SeaWorld San Diego is one of the friendliest amusement parks for toddlers and small children. It's one of Lily's favorite theme park. There is so much to touch and explore! If you combine touch tanks with large sea creatures and then add in free play and toddler-friendly rides, 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 Swimsuits and Play Clothes
The Sesame Street Bay of play has closed, but soon a new marine rescue–themed attraction for small children opens in that area in spring 2023. The 55,000 square foot Rescue Jr. has a splash zone in addition to rides, climbing areas and visits from rescued animals.
Don't froget your child’s swimwear when taking toddlers to SeaWorld San Diego. The water play area in Rescue Jr. 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 new Sea Lion & Otter Spotlight show has many silly antics that will keep them entertained. Dolphin Adventures and Orca Encounter are other fun shows. Lily likes the hoppy music in Dolphin Days, but it's easier to follow and see the orcas. Be careful not to over schedule very young or particularly active toddlers.
Arrive to shows 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, devices or a lollipop to occupy a wiggly tadpole while you wait for the show to start. You'll have to arrive early to get a good seat and that's a lot of sitting still time for a toddler.
Meet Sea 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 some sea friends. But don't push it if they feel more comfortable waving from a safe distance. All the Sesame Street characters have moved to Sesame Place, which is about 20 miles from SeaWorld San Diego. That park also has water rides, kid-friendly rides and entertainment. You can save with a two-day ticket that gives you access to both parks!
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 air bounce and rope climb areas are great ways to get the wiggles out. There are also Sesame Street-themed kid rides. We often visit more than once each visit to let the tadpoles hop off excess energy, usually before or after a show. There is small beach-themed play area just outside the exits to Turtle Reef and Shark Encounter that your tadpoles will love to climb around. The turtle looks so real!
Go on Rides for Small Children
Even though SeaWorld San Diego offers some big thrills for big frogs, a few rides for tadpoles do not have height requirements, as long as a supervising companion rides with the child. The child may need to be able to walk to ride. Check out our guide to SeaWorld San Diego height requirements before you visit to see how your tadpole measures up.
Here are the Rescue Jr. attractions opening spring 2023:
- Tidepool Twist
- Rescue Rafter
- Rescue Riders
- Net Climb
- Rescue Bay Splash Zone
- Breakwater Bounce
- Tadpole Play
- Rescue Training Obstacle Course
- Rescue Jr. Play Yard
There are also some kid-friendly sea-themed rides outside the Bay of Play (open now) such as:
- Tentacle Twirl
- Aqua Scout
- Sea Dragon Drop
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. There are bottle refill stations around the park.
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 cleaning fish (they tickle!), sharks, horseshoe crabs 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. May we recommend spending some time with the walruses or beluga whales at Wild Arctic?
Kids love crawling through the frozen polar bear den and touching the ice wall in the Wild Arctic. It's a Frog Family favorite exhibit! 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! That water can be quite chilly though!
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 even more money by visiting on a weekday instead of a weekend. If one day is not enough, get a 2-day ticket. If you have an upcoming trip, buy ASAP. For a limited time, the Undercover Tourist 2-day tickets are actually $10 cheaper than a 1-day any day ticket!
Weekday (Monday through Thursday) tickets can allow you to save big time. But keep in mind that during certain SeaWorld events, special food, beverage and entertainment may only be available on the weekends.
We also sell tickets to Sesame Place. If you want to visit both parks, get a hoppin' deal on a 2-park ticket. We recommend Sesame Place during the warmer months when all the water attractions are open.
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! Another great spot to wait is near the walruses.
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. Toddlers may especially love these events:
- Mardis Gras — Watch acrobats perform, meet special characters and taste new festival foods on select days in January and February.
- Summer and Holiday Fireworks — Your toddlers may be exhausted from their exciting day, but they can catch explosive fireworks on select nights. Better plan that later afternoon stroller nap! Check the calendar for show times.
- Halloween Spooktacular — We have enjoyed trick-or-treating and special holiday shows/activities on select days from mid-September through Halloween.
- 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 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, see snow fall, enjoy holiday lights 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.
Related: Tips to Maximize Your Time at SeaWorld San Diego