SeaWorld San Diego is one of the friendliest amusement parks for toddlers and small children. If you combine water play with sea creatures and then add in free play and Sesame Street you have a recipe for a perfect day. If you are planning on taking toddlers or small children to SeaWorld San Diego this year, follow these tips for creating a great day and lasting hoppy family memories.
1. Bring Swim Suits
Bring your child’s swimwear for the water play area in the Sesame Street Bay of Play. Even if you forget something, don’t worry—they also sell everything you need at SeaWorld. But you can save money be being prepared. Another fun but more extreme soak zone is at the bottom of the hill at Atlantis.
2. Pack Sunscreen
Apply and reapply sunscreen. SeaWorld does not provide a lot of shade from the strong Southern California sun. Wear sun hats and light clothing to protect your little one’s skin. If you bring a stroller, make use of the shade while transporting your tadpole from place to place. They rent single strollers with shade covers for $15 and double strollers for $20.
3. Choose Shows and Entertainment for Small Children
Most toddlers do not like to sit still, so choose shows that will appeal to them. The Sea Lion show has many silly antics that will keep them entertained. The Pets Rule show has many dogs and cats and other fun land animals and birds that your child will love. Don’t rush off after the show because you can stay to meet and pet some of the animal actors. Arrive early enough to get a good seat, and be careful of the wet zones if you do not want to get wet! Be sure to check out the schedule for photo ops and meet-and-greets with favorite characters.
4. Bring Snacks and Small Toys
The food at SeaWorld is pricey. While you cannot bring in full meals, you can bring in snacks. A bag of cereal, Goldfish crackers (in theme, right?), healthy snacks, or even a sucker can go a long way in keeping your little one quiet and still as you wait for a show to get started. These along with some small toys will come in handy.
5. Make Time to Play
One of Lily’s favorite parts of the SeaWorld is the Sesame Street Bay of Play right in the middle of the park. She loves hopping around the bounce areas and climbing the cargo net. There are also Sesame Street-themed kid rides, tunnels, water play and more. We often visit more than once each visit to get the wiggles out usually before or after a show.
6. Get Hands-On
You go to SeaWorld to see and experience the sea creatures, and this aspect of SeaWorld does not disappoint. Small children want to touch everything and here is their chance, getting instant gratification immediately upon entering the park at Explorer’s Reef. There are multiple low pools filled with fish (including sharks!), crabs, and sea stars that you can touch, hold, and learn about. The California Tide Pool is another area where you can reach right in and touch creatures.
You can pet or feed the bat rays near Manta. Another great experience is playing with the dolphins at Dolphin Point. Go during their free time to make an eye-to-eye connection through the glass or even play catch with a dolphin.
Kids love crawling through the Polar Bear den and touching the ice wall in the Wild Arctic. Other exciting indoor exhibits include Turtle Reef and Shark Encounter, where your little one will be mesmerized by the sea life swimming in front of and even right over them. These inside exhibits are also great ways to get out of the sun.
7. Bring Spare Clothes
Chances are that your little one is going to get wet from some vigorous splashing or a seat near a splash zone. If it is a hot day, that can help keep them cool, but if it is a cooler day or uncomfortable, having a clean T-shirt to swap out a wet (or even fishy) one can keep everyone happy.
8. Enjoy Seasonal Entertainment
At different seasons of the year there are different holiday events, so be sure to take advantage of those if you happen to be there during that time. We enjoyed trick or treating last fall and special holiday shows/activities during the Halloween Spooktacular.
There are a few upcoming events in early 2016:
From now until Feb. 21, it is Lunar New Year (with Pan-Asian entertainment and food).
March 5 to March 27 are Wild Days with an exploration of the wild world with Jack Hanna and some other animal ambassadors.
No matter when you visit, keep your eyes on the lookout for even more animal encounters. We saw porcupines and other land animals being walked on leashes throughout the park. If you happen to be visiting Disneyland with your little one while you are on the West Coast, read our secret tips.