One of my daughter’s friends visits San Diego often and usually goes to SeaWorld. As a result, my daughter has been asking me for a couple of years now if we could “please please please go to SeaWorld.” For her birthday this year, we decided to make the trip down to San Diego for the day and take the kids on a surprise visit to SeaWorld. We haven’t been to Sea World since 2007, back when we were a family of 3. (Seriously, did a time ever actually exist when I only had one kid?) I was really excited to see what had changed in the 8 years since we’d been there.
We woke the kids up at the crack of dawn so that we could get to SeaWorld right when it opened. So we parked in our awesome parking spot (I’m learning that you get great parking places when you arrive before most people are having their morning coffee) and walked 4 excited kiddos up to the entrance. The entrance is completely new and beautiful. You don’t feel like you’re entering a theme park but like you’re diving beneath the waves. I hadn’t been marveling at the new entrance long when I heard the words every mother longs to hear: “Mommy, I have to go potty.” So enter we did and we set off to the first bathrooms we could find. Let me tell you, if it wouldn’t have been really weird I would have taken pictures of it. As a mother of 4 young children, you take a lot of potty breaks, and you know a great bathroom when you see one. It was beautiful, it was spacious, and it was clean. SeaWorld, your rides are great, the animals are amazing, but it was your “facilities” that won this mama over. Enough gushing over flushing, moving on!
We wanted to see the first dolphin show since I remember that stadium filling up quickly and being really hot in the afternoon. The first show wasn’t for another hour or so, so we decided to look around at some of the animals. The flamingos were right by the bathrooms (I really should have taken pictures of the tile work) so we stopped there first. I think the girls would have stood there all day, but we had lots more to see, so we rounded them up and ventured over to see the turtles at Turtle Reef.
So strange as I always think of turtles as being relatively small, but I swear that these ones were bigger than my 6 year old! We watched them for a while then headed over to the dolphin stadium to find seats for the Blue Horizons show. We almost sat in the “soak zone” but then thought better of it and moved up a couple of rows. I like water and I don’t mind getting wet, but my baby boy, sweet as he is, would have thrown a fit.
The show itself was beautiful and short. I really thought these shows used to be longer, but the length (about 20 minutes) is actually perfect for my kids with very short attention spans. There is also now a Cirque du Soleil like acrobatic show incorporated in with the dolphin’s performance. The kids loved the divers, especially my 6 year old. She actually said that she wants to be one of them when she grows up!
In honor of Shark Week, we had to visit Shark Encounter. Thankfully, while we were underwater in a little tube, we didn’t run into Jaws. We did however see some incredible sharks.
Shark Encounter! #sharkweek #seaworld #summer #vacation #familyfun A video posted by Michaelyn Pouncey (@michaelyn_p) on
We tried to feed the sea lions, but the seagulls swooping in trying to get the fish from us was a little bit too much for the kids, so we handed off the fish to another child and washed our hands.
However, not before my baby girl took a whiff of her stinky fish hands.
One thing I love about SeaWorld is that they have people out there answering questions and giving you facts about the animals you’re looking at. The lovely man talking about the bat rays was my favorite. He really encouraged the kids to think up questions to ask so he wasn’t just talking about things that didn’t interest them or that they didn’t understand. Family fun with a side of education…I love it!
After the dolphin fun, we strolled on over to the Sesame Street Bay of Play area where we went on a few rides. I have to say that SeaWorld was incredibly refreshing in that we didn’t have to wait in a line longer than 5 minutes.
After hanging out with Elmo and friends, we left to have lunch with Shamu! We had purchased the Dine with Shamu meal, which is pricey, but it is a great way to see the killer whale up close and get a little bit more detailed information about it straight from a trainer.
The food seemed the same as far as I can remember from when we went before. There was a carving station, fish, potatoes, veggies, pasta and some food for the kiddos that included mac n’ cheese and chicken nuggets. And the best part of the meal (not really but it is certainly a fun part,) the Shamu shaped shortbread cookie covered with chocolate. Just as good as I remember!
During the meal, the trainer talked a bit about the killer whales and actually came around to the tables to answer questions…and of course, my very talkative daughter had plenty!
This was my son’s favorite part of the day. Clearly, he was excited.
Since we saw the whale up close, we skipped the show and went over to see the penguins. I was a little disappointed here as you could barely see through the glass in the first window, but I think that was more of a temperature/condensation issue not an issue of cleanliness. We ended our day with Clyde and Seamore at the Sea Lions live show. Sadly, I’ve got no pictures from this for you. Why? Because I was actually in one of the bathrooms that I love so much changing a diaper. From what the kids said, the show was hilarious! This was always my favorite show because they integrate pop culture and comedy into the show. Pretty sad I missed it, but I think it was better for everyone involved that the baby’s diaper got changed immediately.
We had a really fun day at SeaWorld. It is definitely somewhere I’d travel with the kids again. If you’re in SoCal or you head down there a lot, it might be worthwhile to look into a FunCard. For the cost of one day, you can get the FunCard pass to go again and again the whole year! If you’re just visiting SoCal for beach or Disneyland vacation, I think Sea World is a great place to add into your trip itinerary.
In hind sight, the one thing I’d change is that I’d put more sunscreen on my shoulders. I came home looking like a giant tomato. My dermatologist is going to be so mad.