Any trip to California with kids must include a stop at Sea World. It is the best thing for families to do in San Diego with up close encounters with incredible animals as well as exciting amusement park rides for all ages! We use to have a Sea World in Aurora, Ohio and I have very found memories going there as a child. I was so excited for my kids to finally experience the majestic orcas / killer whales up close.
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Make sure you check out the show schedule as soon as you get to Sea World because the shows are the best part! For me, scheduling our day around the Orca Encounter was at the top of my list! The San Diego Sea World has a brand new Orca Encounter show that we were fortunate enough to see. The enormous 180 feet long, 80 feet wide, and 35 feet deep Orca tank is the largest I’ve seen anywhere – including in Aurora back in the day. There is a huge 138-foot-wide high-definition infinity screen at the main stage that projects a documentary with real-life images of killer whales doing the same maneuvers in the wild that the killer whales are performing in the tank in front of us.
The new Orca Encounter still involves a splash zone in while the first several rows get wet including a special child guest that really gets soaked next to the tank! The screen explains how orcas swim fast in order to work together to hunt prey – it was neat to understand that the same maneuvers the orcas were doing in the tank were natural for them in the wild.
Sea World and the killer whales are not what it use to be in Aurora, the days of swimming with killer whales and ‘tricks’ are over. That being said, it was a fantastic experience to see the 8,000 lbs killer whales swimming, jumping, and responding to their trainers. What magnificent creatures! I’m glad that Sea World is still providing us the opportunity to enjoy this show, even if it has changed.
Another show that we thoroughly enjoyed was the dolphin show! It was actually more entertaining than the killer whales show with more than a dozen dolphins swimming, jumping, and fascinating us all!
We sat in the splash zone and really got wet – that will happen with a dozen dolphin use their tails to splash water at the edge of the tank! It was amazing – my kids loved it! I loved seeing their faces with huge smiles and big eyes wide open in amazement! For an additional fee, you can meet and feed the dolphins!
There were several opportunities to encounter sharks including touch tanks at the entrance and Shark Encounter aquarium that you can view by walking through the belly of it! This is an amazing way to see the sharks up close and the underside of the sharks, revealing their teeth!
There are so many enormous aquarium that allow you to see fascinating sea life up close like the sting ray below!
I could watch sea lions for hours, they are comical creatures! Enjoy them at their habitat and during the stage show for plenty of entertainment. The sea lion show is just as I remember it as a kid – full of slap stick fun and goofy humor.
There were many touch-tanks at Sea World for kids (and adults) to get an up close look and even touch. My kids really enjoyed touching sharks – I’m thankful that this is the only real-life shark encounter we’ve had in San Diego!
I was pleasantly surprised by the amusement park rides at Sea World. This is something we didn’t have when Sea World was in Ohio! We didn’t get a chance to ride all of the rides but picked our favorites. We really got soaked on Abby’s Sea Star Spin – which was exactly the point!
My kids always love riding the swings, so they happily dried off here.
If you have little ones, you’ll love Sesame Street Bay of Play. There are plenty of little kid amusement park rides as well as a splash pad, climbing nets, bouncing houses, and playground features.
My kids did climb the Net Climb, another thing I fondly remember from my child-hood days at Ohio’s Sea World although not as complex and amazing as this one!!
We spent an entire day at Sea World and could go back a second day easily. There is so much to see, do, and discover at San Diego’s Sea World. It is a must for families vacationing in California
If you have plans to visit several spots in Southern California with your family, I recommend checking out the Southern California CityPASS. You’ll save a ton of money going to Disneyland & Disney California Adventure with SeaWorld, and LEGOLAND. You could also add the San Diego Zoo to the pass as an add-on – another family favorite San Diego attraction – read our San Diego Zoo review here. Read our Disneyland review here.
Sea World San Diego
500 Sea World Drive
San Diego, CA 92109