By ATD’s Florida Experts Susan and Simon Veness
SeaWorld is one of Orlando’s most scenic theme parks, with photo opportunities around every corner. But that doesn’t mean your photo album has to end up looking like every other tourist’s, when there are plenty of offbeat angles and overlooked views.
One of the joys of any holiday is the boatload of memories you bring home with you, and some of the best souvenirs are found on your digital camera card. With that in mind, check out a few of the best photo spots in Orlando’s most relaxed – and relaxing - theme park, SeaWorld
Port of Entry: This one is obvious, but most guests overlook it in their rush to get into the park, so we’re just leaving this little reminder here for you. Before you walk along the pathway leading to the turnstiles, take a moment to grab a photo with the entry lighthouse with the park in the background. Why? Because if you wait until you’re already in the park you’ll have a great big hotel (specifically, the Renaissance Resort) in the background. Staying at the Renaissance? Go ahead and wait and you’ll have a nice photo that includes your resort, so you can brag to your friends about how close you were to Shamu.
Sea of Delight, The Waterfront: Pass through the entry plaza, then veer to the right and you’ll come to The Waterfront, where you’ll find lots of quirky views perfect for photos. Head down the stairs to the lagoon and you’ll find a pretty bay with some colourful boats, ideal for a quirky “sea port” photo.
This one comes with a Bonus Photo Spot, with the fabulous Manta roller coaster just ahead of you when you reach the main plaza just beyond the entry. Stop there before heading into The Waterfront for one of the most dynamic photos in the park. You’ll want to be patient when it comes to snapping a shot here, and time it so that you have the coaster train in the background just after it goes into the turn and the water cannons go off. Then, pop into the aquarium under the ride (don’t get in the queue; enter the aquarium area instead!) for a picture in the pop-up bubble inside one of the tanks.
Oyster’s Secret: It’s not the Oyster’s Secret shop you want, it’s the outdoor dive tank to the left of the shop. Several times daily, divers enter the tank to retrieve oysters for guests who would like to purchase a pearl. The divers sometimes do graceful acrobatics in the water, but even when they just make the dive it’s a pretty dramatic photo. Don’t be shy about going down to the tank for your picture. You might just find they’re posing behind you!
Sea Lion & Otter Stadium landscaping: To the right of the entry into the stadium is a pretty little waterfall with a sculpture of a sea lion and her pup on the left, and a sea lion topiary on the right. The area in front of the waterfall is surrounded by rocks that guests can sit on, and it’s okay to sit on the mother sea lion’s back. You’ll find other animal sculptures around the park, including near Mako roller coaster and at the entry to the Manatee Rehabilitation Area.
Sea of Ice: Home to the Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin attraction, this area is chock-full of unusual photo ops, from the enormous mother and baby penguins sculpted into the ‘ice and rocks’ above the attraction, to the wall of penguins and the signposts that practically beg you to ham it up, and act like you’re freezing. If your camera takes decent night photos, return here after dark. The whole area is lit up and looks truly beautiful and mysterious. Want the ultimate quirky photo from Antarctica? Take the backstage Penguins Up Close tour and have your picture taken with a live penguin.
Journey To Atlantis: The Sea of Mysteries area is just to the left of Sea of Ice, and it’s definitely the Journey to Atlantis ride you want as your backdrop. But instead of standing in front of it with the boats coming directly toward you, stand to the right side with the boats and the building in the background. Just as you did at Manta, be patient and wait for the big splash-down, which adds movement and drama to your photo.
Flamingos: Okay, we’ll admit it, these guys and gals really get around and may not be in the Sea of Mysteries area, down by the water, when you visit. But if they are, line up your shot so that you get the live birds in the foreground and the Flamingo boats in the background. If no-one has hired a boat when you arrive, go ahead and take a shot anyway. The birds make a pretty background all on their own.
Landscaping: There isn’t any single spot for a great landscaping photo, since they’re all around the park. SeaWorld is wonderfully scenic, with pretty waterfalls, colourful garden areas, and inviting water features. In particular, look for the waterfall directly to the left of Journey to Atlantis, along the walkway leading to the Manatee Rehabilitation Area, and the garden with a waterfall to the right of Sea Garden, along the pathway leading to Shamu Stadium. There is even a handy, flat rock for kids to stand on in the center of the cut-out in front of the water.
Shamu: How does SeaWorld guarantee you’ll get a picture with Shamu? By putting a sculpted Shamu on the side of a building, that’s how. And while it’s not exactly hidden, many guests walk right by it as they enter or exit the park. But you’re here for quirky photos, and this one certainly fits the bill. Take the shot, and you can say you’ve got a picture of yourself with the underbelly of a whale.
Of course, you’ll want a photo of the real Shamu too, and here’s a little tip for getting a shot of the whales at their most dramatic: focus your lens on the center of the pool in Shamu Stadium and when the trainers make a big, sweeping motion with their arm to signal the whales to breech in the center of the pool, watch the whales as they swim underwater and you’ll be able to time your shot for the perfect moment. If you’re using a camera rather than your mobile phone for pictures, close your right eye (which should be up to the viewfinder) and watch the whales with your left eye (they’ll be coming from the left side). Again, you’ll know exactly when to take that shot!
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