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~Toadally~ Terrific Tips for Taking Toddlers and Small Children to SeaWorld San Diego

by Mommy Frog on March 22, 2024 5 San Diego

~Toadally~ Terrific Tips for Taking Toddlers and Small Children to SeaWorld San Diego - pinterestSeaWorld San Diego is one of the friendliest amusement parks for toddlers and small children. It's one of Lily's favorite theme parks. 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 splashin' good time!

Tips for Taking Toddlers to SeaWorld San Diego

Bring Swimsuits and Play Clothes

The former Sesame Street Bay of Play has been transformed into a new marine rescue-themed attraction for small children. The 55,000-square-foot Rescue Jr. has a splash zone in addition to gentle 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.

Terrific Tips for Taking Toddlers and Small Children to SeaWorld San Diego - Kids splash in water play area

Even if you froget something, don’t worry. SeaWorld sells everything you need! But you can save money by being prepared.

Pack Hats, Sunscreen and a Stroller

Apply and reapply sunscreen. SeaWorld does not provide a lot of shade from the strong Southern California sun, especially for shows. 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

Tips for Taking Toddlers and Small Children to SeaWorld San Diego - Sea Lion Leaps out of Water in Show

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 Adventures, 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 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 a device 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.

Terrific Tips for Taking Toddlers and Small Children to SeaWorld San Diego - Toddler Play mat

Your littlest tadpoles (under 39 inches) can enjoy the contained, padded Tadpole Play area in Rescue Jr. It is a shady spot with plenty of seating for parents.

Meet Sea Characters

~Toadally~ Terrific Tips for Taking Toddlers and Small Children to SeaWorld San Diego-Kids meet Dolphin and Polar Bear

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.

Terrific Tips for Taking Toddlers and Small Children to SeaWorld San Diego - Girl plays in beach play area

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!

Make Time to Play

One of Lily’s favorite parts of SeaWorld is the new Rescue Jr. play area right in the middle of the park. Hip, hop, hooray! The air bounce, tadpole toddler mat and rope climb areas are great ways to get the wiggles out. The new play area in Rescue Jr. is perfect for small children. It has small boats and sea creatures to climb in and over. There are also kid rides. We often visit more than once each visit to let the tadpoles hop off excess energy, usually before or after a show.

Go on Rides for Small Children

Terrific Tips for Taking Toddlers and Small Children to SeaWorld San Diego - Mom and daughter on spin ride

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:

  • Tidepool Twist 
  • Rescue Rafter
  • Rescue Riders
  • Net Climb
  • Rescue Bay Splash Zone
  • Breakwater Bounce
  • Tadpole Play
  • Rescue Training Obstacle Course
  • Rescue Jr. Play Yard

~Toadally~ Terrific Tips for Taking Toddlers and Small Children to SeaWorld San Diego-Mom and kids laugh on ride

There are also some kid-friendly sea-themed rides outside the Bay of Play such as:

  • Tentacle Twirl
  • Aqua Scout
  • Octarock
  • Sea Dragon Drop

~Toadally~ Terrific Tips for Taking Toddlers and Small Children to SeaWorld San Diego-People enjoy a swingingride

Do a Height Check

Terrific Tips for Taking Toddlers and Small Children to SeaWorld San Diego - Height Check areaNear the park entrance and stroller rental area is a height check for all the rides in the park. Find out what your tadpoles can go on all in one place. That way you know what rides to avoid to prevent unnecessary disappointment.

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 Small Toys and Water and Prepare for Snack Breaks

A small toy can go a long way in keeping your little one quiet and still as you wait for a show to get started. Don't froget to bring some water to keep hydrated — you're allowed to bring in refillable water bottles to help save some green. We get so thirsty in the sun! There are bottle refill stations around the park.

Stop by the grab-and-go markets. If your toddlers are getting hungry, the fastest way to fill them up is to hop into the market. There is one close to the sharks, sea lions and Dolphin Adventures. You can pick up toddler-friendly foods such as Uncrustables, fresh fruit cups and cheese sticks without a food line. And your kids will behave better on these healthy snacks than on typical theme park foods.

Get Hands-On

~Toadally~ Terrific Tips for Taking Toddlers and Small Children to SeaWorld San Diego-Kids enjoy feeling fish in touch tank

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?

Terrific Tips for Taking Toddlers and Small Children to SeaWorld San Diego - kids play in polar bear den

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

Taking Toddlers to SeaWorld San Diego - Journey to Atlantis Splash Zone

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

Tips for Taking Toddlers and Small Children to SeaWorld San Diego - girl plays in Rescue Jr.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. (Your second day is free within six months of purchase!) You and your toddlers will appreciate being able to slow down and not feel the pressure to make every show in one day while your little ones are enjoying other activities.

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

Tips for Taking Toddlers and Small Children to SeaWorld San Diego - Dolphin and toddlers look at each other

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 and beluga whales.

~Toadally~ Terrific Tips for Taking Toddlers and Small Children to SeaWorld San Diego-Toddlers look at Beluga whale

Pace Yourself, and Don't Froget Nap Time

You'll feel the need to press on to see everything. But you are going to move at a much slower pace with toddlers. They need their playtime, but they also need to rest. Find a quiet, shady spot to rest or walk them in the stroller. Otherwise, you may deal with meltdowns. If you are able to split your day into two visits, you can take your time and not overdo it. Check out our two-day ticket deals.

Enjoy Seasonal Entertainment

~Toadally~ Terrific Tips for Taking Toddlers and Small Children to SeaWorld San Diego - Kids Meet RudolphAt 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 Spectacular Enjoy dance parties, new kid-friendly shows, animal interactions and even a pirate and mermaid show!
  • Summer and Holiday Fireworks — Your toddlers may be exhausted from their exciting day, but they can catch explosive fireworks on select nights. You better plan that late 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 snowfall, enjoy holiday lights and snack on festive foods at this family event held daily from mid-November through early January.

If you hoppen to visit on a bad weather day that dampens your experience, SeaWorld has a great weather policy that applies year-round. If you experience severe weather on the day of your visit — including weather events such as rain, lightning, extreme heat, wind, snow, hail and more — you can redeem your paid admission ticket for a nontransferable, nonrefundable re-admit ticket. The new re-admit ticket is valid for a single-day admission and must be redeemed one year from the date of the visit. These re-admit tickets can only be processed at Guest Services near the main entrance before you leave the park on the day of your visit.

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

Hoppy planning!

Keep hopping, Mommy Frog!
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Nov 4, 2021 at 8:29 p.m. Jamie Says...


If it says 50inches to interact with dolphins how flexible and/or strict are they on that? My son is 45 inches but can stand in a pool of water. I'm talking the dolphin interaction not the encounter

Sep 14, 2021 at 3:07 a.m. Christine Shahak Says...

Can my 13 month old ride any rides at Sea World with both my husband and I?

Sep 14, 2021 at 1:45 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Christine!

We recommend checking the height requirements for the rides. On this list, they could go on any ride with a parent if it says, "or accompanied by a supervising companion" and does not have any further limitations.

Hoppy planning!

Mommy Frog

Aug 3, 2017 at 9:10 p.m. Jane Anderson Says...

What rides can 2-4 year olds go on?

Aug 6, 2017 at 2:26 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Jane,

The Sesame Street Bay of Play area and the new Submarine Quest are perfect for smaller tadpoles. Don't forget about the shows!

Hoppy Planning!

Mommy Frog

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