SeaWorld San Diego
500 SeaWorld Drive, Mission Bay
Killer whales, dolphins, sea lions, walruses, and other sea creatures are all on display at SeaWorld San Diego. The most popular attraction here, especially for kids, is the killer whale show featuring the famous Shamu. Visitors can interact with some of the creatures, watch them in exhibits, see them perform, and enjoy shows and rides. SeaWorld is open year-round. See their Web site or call for hours. Chapter 6 summarizes prices.
RAINY DAY FUN
You get wet at some of the shows and rides anyway, so unless it's raining hard, you'll still have fun. On rainier days, bring a raincoat and focus on the indoor shows and exhibits.
Rides and attractions at SeaWorld include the following:
Aquarium de la Mer
Seahorses, the giant Pacific octopus, beautiful lionfish, swell sharks, and delicate moon jellyfish all live in this saltwater aquarium.
California Tide Pool
In this pool, you can find out what starfish and sea urchins feel like and learn more about the California coastal environment.
One of the most enjoyable of SeaWorld's interactive exhibits gives visitors a chance to touch and feed bat rays and see moray eels in their underwater caverns.
Species on display include four-eyed fish, electric eels, and freshwater stingrays.
Journey to Atlantis
The water ride uses the lost continent of Atlantis as its theme. It's part watery flume ride and part roller coaster, and it features not one but two drops. You're almost guaranteed to get wet.
Rehabilitated manatees live in an artificial river; you can watch them float and paddle around from an underwater viewing area. This is one of the few places outside Florida you can see the endangered creatures.
Rocky Point Preserve
A two-part attraction, Rocky Point features an area where you can feed bottlenose dolphins and then visit an underwater viewing area to watch California sea otters at play. An interactive, educational exhibit surrounds it.
Shamu's Happy Harbor
A play area for kids, this harbor is on dry land. It includes a water maze, slides, a climbing net, and sand castle building.
A 57-foot-long acrylic tube runs through the middle of the sharks' watery world, giving a great chance to see them at close range.
Ride a giant, raft-like inner tube through a turbulent river. Each tube carries nine passengers on a five-minute simulated journey around a tropical island. The splashing you'll get on this ride is especially welcome on a hot summer day.
This six-minute ride goes out across Mission Bay and back, and there's no extra fee to go on it.
On a clear day, you can see up to 100 miles in every direction from the top of this 265-foot-tall tower.
The simulated ride over Arctic terrain includes foggers, misters, and simulated snow to make it feel realistic.
World of the Sea Aquarium
Here you'll find warm-water fish from around the world and a display simulating what divers see off the San Diego coast.
For Wild Arctic, Shipwreck Rapids, Skyride, and Journey to Atlantis, guests must be at least 42 inches tall to ride. Children less than 56 inches tall need to bring a responsible person with them to go on the Skytower.
The most popular SeaWorld show by far is Believe (the Shamu Show), a choreographed program that shows the close relationship between the killer whales and their trainers.
SeaWorld also presents a wide range of other live entertainment. Dolphin Discovery features bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales doing tail-walks, jumps, and backflips. Clyde and Seamore's Risky Rescue is a humorous program featuring a couple of cute critters, and Pet's Rule! features a flock of familiar animals in a show that proves that pets do rule.
Cirque de la Mer (summers only) is a live acrobatic circus presented on the water, and R. L. Stine's Haunted Lighthouse is a fun interpretation of an old fisherman's tale, presented in 4-D (3-D with a few effects thrown in). In the summer, SeaWorld hosts live concerts featuring national recording artists, as well as fireworks displays.
For unique opportunities to interact with the animals, SeaWorld offers a Dolphin Interaction Program (touch, feed, and practice behaviors with the dolphins), Trainer for a Day Program (feeding, health care, and behavior interactions), and Wild Arctic Encounter (white whales, walruses, seals, and polar bears). Their Behind-the-Scenes Tour takes visitors into two working areas of the park, the Saving a Species Tour includes an opportunity to hand-feed an endangered animal, and the Animal Spotlight Tour gives visitors a chance to interact with dolphins and feed moray eels and sea turtles. Of course, each of these great things to do requires an extra fee.
Special dining opportunities at Sea World include Breakfast with Shamu and Dine with Shamu, which offer seating right next to Shamu's pool. If you choose the summer Showtime Picnic, your meal will be delivered to you while you wait to see the Shamu show. Call ahead for reservations.
Busch Entertainment Company (part of Anheuser-Busch) owns SeaWorld, and besides all the sea creatures, you'll find a team of their legendary Clydesdale horses on display.
Plan on spending most of a day at SeaWorld, even if you don't plan on doing everything.