When my family approached me about changing up our Spring Orlando vacation this year by hitting a few new spots, like Sea World, I can honestly say that I wasn’t too thrilled. I am not a huge fan of having animals perform for the sake of entertainment and in my mind, that is what Sea World was all about. Reluctantly, I agreed because my children were eager to see real whales & dolphins up close and I thought that maybe there was something that could be learned by the experience.
When we arrived, I was a little off-put by the layout of the park. It is HUGE and the paths you are taken on wind all over the place. While I am sure there is some method to how to circulate effectively through the park, I found it maze-like. My first tip is to keep your map handy.
There are several shows and the key to seeing them all is to plan your day according to the scheduled show times. Each main show attraction is in a different part of the park, so you might want to try to tackle one area at a time, otherwise you will spend your day walking around back & forth. Since our time was limited to one day, we decided to see only two shows and spend the bulk of our time at the exhibits.
Two exhibits you don’t want to miss out on are the Sting Ray encounter at Sting Ray Lagoon and seeing the dolphins at Dolphin Cove. If you have never had a chance to be up close and personal with sea creatures, Sea World gives you to chance to not only feed them, but to also physically interact with them.
When you get to the Dolphin Cove, you will have two choices. The longer line will give you a chance to feed the dolphins by hand. Tip: If you don’t want to waste an hour or more standing in line, you can walk straight over to the Dolphin pool observation point to see them up close. Depending on where you stand, you might even be able to reach out and touch one.
If you want to see a cute show, be sure to check out the Sea Otter & Lion show! Again, as I’ve stated, I’m not big on making animals perform for food, but the kids really did enjoy seeing the interaction between the sea lions. Tip: There is a Mime who will be greeting unassuming guests as they hunt for a seat. Watch out for him because he is full of mischief!
Probably the most impressive show was in fact the one I was dreading the most. After the 2010 incident with Shamu, I was really hesitant about going to see the killer whale performance. I wanted to make sure that my kids had a full experience of Sea World and keeping them from seeing the whales, didn’t seem like the fair thing to do, so we perched ourselves high in the bleachers and waited for the show to begin. I have been to Sea World several times in my life as a child and once again back in 2003, when my oldest was 1 1/2, but the show was drastically different. There were NO trainers in the tank with the whales and there was a back story about on the big screen that was not only educational, but very moving. Yes, the whales did jumps on cues (to music I might add), but it was more tastefully done than I had anticipated. I walked away very pleased with what I saw.
Overall, we had a great time at Sea World Orlando. It isn’t something I would want to do annually, but I do think it is worth a trip to allow your children to see things they might not otherwise experience. Having said this, I do wish that more attention would have been made to make the experiences a bit more educational. Perhaps, we just didn’t hit the most educational exhibits (Penguin Encounter & TurtleTrek were both closed), but I felt that my kids had a lot of questions about sea creatures that went unanswered. If you are thinking about whether you should spend one or two days at this park, I feel like you can see everything you want to see in one full day if you plan ahead of time.