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What's SeaWorld San Diego Like Right Now? Let's Dive into the Details!

Splashing news! The park reopened as a zoo on select days beginning Feb. 6, 2021. Hop over to our post on SeaWorld San Diego events for details on what's coming to SeaWorld San Diego!

SeaWorld San Diego Reopens with Zoo Days - Dolphin leaping in air in Dolphin Days ShowSeaWorld San Diego made a splash when it partially reopened as a zoo with animal exhibits and shows in August. It started with weekend events and had ramped up to operating five days a week with special SeaWorld events. Then the Stay-at-Home Order closed SeaWorld mid-December through the end of January. But we have hopping good news. SeaWorld has once again reopened as a zoo (with outdoor exhibits) for select days. More details are to come about the full SeaWorld San Diego reopening, but in the meantime, we are at least hoppy to visit our water-loving friends. At the new Rescue Tails show, we can also meet some other non-aquatic animal friends.

SeaWorld San Diego got the green light to open its doors ahead of other California theme parks because the marine park can operate under state guidance for zoos and aquariums. That means only certain areas of the park are open, such as the outdoor animal-focused areas, select restaurants and shows. However, rides and some attractions will remain closed a little longer until theme parks and indoor exhibits are cleared to reopen.

Whatever the status of San Diego County. SeaWorld is aglow on select nights during SeaWorld drive-thru events. It kicked off the new year with the Sesame Street Parade of Lights drive-thru experience. An Electric Ocean drive-thru event is planned for March through May!

San Diego County must reach certain goals in terms of COVID-19 data set up by the government and reach the least restrictive Tier 4 (Yellow Tier) before theme parks can fully reopen (along with the new Emperor Dive Coaster!). San Diego County moved back to the most restrictive Tier 1 (Purple Tier) before entering the Regional Stay-at-Home Order, so it may be months before San Diego theme parks may fully reopen. Indoor exhibits may reopen once the county re-enters the Red Tier 2, from the more restrictive Purple Tier 1.

The hopping good news is that you can still visit your favorite animals and watch shows. There are some hopping good events to attend as well, such as the Seven Seas Food Festival this spring. Check the calendar and park hours before your visit so you can maximize your time and take advantage of fun hoppenings in the park. Hours do vary per week, and even if there are weekday hours, Festival food and entertainment are generally Fridays through Sundays. Here are all of the details from our most recent visit (plus events we look forward to this spring)!

What's Hoppening at SeaWorld San Diego Right Now?

What's Hoppening at SeaWorld San Diego Right Now?-Zoe greats guests from a floatWe've been enjoying the various themed Sea World San Diego events while waiting for the full SeaWorld San Diego reopening. Even though we miss the rides and Sesame Street Bay of Play, it's nice to be able to focus on just seeing shows and visiting the animals. Sometimes it's hard to go between rides and shows and play time without feeling rushed, so we are enjoying our more relaxed trips to SeaWorld as a zoo and aquarium. But I know two tadpoles who will be hoppy to focus on rides once SeaWorld fully reopens! Lily was very hoppy to meet some Sesame Street friends (from a safe distance) on our most recent trip.

The whole Frog family has rumbling tummies just thinking about the Seven Seas Food Festival taking place Fridays through Sundays March 5 through May 2. That means we have new foods and beverages from around the world to taste (125 flavors this year — how ever will we choose?) and more entertainment (live music and Polynesian dance) to enjoy. What fun!

SeaWorld San Diego Dated Tickets are on sale now! You can purchase single day tickets from your favorite semi-aquatic froggy friends to save money! Don't froget to purchase discounted SeaWorld parking at the same time to save both money and time! After buying tickets, be sure to make a reservation, because SeaWorld limits capacity. We'll cover more of those reopening details a little later. Tadpoles 2 and under do not need a ticket or a reservation.

Diving into the Details from SeaWorld San Diego's Reopening-Man getting lanyards punchedIf you have a SeaWorld San Diego annual pass or Fun Card, you get free admission to SeaWorld! But you still need to make a reservation. You can save money by purchasing Fun Cards and the SeaWorld San Diego Silver Pass from UndercoverTourist.

If you buy the Dine and Drink Bundle, you can use your tasting voucher to get food and drink at restaurants and cart locations. Try dishes and treats at these restaurants:

  • Shipwreck Reef Cafe
  • Mama Stella's
  • Calypso Bay Smokehouse
  • Explorer's Café

Each location offers cold sides, hot sides, main dishes, seasonal specials, desserts and beverages. Kids options may include favorites such as mac & cheese or chicken tenders and fries.

Do you want to get a taste of Zoo Days and see SeaWorld back in action? Check out Tad's video on our YouTube channel!

Reservations are required for all guests as capacity is limited. Guests must purchase a date-specific ticket in advance (or make a reservation). If you purchase through Undercover Tourist, once you receive your E-ticket via email, you will visit Partner Ticket Reservations to make a reservation. SeaWorld San Diego Fun Card holders and annual pass holders get in for free, but they still need to make reservations.

You may purchase tickets for Dine and Drink Add-Ons, Animal Encounters (reservations required) or reserved seating for shows when you go to reserve your ticket. Once in the park, you can purchase Sea Lion Feeding and Ray Feeding, as well. Those sea lions do tricks (and bark for attention) to get those fish! It's toadally worth it!

Bring your ticket, reservation, pre-paid parking (optional), ID and face covering with you to the park.

Open Attractions at SeaWorld

What's SeaWorld San Diego Like Right Now? -Boy feed sea lions while separated from other guests with plexiglass dividersAvailable attractions include orcas, stingrays, sea lions, otters, outdoor penguins, dolphins, flamingos and others. We caught sight of some outdoor sea turtles when we ate at Shipwreck Café. You'll have access to Sea Lion Point, Otter Outlook, Dolphin Point and the Explorer's Reef Touch Pools! The underwater orca viewing is open. Only outdoor exhibits are open. Some of the viewing areas now have plexiglass dividers that separate parties from each other. Once San Diego County moves to the Tier 2 (Red), the indoor exhibits may reopen with 25 percent capacity. That includes the sea turtles, indoor penguins sharks, beluga whales and walruses. The turtles and sharks hoppen to be some of our tadpoles' favorite underwater exhibits.

What's SeaWorld San Diego Like Right Now? -Boy pets rayYou can attend educational presentations at the dolphin, sea lion and orca exhibits. Check the calendar for sea turtle and penguin feeding. World-famous shows such as Dolphin Days, Sea Lion Show and the Orca Encounter have returned in addition to a new show, Rescue Tails. Rescue Tails includes includes birds of prey, primates and reptiles. Check the calendar for showtimes. Shows run about 20 minutes, and are designed so you have time to make it to the next show on the schedule. Click the date of your visit for the entertainment schedule. The shows allow for socially distanced seating with skipped rows and markers on the benches. There is plenty of room to spread out and have a great seat! Coasters, rides, Sesame Street Bay of Play and arcade games remain closed for now. Some games of skill are open though.

What's SeaWorld San Diego Like Right Now? Elmo waves from a floatSesame Street Characters

You can meet your favorite Sesame Street characters from a safe distance. They stand up on floats and you can wave to them, blow kisses and take photos. You can find them next to the penguins. There's a Sesame Street photo op in the area too!


No trip to SeaWorld is complete without a stop at the gift shop.

The following shops are open:

  • SeaWorld Store
  • Whale Shop
  • Strollers/Rentals (You may also reserve stroller or wheelchairs in advance)
  • Shark Shack
  • Turtle Rescue Shop
  • Penguin Gifts
  • SeaPixels
  • Arctic Trading Post
  • Photos with Elmo & Friends
  • Strollers/Rentals

We've missed our time with the dolphins, sea turtles, and penguins. We were hopping with excitement to see some of these aquatic friends again! We really enjoyed our visit to the San Diego Zoo reopening last June (and to the Safari Park). Like the zoo and Safari Park, SeaWorld operates a little differently right now to keep guests, employees and animals healthy. It's the temporary new normal in theme parks and zoos. Let’s jump in to discover what you can expect during SeaWorld San Diego's reopening!

SeaWorld San Diego Reopening Dates, Hours and Details

Sea World San Diego Reopening — SeaWorld San Diego Entrance

We do not have a date for SeaWorld San Diego's official reopening with rides and all exhibits yet. Keep hopping back for updates! The park has been approved to reopen in phases, with the animal-focused areas reopening before the rides can reopen. Which areas of the park can be open depend upon government guidelines in the California Blueprint for a Safer Economy. A color-coded four tier system notes which kinds of exhibits may be open based on what tier the county is in. Hopfully San Diego can move out of the most restrictive tier soon!

During the phased reopening, we can expect the park to operate a little differently than before the pandemic. The SeaWorld Orlando reopening offers us a glimpse of what to expect when SeaWorld San Diego reopens.

SeaWorld San Diego initially is operating with modified schedules and park hours. Check the schedule before your visit, as park hours are updated periodically.

Guests can expect special safety measures including capacity limits, required face coverings, temperature checks for employees and guests, modifications to animal exhibits and closures of interactive play areas. Some guests simply walk past thermal scanners. People with strollers and their tadpoles are checked manually with a contactless thermometer. Once rides can reopen, single rider lines are likely to be closed (they are closed in Orlando). Guests can expect contactless interactions from park entry to shops and restaurants.

SeaWorld San Diego Reservation System

In order to meet social distancing guidelines, SeaWorld San Diego will limit capacity through the use of date-specific tickets and a reservation system found on the park's website. Hop back soon for details (and deals!) on tickets for the modified reopening.

Much like the procedure for Zoo Days, all guests with SeaWorld San Diego tickets, Fun Cards, Multi-Attraction Cards or annual passes must make a reservation prior to visiting the park. Guests need to bring their reservation E-ticket and their original ticket, card or annual pass to the front gate for entry into the park. Besides offering discount SeaWorld tickets, your semi-aquatic froggy friends can help you save money by purchasing SeaWorld parking in advance to also help you reduce contact when you arrive.

You may make park reservations for up to six people at a time. Have your tickets or pass barcodes available to verify that they are active. Children under 3 years do not require a reservation or ticket for entry. If you have a valid multi-day ticket, you will need to make reservations for each day that you plan to visit.

SeaWorld San Diego Reopening Safety Measures

SeaWorld San Diego Reopens with Zoo Days - Family in SeaWorld Masks

As mentioned, you can expect capacity to be limited and controlled by a reservations system. But you’ll also encounter a variety of safety measures to keep guests, employees and the animals safe from COVID-19 during the SeaWorld San Diego reopening. Masks are required, so hop over to our post on wearing masks in theme parks to learn some hopful tips and tricks for traveling with tadpoles and masks in this time.

SeaWorld San Diego will follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, as well as mandates from federal, state and local government agencies. That includes the San Diego Tourism Authority’s San Diego Attraction Reopening Health and Safety Plan. The plan incorporates the sanitation strategies and protocols for all of the San Diego attractions. The guidelines outlines the types of changes taking place at most other theme parks around the country. Hop over to our post on what to expect when the California theme parks reopen to get a sense of policy changes and safety measures in place at other theme parks, zoos and aquariums.

SeaWorld San Diego Reopens with Zoo Days - Dad with stroller gets temperature check

Here are the safety measures and changes you can expect during a visit to SeaWorld San Diego:

Face Coverings and Temperature Checks

  • Face coverings are required for all guests ages 2 and up. This is a government mandate. Face shields are not an acceptable face covering.
  • All face coverings must fit within CDC guidelines.
  • Guests undergo contactless temperature checks. If a guest's temperature reads higher than 100 degrees F, they will be moved to a separate area for a second screening.People with strollers are checked manually and head to the right.
  • Most guests walk to the left to walk past thermal scanners.
  • Guests can remove face coverings when eating or drinking and when in relaxation areas.
  • SeaWorld sells Sesame Street and animal themed masks in gift shops.
  • SeaWorld provides a disposable mask for guests who do not arrive in an appropriate face covering.

Employee Screenings and Protection

  • Mandatory health and safety COVID-19 training for all employees.
  • Wellness checks for employees prior to the start of the workday.
  • Employee temperature checks using contactless infrared thermometers.
  • Employees are required to wear protective face coverings.

Entrance and Security Checkpoints

  • Parks must reduce attendance capacity to ensure adequate social distancing (government guidelines are 25% of capacity).
  • SeaWorld will use a reservation system to limit capacity.
  • Parties must maintain six feet minimum distance from others at ticket booths, security queues, inspection tables and park entrances.
  • Hand sanitizer stations are available at ticket booth windows and park entrances.
  • Visitors are asked to open their own bags for security inspections to minimize contact.
  • All visitors required to wear protective face masks.

SeaWorld San Diego Reopens with Zoo Days - Distance Reminder SignsSocial Distancing

  • Display signage throughout parks with state new health and safety guidelines.
  • Markers and signs throughout park and parking lot will be in place to maintain social distancing.
  • One-way traffic on narrow pathways directs pedestrian flow.
  • Photo opportunities with costumed characters will be modified to maintain six feet minimum distance.
  • Signs indicate high-touch areas.

Sanitization and Disinfection

  • Additional hand-washing stations and hand sanitizer are found throughout the park.
  • Reduced restroom capacity to maximize social distancing.
  • Maintain six feet minimum distance in restrooms.
  • Employees will frequently sanitize restrooms.

Rides and Attractions

  • Rides are not operating during the initial reopening phase.
  • Hand sanitizers located at each ride entrance and exit.
  • Markers throughout rides and queues indicate to maintain six feet minimum distance between guests.
  • Riders wait in family groups in attraction queues.
  • Seating is staggered on each ride.
  • Employees clean and disinfect ride vehicles, queue railings and touch points on a frequent basis.

Dining and Shopping Safety

SeaWorld San Diego Reopens with Zoo Days - Ground Markings and Plexiglass in Gift Shop

  • Maintain six feet distancing between groups in restaurants.
  • Use contactless or single-use menus.
  • Serve more pre-made or prepackaged food and snacks.
  • Contactless payments to limit hand-to-hand interactions.
  • Plexiglass shields for cashiers and food stations.
  • Reduce unnecessary contact during food delivery.
  • Limited touch points such as closing condiment stations.
  • Frequently clean and disinfect door handles, counters and common areas.
  • Chairs and tables disinfected after each use.
  • Tables are either spaced far enough apart or have signs that indicate not to use them.
  • Floor markers remind guests to socially distance.

SeaWorld San Diego Shows, Exhibits and Rides

SeaWorld San Diego Reopens with Zoo Days - Sea Lion Show

Even some of the best SeaWord San Diego shows and attractions are affected by the new measures. Be sure to check the show schedules and plan your day around them. We have a ton of hopful tips to maximize your time at SeaWorld San Diego. They mostly still apply, but you might encounter a few temporarily closed exhibits and play areas, so be flexible.

SeaWorld Shows

The biggest differences to the shows is modified seating and that there are fewer shows. Four shows are available:

  • Sea Lions Live
  • Dolphin Days
  • Orca Encounter
  • Rescue Tails (new!)

Stadiums have modified seating arrangements. Keep an eye out for where to sit and where not to sit. Marks on the benches indicate open and closed sections of rows. Markings have changed since our first reopening visit in August. Now the benches have alternating red (no seating) and green (seating for one group only) sections to help guests figure out how to distance from other parties. Employees help guide too. It's easy to get a great view a safe distance from other guests. The trainers in shows wear facial coverings.

Look on the bright side: Fewer people near you can mean a better and unobstructed view! And beware of the soak zones down in front! The front half of the soak zones are particularly wet.

At the end of the show, be patient. Employees will dismiss each section row by row to avoid crowding. They dismiss the edges first, going section by section towards the middle sections. This allows everyone to keep a safe distance from each other.

What's SeaWorld San Diego Like Right Now? - Signs on stadium seats keep parties separated from others.

SeaWorld Exhibits

At animal exhibits, look for markers on the ground to indicate where to stand so you don't get distracted and too close to the humans! Look for hand-washing stations after leaving touch pools and animal feeding encounters. Also, "high-touch area" signs are a good indication that you should pull out some wipes or hand sanitizer after you leave that exhibit, especially for your tadpoles.  They touch everything! Indoor exhibits may operate with limited capacity.

One new change is plexiglass dividers that separate viewing areas at some exhibits. Since people seem to have a hard time distancing themselves from other parties, these dividers do the trick! The dividers also mean more guests can get a good view of the action.


Rides are not available during the initial SeaWorld San Diego reopening events. Once rides reopen, queues and vehicles will have some changes, as well, to promote social distancing. Ride queues have floor markings to remind everyone to stay six feet apart. On roller coasters, attendants will seat parties together with empty rows in between separate groups. For water rides, you still need to wear a face covering in the queue, but you can remove it on the ride itself. Bring a resealable plastic bag to keep it dry. Each party has its own raft for Shipwreck Rapids — yes, even a party of one! So remove that mask and take a nice clean breath. You'll need it for the screaming.

Relaxation Zones

SeaWorld San Diego Reopens with Zoo Days - Tables and Seats in Relaxation Zone

If your mask gets to be too much, take a breather. You can remove it when seated for dining, but you can also remove it in Relaxation Zones located throughout the park. You might find them near snack stands. Safely enjoy your treats at a table. Be sure to consume all food while stationary in designated areas and distanced from other people.

Are you as excited as we are for visiting during the SeaWorld San Diego reopening? Don't froget to purchase your discount SeaWorld San Diego tickets and parking before you visit!

Related: San Diego Zoo and Safari Park Reopening

Related: LEGOLAND California Reopening

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
View Comments
<<  Newer Posts | Older Posts  >>
Feb 11, 2021 at 11:13 p.m. Tina Says...

would you recommend purchasing reserved seating for the shows, or should we be able to get seated pretty easily? not sure how busy it is going to be around mid-march...

Feb 12, 2021 at 3:03 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Tina!

With limited seating due to physical distancing, bleachers can fill up quickly. If you get to shows at least 20 minutes early, you should be fine without it, but if you are racing to get to each show last-minute as we sometimes find ourselves doing, you’ll likely be sitting in the upper levels without reserved seating. Hope this helps!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Feb 9, 2021 at 5:04 a.m. Daniel peterson Says...

When will the rides and other encounters be open

Feb 9, 2021 at 7:52 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Daniel!

Rides opening will come with government approval, as San Diego reaches a different COVID-19 tier (currently in purple). That date is still TBD for now, but we'll be sure to update as soon as we hear more!

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Feb 6, 2021 at 2:08 p.m. Aisha Says...

Hi, Good Article. I have a query do we purchase seperate ticket for dolphin dancing show and others. Please let me know. I have already booked ticket entrance for seaworld.

Feb 8, 2021 at 8:56 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Aisha!

Shows are included in the price of your admission - so no need for a separate purchase! Enjoy! :)

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Aug 30, 2020 at 10:41 p.m. sandra roth Says...

i have the pass that includes my food so do i still have to purchase a food card or do you honor my two meals. also i have parking so is that still included or do i have to purchase parking

Sep 1, 2020 at 4:04 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Sandra!

Passholders and food plans are not valid yet since the park has not fully reopened, and most restaurants are closed except for the ones listed on the lanyard. You would need to purchase a reduced price Zoo Days ticket/lanyard by logging into the SeaWorld site (it’s about $30). Good news! Passholders do get to use their free parking entitlements. Your expiration on your pass will be extended from the closure through Zoo Days until the park is ready to fully reopen.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

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