One of the world's largest marine-life amusement parks, SeaWorld is spread over 189 tropically landscaped bay-front acres—and it seems to be expanding into every available square inch of space, with new exhibits, shows, and activities. The park offers a variety of amusement rides, some on dry land and others that will leave riders soaking wet.
The majority of SeaWorld's exhibits are walk-through marine environments. Kids get a particular kick out of the Shark Encounter, where they come face to face with sand, tiger, nurse, bonnethead, black-tipped, and white-tipped reef sharks by walking through a 57-foot clear acrylic tube that passes through the 280,000-gallon shark habitat. Turtle Reef offers an incredible up-close encounter with the green sea turtle, while the moving sidewalk at Penguin Encounter whisks you through a colony of nearly 300 macaroni, gentoo, Adelie, and emperor penguins. Various freshwater and saltwater aquariums hold underwater creatures
from around the world.
SeaWorld's highlights are its large-arena entertainments. You can get front-row seats if you arrive 30 minutes in advance, and the stadiums are large enough for everyone to get a seat in the off-season. The show Blue Horizons combines dolphins, pilot whales, tropical birds, and aerialists in a spectacular performance.
The Dolphin Interaction Program gives guests the chance to interact with SeaWorld's bottlenose dolphins in the water. The hour-long program (20 minutes in the water), during which visitors can feed, touch, and give behavior signals, costs $215.
The San Diego 3-for-1 Pass ($149 for adults, $119 for children ages 3 to 9) offers seven consecutive days of unlimited admission to SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo, and the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park. This is a good idea, because if you try to get your money's worth by fitting everything in on a single day, you're likely to end up tired and cranky. Many hotels, especially those in the Mission Bay area, also offer SeaWorld specials that may include rate reductions or two-day entry for the price of one.
There is no shortage of dining options inside SeaWorld, from burgers at Café 64, to Italian fare at Mama Stella's Pizza Kitchen, BBQ at the Calypso Bay Smokehouse, or baked goods at Seaside Coffee and Bakery.