Sea World San Diego

Sea World San Diego has been the center of some recent controversy since the release of Blackfish, but I have done my own research and found that many of the claims of the film are fraudulent, manipulative and the “science” severely flawed. It is not the purpose of this post to convince you that Sea World is perfect, but rather to share my experiences and give tips to make the most of your visit. Everyone’s opinion is their own and everyone’s intentions are good. We all care about the well being of our marine friends, but I do encourage people to do their own research before spewing negativity and to consider the serious repercussions it could have on conservation efforts around the world. Now on to the fun stuff!

DSCN7020Keep the Cost in Check

For the awesome attractions Sea World offers, they are really quite affordable. They are always doing special ticket events. For instance we recently got in for free, because they allot certain months of the year for law enforcement, fire, military personnel and their families. For the best deal (like most amusement parks) get the annual pass. There are few different options to choose from for the pass which gives families and their wallets some flexibility. The “buy the day and get the rest of the year free” is a rare find at many parks. We really like the holidays at Sea World so this a great option when we make our summer visit. They even offer monthly payments for passes, because coming up with a large sum of moola at once can be tough. In addition to the pass, you can add the all day dining deal and parking pass. For more options and information, check out Sea World Annual Pass.

Save money with all the special animal interactions by purchasing them ahead of time online.

Get Your Grub On:

There are a ton of dining options at Sea World from burgers to pasta and everything in between. Anywhere that offers the “All Day Dining Deal” is great value for families who plan on eating every meal at the park. All that walking around makes you hungry and it is nice to pay once and have unlimited access to meals.

Dining with Shamu is an awesome experience. It is pricey, but worth experiencing a least once. It is $39 an adult, but you save $5 when you purchase online and kids are $19. It is an all you can eat buffet loaded with delicious food. Kids will love the Shamu shaped chicken nuggets and desserts! The most amazing part is the viewing of the Killer Whales as the swim and play while you dine. It is a definite crowd pleaser.


There is beer! Yay!! With a great selection of draft beers to make your day even more enjoyable, Sea World ups the ante with cheaper refill options. Save your beer pint and get refills for $7.

DSCN7110The same goes for the souvenir soft drink cup. The first one is $12, but refills are $1! The cup is huge and easy shared among the kids.

Entertain Me:

Exhibits:The thing my kids loved the most about Sea World is all the hands-on opportunities with the sea life. When you first enter the park kids are encouraged to touch and interact with various creatures at the Explorer’s Reef. Cuddle Bear and Wild Thing loved the petting bamboo sharks, while Firecracker just loved the little fish that nibble on your hand. At the California Tide Pool kids are able to hold and touch star fish, sea urchins and more.

DSCN7033DSCN7037Turtle Reef is spectacular for watching the magnificent and giant sea turtles. We were awed by how big they actually grow. The exhibit ends with a fun little video game where kids try to get their sea turtle to the beach to lay eggs; dodging sharks, jelly fish and fish hooks. Smart phones allow for more interaction with the sea turtles.

DSCN7114 DSCN7117Cuddle Bear absolutely loved the Shark Encounter. Walk through aquarium as these stealth creatures swim over head.


DSCN7138At Dolphin Point the kids will love to interact with these playful water friends. One dolphin in particular took a liking to Cuddle Bear and interacted with him repeatedly, even giving him a playful splash. My son was squealing with excitement. I had to pull him away from his new finned buddy in order to move on with our day. Here, visitors have the opportunity to feed, touch and help the dolphin trainers with signals. For deeper connection, book the Dolphin encounter or the Dolphin Interaction Program.

DSCN7159Penguin Encounter is super cute. You get to see the different types of penguins swim, dive and waddle. They remind me of a bunch of little toddlers with their round little bellies. In order to meet the little penguins book the Penguins-Up-Close Tour.

DSCN7076DSCN7078During the summer it is hot and kids love to get wet (a least mine do) so the Sesame Street Bay of Play is fantastic. It is a giant water park for kids to run, play and splash. During the Sunny Days show creatures will walk around for photo ops. I love this play area, because it gives the kids a chance to get out of the stroller, run around, burn off energy and cool down.

Animal Connections is a fun viewing area of various land animals. The kids really enjoyed the up-close and personal interactions. Certain times of day the animals are brought out for a meet and greet so kids can have a really cool picture to take home.

DSCN7075DSCN7066The Aquarium de la Mer gives kids the chance to view an array of exotic fish. At the Fresh Aquarium be sure to catch the piranha feeding. It is intense and the kids will really enjoy the activity.

At Pacific Point kids get the opportunity to feed the sea lions and seals if you get there early in the morning.

DSCN7154Shamu Underwater viewing is a great way for the kids to interact with the Killer Whales. They are usually pretty amped up after a show so that is the best time to take the kids.

The Wild Arctic is great on summer days, because it is nice and cold. You can choose to partake in the Arctic Wild simulator ride before entering the snow cave or you can just enter straight into the base station. My daughter is a thrill seeker, so she and HotDaddy did the ride and met up with me and my son in at the Beluga Whale viewing. Here kids get to see Polar Bears, Belugas and Walruses. Towards the end of the Arctic journey kids to play in an ice cave as the roars of the Polar Bear echo through the cave. Then kids are able to touch the huge ice wall. BURRR. It is cold!

DSCN7109DSCN7099DSCN7100DSCN7102DSCN7095DSCN7096Rides: There are ten rides at Sea World and most the time the lines aren’t that long. On the rare occasion they are they have their own version of fast pass for popular rides.

Manta is the roller coaster located over the manta ray interaction. Perfect for thrills.

DSCN7170Shipwreck Rapids and Journey to Atlantis are great for getting wet and high in thrills.

Bayside Skyride and the Skytower are perfect for relaxing and gorgeous views of the bay and park.

Oscar’s Rocking Eel, Elmos’s Flying Fish and Abby’s Sea Star Spin are fun for the little ones.

Both the Arctic Wild and the Riptide Rescue are fun rides that make you giggle, but keep you dry.

DSCN7140Shows: The shows are awesome. There are tons to choose from all day long and what I love most is the break. You get to sit down, enjoy some snacks and relax. One Ocean and Shamu Celebration Light up the night are the Killer Whale shows and they are amazing. Although the Blue Horizons with the dolphins gets you wet, nothing compares to the splash of the Killer Whales. The highlight of Firecracker’s day was when the trainer sent the whale over to her for a special splash. I’ve never seen her smile so big. She still talks about that experience.


DSCN7182The Sea Lion show is really funny and kids will love the Pet’s Rule and Madagascar Live, because they are very entertaining and engaging. At the Pet’s Rule kids get to meet the animals after the show.

That’s a Wrap:

Despite the negative things that have been said, Sea World is a very positive place for the animals as well as its human visitors. The hands-on interactions allow the kids to learn, bond and appreciate these amazing creatures. There aren’t many places that kids are allowed to touch and feed wild life in this capacity. Sea World gives kids experiences and that they will cherish for a life time. It is time to experience it for yourself.

For more info check out the Truth about Blackfish


  1. avatar image
    Chad at July 29, 2014 Reply

    Looks like the kids absolutely loved it! I miss the old Sea World that was in the Cleveland area which has since closed. That shark skull picture is priceless!

    1. avatar image
      Hot Mama at July 29, 2014 Reply

      Thanks. Yeah I crack up every time I look at that picture. Hehe!

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