SeaWorld San Diego is home to the world's very first SeaWorld, founded in 1964 as a marine zoological park along Mission Bay. Today, the park is as much a theme park as it is a marine park, with fantastic shows, animal exhibits, aquariums and, yes, a few hang-onto-your hat thrill rides. There is plenty to see and do in a day at SeaWorld, and we definitely recommend you plan in advance so that you don't miss out on anything. (Get started with our SeaWorld San Diego Touring Plan.) Here are the very best SeaWorld San Diego attractions and shows.
1. Sea Lions LIVE
Those crazy, clever sea lions, Clyde and Seamore, are up to their usual hijinks as they perform live-action TV and music spooks in this 20-minute show.
2. Pets Rule!
A spunky lot of mostly rescued dogs, cats, birds and even potbellied pigs show off their best training moves in this high-energy show demonstrating fun - and humane - animal training techniques.
3. Sky Tower
One of the oldest rides in the park, Sky Tower offers spectacular 360-degree views of SeaWorld, Mission Bay and surrounding San Diego from 320 feet in the air. Until 2011, there was an extra charge to ride. The best times to view are after the cloud cover has lifted over San Diego.
4. Bayside Skyride
Older by a few years than Sky Tower, Bayside Skyride also initially required an extra charge to ride. It takes guests over Mission Bay and back aboard gondolas.
5. Journey to Atlantis
While it shares the same name as the SeaWorld Orlando water flume ride, the San Diego version is more coaster than water ride, although you will get wet! If you ride early in the day when it's cooler, you may need your poncho.
Like Journey to Atlantis, Manta also shares its name with a coaster at SeaWorld Orlando. Again, the two are very different. SeaWorld Orlando's Manta is the smoothest coaster I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing, but its thrills scare off plenty of would-be riders. The San Diego version is a fun coaster and a must-do, but it's nowhere near the scare level of its Orlando counterpart.
7. Wild Arctic
This combination motion simulator and animal exhibit explore the icy landscape of the Arctic Circle. Guests have the option of skipping the ride and heading straight for the polar bears and walruses, but we think the perilous jet helicopter ride perfectly sets the stage for the awesome animal encounters.
8. Blue Horizons
Bottlenose dolphins, birds of flight and daring aerialists come together in this dazzling display of show pairing dance and flight.
9. One Ocean
The majesty of the killer whale and their amazing size and strength are the focal points for this show. If you're visiting this summer, make sure to catch the all-new Shamu show and fireworks finale, "Shamu Celebration: Light Up the Night."
Bonus: Explorer's Reef
SeaWorld San Diego's newest experience isn't a show or a ride, but that doesn't make it any less exciting. At Explorer's Reef, guests can go under the wave sculpture and get up close to a number of underwater sea creatures. If your little ones are anything like Tad and Lily, putting their hands in the water and touching the stingrays and other animals will be the highlight of their trip!
We hope our look at SeaWorld San Diego's best attractions and shows will get you ready for a trip! If you're looking for more help in planning your San Diego vacation, look no further than our San Diego Planning Guide.
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