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!
Our Top SeaWorld Orlando Tips
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.
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!
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 Turtle Trek, 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 forget 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 the multi-use locker costs $8. 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.
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, you enter the attraction’s Quick Queue right next to the regular line. But at others, such as Kraken and Manta, 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 at shows early.
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 Shamu’s 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 Private VIP Tour and more, guests can enhance their day in the park with unforgettable 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 $20 per person.
12. Dodge the parking fee.
Parking your own vehicle at SeaWorld will set you back about $25. 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. Some of the discount SeaWorld tickets we offer include parking — which is always a plus!
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 per hour 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 Shamu 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 Turtle Trek.
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.