My family was hosted for our visit. I was not required to share our experiences with you and all information and opinions shared are my own.
I have visited Sea World since I was a young child and had a special love for the Sea World Park early on. The massive Orcas and ocean animals were my favorite to learn about and see up close and personal. On our yearly family vacations to Florida we often were able to visit the park due to the kindness from a family member who worked there.
While I realize that Sea World is controversial for some, my family has chosen to look at all the amazing things Sea World does for animals too. The Sea World rescue team is on call every moment of every day, all year long! They are dedicated to giving animals a second chance at life and have helped more than 30,000 ill, injured and orphaned animals in need in the last 50 years. The count is currently as of today is at 30,542, which is a staggering number to think about!
If your family is like ours and loves zoos, aquariums and even amazing thrill rides, then Sea World is for you! There is so much to do in the parks, but I will share the highlights of our day.
My Big Family Tip
We knew there were certain shows we wanted to see, certain animals that were a must, as were certain rides (ah-hem Kraken Unleashed were talking about you) but with such a large family, we have to decide what is a priority when we visit the parks. Everyone gets to pick their top must see or do and then we fill in what is left as we see things we have time for an want to experience. So look at the schedule, figure out which shows your family REALLY want to see and the times, and then plan those first. Then fill in the times in between with everything else.
Just know you can’t possibly do everything in one day.
Hands on in Stingray Lagoon
For our family we knew that Dolphin Days was a priority, so we choose to see that show first. When the park opened we made our way to that side of the park, while stopping off to visit Stingray Lagoon. Everyone, including my little guy loved to be able to watch and even touch these amazing creatures up so close. The Stingray were ever so playful. Maybe because it was early in the day but they swam by over and over right at the edge, flapping their fins at the side of the pool.
Then we checked out Dolphin Cove. On our last visit to Sea World, we were only a family of four and I brought the two oldest children who at the time so desperately wished to interact with the dolphins. On that visit it literally poured rain and it never let up. We decided that this trip Daddy would take all three of the big kids who were old enough to interact with the dolphins. We made our reservation times and made our way back over to the Dolphin Days Stadium.
Dolphin Days Show
The Dolphin Days show is truly amazing. It shows just how intelligent dolphins truly are. The trainers talk about conservation, the dolphins themselves and their interactions, all while putting on a spectacular show. This might just have been my favorite show. You can get an idea of the show from my small clip of the show.
Hands On Fun in Dolphin Cove
After watching the show, the children were even more excited about their hands on time in Dolphin Cove. It was close to our time and we made our way back over to Dolphin Cove. There is an extra fee, but honestly, it was worth every penny and then some. The children (and my husband) loved every moment. They are placed in small groups with a trainer and a dolphin. Each family is given some time interacting with their dolphin, and everyone that wants to gets to give it a nice rub down. Dolphins are truly playful animals. This was a moment my children will likely not forget. You can see some of the interaction in the highlights video of our Sea World trip below.
We enjoyed out lunch dining indoors. During the intense summer heat, having a place to rest that is cool while you eat makes all the difference in the world with young children. The big kids rode Atlantis, we visited the turtles and then it was time for the big boys to ride Kraken Unleashed!
What is Kraken Unleashed?
We had seen the advertisements for Sea World’s new Virtual Reality rollercoaster and my thrill seekers were beyond excited. Austin has a newfound love for VR and couldn’t wait for the experience. Kraken Unleashed takes the thrills of a normal rollercoaster and takes the ingenuity of Virtual Reality to give you an entirely new experience.
As you load onto the rollercoaster, there is a headset placed on you for your ride. (The headset is optional if the VR experience isn’t for you.) My husband appreciated that they wiped and sanitized each headset before placing them on the guests. This does add extra time, hence the longer wait time. Be sure that the headset is fitting properly and is extra snug because if it shifts during the ride you will likely experience a bit of motion sickness.
Once everyone strapped in with headsets on you are whisked into an underwater world with the VR technology. Your body is moving to the rollercoaster and with your eyes you are experiencing what it is like to visit the watery depths below the ocean. There are close counters with massive marine animals and many amazing sea creatures. I would imagine you could see something new with every single ride because you are zipping by.
As soon as Austin got off, he was ready to go again. It was nothing short of amazing! And we heard all about it. Everyone he talked to heard all about it, and he still continues to talk about it. My husband did experience a little bit of motion sickness himself, so if you are prone to that, I would suggest some non-drowsy Dramamine or a motion sickness band before riding.
While the big boys rode Krakken, we took the little ones to a how more their speed, Pets Ahoy! It is inside, in an air conditioned building and is perfect for a mid-afternoon break from the intense heat. Dogs, cats, birds, rats, even a pig entertain during this cute show where the animals do some pretty spectacular tricks.
Once rested and refreshed from the show, we ventured to Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin Habitat. Penguins are always a family favorite! We saw the manatee rehabilitation area. This really was a great place fore the children to truly see the actual damage our everyday actions can have on beautiful creations. Most of the manatees here are undergoing extensive rehabilitation due to being injured from man. Kuddos to Sea World!
POP – Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere
Another new show to Sea World this summer is POP! My children absolutely love bubbles so this was another no brainer. We were intrigued by the description of the show and it didn’t disappoint. Austin was asked prior to the show starting if he would like to be in the show so that was icing on the cake. He is truly a bubble magician. I had never seen anything like it before and the children could have stayed for hours and watched. This show is currently only slated for the summer, 2017 season as of now.
Here is our day in a short highlight video:
The Perfect Ending
We rounded our day out with the One World show and then a stop off in Shamu’s Happy Harbor. The children loved seeing the majestic orcas and for me it was a walk down memory lane from my own childhood.
Happy Harbor is full of pint-sized rides for little ones to enjoy. Minus the baby, they all rode a bunch of rides, had a bunch of laughs and then finished off the day in the mini splash zone. I let the two little ones play in their clothes, as I always have an extra pair with me. After then cooled down and had a ball doing so, we made our way back over the lake. The dooming black clouds had rolled in and the announcers were letting everyone know that the storms might have an impact on the rides.
There was still so much we wanted to do but it was the perfect time to call it a day. We made it until about 7:30pm and our feet were sore but our hearts were full of happy memories. When you don’t complete it all, it certainly gives us a great reason to go back.
Change is Coming!
Sea World is an amusement park, but also so much more. If you ever doubt the good Sea World does, I highly encourage you to take a few minutes to peek into their rescue mission. Because of the controversy, Sea World is changing. They have discontinued their orca breeding program and very soon, the all new Orca Encounter will be coming to Sea World Orlando. It will focus on natural orca encounters rather than theatrical shows with an added emphasis on education and conservation. I for one can not wait to see the new encounter and continue to see the feature of Sea World.