Seaworld: What to Do
Soon after you enter, on your left, you'll see an information counter. Stop and get a map, as maps are unavailable anywhere else in the park. There are maps available in several languages, so get the one best for your family.
Seaworld offers a much more varied experience than the other theme parks in Orlando. There are roller coasters for big kids of all ages, sit-down dolphin shows for tired kids of all ages, tide pool exhibits where you can learn stuff and places to try and feed dolphins and rays. There are lots of guidebooks available but here are some kid-specific details:
- You can get a very close look (no feeding) at dolphins and their dolphin babies at the Dolphin Nursery. Despite the rest of the Seaworld being crowded, we were all alone at people dinner time there with only one friendly employee and several dolphins with their kids. The dolphins seemed used to people and swam right to the edge of the pool to look at us. No touching allowed, but we were real close to nose-to-nose with them. Right nearby was a small but pleasant bamboo grove with some parrots.
- At Dolphin Cove you can buy some US$5 fish and feed it to actual dolphins swimming around in shallow water. You cannot bring your own fish into Seaworld (sorry Charley), and how fish is sold is regulated so as not to overfeed the dolphins. You can really see them up close, though our fish was not fishy enough and they ate from the kids next to us.
- You can also watch and maybe pet a dolphin at no charge but it would be a full-go parenting kinda moment to not buy fish if your kids saw others with fish going one-on-one with Flipper. I'd advise either pay for the fish or quietly skip the Cove unless your children are better behaved than mine, in which case I want to take your kids with me next time.
- You can do the same thing with rays at Stingray Lagoon. We bought stinky shrimps there for US$4 and fed the rays. Our youngest (6) was a bit frightened while our oldest (10) thought it w-a-y cool to watch the ray slurp up the food and then glide away. The ray place was also uncrowded, which may explain why the rays seemed hungrier.
- You can pet them as long as you keep your hands away from their mouth, which is easy as the part you pet is the top while the mouth is on the bottom. They feel very slimy, kind of like moving phlegm. Sorry about that if you're eating while reading this (and if you are be sure keep crumbs out of the keyboard). Make very sure you have wipes and that hand sterilizer goop handy after feeding the rays.
- A big deal is “Seaworld Wild Arctic”, an exhibit of polar animals wrapped around a cheesy motion simulator. We waited like 30 minutes in the non-arctic sun for the five minute motion simulator part, got nauseous, then got to see the animals. We recommend you bypass the motion sim (signs show you where to go) so you don't wait in line at all and spend more time in the cool (as in cool air as well as cool exhibit) watching polar bears, seals, walruses and penguins. The animals are up close behind glass and seemed happy to swim around. You can go to a lower level and watch them swim underwater. There was no posted feeding schedule, but park employees were offering fish (to the animals not us) all the time we were there.
- There is a major roller coaster called “Kraken.” It has height restrictions and is pretty rough for a ride. The lines are long, and you have to pay for a locker to hold your stuff if you don't want to lose it when you are flipped upside down. The lockers take quarters only and don't make change. There is no handy waiting place nearby for non-riders to wait, but the exit is near the entrance so you can't get lost.
- The other big ride was “Atlantis”, which is basically a pretty good water flume ride wrapped around a cheesy theme of the lost continent of Atlantis. The lines are long and hot, with some parts in the direct sun. Our youngest was scared by the whining banshees on display while our oldest was bored and called it lame. Both were disappointed the ride was not the Disney-themed Atlantis TV had been force feeding them all summer. You do get wet so take care with cameras and such.
- There is an unmarked tide pool exhibit that allows kids to handle some sea creatures and learn more about a tide pool's ecology from a knowledgeable docent. It is kinda near the turtle exhibit, but be sure to ask when you enter the park, as it was laid-back and fun and not crowded.
- Up near the free beer exhibit is the “Clydesdale Hamlet”, where the famous Budweiser horses live. You can walk through their stables (no petting), but might enjoy more waiting for them to be lead out and hitched up to the beer wagon. A sign tells you when to be around if you want to see the process.