SeaWorld San Diego Review

Updated January 2, 2019

We visited SeaWorld San Diego recently and had such a good time! We had not been in over 10 years, so it was nice to visit after only doing so on vacation a long time ago. A lot has changed and some had not, which was nice to see.

Lots to cover. Let’s get started!

An Overview

  • SeaWorld includes indoor and outdoor exhibits, shows, rides and more. I recommend a day to see everything. Arrive early, as the line to buy tickets fills up quickly. Buy online in advance to save time.
  • Check out ride and attraction closures before visiting.
  • Don’t miss seeing “Shamu” at the front of the park and stopping for a photo, as we did in the picture to the right. 10696237_655827741181539_5762511080018266404_n
  • Fireworks are for summer time only and the schedule can be found on the SeaWorld Know Before You Go page.
  • Park hours vary throughout the year. Check the SeaWorld Hours page before you visit.
  • All Day Lockers are available near the Reservation Center at the front of the park for a small fee. Smaller lockers are available throughout the park as well, in case a ride will not allow bags to be carried on.
  • In addition to rides and shows, SeaWorld has a plethora of Hands On Exhibits, our favorites of which are the California Tide Pool and Shamu’s Underwater Viewing.
  • Quick Queue and Quick Queue Premier are add-on features that allow you to get in the “Express Entrance” line at each attraction for an additional fee. The Premier version gives you reserved seating at shows, too.
  • There are many “Premier Experiences” that must be planned in advance and that require an additional fee. Take a look at those before you visit to see if any are a good fit for your group.
  • SeaWorld is located in the heart of San Diego and is about 1.5 hours from Disneyland. Check my All About San Diego post for transportation options including the train.


What to Pack

*Sunblock – Regardless of which day of the year you visit, the sun will likely be out in San Diego. And, even if it’s not, you could get a sunburn. Pack sunscreen.

*Change of Clothes – There are lots of opportunities to get wet at SeaWorld – rides, shows and splash pads. If your little ones plan on indulging, you might consider bringing a change of clothes for later on and especially if the park hours allow you to stay late. Consider a sweater or jacket, too, if you’ll be there at night.

*Bottled Water – Food and drinks are not allowed in, but bottled water is. Stay hydrated!


How to Tour the Park

Review the SeaWorld Map before visiting and get to know the park a bit. I recommend choosing two shows, at least, to watch and plan around. Pick up a map and entertainment schedule upon entry to learn your times and then walk the park route that makes sense to coordinate with your show times.

SeaWorld can be enjoyed in a single day if you do it right. The park is designed well and the walking paths push you from one attraction to the other.



Food and drinks may not be brought into the park, however, you can leave for a picnic just outside of the entrance. Be sure to get your hand stamped for re-entry prior to leaving.

The only indoor dining in the park can be found at Cafe 64, not far from the entrance. Our children enjoyed Kids’ Meals and we loved the Flatbread Cheesesteaks. Check out all of your dining options for visiting.

Beer and wine are available throughout the park, too.



***My two favorite shows at SeaWorld are listed first. If you only see two, I recommend those.

One Ocean – The most popular in the park, this “Shamu Show” has been a favorite for decades. Arrive at least 20 minutes early for good seating. Sit at the front in the “soak zone” if you want to get wet or further back if you prefer not to. We sat at the very top and enjoyed a nice breeze on the hot day we visited. 25 minutes

Sea Lions Live – Popular TV and music selections are mimicked with these wacky sea lions. Check out “Sea Lion S.I.” and “Dancing with the Pinnipeds” and more. Kids love this show. 20 minutes

Pets Rule – Dogs, cats, birds and potbellied pigs round out this fun show. Another kid favorite. Fun fact: Many of these “pets” are rescue animals that were given another chance at life. 20 minutes





Bigger, Exciting Rides:

Manta – This roller coaster is super smooth and shouldn’t be missed.

Journey to Atlantis – Another original, this coaster goes both in and out of the water and is a must-see.

Shipwreck Rapids – Similar to one that you probably enjoyed as a kid, this rapid ride is a ton of fun. Do not ride it if you aren’t ready to get soaked.

Wild Arctic – This ride is SeaWorld’s version of Soarin’ Over California, but themed in the cold. The flight simulator takes you through the ice of the Arctic Circle.

Skytower – The Skytower was closed when we visited, but we enjoyed it nearly a decade ago. Super views of San Diego!

Bayside Skyride – We loved this a decade ago and last week, too. This is a special ride for non-Californians, as you get to soar above the San Diego Bay and take in the views. Don’t miss it. 10644422_656275541136759_6541041718303944436_n


Smaller, Little Kid Rides:

Oscar’s Rocking Eel – This boat-rocking ride can be enjoyed by all ages with an adult companion. 42″ to ride alone. No babies!

Abby’s Sea Star Spin – Similar to Disneyland’s famed tea cups, the Sea Star Spin is fun and dizzy. All ages with an adult; 42″ to ride alone. No babies.

Elmo’s Flying Fish – Similar to Dumbo at Disneyland. All ages with adult; 48″ to ride alone. No babies.

Riptide Rescue – The wildest of the “Little Kid Rides”. Guests must be 45″ to ride. Those between 45″ and 50″ must be accompanied by an adult.



Final Thoughts

We had a really good visit to SeaWorld. I think the highlight of our day was the Flamingo Walk, pictured above. We happened upon it, but I encourage you to ask a team member upon arriving if they know when it will take place. The flamingos choose to stay in their habitat or go for a walk through the park. It was really special to see them up close and watch them parade through the park with such confidence.

Just like Disneyland, a visit to SeaWorld is a much bigger success with planning. Let me know if you have any questions! Email me at or find me on Facebook.


*SeaWorld provided my family with 4 tickets to review the park, but all opinions stated are my own.



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  1. Do you think the photo pass is worth it? $79 for one day, is there a lot of photo opportunities like Disneyland to make it worth it? I only seen 7 locations on the details, Im just wondering if theres possibly more thats not listed? $80 for 7 photos almost doesn’t sound worth it. Thanks! I LOVE all your posts for my vacations to So Cal!!

    • Hey, Camille. I haven’t done it in a while, so they may have added more, but I think you can accomplish the same photos on your own with your mobile device. I think I would put that money into something else. Enjoy!