SeaWorld San Diego is one of the friendliest amusement parks for toddlers and small children. It's Lily's favorite theme park. There is so much to touch and explore! If you combine touch tanks 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 visiting SeaWorld San Diego with small children this year, follow these tips for taking toddlers to SeaWorld San Diego. You're in for a splashing good time!
One thing to remember when visiting in 2021 is to bring face coverings, even for your toddlers. Children 2 and up must wear face coverings. Hop over to our post with tips on wearing masks in theme parks for some hopful advice for getting your toddler used to wearing a mask. Our toddler, Lily, got on board as soon as we found masks themed to her favorite characters. We say, "The mask stays over the nose or the Frog family goes." She doesn't want to leave the park, so she keeps it on except when eating or drinking. You can purchase some Sesame Street and sea creature masks at SeaWorld. A bonus to visiting now and staying late is that the holiday lights are still up!
There's hoppin' good news, especially for toddlers: The Sesame Street Bay of Play is open now (without climbing structures or water play). Instead, there are some new Sesame Street character experiences. And rides have reopened! Hop over to our SeaWorld San Diego reopening post for the latest information.
Even though water play and climbing areas are closed, we left in previous tips (and photos) in case you're planning a future trip when things may return. Here are our best toddler tips when visiting SeaWorld San Diego!
Tips for Taking Toddlers to SeaWorld San Diego
Bring Swimsuits (for future visits — in the meantime bring your dancing shoes instead!)
The water play area is currently closed. It's being used as a dance party area with Sesame Street characters. The characters show off their moves from the ship while your little dancers boogie in physically distant spots on the ground below. We got Ernie!
But once the water play areas are able to reopen, don't froget your child’s swimwear when taking toddlers to SeaWorld San Diego. The water play area in the Sesame Street Bay of Play is a great way to cool off and get the wiggles out. Even if you froget something, don’t worry. SeaWorld sells everything you need! But you can save money by being prepared.
Pack Sunscreen and a Stroller
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, especially from March through October. If you bring a stroller, make use of the shade while transporting your tadpole from place to place. Need a stroller? You can rent a stroller with a retractable shade from SeaWorld online in advance.
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. Dolphin Days and Orca Encounter are other fun shows. Lily likes the hoppy music in Dolphin Days. But be careful not to over schedule very young or particularly active toddlers. The very best toddler show is the new R is for Rescue show. Elmo, Abby Cadabby and Big Bird introduce their animal ambassador friends and get your toddlers dancing in their seats.
Arrive early to enough to get a good seat, and be careful of the soak zones in aquatic shows if you do not want to get wet! Of course, your toddler may love being up close and getting splashed. Maybe invest in a poncho for yourself. Bring some snacks or a lollipop to occupy a wiggly tadpole. You'll have to arrive early to get a good seat and that's a lot of sitting still time for a toddler.
Meet Favorite Characters
Be sure to check out the schedule for photo-ops and meet and greets with favorite characters. Your tadpoles might be hopping with excitement to meet their favorite Sesame Street characters. But don't push it if they feel more comfortable waving from a safe distance. Those characters are much bigger in real life compared to what they look like on TV.
The physically distant characters may work in a shy toddler's favor. The floats and photo-op areas are distanced enough to wave without feeling too intimidated. During the dance party, the character is high up in a boat so your toddlers can get a fun view without feeling overwhelmed. Then again, we did see several tadpoles try their hardest to get closer access to Cookie Monster by darting past the velvet ropes. We agree that he seems pretty huggable for a monster, but try to hold onto your tadpoles until it is safer to get closer.
During the SeaWorld reopening period, look for the following new character experiences at SeaWorld Bay of Play:
- Meet Abby Cadabby in Abby Cadabby's Garden
- Share your love for Cookies with the Cookie Monster himself
- Attend a Furry Friends Dance Party with a Sesame Street Character
- Attend storytime with Big Bird and then take pictures with your favorite feathered friend
- Meet The Count in his not-so-spooky castle
Check the schedule for meet and greet or dance party times. The centrally located Sesame Street Bay of Play is easy to hop in and out of throughout the day.
Make Time to Play
One of Lily’s favorite parts of SeaWorld is the Sesame Street Bay of Play right in the middle of the park. Hip HOP Hooray! The rides have reopened. The bounce areas and cargo net, tunnels and water play remain closed a little longer for health and safety precautions. There are also Sesame Street-themed kid rides, characters and more. We often visit more than once each visit to get the wiggles out, usually before or after a show. A few rides do not have height requirements, as long as a supervising companion rides with the child. Check out our guide to SeaWorld San Diego height requirements before you visit to see how your tadpole measures up.
Use Child Swap
Parents do not have to miss out on any fun! If you and your taller party members wish to ride an attraction that your child doesn't meet the height requirements for (or just doesn't want to ride), just let the ride attendant know. One person can wait with the child, while the others ride. When the first group is done riding, the waiting parent can take a turn without having to stand in line again!
Bring Snacks and Small Toys
Theme park food adds up quickly While you cannot bring in full meals, you can bring in snacks to SeaWorld San Diego. 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. Don't froget to bring some water to keep hydrated.
You go to SeaWorld to see and experience the sea creatures. This aspect of SeaWorld does not disappoint. Small children want to touch everything, and here is their chance. They will get instant gratification immediately upon entering the park at Explorer’s Reef. There are multiple low pools filled with fish (including sharks!) and other creatures that you can touch 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. Dolphin Point is under refurbishment until summer 2021. May we recommend spending some time with the walruses at Wild Arctic if you'll be visiting before then instead?
Kids love crawling through the frozen den and touching the ice wall in the Wild Arctic. Unfortunately, the den is temporarily closed but you can still feel the ice wall and spend a long time looking at the walruses, beluga whales and sea otters in this immersive exhibit. It's a Frog Family favorite! 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.
Bring Spare Clothes
Chances are that your little one is going to get wet from some vigorous splashing. If it is a hot day, being wet can help keep them cool. But if it is a cooler day, having a clean T-shirt to swap out a wet (or even fishy) one can keep everyone happy. Our tadpoles, Tad and Lily, love to sit in the soak zones for shows and wait in the splash zone at the bottom of Journey to Atlantis. Lily may not be tall enough to ride, but the splash is a huge thrill for her!
Skip the Ticket Line and Save on SeaWorld Tickets
Nobody wants to wait in line first thing, especially a small child, so purchase in advance and head straight through the gate to let the fun begin! Toddlers 2 and under get into SeaWorld for free. But you'll need tickets for the rest of your party. Luckily your little green froggy friends can help you find a great deal on discount SeaWorld San Diego tickets. You can save money by visiting on a weekday instead of a weekend. If one day is not enough, get a Fun Card. You can also purchase discount parking and Single Day with meal packages! Weekday tickets can allow you to save big time.
Be Patient at the Animal Exhibits
Let your little ones look at dolphins or orcas through the underwater viewing glass. The animals might find your little ones fascinating and want to see them too!
Enjoy Seasonal Entertainment
At different seasons of the year, there are different SeaWorld San Diego events, so be sure to take advantage of those if you happen to be there during that time.
- Lunar New Year — Select days in January and February, you can celebrate Lunar New Year (with Pan-Asian entertainment and food).
- Seven Seas Food Festival — If you visit on select dates in the spring, you might catch the Seven Seas Craft Beer & Food Festival. This one is more for the parents, but happy parents make for happy kids. Take your kids on a culinary adventure, and catch some exciting entertainment.
- Electric Ocean — In summer, Electric Ocean powers the evening at this family-friendly event. You can immerse yourself in the worlds of light and music with special entertainment.
- Summer Fireworks — Your toddlers may be exhausted from their exciting day, but they can catch explosive fireworks on select summer holidays. Better plan that later afternoon stroller nap! Note: Check the calendar for 2021, as many theme parks are temporarily pausing fireworks so as not to draw crowds in one area.
- Halloween Spooktacular — We have enjoyed trick-or-treating and special holiday shows/activities on select days from mid-September through early November.
- Red, White & Blue Salute — In between Halloween and Christmas, this patriotic event honors members of our military. Active Duty and veterans, plus up to three dependents, may enjoy complimentary admission to SeaWorld during this limited-time promotion. SeaWorld honors members of the military and veterans during a pre-presentation before the Orca Encounter show.
- On select days near Veterans Day, pick up a free Heroes Trail sticker map at one of several booths located in the park. Explore all of the booths to collect up to nine Armed Forces (and other hero) stickers! Mark each location on your map with the correct hero sticker. Once you’ve found them all, take your completed Heroes Trail map to The SeaWorld Store to collect a special prize!
- Christmas Celebration — Your tadpoles can meet Santa and Rudolph, watch live shows and snack on festive foods at this family event held daily from mid-November through early January.
No matter when you visit, keep your eyes on the lookout for even more animal encounters. If you happen to be visiting Disneyland with your little one while you are on the West Coast, read our secret tips. If you have any questions about taking toddlers to SeaWorld San Diego, please ask away in the comments section below.