Oh, hoppy day! We celebrate a return to a world that looks more like pre-pandemic days. We've been busy this past year covering all the safety protocols associated with the SeaWorld San Diego reopening. SeaWorld San Diego returned to normal operations as of June 15, 2021. SeaWorld has no COVID-19 restrictions and has ended restrictions for out-of-state visitors. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) recommends that people attending certain public occasions be fully vaccinated, obtain a negative COVID-19 test beforehand or wear a face covering. SeaWorld will have signage to encourage guests to follow state guidelines. There will no longer be physical distancing, even in indoor exhibits. Guest no longer need to make reservations to visit.
SeaWorld made a splash when it reopened. Furthermore, Lily was beyond frogcited to visit the characters at Sesame Street Bay of Play. We've enjoyed attending the various SeaWorld events and Kids Weekends in May to early June, while Electric Ocean is June 11 through Sept. 6. Fireworks are back with a bang for select nights too. But we are hopping with excitement now that SeaWorld San Diego rides are open! Keep in mind that SeaWorld is slowly rolling out rides, so not all rides may be open when you visit. You can count on Sesame Street and other small rides, but not all the thrill rides are back every day yet. Check the SeaWorld app for updates before you visit. Manta, Electric Eel, Journey to Atlantis, the Bayside Skyride and Shipwreck Rapids are open. We can't wait for the new Emperor dive coaster to debut in March 2022!
Aquatica, SeaWorld San Diego's off-site water park, reopened May 29, 2021. Aquatica is the future location of Sesame Place San Diego!
We have been hoppy to visit our water-loving friends since August 2020! There is a new Sesame Street show to help get the wiggles out. Moving is huge when you visit SeaWorld with a toddler.
SeaWorld San Diego got the green light to open its doors ahead of other California theme parks because the marine park could operate under state guidance for zoos and aquariums, but now the park is complete (although not all attractions have fully returned). We are hopping with joy to watch fireworks at the end of the night! There are great views all over the park from the Orca Encounter stadium seats to plenty of space in front of the Penguin Encounter. You can read about the latest in theme park reopening guidelines in our post on what to expect when the California theme parks reopen.
What's Hoppening at SeaWorld San Diego Right Now?
When you visit, check the calendar and park hours 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 visits!
The Sesame Street Bay of Play reopened partially March 26, 2021, with character interactions, new presentations, a dance party, a storytime with Big Bird and the all-new Big Bird's Bistro. Rides are now open! Our toddler, Lily, is literally jumping to enjoy SeaWorld experiences that are designed just for her. (Hop over to our post on taking toddlers and small children to SeaWorld San Diego for tips.) There's a new Sesame Street show designed for tadpoles called Let's Play Together. Elmo, Abby Cadabby and other friends sing, dance and play.
We've been enjoying the various themed Sea World San Diego events. Electric Ocean kicked up June 11 and runs until Sept. 6. Fireworks are hoppening nightly (10 to 15 minutes before park close).
And of course, the reopening of indoor exhibits has added so much to the park experience. We have enjoyed visiting our friends — the sea turtles, sharks, penguins, beluga whales and walruses. The views of the animals are toadally worth hopping by! Tad added the video to our YouTube channel!
But the moment we've all been waiting for has arrived. Rides are now open! You'll want to check online to see which rides are open before you visit, because SeaWorld is slowly reopening rides, and not all rides have returned.
SeaWorld San Diego Reopening Tickets and Reservations
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! The weekday tickets and meal package tickets can especially save you some green. Don't froget to purchase discounted SeaWorld parking at the same time to save both money and time! Hoppy day: You can now purchase discount Aquatica tickets through Undercover Tourist.
Did you know you can save money by purchasing Fun Cards and the SeaWorld San Diego Silver Pass from UndercoverTourist?
Guests no longer need to make reservations to visit SeaWorld San Diego! But you can reserve other experiences in advance.
You may purchase tickets for Animal Encounters (reservations required) or reserved seating for shows (recommended as the park is getting busier). Kids 12 and under must wear a face covering during the animal experiences. If you froget one, the park will provide it. 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! The more involved dolphin interaction experiences (where you can get in the water) are back, but reserve ASAP because dates are selling out!
If you purchase the Dine and Drink bundle, you can save on food and drink. The Dine & Drink bundle includes six (6) food and/or drink items of your choice (including beer, wine and cocktails). 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 and cheese or chicken tenders and fries. Plan meals wisely as lines can get long.
Open Attractions at SeaWorld
More and more attractions open every time we visit! Available animal encounters include orcas, stingrays, sea lions, otters, outdoor penguins, dolphins, flamingos and others. It's exciting that indoor exhibits are open now, including sharks, sea turtles, walruses, beluga whales, otters, penguins and more.
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. The turtles and sharks hoppen to be some of our tadpoles' favorite underwater exhibits.
You can attend educational presentations at the dolphin, sea lion and orca exhibits. World-famous shows include:
- Dolphin Days
- Sea Lion Show
- Orca Encounter
Other shows include:
- Static Shock Rock Show
- Laser Reef Light Show
- Electric Floating Acts (all-new show) available select dates beginning in July
- Cirque Neon World (all-new show) available select dates beginning in July
- Let's Play Together (with Sesame Street friends) (all-new show) beginning July 18
Check the calendar for showtimes. Shows run about 20 minutes, and you'll want to arrive 30 to 45 minutes early. Click the date of your visit for the entertainment schedule.
Arcade games remain closed for now. Some games of skill are open though, as well as face painting and caricature artists.
Sesame Street Characters
You can meet your favorite Sesame Street characters from a safe distance. They stand up on floats, stages or ships (or behind ropes) and you can wave to them, blow kisses and take photos. You can find them in Sesame Street Bay of Play. The main water play and climbing structures in the area remain closed for now, but you can attend Sesame Street dance parties and storytime. The bounce areas are open and a smaller splash pad is open if you want to bring your toddler's swimsuit.
No trip to SeaWorld is complete without a stop at the gift shop! Shops are open. Strollers and Rentals are open too (you may also reserve strollers or wheelchairs in advance). Lockers are open as well.
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). Let’s jump in to discover what you can expect during SeaWorld San Diego's reopening!
SeaWorld San Diego Reopening Safety Measures
Guests no longer experience special safety measures such as capacity limits, required face coverings, temperature checks for employees and guests, modifications to animal exhibits and closures of some play areas. Single rider lines are closed. Guests can expect more contactless interactions from park entry to shops and restaurants. Bring credit cards and alternate payment options.
Check the SeaWorld San Diego site for current hours and schedules. We highly recommend arriving before park opening. Those parking and entrance lines can get pretty backed up about two hours after opening, especially on busy days. Plus you can get a jump on an early show before the crowds show up!
SeaWorld San Diego follows guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, as well as mandates from federal, state and local government agencies, which 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 outline 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.
Check out some of the best SeaWorld San Diego shows and attractions and research the show schedules and plan your day around them. We have a ton of hopful tips to maximize your time at SeaWorld San Diego.
The biggest differences between the shows are modified seating and that there are fewer shows. Four shows are available (more during events):
- Sea Lions Live
- Dolphin Days
- Orca Encounter
As crowds return, it's getting harder to find a seat. Shows are filling up quickly. Arrive about 30 minutes early (45 minutes early on busy days) or use Reserved Seating. And beware of the soak zones down in front! The front half of the soak zones are particularly wet.
Are you as excited as we are about visiting during the SeaWorld San Diego reopening? Don't froget to purchase your discount SeaWorld San Diego tickets and parking before you visit!
Related: LEGOLAND California Reopening