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Family Guide to SeaWorld San Diego with kids – Fun things to do

Sea World San Diego is a great place for the family to learn about and celebrate beautiful animals

For over 50 years SeaWorld San Diego has been helping to protect wildlife through rehabilitation, training and leading veterinary care. The SeaWorld rescue team has helped over 29,000 marine and land animals all the while providing guests with education and entertainment.

Our family loves to support their zoological efforts as well as seeing these amazing animals up close and personal, which is why we always try to plan a visit whenever we are in San Diego. Recently we were invited out for media day to experience all the new attractions making a splash this summer.

I can’t wait to share with you what SeaWorld has in store as well as provide you with all the tips you need to make your next visit splashtactular. Also, watch our video below to see what is new at SeaWorld San Diego this summer!

Money Saving Tips

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.

Where to Eat at SeaWorld San Diego:

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 Orcas is an awesome experience. It is pricey, but worth experiencing a least once. Regularly $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.

Where to grab a drink at SeaWorld:

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. The 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.

Drink beer SeaWorld San Diego

Fun Things to do at SeaWorld San Diego

Touch Pools:

The thing my kids loved the most about SeaWorld 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. My son and nephew loved the petting bamboo sharks, while my daughter just loved the little cleaner fish that nibble on your hand. At the Aquaria Touch Pool kids are able to hold and touch star fish, sea urchins and more.

Kids playing with fish SeaWorld San Diego

Turtle Reef:

This exhibit 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.

SeaWorld San Diego Fish Tank

Kid at SeaWorld San Diego

Shark Encounter:

My son absolutely loved the Shark Encounter. Walk through aquarium as these stealth creatures swim over head.

SeaWorld San Diego Shark Tank

SeaWorld Kids with Sharks

Dolphin Point:

At Dolphin Point the kids will love to interact with these playful water friends. One dolphin in particular took a liking to my son 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.

Dolphin Show SeaWorld San Diego

Penguin Encounter:

This exhibit 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.

SeaWorld San Diego Penguins

Animal Connections:

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.

SeaWorld San Diego Beaver

SeaWorld San Diego kid fun

The Aquarium de la Mer:

This 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.

Pacific Point:

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

SeaWorld San Diego

The Wild Arctic:

Great on summer days, the Wild Arctic is nice and cold and the perfect escape from the summer heat. 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!

kid fun at SeaWorld San Diego

High Thrill Rides

Manta is a wild roller coaster located over the manta ray interaction. Perfect for thrills and the afterwards pet some rays! Both the Arctic Wild and the Riptide Rescue are fun rides that make you giggle, but keep you dry. But if you are also looking to get wet, I suggest Shipwreck Rapids and Journey to Atlantis for wet and wild fun.

Take it Easy Rides

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

Bay of Play

During 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. In addition to the cool-off zone there are a few kid-friendly rides, like Oscar’s Rocking Eel, Elmos’s Flying Fish and Abby’s Sea Star Spin.

Bay of Play SeaWorld San Diego

Ocean Explorer

 The newest addition to SeaWorld San Diego, the Ocean Explorer section combines technology, sea life and excitement. Rides like the Tentacle Twirl, OctaRock, Sea Dragon and Aqua Scout are fun and easy rides for the kids to enjoy with just the right amount of thrill for the little ones. Submarine Quest uses smart play technology to allow the kids to interact with the ride to complete an aquatic mission. After the ride, wander into the new aquarium featuring a giant Pacific octapuses, Japanase spider crabs and California moray eels. To make it even more exciting, there are numerous crawl spaces for the kids to enjoy as well as bubble windows to make the kids feel as if they are in the tank.

 Ocean Explorer SeaWorld San Diego

The shows and presentations 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.

Orca Encounter Show

The newest show at SeaWorld, it more like a live documentary. What an experience it is. Set against a three-story infinity screen featuring breathtaking coastlines, the show takes you into the wild. Their team of specialized orca behaviorists and researchers engage the audience with an abundance of knowledge, while the orcas demonstrate their natural behaviors live! It is beautiful story and yes, you still get wet.  To this day a highlight of Firecracker’s was 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.

Orca Encounter Show SeaWorld San Diego

Dolphin Days

Exciting show that features dolphins and some whale friends showing off their mad water skills. Accompanied by amazing acrobats, the show is nonstop thrills. Although the dolphins splashes aren’t as powerful as the orcas, you can still get pretty wet.

Dolphin Days SeaWorld San Diego

Electric Ocean

Debuting this June, Electric Ocean is going to turn the night into a party. I am super excited about getting my dance on at Club Current as DJ Moray spins some dope beats. Then wander into the new Living Glow aquarium to see and touch bioluminescent organisms! IllumiNight will take visitor under the electric ocean for a thrilling night time live performance complete with lasers, lights and music. Even a couple rides will be getting a makeover at night. Atlantis will become Atlantis Ignites and Manta will be reCHARGED. Time to be amazed with Cirque Electrique. Thrilling acrobatics light up the night sky as the performers combine the power of movement, electronic vibes and water. This is a summer favorite and one to miss.The grand finale of the evening will be the tallest laser show in San Diego shining down on the dance party below.

Electric Ocean SeaWorld San Diego
2016 SWSD Electric Ocean Rendering

Sea Lions Live  & Sea Lions Tonite

The Sea Lion show are really funny and kids will love the comedic timing of Clyde and Seamore the sea lions. Both are variety style shows that provide constant laughter.

Pet’s Rule

The Pet’s Rule is very entertaining and engaging. The kids just love watching these cute animals do amazing stunts. Their favorite part is getting a chance to meet these sweet pets after the show.

Elmo Rocks

Located at Bay of Play is the highly loved Elmo Rocks. Small kids will really enjoy this musical performances featuring their favorite Sesame Street friends. The show changes seasonally too, so be sure to catch it all year long.

That’s a Wrap:

SeaWorld San Diego 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 and the earth that we share. There aren’t many places that kids are allowed to touch and feed wild life in this capacity. SeaWorld gives kids experiences and that they will cherish for a life time. It is time to experience it for yourself.

SeaWorld San Diego

Have you ever been to SeaWorld San Diego?

What new attraction are you most excited about?

Like it? Pin it!

SeaWorld San Diego


I am a busy mama with 3 delicious babies and a serious itch for travel and writing (when I am not bartending, that is)! After graduating from Cal State San Marcos with a B.A. in Communications, I decided to start a family and pursue a career in freelance writing. I created HotMamaTravel as an outlet to do what I love while sharing useful travel tips and inspiration with others. Our mission is to show parents how to master travel with kids, while keeping your Saturday-night selves. We call it "Family travel...with a twist".


  1. 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!

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  7. Awesome guide! This is certainly an extensive guide. I love your video. Looks like you all had fun, and learned a lot!

  8. It seems you really had great gun! Hope I’ll get a chance to take my kids to a seaworld like this one day. The one we have here in Mumbai is much simpler (but they have fun anyway 🙂 )

  9. Looks like a great time! We haven’t visited Sea World yet but my son wants to see the penguins! I can’t believe how close you can get to them. I will have to plan a visit.

  10. What a great guide! My husband’s side of the family all lives in San Diego so we will probably be visiting SeaWorld San Diego a lot once my son is old enough.

  11. Well, I guess that’s quite good alternative for exploring the sea world with kids. Also I like it’s educational and entertaining at the same time 🙂

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