SeaWorld San Diego is one of the premier attractions in San Diego and a must-do for any visit to Southern California. The marine park offers incredible views of sea life and other animals through up close, even hands-on encounters, shows and exhibits. Alongside the animals, there are some incredible attractions that can make it hard to decide what to do first. With a little planning and these tips, you can maximize your time at SeaWorld San Diego.
Here are 11 tips to maximize your time at SeaWorld San Diego:
1. Buy your tickets in advance.
You will save money and time if you purchase your tickets in advance, since you can find great discounts and you won't have to stand in line at Will Call.
2. Pick the best times to visit.
The summer months and days around major holidays are when SeaWorld San Diego is busiest. Basically whenever kids are out of school you can expect major crowds. But this is also when SeaWorld's park hours are the longest, and there are more shows and more showtimes. So you have to decide whether you want to visit with fewer crowds or fewer shows.
3. Consider purchasing Quick Queue and Quick Queue Premier if you are visiting during the busiest times.
Quick Queue allows you unlimited single-day access to the express entrances at Journey to Atlantis, Wild Arctic, Shipwreck Rapids, Bayside Sky Ride and Manta. Quick Queue Premier includes all of the benefits of Quick Queue PLUS reserved seating at most SeaWorld shows, including One Ocean, Blue Horizons, Shamu Rocks (during Summer Nights), Pets Rule, Sea Lions Live and Sea Lions Tonite (during Summer Nights). Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation is not included. This is the easiest way to maximize your time at SeaWorld San Diego.
4. Eat breakfast before you get to the park.
You'll save time and money if you fuel up before you head to the park. While there are great dining options at SeaWorld San Diego, we think your money is better saved for lunch.
5. Arrive ahead of park opening.
That old saying "the early frog gets the fly" is especially true at SeaWorld San Diego. We're not sure if it's just San Diego's laid-back vibes, but the crowds really start building around lunch time. Therefore arriving just before park opening gives you plenty of touring time. We like to get a jump on the rides, animal encounters and exhibits at this time. Personally, we like to tour the park counter-clockwise visiting Journey to Atlantis, Wild Arctic and the penguin exhibits since they are closer to the park entrance and then head to the other side of the park.
6. Prepare for the water rides.
Bring along inexpensive ponchos so that you can ride the water rides without a drenching (unless you want to get wet). This is especially helpful if you decide to ride Journey to Atlantis first thing! You can decide when you get to the shows whether you want to sit in the splash zone. Know that you're also liable to get a good soaking on Shipwreck Rapids, although the name should be a good giveaway :)
7. Bring your own water.
Water bottles are the only food and drink items that SeaWorld San Diego allows you to bring into the park. Coolers and glass containers are also prohibited within the park, although guests are welcome to leave those in cars and use the picnic areas near the park entrance plaza. SeaWorld's official policy on guests with medical diets and baby formula is to seek a park representative for assistance before entering.
8. Eat lunch at off-peak times.
Especially during the busiest times of the year, you will maximize your time at SeaWorld San Diego if you eat lunch earlier or later than the standard lunch hour.
9. Visit Sesame Street Bay of Play in the afternoon.
Sesame Street Bay of Play is full of pint-sized rides that are perfect for toddlers and young children. Lines don't get as long for these attractions as for the bigger rides, and we suggest coming back to them since they are close to the park exit. Children must be 42 inches to ride by themselves.
10. Check the park map for character meet-and-greet times and more.
All of the park's character encounter times are listed on the park map. Additionally, the Sesame Street characters come out to pose for pictures after each Sunny Days show in the Bay of Play. The park map also lists open and close times for the rides, restaurants and shows.
11. Schedule your day around the shows.
You can do this before you leave home by checking the show schedule a week or so ahead of your visit. Plan to arrive at least 20 minutes ahead of the shows (and even earlier during peak times) to get seats in the best viewing area. In between the shows, we ride the rides and experience the animal encounters. (Tad and Lily both especially love the Bat Rays and Shark Encounter!)
We hope you've enjoyed our tips to maximize your time at SeaWorld San Diego. Have a tip we haven't listed? Share in comments below!