Queue Pass, you may feel like a second-class citizen.

SeaWorld San Diego Tip #7: Only get a Queue Pass if everyone is over 42 inches

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The Extra Encounters

The extra’s is where SeaWorld San Diego loses it for me. There are so many animal encounters to partake in, from riding on dolphins, to breakfast with the orcas. These are very special treats for a premium price. From the perspective of someone who didn’t purchase the extra’s, it felt like this was the only way you could get a good view of these animals. While I’m sure riding in on a Dolphin is a memorable experience, I’m not sure how ethical it is to do. It also prevented most of the public from seeing much of them.

SeaWorld San Diego has prioritized these experiences for guests. Knowing that the rest of the paying guests will not be able to see as much, is a disservice to the rest of their guests. They should make everyone feel special, not just those with deep pockets. It would also do more to improve their overall image.

They also put a lot of focus on drinking. Near every animal show, there was a booth of premium beers and other adult beverages. It was easier to find an adult beverage over a kid-friendly drink.

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(Video) SeaWorld San Diego 2022 | The ORIGINAL SeaWorld Park & Riding California’s Tallest Dive Coaster

Final Thoughts

The decision to go to SeaWorld has to be a personal choice. I usually don’t write a post about places unless I would recommend others to visit. With this particular place… I’m still up in the air. It was something that my kids and I will never forget. But at the same time, it didn’t live up to my expectations. For the costs, I think they could do better. The park has some significant room for improvement, but I wanted to make sure to give you all the details and some of SeaWorld tips and tricks if you decide to go.

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FAQs

Can I take snacks inside SeaWorld San Diego? ›

No outside food, beverages, or coolers are allowed to be brought into SeaWorld San Diego, except you may bring a bottle of water or a refillable water bottle. Exceptions may be made for Guests with special dietary needs, including food allergies and baby food/formula.

Will I get wet at SeaWorld San Diego? ›

There are a variety of ways one might get wet at SeaWorld San Diego: water rides, show splash zones at Shamu Stadium, splash pads, touch pools, and near water rides (like the overflow splash onto the walkway from Journey to Atlantis). You'll find that most riders are okay with getting wet on the water rides.

Will I get wet at SeaWorld? ›

Wear Quick-Dry Clothing

Spending the day with sea life in their watery world, you're bound to get a little wet … or even soaked! SeaWorld also offers two fun water rides that you may not want to miss out on, or you may want to sit in the splash zone at the shows.

Should I wear a swimsuit to SeaWorld? ›

Do I need a bathing suit? Unless you're going to Aquatica, SeaWorld's waterpark, you likely do not need a bathing suit. That being said, on days where I take on the water rides at theme parks, I usually find it helpful to also wear a bathing suit under my regular clothes, as they tend to dry faster.

Can I bring a backpack into SeaWorld San Diego? ›

All bags, backpacks and packages are subject to inspection prior to entering the park. Any item that a guest presents that security deems unsafe or inappropriate will not be allowed inside the park.

Can you take backpacks into SeaWorld? ›

All bags, backpacks, and packages are subject to inspection prior to entering the park. The following items are not permitted to be brought into SeaWorld: weapons, glass bottles, cans, any other type of sharp object, straws, large hard or soft coolers, and any hazardous items or materials.

Does SeaWorld do refillable cups? ›

SeaWorld's refillable cups

Once you get the souvenir cup, refills are free on the day of purchase and $. 99 on the days thereafter (and keep in mind that the refills can be either fountain drinks or Icees).

What shoes should I wear to SeaWorld? ›

Wear good walking shoes but pack a pair of flip-flops to wear on the water rides. Pack a plastic bag to keep your belongings in on wet rides. Plan your day with the park map you're given to see all you can.

How early should I get to SeaWorld San Diego? ›

Most days, SeaWorld San Diego opens at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m., then closes anywhere from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The best time to visit SeaWorld San Diego is bright and early to make the most of your day! Check the park schedule to find the exact opening and closing times for the day(s) you plan to visit.

What is the best day to go to SeaWorld San Diego? ›

The best days to visit SeaWorld San Diego are Monday through Wednesday. Weekdays are typically much less crowded and visitors from all over the world plan their trips around the weekend. What is this? They'll usually arrive on Thursdays and stay for the weekend and then leave on a Monday.

How long does it take to go through SeaWorld San Diego? ›

In order to maximize your day at SeaWorld San Diego, you'll want to plan to be there for at least 6 hours. This will provide you plenty of time to do the most popular rides at the park, experience the amazing shows, and grab a bite to eat in between. What is this?

Is the quick queue worth it at SeaWorld? ›

Is Quick Queue in SeaWorld Worth it? Quick Queue is absolutely worth it if you're planning on visiting the park on a weekend. It will save you countless hours, and you'll be able to experience the entire park with minimal wait times. On top of that, you can ride your favorite rides as many times as you want.

Is SeaWorld San Diego worth it? ›

One thing you can't argue with, SeaWorld San Diego is a must-visit place for every marine animals lover. The popular attraction houses nearly 67,000 marine creatures. The list of the famous residents is as diverse as the things to do in SeaWorld San Diego.

Can I wear sandals at SeaWorld? ›

You can absolutely wear sandals to walk around SeaWorld without a problem. However, some fast-speed rides may require you to take them off for the duration of the ride, for safety purposes (and for you not to lose your sandal). It'll simply come down to comfort.

Can you do SeaWorld San Diego in one day? ›

My SeaWorld San Diego guide tips will help you properly plan your day. The park is very easy to navigate. Start your planning by looking at the 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).

Can you bring a camera into SeaWorld? ›

Conversation. allowed in the Orlando park? We permit guests to use GoPros and selfie sticks in the park as long as users are respectful of the policies that protect the safety of our guests and animals. Loose items, including selfie sticks, are not permitted on rides or over any animal habitats.

Is parking free at SeaWorld San Diego? ›

General Parking is $25 for a single car or motorcycle and starts at $28 for Up-Close Parking and $35 for VIP Parking. Save time by purchasing your parking online. There is a $30 parking fee for RVs and campers - these options can only be purchased at the park.

How long are the shows at SeaWorld San Diego? ›

Most experiences are approximately 20-25 minutes in duration. We recommended that you arrive 15-20 minutes before the scheduled time (earlier on busy days) to find a seat.

Do they check bags at SeaWorld San Diego? ›

SeaWorld San Diego has increased security procedures, which may result in slight delays while entering the park. As a part of this process: All bags, backpacks, and packages are subject to inspection prior to entering the park.

What age is free at SeaWorld San Diego? ›

Free Admission for Child (ages 3-9, free Dolphin Interaction, and Dine with Orcas Full Paid Adult (Other Restrictions Apply) Adult. Please visit SeaWorldSanDiego.com for advanced reservations or Guest Services at SeaWorld to Make Reservations Day-of Reservations.

Which SeaWorld is the best? ›

#1 Best Theme Park

SeaWorld Orlando voted Number 1 for Best Theme Park two years in a row (2021 - 2022) - USA Today 10Best Reader's Choice awards.

Can I bring my own stroller to SeaWorld Orlando? ›

Visitors are able to bring their own strollers into SeaWorld Orlando. There are also strollers at the park that are available for rent, on a first come, first-served basis.

What snacks can you take to SeaWorld? ›

Hard and soft coolers, glass containers, bags of foods, picnic style meals including but not limited to sandwiches, sodas, and alcohol may not be taken into the park. Bottles of water (one per person) and single-serve sized snacks (approx. 2oz or less) are allowed to be brought into the park.

How many ounces is a water bottle at SeaWorld? ›

SeaWorld Local Water Bottle - 26 oz. - SeaWorld Shop.

How many ounces are in a SeaWorld souvenir cup? ›

SeaWorld Orlando 2022 Passholder Souvenir Cup New 42 Oz Huge.

How can I get the most out of SeaWorld? ›

Our Top SeaWorld San Diego Tips to Maximize Your Time
  1. Buy your tickets in advance. ...
  2. Pick the best times to visit. ...
  3. Consider purchasing Quick Queue and Quick Queue Premier if you are visiting during the busiest times. ...
  4. Eat breakfast before you get to the park. ...
  5. Prepare for the water rides and Soak Zones.
15 Jul 2022

How many hours do you need at San Diego Zoo? ›

Although one can easily enjoy a full day or more at both parks, to visitors with limited time we recommend a minimum of three to four hours to see some of the Zoo and a minimum of four to six hours to experience a portion of the Safari Park.

How much time do you need at SeaWorld San Diego? ›

Stay at least 6 to 8 hours. Staying for this amount of time will allow you to see all of the shows, animal exhibits and encounters, and rides. Avoid walking near the amphitheaters towards the end of shows as crowds will pour out around that time.

What is the best day to go to SeaWorld San Diego? ›

The best days to visit SeaWorld San Diego are Monday through Wednesday. Weekdays are typically much less crowded and visitors from all over the world plan their trips around the weekend. What is this? They'll usually arrive on Thursdays and stay for the weekend and then leave on a Monday.

What time should I arrive at SeaWorld San Diego? ›

The shows at Seaworld San Diego are insanely cool! The entire stadium is likely to be filled to the brim by the time the show starts. Make sure to arrive 30-40 minutes before showtime to make sure you're properly seated, especially if you want to get near the splash zone and see all the animals up close!

Is one day enough for SeaWorld San Diego? ›

Thankfully SeaWorld San Diego offers Sunny Day tickets for free for those who couldn't fully enjoy their visit due to rain. With plenty of things to explore in the park, you will need a whole day to experience all the amazing things the park has to offer.

How can I get the most out of SeaWorld? ›

Our Top SeaWorld San Diego Tips to Maximize Your Time
  1. Buy your tickets in advance. ...
  2. Pick the best times to visit. ...
  3. Consider purchasing Quick Queue and Quick Queue Premier if you are visiting during the busiest times. ...
  4. Eat breakfast before you get to the park. ...
  5. Prepare for the water rides and Soak Zones.
15 Jul 2022

Is parking free at SeaWorld San Diego? ›

General Parking is $25 for a single car or motorcycle and starts at $28 for Up-Close Parking and $35 for VIP Parking. Save time by purchasing your parking online. There is a $30 parking fee for RVs and campers - these options can only be purchased at the park.

What is the best time to go to SeaWorld? ›

Late January to February is often the best time to visit SeaWorld since the cool weather and small crowd can help you enjoy the activities and attractions more. While SeaWorld Orlando may be your main stop, you can also add in a trip to Discovery Cove or Busch Gardens since you are already in the area.

Can I bring food into San Diego Zoo? ›

Guests are welcome to bring personal food items into our parks. Large food storage containers such as coolers are not permitted on grounds and no facilities are available for food storage. Can I bring food into the parks? Yes!

Is SeaWorld San Diego worth it? ›

One thing you can't argue with, SeaWorld San Diego is a must-visit place for every marine animals lover. The popular attraction houses nearly 67,000 marine creatures. The list of the famous residents is as diverse as the things to do in SeaWorld San Diego.

How long are the shows at SeaWorld San Diego? ›

Most experiences are approximately 20-25 minutes in duration. We recommended that you arrive 15-20 minutes before the scheduled time (earlier on busy days) to find a seat.

Is SeaWorld quick queue worth it? ›

Is Quick Queue in SeaWorld Worth it? Quick Queue is absolutely worth it if you're planning on visiting the park on a weekend. It will save you countless hours, and you'll be able to experience the entire park with minimal wait times. On top of that, you can ride your favorite rides as many times as you want.

What is the best day to go to the San Diego Zoo? ›

In general, a weekday is a quietest and best time to visit the San Diego Zoo, with average waiting times of around 10 – 30 minutes. Weekends are much busier and tend to be more popular with tourists. On these days, waiting times can be between 30 – 60 minutes, sometimes even longer during busy months.

Why do people go to SeaWorld? ›

SeaWorld is renowned for its up-close animal encounters. Killer whales, dolphins and sea lions have their own family friendly experiences, which focus on educational aspects of the animals as well as theatrical. One of great reasons to visit SeaWorld is education.

How long is the dolphin show at SeaWorld San Diego? ›

You will find yourself saying “ooo” and then “aaahhh” as dolphins flip and splash in front of you. Enjoy 15 minutes of upbeat music with an entertaining performance. Lean in as their trainers teach you about the amazing things dolphins can do.

Is San Diego Zoo Worth It? ›

Travelers almost unanimously agree that the San Diego Zoo is the best zoo they have ever visited. Recent visitors were impressed with the vast number of animals on display and the various activities. In fact, many said a daylong visit isn't enough time to see everything.

Videos

1. SeaWorld San Diego 2022 - Rides, Shows, Animal Exhibits and Walkthrough [4K POV]
(DocumentDisney)
2. Orca Encounter in 4K (crowded) October 15, 2022 - SeaWorld San Diego
(Tilikum16)
3. San Diego Vacation Planning Guide
(Yellow Productions)
4. Around San Diego | October 7
(CBS 8 San Diego)
5. Galveston - The Don'ts of Galveston, Texas
(Wolters World)
6. Tidal Surge On Ride and Off Ride 4K POV SeaWorld San Antonio 2022 04 10
(JohnYChen)

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