Are you ready for some tail flippin' fun while riding thrilling coasters, zipping down waterslides and meeting wild animals? The SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment locations in Florida reopened in June 2020 after temporary closures due to COVID-19 with new policies and procedures, some of which are still currently in place. This lineup includes SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando, Discovery Cove, Busch Gardens Tampa and Adventure Island. We've made quite a few visits (and will continue to hop back) so we can keep you informed as things change!
We feel fortunate that we've been able to watch holiday fireworks at Busch Gardens Tampa and trick-or-treat at SeaWorld Orlando. What we've found impressive about the SeaWorld Parks events is that each event feels the same as past years despite the modifications. Also, we CANNOT WAIT until Ice Breaker launches its first guests at SeaWorld Orlando and Iron Gwazi debuts its makeover at Busch Gardens Tampa. Tad especially has been watching both of the rides' progress, and he hopes to be among the first frogs to ride them when they open later in 2022.
If you're planning a trip to any of the SeaWorld Parks in Florida anytime soon, here is everything you can expect!
What You Should Know About Visiting SeaWorld Orlando
Arriving at the Park
As of May 6, 2021, temperature checks have been phased out. Instead, you'll go through the usual bag check at security (which has plexiglass to protect both guests and ambassadors) and the entry turnstiles (which are now touchless — an ambassador scans your tickets through plexiglass). There are no paper park maps. Instead, you can scan a QR code to download a map on your phone.
Face Coverings and Relaxation Areas
Based on the recently announced guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Discovery Cove are all modifying their policy regarding face coverings. Face coverings will no longer be required outdoors. The parks will not require proof of vaccination, but ask guests to respectfully comply with the revised policy. Likewise, it is recommended that all guests wear a face covering while indoors.
Rides and Attractions
Some rides, attractions and play areas remained closed, including:
- Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin (penguin exhibit is open)
- Sky Tower
- Wild Arctic (animal exhibit is open)
You can watch the dolphins play with toys from the main sidewalk or the underwater viewing area. Public feedings for the stingrays and sea lions have resumed after not being initially available in June 2020.
Restaurants and Retail Shops
Ambassadors and guests are both protected by plexiglass at the registers. Contactless payment is highly encouraged, but cash payment can also be accepted. At restaurants, tables and chairs are sanitized frequently. Select restaurants may be closed or have limited availability until further notice. Flamecraft Bar and Glacier Bar may have a limited menu available.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Reopening Guidelines
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has implemented similar park health and safety measures to protect employees, guests and animals. These include health and safety guidelines and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, such as face coverings for unvaccinated guests.
Overall Park Enhancements
- Guests are encouraged to bring their own face coverings, but masks are available for purchase.
- Contactless payments are encouraged, and plexiglass has been installed in high-traffic areas.
- Cleaning and sanitization is increased significantly in high-contact areas, including numerous hand sanitization stations.
- Employees have received new training on new park operating procedures, which includes guidance from the CDC and health advisers.
Specific Enhancements to Key Operational Areas
- Guest Arrivals and Ticketing: There are enhanced cleaning protocols in arrival areas.
- Restaurants: Tables and chairs will be sanitized frequently. Additional grab-and-go options have been added.
- Animal Exhibits and Interactions: Certain tours and interactions are limited to one party at a time.
- Public Spaces: Hand sanitizer stations have increased throughout the park, as well as consistent signage.
- Rides and Attractions: Hand sanitizer is available at the entry and exit points of all rides, and the frequency of cleaning and sanitizing ride vehicles is increased.
- Parades and Meet and Greets: Certain parts of parades and meet and greets are limited or removed. Character interactions and photo opportunities are modified.
Aquatica Orlando, Discovery Cove and Adventure Island Tampa Policies and Procedures
Aquatica and Discovery Cove in Orlando and Adventure Island in Tampa have increased cleaning and sanitization of high contact surfaces, such as ride vehicles, rafts, tubes and life vests. To ensure physical distancing, guest capacity is limited in pools and lazy rivers, and lounge chairs are spread out appropriately. All rafts and ride vehicles are limited to a single party, so groups will not be mixed together.
Be sure to check the schedules for each respective park! Aquatica Orlando and Discovery Cove may be closed certain days of the week and their operating hours are subject to change. Adventure Island — now a year-round water park — reopened March 12, 2021.
We hope you'll find this information hopful as you plan your next visit. Do you have any questions about the reopening procedures at the Florida SeaWorld parks? Let us know in the comments below. And don't froget, you can save some green when you purchase SeaWorld Orlando tickets through Undercover Tourist.