Whether you’re an ardent animal lover or just a theme-park fan trying to make your way around all of Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando really does promise a fantastic experience for the whole family. Check out our recommendations below to make sure you don’t miss out on those hidden gems that make the park so special!
SeaWorld Orlando opened just two years after the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom was established, putting Orlando on the map as a serious holiday spot for those who love theme parks and attractions. When it first opened, the park was primarily animal exhibits and several shows, but in 1989 the SeaWorld parks were all purchased by Busch Gardens, and ushered in a new era of thrill rides and attractions to add to the animal spectacles.
More recently, SeaWorld has added a number of new rides, including the 360-degree 3D Dome theatre and two second, smaller parks to give visitors even more time with the huge number of animals and attractions.
Attractions: What Not To Miss
SeaWorld is packed full of some of Orlando’s most famous attractions, such as the Manta flying rollercoaster and the Shamu killer whale display. But what about those little-known treasures – the ones that make SeaWorld a truly spectacular place to visit? We’ve chosen some of our favourites, so you can get the most out of you SeaWorld adventure.
Dolphin Cove is actually pretty popular outside, but it’s when you head indoors to stand at eye level with the dolphins that you’ll get a chance to truly witness these animals as they interact with the people in the park. It’s also a good way to escape the crowds and find a little shade, so make sure you take a look to say hello and see how the dolphins move around their habitat.
Discovery Cove is actually a sister park to the main SeaWorld Orlando resort, located just up the road. It’s pretty exclusive, making it a great choice for those looking to avoid the crowds – only 1,200 people can be in the park at any one time, and admission is all-inclusive, including drinks, food and equipment. Here you can get really up close and personal with bottlenose dolphins and go snorkelling with a wealth of tropical sea life. Don’t miss the aviary, either – there are over 250 species of birds to discover!
Once you’ve had your fill of dolphins and killer whales, head to the Seaport Theater and check out a very different animal show with Pets Ahoy! This stage show features dogs and cats from local animal shelters, all learning tricks and proving that a rescue animal can offer boundless joy and entertainment to the right family. This is a must-see for pet-lovers!
A point of contention for many visitors to SeaWorld Orlando is that, even if you don’t want to jump on the helicopter simulation ride that precedes the Wild Arctic animal exhibition, you still have to join the queue, which can end up being over an hour long. We’ve discovered a way to bypass that – head toward the exit and enter via the ramp to the left, for instant access to the polar bears and beluga whales inside! Now, fair warning, this entrance is for annual passholders only, but reports from visitors suggest you may still have a chance depending on who’s manning the gate – so give it a try.
This is another great treasure inside the Wild Arctic – if you decide to go for the motion simulator ride, don’t charge right through to the animals when you get off. Instead, hang back and check out the glistening wall alongside you. That’s a huge ice wall, perfect for cooling off after an afternoon in the Florida sunshine. Look out for the polar bear claw marks!
There are a number of hotels in and around the SeaWorld Orlando resort, owned by Hilton Hotels and Marriott. Make sure you take a good look at the options if you’re planning on staying, as the hotels here reach a fairly wide range of budgets.
Don’t forget that Orlando is just a short drive away, so if you’d rather take to opportunity to see the rest of Florida, this is a good place to base yourself.
What’s in the area
A trip to Orlando isn’t complete without visiting the other theme parks in the area, including Walt Disney World and Busch Gardens – particularly as some operators offer combination deals to get you into a few different parks on the one ticket. Make sure you see some of the Floridian wildlife while you’re here, too; animal lovers will love a walk around the lakes and state parks, of which there are several across the greater Orlando area.