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SeaWorld Orlando is one of the few places in the country to see penguins, otters, dolphins and many more amazing sea creatures up close while learning how to protect these majestic animals … and ride some really cool coasters at the same time! With fun events and new experiences constantly taking place, there's no time like the present to make a getaway to SeaWorld. Just like any theme park, being prepared and knowing what to expect will set you up for smooth sailing. Here are our best SeaWorld Orlando tips to make the most out of your next trip!
1. Buy Tickets in Advance
It's no fun waiting in a long line at the ticket window once you arrive at the park. Save time and money when you purchase your tickets in advance! (We can save you some green when you buy tickets through us.) Children under 3 years old do not require a ticket for entry.
2. Bring a Light Sweater
It might be hot outside, but inside, some animal exhibits and aquariums can get quite chilly. Blasts of cold air maintain the underwater environment for the comfort of the animals. In the case of the animal exhibits at Wild Arctic or Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins, the park helps re-create a natural environment for your encounters with these cold-weather creatures with temperatures reaching as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. Wear Quick-Dry Clothing
Spending the day with sea life in their watery world, you’re bound to get a little wet … or even soaked! SeaWorld also offers two fun water rides that you may not want to miss out on, or you may want to sit in the splash zone at the shows. Either bring along some rain gear or wear quick-dry clothes — especially for the kids. Even a small, fast-drying towel or camping towel in your pack will keep you from attempting to dry off with paper towels or the hand dryer. The Florida sun helps too! (Both water rides also offer full-body dryers at their respective exits for a small fee.)
4. Check the Forecast
Speaking of getting wet, despite being “the Sunshine State,” weather changes quickly in Florida. You never really know what to expect until you’re standing in the middle of a thunderstorm or melting in the humidity. Checking the forecast in the morning and preparing accordingly is your best defense against Florida’s wild weather putting a damper on your day. When it is raining, know that there are plenty of indoor exhibits, such as the brand-new SeaWorld Rescue Center, to take advantage of! The summer thunderstorms generally don't last very long anyway.
5. Pick Up a Park Map
Unlike most of the other theme parks, SeaWorld Orlando consists of winding and intersecting pathways rather than the hub and circle setup. Pick up a park map to help navigate with ease. Don’t froget to recycle it on your way out, unless you’re keeping it as a souvenir! Both the official SeaWorld app and the Undercover Tourist Orlando Planning app can help guide you, as well.
6. Make a Plan
If Manta and Mako are at the top of your list, ride them first! Ride wait times peak earlier at SeaWorld since so many people spend their afternoons watching the shows, but you'll still see lower waits in the mornings and evenings. (You'll want to ride Mako in the day and at night for a toadally different vibe!) Additionally, many of SeaWorld’s outdoor shows and attractions close due to weather (rainstorms, lightning, high winds, etc.) and there is no guarantee that the storm will pass before the park closes. Prioritizing your must-do attractions means you’re less likely to run out of time and try to squeeze them in before the rain or the end of the day. Note: Florida’s wet season goes through summer and into fall with frequent thunderstorms and showers in the afternoons.
7. Use a Multi-Use Locker for Multiple Rides
If everyone in the family wants to go on multiple rides that require you to store your belongings in a locker, rent a multi-use ride locker. A single-use locker costs $2 for two hours in one location, while a multi-use locker costs $10. But with the multi-use locker, you can hop from ride to ride all day (although it cannot stay at one location for more than two hours, or there will be an additional fee). You will need to create a seven-digit code that the locker stations will remember you by when you move locations, as well as a four-digit code to open a locker. Jot both of these codes down because it’s so easy to froget! Lockers are also a great place to stash rain gear or store wet clothes. (Be sure to double-check before you confirm your purchase that you're not also being charged for Quick Queue as the locker stations may automatically add it into your cart.)
8. Note that Some Quick Queues Have Different Entryways
If you buy a Quick Queue pass, follow any signs that may point you in a different direction than the normal line. At some of the rides, such as Mako and Journey to Atlantis, you enter the attraction’s Quick Queue right next to the regular line. But at others, such as Kraken, the Quick Queues start near the ride’s exit. It can get a little confusing, so if you can’t find the Quick Queue signs, just ask the ride attendant out front.
9. Arrive Early for Shows
In order to make sure the animals get the rest and playtime they deserve for performing such amazing feats, some of the SeaWorld Orlando shows have a limited number of times and tend to fill up quickly. This is especially true for the dolphin show, Dolphin Adventures, and the killer whale close-up, Orca Encounter. Plan to arrive 20 to 30 minutes prior to showtime, especially on busier park days. Look out for where you sit because you could end up in a splash zone!
10. Interact with the Animals
Some of the animal exhibits go beyond watching them in a large tank. At the Stingray Lagoon, you can reach in and touch a stingray as it swims by. Feeding animals costs a bit extra, but you can purchase a $10 deal that allows you to throw food to the sharks at Shark Shallows, the seals and sea lions at Pacific Point Preserve and the stingrays at Stingray Lagoon. Check the park map for specific feeding times. You can also enter a portion of the Manatee Rehabilitation Area to view for free.
11. Consider a Special Tour or Program
The mission of SeaWorld has always been conservation and education. With special programs such as the Dolphin Encounter, Penguins Up-Close, the Ultimate VIP Tour and more, guests can enhance their day in the park with unfrogettable memories of up-close encounters with penguins, dolphins, sea lions or beluga whales. On our last visit, we went into the rest of the rehab area to see injured or sick animals that have been rescued and the efforts SeaWorld makes to send them back into the wild. These special experiences can be added to your day for as little as $19 per person.
12. Know Your Transportation Options
Parking your own vehicle at SeaWorld will set you back $30. See if your resort offers a complimentary or low-cost shuttle. Many area hotels offer transportation to the parks for a low fee, usually about $5. You can typically purchase parking in advance to save you some time upon arrival.
13. Save on Food and Drinks
If you’re planning an all-day trip, consider buying the all-day dining plan. This deal allows you to redeem one entree, one side OR one dessert and a regular nonalcoholic drink as often as once every 90 minutes at participating quick-service restaurants. Because SeaWorld doesn’t allow outside food, we think it’s a pretty good deal if you’ll be there for lunch and dinner. It especially comes in handy when you’re thirsty and need a drink refill.
14. Stay Charged
SeaWorld has two free charging stations in the park for guests to recharge their electronic devices. You will need a power cord and a U.S.-compatible outlet plug. Charging stations can be found near the Nautilus Theater and between the Antarctica area and the Dolphin Theater.
15. Take a Break at Sesame Street Land
Little tadpoles getting restless? Let them climb, ride and explore at the new Sesame Street neighborhood. Located behind Orca Stadium, Sesame Street is home to interactive play areas and family-friendly rides such as the kid-sized coaster Super Grover’s Box Car Derby. Guests under 42 inches tall must be accompanied by a supervising companion 14 or older.
16. SeaWorld Orlando Is a Certified Autism Center
As an official Certified Autism Center, the park’s staff has received extensive training on autism sensitivity and awareness. You can download SeaWorld Orlando’s detailed online sensory guide to pre-plan your trip. Guests can use a quiet room located either next to the Information and Reservations Counter or inside the Child Care area in Sesame Street if they’re in need of a break from sensory overload. A low sensory area can also be found between Dolphin Cove and the SeaWorld Rescue Center.
We want to hear your SeaWorld Orlando tips! Share your best SeaWorld Orlando tips in the comments below. Ready to hop to it? Download our Orlando Planning App to see wait times and touring plans for SeaWorld Orlando.
Related: The Best Orlando Theme Parks by Age Group
Thank you for all the super helpful tips. I'm planning a visit to SeaWorld and Aquatica later this month, and I was wondering if you have any guides on how to navigate the park to ensure my family and I are able to see as much as possible over the course of each day. Thanks again for the helpful tips.
We sure do! We have several posts about SeaWorld Orlando, including this tips post — Quick Queue (the skip-the-lines service), the All-Day Dining Plan, a general Dining Guide and the event Summer Spectacular, which will still be going on when you visit. As far as Aquatica goes, we have our main general guide about the water park.
Hi, It is necessary to link the tickets like we do for Disney tickets? if it's yes.. how I should do it?
No, it's not necessary to link!
Does any of the SeaWorld resort partners offer a complimentary shuttle to the SeaWorld park? Also how much is parking at the park and canyon buy a two day pass?
It depends on the hotel — some do (such as Holiday Inn Express and Suites Orlando at SeaWorld), while others don't. Parking at SeaWorld Orlando costs $30. There isn't an option to purchase a parking pass for multiple days, though you can purchase a pass for each day of your visit.
If we purchase any combination of 2 parks including SeaWorld, Aquatica, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay or Adventure Island, which hotel is the best place to stay to? Should we stay at two different hotels since these are at two different cities? We are interested in SeaWorld and Busch Gardens.
Of course it depends on what you're looking for, but there are many options near SeaWorld. We'd suggest looking into Holiday Inn Express & Suites Orlando At Sea World, Hilton Garden Inn at SeaWorld and Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at Sea World — all are super close by. For Busch Gardens, it can certainly work as a day trip, but if you're planning to stay from open to close in order to maximize your time, then we'd suggest staying overnight. We'd recommend staying off Fowler Ave. (nearby the University of South Florida) rather than Busch Blvd.
The penguin encounter seems to be blocked out from today throughout til the 7th August. I'm going on the 3rd !!! Is there any reason why there are no dates available ?
The Penguin Encounter behind-the-scenes tour isn't available until Aug. 7, but the Penguins Up-Close Tour is still being offered! The habitat area is also open to the general public.
We are traveling all in one car. If I want to buy a ticket from you that includes the parking, can I only buy one with the parking option and the others at the cheaper price or do we all have to have the parking option ticket?
With dining pass.. do you have to buy one for every person, or one pass per family?
Each person will need to have their own All-Day Dining Deal wristband. Prices start at $39.99 for adults (ages 10+) and $19.99 for children (ages 3 to 9).
I have food allergies: gluten, corn, & dairy. I cannot eat any uncooked vegetables; therefore, no salads. Who can I contact about being able to find food that I can eat while there?
Sharks Underwater Grill is the designated dining facility for guests with food allergies. As we're sure you're used to doing, be sure to speak with a supervisor before ordering to be certain! There's also a Contact Us page here for you to speak with someone in advance of your visit and come up with a game plan. The direct line to reach them is 407-545-5550. Have a great trip!
Hello! How long do you think we should plan to spend at Sesame Street with a 4 year old? We plan to ride the Penguin ride first and then head to Sesame Street. Will we likely stay there until the 2pm parade, or should I plan to do other things in between? Thanks!
We toadally love Sesame Street! We think you and your tadpole can spend a good amount of time there exploring the land, meeting characters and going on rides (probably about 2 hours). That said, keep a few options in your pocket outside of Sesame Street in your pocket in case you need to hop to something new before the parade. Have fun!
Do they allow you to bring in your own food? I'm thinking a brown bag lunch for PB&J or something similar. Nothing requiring a heavy cooler. I don't see anything on their website. Thanks!
Water bottles and baby food are the only food and drink items that SeaWorld San Diego allows you to bring into the park. Coolers, straws and glass containers are also prohibited within the park, although guests are welcome to leave those in cars and use the picnic areas near the park entrance plaza.
Does the pass you buy, allow you to leave to eat and come back in. And can you bring your own diability scooter in too?
Went last night and it took over an hour to get out of parking lot. Is this common? If so I would want to cancel my annual pass as this was ridiculous!
We have never encountered this issue! When there are special events such as concerts and many people are leaving at once, it could be a possibility, but we wouldn't expect it to be the rule.
At one time, if you entered SeaWorld after a certain time in the day, they allowed you to come back the next day free, or basically on the same ticket. Does anyone know if this is still true and if so what is that time?
This ticket offer is no longer available.
They have very good food in the park to make your money go far to can buy a meal plan for only 35 bucks for the day the Average cost of any meal is 20 buck for just lunch with this plan you can go once an hour on the hour
Do you know if you can get into the park early?
They may open the turnstiles a few minutes ahead of opening, but nothing significant.
do you know which area hotels allow parking for a fee, and do any of them allow you to use their shuttle to seaworld?
You can check out our Orlando hotels and see the amenities each they provide!
Can u buy the upgrades at the gate for seaworld?
Yes, you can -- but oftentimes, better deals are available online.
Are big backpacks with wheels allowed inside the SeaWorld park? Can we bring hydroflask full of ice inside?
Looking at SeaWorld's website, there is nothing stating that big backpacks with wheels are not permitted.
As for the HydroFlask, the website states that glass bottles, cans and large hard or soft coolers are not permitted. It's hard to say where a metal HydroFlask falls within that category. We would suggest calling Guest Services at SeaWorld to confirm.
Hi, how far is the parking area at SeaWorld from the Park Entrance? Is preferred parking worth the extra cost and can it be purchased at the gate?
Depending on when you arrive at SeaWorld, you can be close to the entrance or far away. You can purchase preferred parking, but we don't feel it's worth it. You're spending your entire day walking already, and you could use that money towards a souvenir or food.
Best time to visit SeaWorkd? It is not on the crowd calendar. Thanks!
We've found that the best/worst time to visit SeaWorld Orlando generally fall along the same lines as Disney World. Check out those dates to guide your planning.
I understood that Parking is free from this year?
No, it is not with regular admission. You do get that with the Discovery Cove tickets, which include SeaWorld.
Discovery Cove told me that while parking is free at Discovery Cove, it is not free at Seaworld unless you do the $25 uprgade for Busch Gardens Tampa.
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