Family and friends coming into town are what really gets me to go to a lot of attractions in Orlando that I don’t usually visit. My most visited tourist attraction is normally Walt Disney World, but I was up for a change of pace when our family friends told us that SeaWorld was their trip destination.
My family and I took it upon ourselves to buy year-round passes to SeaWorld, excited because most of us haven’t been there in years. Returning back there after some time almost felt like it was my first trip there.
SeaWorld, for me, was refreshing and fun. The park itself is not nearly as large as its competitors, which makes getting from place to place easy and less tolling in the Florida heat. SeaWorld seems to have something for everyone, which appealed to me and my party. We had a diverse group of adults, teenagers, and young children and it was important that everyone was going to be happy. If you are a thrill-seeker, you have three main rides that give you a rush, whereas if you are the opposite there are so many shows that you can occupy your time with.
Our first stop was at Journey to Atlantis, a water flume ride that I remembered enjoying from prior trips. The ride itself has a Mediterranean-esque theme that seems to merge with an underwater civilization. We had an 8 year-old with us, afraid of the upcoming drop, so the colorful surroundings were not on anyone’s mind. The ride bringing us to the flume drop was full of colorful projections and lights that seemed as if we were following a medusa-like mermaid into “Atlantis,” where we ended up being tricked and thrown down the drop. The 60-ft. drop sent everyone adrenaline levels up, our 8-year old passenger was holding his hand to his heart, thinking it was all over. We were soon on our way up a climb again, and he was suspecting that it wasn’t over just yet; we didn’t tell him that Atlantis was a hybrid water ride-coaster. After a single, “You tricked me!” we heard the fun yelling of being scared on the quick-turning and unexpected rollercoaster portion of the ride from him. He was tricked, but he had fun, just like the rest of the people in our car.
We decided to move on to see Clyde & Seamore Take Pirate Island. The show was about pirates and their animal companions that show off their well-trained performing skills. We had a very skeptical 12 year-old with us as well, who claimed all of the animal performers were actually machines, but I can assure you they were real! The main animals that were performing were sea lions that were accompanied by an otter, with a surprise appearance by a large walrus at the end. Any show with animals isn’t guaranteed to go completely according to script, so there were a few cute mix ups that the actors laughed off, and the audience did too.
The food at SeaWorld was great, but some items I thought were a bit too overpriced. It wouldn’t hurt to bring your own lunch if you are planning on eating more than once. We were approached a few times by salespeople trying to convince us of a meal plan, but the park was only open until 6 that day so it didn’t seem like it was worth it.
Another ride we experienced at SeaWorld was Manta, a roller coaster that has you suspended face-down for the entire ride. I had never experienced anything like that before, so the ride felt uncomfortable to me with the odd seating positions. I’d say a happy medium between Atlantis and Manta would be Kraken, the original coaster at SeaWorld. It’s a floorless coaster that gives you as much of a thrill that Manta does, but you sit upright so there is less of an uncomfortable seating.
There are many other shows at SeaWorld worth seeing, yet some things are a little outdated. The good news is that they have a new attraction that opened up this summer, TurtleTrek 3D, and next spring Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin is scheduled to open, which is the parks largest expansion in its history.
Of course, a SeaWorld trip wouldn’t be anything without its famous Shamu show. The show itself is called One Ocean. There were three killer whales performing, and the show itself was fun, a good way to end the day. The park closed at 6 that day, which really limited what you can accomplish in one day. The ride lines were short all day, which was helpful if you miss a show. The show times are very spot-on and they will not let you in even 2 minutes after it starts, so I would recommend getting to all shows at least 5-10 minutes before it starts.
SeaWorld also offers many animal viewing areas that are fantastic. You can pet and feed stingrays and dolphins, which was my favorite part of the entire experience.
SeaWorld, overall, is a fun and relaxed theme park compared to the fast-paced and crowded competitors and is definitely worth revisiting. The park also has newly built conjoined Fairfield Inn and Springhill Suites just down the road that is very inexpensive, has free breakfast, Starbucks in the lobby, free SeaWorld transportation, and great rooms! We stayed there and our experience was extremely positive. SeaWorld and its attractions have so much to offer that often seem overlooked by visiting tourists.
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Fantastic article Paige. It looks like you and your family had a great time in SeaWorld. The theme park provides the best of both worlds with thrills, entertainment, and education about wildlife. SeaWorld tends to be overshadowed by their competitors, but hopefully the new expansion will put them at a more even playing level with its competitors.