Orlando’s second-oldest theme park after the Magic Kingdom, SeaWorld has come a long way since 1973 and has seen a lot of additions and investment in recent years to make it one of the area’s freshest and most inviting places to visit. It remains the home of the Shamu killer whale show but offers a lot more besides, from fabulous animal exhibits and shows to great roller-coasters and other rides. It also plays a big role in conservation and animal rescue, and children in particular find it quite inspirational.
What not to Miss
SeaWorld's newest ride, Mako, is a 200 foot tall hypercoaster which takes you around the park at an incredible 73mph, making it the fastest rollercoaster in Orlando. It's also the tallest and longest coaster you'll find at any of the parks in Orlando so it's an absolute must for visitors seeking the biggest thrills.
Alongside Mako are two other huge rollercoasters, the monstrous Kraken and the soar-some Manta, while there is also the ‘water-coaster’ of Journey to Atlantis and simulator ride Wild Arctic. Arguably the best family experience, though, is Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, an in-depth journey into the life of a young penguin with a unique ride that takes visitors to the ‘south pole’ or, at least, a very chilly likeness!
SeaWorld is great for shows, and the theatrical Blue Horizons, featuring dolphins, macaws, acrobats and high-divers, is one of the best in Orlando. One Ocean is the big production with the killer whales and Pets Ahoy! features all manner of domestic animals, all rescued from animal shelters. Turtle Trek is a unique 3-D film show and animal exhibit showcasing the endangered sea turtle and the manatee.
While the big shows rightly capture the biggest crowds, there is great family fun to be had from two of the smaller offerings. Pets Ahoy! is a wonderfully cute 25-minute performance by the park’s rescued animals (dogs, cats, rats and even a pot-belly pig) while A’Lure, The Call Of The Ocean is a surprisingly eye-catching performance of acrobatic artistry, music and dance.
Character Meet And Greets
Yes, SeaWorld does have its own characters, notably a cuddly Shamu who greets visitors just inside the entrance, while other sea-related friends appear from time to time. Real-life characters can be found at the Sea Garden, where many of the park’s animal ambassadors – like miniature ponies, eagles, sloths and possums – come out to meet guests periodically.
Children are extremely well catered for at SeaWorld, with their own area of rides, slides, climbs and water-play features in Shamu’s Happy Harbor. This is a great place for parents to let the young ‘uns loose for a while so they can kick back with a beverage or ice-cream from the nearby Soft Serve parlour or several other kiosks.
New Attractions & Expansions
SeaWorld's brand new hypercoaster Mako opened in June 2016 and has proved to be a huge hit with park visitors looking for high-octane thrills. Mako is currently the tallest, fastest, longest rollercoaster in Orlando, at 200ft high and with a top speed of 73mph.
Empire of the Penguin added a stunning ‘ice continent’ environment and ride to meet the park’s penguins in 2013, which followed on from the Turtle Trek 3-D film show and animal exhibit.
Also, make sure you catch the all-new Clyde and Seamore's Sea Lion High show, as the old Clyde & Seamore Take Pirate Island closed in August 2014.
SeaWorld's first roller coaster, Kraken, is being given an incredible virtual reality makeover. The VR headsets (optional for riders) give the ride an extra dimension that thrill seekers are sure to love! Watch the interview below with SeaWorld's head of theme park design to find out a little more about this amazing new ride...
Set to open in summer 2018, Infinity Falls will become the tallest river rapid drop ride in the world! This record-breaking attraction will take you into the depths of the rainforest, immersing you in a lush jungle environment. Prepare to take on Class IV rapids and a 40-foot drop!
Seven Seas Food Festival
SeaWorld’s Seven Seas Food Festival debuted in 2017. This amazing event lets you sample mouth-watering dishes from around the world, as well as local craft beers. Walk through the park and you’ll find a series of culinary marketplaces, where you can sample flavours from across the globe. There’s also live performances every weekend, from top country, rock and Latin music artists.
- Dates: Mid February to late April.
- Tickets: Included as part of park entry.
- Times: Weekends during park hours.
Is SeaWorld’s extra programme of events and fun during the longer summer evenings. It features additional live entertainment, glowing sea creatures, live music from a DJ and two additional shows with the park’s killer whales and sea lions. It’s also a great chance to ride the big coasters at night, while the evening culminates in a big fireworks and special effects show, Ignite.
- Dates: From late May to early September.
- Tickets: Included as part of park entry.
- Times: From dusk to park closing.
SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular
Is the park’s kiddie version of Trick or Treat fun, with activities, shows, music, character meet-and-greets and party-style events throughout the park. Look out for Penelope’s Party Zone, the official Trick or Treat stations and fun-loving sea witches Gummy Worm Wanda, Salt Water Taffy and Swedish Fish Suzy (along with over 35 other fanciful sea creatures) who greet, mingle and play with guests at specific points around the event.
- Dates: September- October
- Tickets: Included as part of park entry.
- Times: Throughout the day.
- Costumes: All the family are welcome to dress up in Halloween style.
Has become an absolute must-see event at SeaWorld as they dress the whole park in a fabulous array of lights, trees and special effects, as well as adding some terrific seasonal shows. The Wild Arctic ride is transformed into The Polar Express and Elmo’s Christmas Wish is guaranteed to amuse little ‘uns. O Wondrous Night is a must-see re-telling of the Nativity story, while Winter Wonderland On Ice is a great seasonal ice-skating spectacle and the Sea Of Trees is an eye-catching light-and-sound performance on the main lake. The Christmas Market provides an array of different kiosks providing tastes of the season around a roaring fire, with carolers and other musical entertainment. Shamu’s Christmas Miracles is another special night-time show with the park’s killer whales, and the whole evening culminates with a stunning fireworks finale.
- Dates: From late November to December 31.
- Tickets: Everything is included with park entry.
- Times: Shows and events throughout the evening.
SeaWorld provides an amazing array of behind-the-scenes tours and other exclusive animal experiences that add significantly to your appreciation of the park and are well worth adding to your itinerary, especially if you are planning more than one day here.
- Private VIP Tour
A private VIP Tour just for your family or group, including preferred parking, animal interactions and lunch at Sharks Underwater Grill. You'll also be able to enjoy a special interaction at Dolphin Cove, feed the sea lions and stingrays and even get front-of-line access to rides of your choice.
- Dolphins Up-Close Tour
A fascinating 1-hour glimpse backstage at the training and care of the stars of the Blue Horizons show, as well as a look into the dolphin-care facilities, finishing with a Q&A session with a trainer and the chance to touch one of the residents. Under 18s must be accompanied by a fare-paying adult.
- Sea Lions Up-Close Tour
Another 1-hour walking tour focusing on the care and training of the stars of the Clyde & Seamore show, including a photo with them and a chance to feed the Pacific Point Preserve sea lions. Under 18s must be accompanied by a fare-paying adult.
- Penguins Up-Close Tour
This 45-minute family walk goes behind the scenes at Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin to learn the proper care for these cute birds and gives visitors the chance to interact with and touch a penguin. Again, under 18s must be accompanied by a fare-paying adult.
- Wild Arctic Up-Close Experience
An interactive 60-minute tour into the care and animal interactions with the walrus, seals and beluga whales at this in-depth exhibit. All participants must be at least 8; under 18s must be accompanied by a fare-paying adult.
SeaWorld features some fabulous opportunities to just stand and watch their animals, and some of the best moments can be just watching the dolphins at Key West or the Dolphin Nursery, touching the Stingrays in their lagoon, seeing the killer whales from their underwater viewing area or feeding the sea lions at Pacific Point Preserve (for a small fee).
Estimated Visit Time
SeaWorld: One-two days.
SeaWorld is a great park to start with if you have never been to Orlando before as it gives you the chance to get to grips with these huge areas, navigate via the maps they provide and work out your show times. It is also spacious enough to allow you to slow down and catch your breath and its lovely landscaping and gardens are very easy on the eye. At peak periods, it is also a good park to visit as, like Epcot, it soaks up large numbers of people easily.
While Disney has its free FastPass+ service and Universal has its paid-for Universal Express pass, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens feature QuickQueue, another paid-for front-of-line card that provides access to 6 rides and Turtle Trek throughout the day. It is very handy at peak seasons. You can also buy Signature Show Seating, which gives 1-time reserved seats for the 4 most popular shows, which can also save time and hassle at busy periods when you need to be at some shows at least 30 minutes in advance.