Since moving to Orlando in March of this year, we have been to Sea World so many times that I've lost count. The kids absolutely love this park, and we do too. In addition to season passes at Sea World, we purchased season passes to Universal. But the kids (ages 5 and 2) prefer Sea World hands down. If you've never been to Sea World, you will be surprised to know that this park is so much more than the Shamu show. I'm going to list for you what we consider to be Sea World's best.
First, lets cover the shows. Sea World wouldn't be Sea World without Shamu so our #1 show pick is Believe. This show features the amazing performance of the Sea World cast--including the great Shamu and other whales. Our #2 pick of shows is Blue Horizons. This show is full of action. It has dolphins, whales, birds, actors/divers and acrobats. The show you can skip is Clyde and Seamore which is supposed to be funny, but isn't. The only entertaining aspect of this show is seeing the seals perform.
Next, lets cover the attractions. Yes, Sea World has rides in addition to their animal attractions. For most of the animal attractions, we recommend you briefly go through them as you head towards the rides and shows throughout the day. Some animal attractions however, you shouldn't miss and you shouldn't rush through. Our favorite animal attractions are the Baby Dolphin exhibit, the Key West Dolphin and Stingray exhibits and the Shark Encounter. As for rides, we recommend Journey to Atlantis and Kraken for big kids and adults. Atlantis is a water coaster ride and Kraken is a floorless coaster.
For the little ones in the family, head over to Shamu's Happy Hour. I can't say enough about this play area for children. It is spectacular if you have young children who aren't ready for the bigger rides at other parks. There have been times we have gone to Sea World and spent the day in this one area of the park. There are several rides--teacups that spin as you fly in the air, a sea creature carousel, regular tea cups that scramble you around slowly, a rocking and spinning boat ride and the Shamu kiddie coaster. There is also a giant rope climbing gym and underneath it, giant sand boxes stocked with toys and dump trucks and lounge chairs for parents to sit in as the kids play. As if all this wasn't enough, there is a fun little water play area for the kids to splash in. Sea World certainly had small children in mind when they designed this play area. There is easy access to restrooms, baby care areas, and food and snacks. And to top it all off--this is the cleanest kiddie play area I have ever seen at a park. Way to go Sea World---moms love clean!
Lastly, we should discuss the restaurants and refreshments. We have gone both ways-expensive and cheap. I have to say the most over-rated restaurant is the Sharks Underwater Grill. Yes, it is neat to eat next to an aquarium of sharks and the air conditioning is nice. But the food is way over priced and not that great. Skipper had ahi tuna, and he says it was just ok. I had crab cakes that were drenched in so much Old Bay seasoning that I could hardly take more than a couple of bites. The service wasn't nearly as good as we expected it to be and so overall, I don't recommend this restaurant. There are other restaurants that have air conditioning and aren't nearly as pricey. We enjoyed the sandwiches and burgers at the Seafire Inn and watched the Wild Things show while we ate. We have also gotten quick bites and spent less money at Mango Joe's which was good. We have yet to try The Cove which is the restaurant that lets you dine with Shamu, but I am sure we will in the near future and I will keep you posted. Keep in mind that you can also pack small snacks and even juices and waters in that diaper bag you are carrying into the park. We have learned to pack plenty of peanut butter crackers, fruit snacks and such along with a sports thermos filled with ice water and apple juice for the kids and a couple of frozen bottles of water for us. These snacks and drinks last us more than half the day.
As you can probably tell, we are quite fond of Sea World. It has quickly become our favorite theme park so far. Of course, we haven't done Disney yet. We've planned for Disney season passes to be our entertainment for next year. And believe me, I'm sure when Taylor sees those princesses and dines at Cinderella's castle, we'll have another favorite.
*For more information about Sea World, visit www.seaworld.com.