Sorry Disney, my all time favorite theme park in Sea World. You can keep the princess sparkle, relentless cheerfulness and the aggressive promotion of overpriced products at every turn. I’ll take the thrills and splashes from Florida’s Sea World.
On a recent trip sponsored by the Hilton Garden Inn (click here to read more) we got to spend a full day at the park. It met all my requirements–clean, fun and plenty to offer visitors of all ages. In our group: a 4 year old, moi and my mom (60ish) and we all loved it. Three generations of fun.
For the grown-ups, the meticulously groomed gardens and clean walkways were impressive. The park is tidy and easy to walk, stroll or push a wheel chair. There’s plenty of shade and spaces to sit and rest. Or if you are like our crew you just go, go go.
We started our day with the Shamu show. It was a splashy good time. After the show we cooled off with some breezy rides and some water fun. The day was hot as Hades, so I welcomed the little Water Works attraction where my daughter and I cooled off in our swimsuits. We also rode the Swishy Fishies–this entire area close to Shamu Stadium is geared to kids 5 and under.
My daughter is obsessed (is there a stronger word?) with carousels. We loved the Sea Carousel, and thankfully there were no lines so we road it twice! There are plenty of rides for kids ages 2-90.
Sea World is nestled on a lake and there are pretty views at most angles, and the space never felt overly crowded. We loved seeing the pink flamingo paddle boats scoot across the water.
There were a few animals on display near the Sea Garden and we got to pet a llama.
Our QUICK QUEUE pass came in handy. You can purchase them at Sea World or get them at the Hilton. When I rode the Kraken I would have had to sit through a 50 minute wait. My wait time with the special bracelet? 5 minutes. Kraken makes something like 5 upside down flips–it’s a ride for those with a strong stomach! The less-scary, but more splashy ride is the Journey to Atlantis water ride. Again, the estimated wait=70 minutes. With my QUICK QUEUE I went right to the front. Just trust me…buy it.
The rides, like Kraken & Manta, are thrilling and perfect for the more adventurous members of your crew.
We loved the 3D turtle movie TURTLE TREK–very lively and a little scary, but definitely worth the 30 minute wait–there’s plenty to see while in line. And don’t miss the dolphin feeding area outside. The shows and movies at Sea World are pretty special. Be sure to see as many as you can fit in.
But the most memorable part of the trip? The show at the Whale & Dolphin Theater–titled BLUE HORIZONS. I am so happy I saved this for last. It was a spectacle. There were olympic divers, cirque du soleil style trapeze artists, flying dolphins, birds, outlandish costumes. It. Was. Awesome. The images are still seared in my brain. Save it for last, because it’ll be anticlimactic to see anything else after. If there is a TONY for best theme park show, this will win.
Once again, my plea to all family oriented travel spots. Please give me a decent salad somewhere and a good glass of fresh iced tea. Is that too much to ask. Sigh. The food is predictable, but that’s about the only thing at this park that didn’t exceed my expectations.
But here’s the ulitmate blogger test: Would I go back on my own dime? The answer is 100% yes.
And here’s the disclosure…Sea World didn’t foot the bill for this trip Hilton did. No one told me what to say. In fact this is a bonus post because I enjoyed Sea World so much. It’ll be interesting to see what my mom adds in the comments.
For more information about hours and fees visit http://seaworldparks.com/en/seaworld-orlando/