Water-loving animals have been the star attraction at SeaWorld Orlando since the park opened in 1973. These days, with the ever-changing tastes of theme-park fans, SeaWorld has expanded to offer thrilling roller coasters, chilling exhibits and even a food-and-music festival. Here are six tips for enjoying your visit to SeaWorld Orlando.
Get your hands and feet wet
Animal shows are one of the top attractions at SeaWorld Orlando. While the controversial orca shows are expected to end in 2019, there are still plenty of ways to interact with the wildlife at SeaWorld. Dolphins, sea lions, otters and more all star in various shows. For an additional fee, brave guests can hand-feed stingrays and seals. Just remember to show up at least 30 minutes early for popular shows because seating fills up fast.
Don’t forget the coasters
For a theme park so well-known for its animals, it’s sometimes surprising to learn that SeaWorld Orlando has a slew of heart-thumping roller coasters to attract the thrill-seekers among us. Mako, Manta and Kraken are coasters for the hardcore customers, while Journey to Atlantis is more of a boat-and-water-centric experience. For younger guests, family-friendly rides are available at Shamu’s Happy Harbor. To avoid long lines, try to ride the coasters while popular animals shows are scheduled or wait until the final hour before SeaWorld closes.
Catch a break from the heat
The Florida heat can be brutal even for longtime residents of the state, but there’s one SeaWorld attraction that cools off everyone – Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. Here guests can a ride a motion-based simulator through the icy kingdom of the South Pole. Afterward guests experience the ultracool thrill of visiting a live penguin colony. A behind-the-scenes tour is available for an extra charge.
There’s music here too
From Feb. 11 to May 13, 2017, SeaWorld celebrates food and music with its Seven Seas Food Festival. Craft beers meet exotic cuisine while guests are treated to live performances by country, rock and Latin music artists. Performers in 2017 include Styx, ZZ Top and The Commodores.
Don’t miss the “other” SeaWorld parks
SeaWorld Orlando has two sister parks nearby: Aquatica and Discovery Cove. Aquatica is a waterpark with a South Pacific theme. It features two wave pools, a man-made beach and a variety of water slides. Dolphin Plunge, the slide that scores the biggest oohs and ahhs, features tube slides that pass through a pool full of live dolphins. Discovery Cove’s main attraction is a dolphin swim where guests can actually interact with bottlenose dolphins. Guests can also snorkel through a coral-reef attraction that is full of thousands of fish (including sharks, who are safely behind protective glass).
Find a place to stay
Unlike the Disney and Universal parks, SeaWorld Orlando has no hotels on property. However, SeaWorld does team up with nearby resorts, some of which are within walking distance to the park and others that offer free shuttle service. You can find a full list of official partners here.