It had been almost ten years since I have stepped inside the gates of SeaWorld, when I received a call from my friend asking me if I was interested in going with him. Admittedly, being a avid Disney World lover, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend the money to go because I thought there would be nothing that would interest me. I would soon learn that my impression of SeaWorld was completely wrong.
As a kid I remember being in awe seeing the immense size of some of their marine life, and the incredible shows displaying the intelligence of these beautiful creatures. I have always had a infatuation with marine life, being a avid boater and scuba diver, so I assumed I couldn’t capture that same reaction I had as a kid because of my experiences with sea life in the wild. Regardless, I decided to give SeaWorld a go to see what has changed over those ten years.
When I arrived I went over to ticketing to pick-up the Florida Resident annual pass I had purchased online the night prior. The annual pass appealed to me for two main reasons, the price and the options. After just a few trips to SeaWorld, the annual pass practically pays itself off and with their EZpay system it was well within my budget. I was also impressed with the options they had for the annual pass. You have the ability to choose which parks to get admission to from SeaWorld, Aquatica, and Busch Gardens. Even with their low prices, the passes still include free Parking, discounts, and no blackout dates. I choose the SeaWorld with Aquatica pass which only cost $15.00 a month plus tax.
Our first stop once we got inside was Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. You have the options between two experiences when you arrive at the attraction, Mild or Wild. The mild side is designed for those who are uncomfortable with spinning motions of the vehicle, while the wild side is those seeking a thrilling experience. As you progressively pass into each room you follow the life of a newborn Penguin ‘Puck’ eventually leading to the ride where you slide your way on a trackless ride to the exhibit through his eyes. Arriving at the exhibit, I was blown away at how close the penguins are to you. With a cold environment and low barriers you really feel as if you have stepped into their world. There was plenty of viewing areas and great photo opportunities all around.
After leaving Antarctica, we decided it was time for some thrills. For most people, when they think of thrilling roller coasters, SeaWorld is probably the last thing that comes to mind. But those people have no clue what they are missing out on. While I was there I went on both ‘Kraken’ and ‘Manta’. My personal favorite was Manta where you ride horizontally for the duration of the ride in a ‘Superman’ position. It features several twists and turns that keep you on edge as well as my favorite part, the loop.
After this excitement it was time for lunch. We ate lunch at Voyager’s Smokehouse BBQ where you can find everything from chicken to ribs. This is where I was introduced to SeaWorld’s amazing dining plan. It never ceases to amaze me how fast the cost of food can add up on family vacations. I estimate the average family nowadays will easily spend over $50 per day on food at theme parks. SeaWorld, understanding this, created a deal where for only $32 you can get unlimited dining at SeaWorld’s Voyager’s Smokehouse BBQ, Spice Mill, Terrace Cafe, Mango Joe’s, Seaport Pizza, and Seafire Inn. Each restaurant features excellent food to choose from. Each time you go, you get to choose one entree, one side, and one drink. But have no fear, if you are still hungry you can go up as many times as you want until you are satisfied! For families this is a must-do, it will save you in the long run and wont have you checking your wallet every time you hear ‘I’m Hungry’.
The last and perhaps greatest thing I had the chance to enjoy at SeaWorld was the shows. SeaWorld takes pride in putting on the best performances with trainers who care about the animals. It is easy to see every show they make a connection to the animals that brings cheer to children and adults alike. For those looking for a more personal encounter inside SeaWorld, I would recommend feeding the dolphins. For the price of the food, you get to interact with, touch, and feed dolphins on a close up personal encounter. They cheerfully come up to you and will let you touch them under their mouth, for the reward of a fish of course.
My overall impression of SeaWorld has been forever changed. I only had the opportunity to see a glimpse of the park and from that I drew several impressions.
SeaWorld is very relaxing. If you are looking for a change in pace for your theme park experience there is no better place. Instead of feeling rushed to run around and get to your favorite rides and shows, you feel more relaxed and leisurely.
SeaWorld is a great value. From the tickets to dining, there is a deal for every families budget that gives you the most our of your vacation.
SeaWorld has something for everyone. There are roller coasters for thrill seekers, shows for those who enjoy entertainment, and exhibits for those who like to wander and explore.
So if you haven’t been to SeaWorld in years, give it another shot!