One of the first things we did when our firstborn was old enough to enjoy a good long time outdoors, was get our family a SeaWorld San Antonio family pass.
7 years later, we’re still making our way to SeaWorld, with as much excitement and enthusiasm as the first time. The Park is always growing and changing so there’s always something new to look forward to.
This year SeaWorld celebrates 50 years of educating, entertaining and exciting visitors of all ages. I thought it would be fun to share some insider tips for a first timer visiting the Park.
A few of my SeaWorld Wildside Blog Ambassador buddies have added their tips to the list too. Feel free to share these with family and friends.
25 SeaWorld San Antonio Insider Tips
1. Tickets: Book your tickets online to grab a great deal on web exclusive admission rates. Consider getting an Annual Pass if you know you will visit a few times in the year. Parking is free and you will receive discounts on dining, in-park purchases and more. (Senior citizens do get a discount. Remember to ask)
2. Free admission: Kids 3 and under are free. Military personnel and upto 3 direct dependents may receive one complimentary admission in the year. For more details visit the Waves of Honor site. (Earlier in the year Texas Preschoolers and Texas Teachers were also offered free admission. This will hopefully open up again next year)
3. Clothing: Texas heat is a scorcher so dress in cotton based, light, airy apparel. Wear comfortable footwear and don’t forget those sun hats/caps. The Park is pretty spaced out so look forward to quite a bit of walking.
4. Don’t cram Aquatica and SeaWorld on one day: You will need a whole day to enjoy SeaWorld and a separate day to enjoy its water park-Aquatica. There’s tons to do!!
5. Plan your day at SeaWorld with a Park Map: As soon as you set foot in the Park, pick up a map at the entrance and plan the day’s activities. The shows are well spaced out allowing you to enjoy everything if you get into the Park as soon as it opens!
6. Bring your six-pack sized cooler into the Park: “Pack a small cooler and bring it into the park! You’re allowed to bring personal sized coolers inside. It’s great if you have small kids, because you can pack some bottled water, juice and small snacks.” – Arena Blake (The Nerd’s Wife). Just remember not to bring any straws into the Park. They will be confiscated at the security check-in at the gate.
7. Save with the All Day Dining Plan: ” If you plan to stay the whole day and want to save money, buy the All Day Dining Plan.” – Sara Phillips (Sensibly Sara). The wearer of the wristband can choose an entree, a side or dessert and a non alcoholic beverage or water, each time he/she goes through the line. You can stop to eat as many times as you want while at the Park that day!
8. Buffet option at the Park: “If you have hungry teens, eat at Rosita’s Cafe. The all-you-can-eat pizza and pasta buffet is only $12.99 + tax ($8.99 + tax for 9 and under) and includes unlimited drinks, salad and dessert!”- Heidi Gollub (Free Fun In Austin) If you’re a vegan by choice, they can make you a 100% veggie pizza, on request.
9. Chill out with frozen treats: “Find out where to get soft-serve ice cream (which my kids prefer over packaged ice cream bars) in the park to cool off. Our favorite place to find it is at Azul Treats across from the Azul show, between the restrooms and the World of Azul/Elmo’s Splish Splash shop. You can also get soft-serve (and hand-dipped ice cream) at Polar Parlor, located next to Sweet Treats Bakery and just before you head over to Dolphin Cove.”- Colleen Pence (San Antonio Mom Blogs) Another favorite? Dippin’ Dots!
10. Spend some time enjoying SeaWorld’s animal ambassadors: You can enjoy animal interactions with the dolphins, stingrays and residents at the Animal Connections Conservation Center, at no additional cost. Their handlers can answer any questions you have, making it a great learning experience for both, adults and kids.
11. Sign up for a one-of-a-kind animal encounter: For a price, sign up for an animal encounter at SeaWorld. Highly recommended on the list are the Stingray Encounter, Penguin Interaction Program and the Beluga Interaction Program. We did the Beluga Interaction Program as a 7th birthday gift for my daughter. It was an experience she will never forget! (Annual Pass Members get discounts on encounter and interaction programs.)
12. Places to cool off while at SeaWorld: ” When the day gets too hot, hit up the Sharks/Coral Reef aquarium, the Penguins Encounter and Animal Connections Conservation Center. Don’t miss the frog exhibit located in the gift shop adjacent to Azul and Bay of Play. If the breeze is blowing, you can take a stroll through Alligator Alley then let the kids play at the nearby playground in the shade while you recharge for a few minutes.” – Stacy Teet ( Kids Stuff World)
13. Be prepared to get wet – “Even if you don’t plan to go to Aquatica, there are many fun ways to cool down! Wear clothes that are light-weight and dry quickly, or pack a change of clothes. But put your inhibitions to the side and get wet with your kiddos! ” – Rebecca Darling (RWeThereYetMom. ) Check out Rebecca’s suggestions on 10 ways to get wet while at SeaWorld San Antonio!
14. Buy a refillable tumbler/cup and use it year round: Buy your tumbler at any dining station and re-fill it for a minimal rate. “Bring your refillable cup – don’t forget it at home!” – Alba Garza (Independent Mami)
15. Bring your child’s stroller: While you can rent a stroller while entering the Park, it just makes it so much more economical to bring your own and identify the same right after you finish a show, from the designated stroller parking areas.
16.Nursing Mamas look out for those nursing stations!: Sandwiched between practically all the men and women restrooms is a baby changing room. In the same you will find a lockable nursing station that is, yes, quiet and air-conditioned. Some come with a bench while one or two come with a rocking chair. My favorite is the station right outside the Rio Grille in Aquatica. It’s spacious, has a charging slot for my phone and the coolest station in the Park.
17. Don’t forget your camera and get one for your child too!: There are so many photo opportunities to enjoy both at SeaWorld and at Aquatica. You never know what ( or who) you will see! ” For some kid fun – get a disposable water proof camera and let the kids take some underwater pics – great for the lazy river that flows by the new aviary. You’ll enjoy seeing them post trip!” – Jennifer Patrick (Still Living The Dream)
18. Pre and post show surprises at SeaWorld: Never get to any SeaWorld show bang when the show starts or leave a few seconds before to beat the crowds. Go early, wait late. There’s always lots of fun to experience. 15 odd minutes before the Clyde and Seamour show and Azul begins, get ready to roll in the aisles with laughter. Right after the Pets Ahoy show ends, be prepared to get spoiled with some furry love! (No spoilers here!!) Wait after the One Ocean show to speak to the trainers or even experience a feeding session underway.
19. Look out for surprise character appearances: Characters appear throughout the Park without notice. Kids can take photographs with Franklin the Turtle (near Alligator Alley), Shamu and his friends (most often at the entrance of the Park) and the Sesame Street gang (most often right before/after a show at the Bay Of Play Area). Meeting the much loved Sesame Street characters is always such a treat for younger visitors who’re crazy about Elmo and his friends. What’s great is you don’t have to pay extra to watch them on stage or take pictures with them one-on-one!
20. Sea of Surprises celebrations: Look out for the Surprise Squad while at the Park. To celebrate SeaWorld’s 50th anniversary, they’re handing out Quick Queue passes, Shamu bubble squirters, free meals and more, over the next 18 months. They can be found anywhere!
21. Get a waterproof, air-tight pouch to wear around your neck: “This keeps important things like ID’s, annual passes waterproof and when around your neck it’s easy reach. So if you swim or are in the pools you can keep it on you. I wouldn’t recommend this for small children though. You can get this at Aquatica in that main storefront when you walk in but can also get these at Walmart.” – Heather Vanderwaal (Dallas Single Mom)
22. Store those valuables safely: Stash your valuables in a locker just inside SeaWorld’s Main Entrance and in Aquatica. (You can reserve the same while entering the Park) Coin operated lockers are also available near rides.
Or “wrap your valuables (cell phone, credit card) inside a clean diaper. It looks like a dirty diaper when wrapped up and nobody steals it from your bag!” – Anonymous. What a fantastic idea!
23. Out of juice?: Look for the Relax and Recharge Station to power up those dying electronic devices you bring to the Park. I’ve also charged my phone in the Nursing Station and at Penguin Cove!
24. Don’t hesitate to bring your family member with disabilities to the Park. SeaWorld is ADA compliant.: My friend Wendy shares 10 reasons why you should take your special needs child to SeaWorld. This is worth a read!
25. Educate your child on what to do if they get separated from you: A child going missing can happen to any of us!
“For older children – establish a meeting place if anyone gets lost. For younger children, write your cell with a sharpie on their hands or have personalized rubber bracelets made with it. Also, point out SeaWorld employee’s uniforms so children can identify official employee.” – Tori Johnson (The sTORIbook)
“If you lose a child, tell a SeaWorld employee immediately. They can help you find the child quickly by alerting everyone in radio distance to join the search. Don’t be embarrassed to ask, team members have been trained in this and are happy to help. ” – Kami Huyse (Zoetica)
“Take photos of your kids before you enter the park on your cameras and cell phone, if you are separated you have a photo of what they are wearing and you can immediately share it with park employees & security. From personal experience, when you can’t find your child, remembering the exact color of their shorts, their shoes etc., can be hard to recall.’- Kristin Barclay (In Deep H2O)