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 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 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!
Tips for Taking Toddlers to SeaWorld San Diego
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. SeaWorld sells everything you need! But you can save money by being prepared. If you are visiting during the pandemic, the Sesame Street Bay of Play and rides are temporarily closed.
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. 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 double stroller with a retractable shade from SeaWorld for $25 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. Arrive early to enough to get a good seat, and be careful of the soak zones 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.
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.
Make Time to Play
One of Lily’s favorite parts of SeaWorld is the Sesame Street Bay of Play (temporarily closed) 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. 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.
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 one who was waiting can have a turn without having to stand in line again!
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.
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 or even play catch with a dolphin!
Kids love crawling through the frozen 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.
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 two 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 you cannot get enough SeaWorld, get a length of stay ticket that is good for up to seven consecutive days. You can also purchase Single Day with Free All Day Dining tickets!
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 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 — If you tadpoles aren't exhausted from their exciting day, they can catch explosive fireworks shows July 3 and 4 and during Labor Day weekend. Better plan that later afternoon stroller nap! Note: check the calendar for 2020, as many theme parks are temporarily pausing fireworks during the pandemic.
Halloween Spooktacular — We have enjoyed trick-or-treating and special holiday shows/activities on select days 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 and 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. 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.