EXPLORE SEAWORLD SAN DIEGO
This southern California attraction is where the Seaworld dream all began.
For more than 50 years, Seaworld San Diego has entertained and educated families as one of the world’s most popular marine parks. It sits on about 80 hectares in Mission Bay Park, an aquatic recreation area with 19 sandy beaches and a network of channels and islands. Since its opening in 1964, Seaworld has expanded from its original location in San Diego to San Antonio, Texas, and Orlando, Florida. In 2016, Seaworld announced it would no longer breed orcas in captivity and has continued its commitment to more education programs, spotlighting conservation and marine animal rescue efforts. The company is one of the largest animal rescue organizations in the world.
Today, Seaworld San Diego is a blend of theme park, aquarium, veterinary hospital and rescue teams for marine animals. Ample opportunities abound to interact with animals while bringing in digital technologies to provide an immersive experience on rides and shows. A number of updated and new attractions provide plenty of activities to satisfy the entire family, from toddlers to the young-at-heart.
As you enter Seaworld, you pass under a giant wave and cross the threshold into the shallows of the ocean. Prepare to get your hands wet in the many touch pools on display. Pet a bamboo shark, allow cleaner fish to tickle your skin, and touch stingrays, epaulette sharks and horseshoe crabs.
Quench your thirst with filtered water from one of the water stations or grab one of the more than a dozen choices of local beers on tap. Dive deeper into the ocean as you continue down the path into the Ocean Explorer area. Decorated in Crayola colours, bright blues, pinks and oranges explode from the featured children’s rides and play areas. Rides reflect what you might find deeper in the ocean including a jellyfish and a submarine.
Tentacle Twirl is clearly a fan favourite. As the giant blue jellyfish begins to move and pick up speed, its tentacles, which are the chairs, begin flaring out. Kids shriek in delight as they are spun around. Other attractions include Octarock, Aqua Scout and Sea Dragon Drop. Most of the rides in this realm are geared toward the youngest guests so they can ride by themselves. However, if they don’t meet the minimum height requirements (between 79 and 121 centimetres), they can usually still ride with mom or dad sitting next to them.
Nearby, children can get close to a giant Pacific octopus, follow a porcupine crab and start a staring contest with a moray eel. They may especially enjoy crawling through the blue neon-lit tunnels to reach a pop-up bubble to come face-to-face with a sleeping octopus or watch a Japanese spider crab (which can reach a width of over three metres from claw-to-claw) scuttling overhead.
MARINE LIFE ENCOUNTERS
Seaworld San Diego provides a number of options to experience the animals in its care. Learn about bottlenose dolphins and pilot whales as they move with beautiful synchronicity in Dolphin Days. Sea lions exhibit their comedic talents and a mischievous otter steals the show at Sea Lions Live.
Experience Seaworld San Diego’s Orca Encounter, which debuted in 2017. Pure entertainment elements have been stripped away and replaced with a documentarystyle nature presentation shown against a giant infinity screen, displaying facts about the killer whale’s intelligence and behaviour. Simultaneously, orcas swim in the pool in front of the screen.
Visit the 492,104-litre Atlantis-themed aquarium; Turtle Reef featuring loggerhead, hawksbill and green sea turtles; California sea otters at Otter Outlook; and walruses and beluga whales at the Wild Arctic. Observe sharks swimming above and around you at one of the world’s largest underwater viewing tunnels.
If you want closer interaction with marine life, for an extra fee, you and your budding veterinarian, marine biologist or aviculturist (bird expert) can go on behindthe-scenes tours. Dine next to an orca, interact with a dolphin or meet an emperor penguin. Explore the relationship between trainer and animal, learn about Seaworld’s world-class husbandry (animal care) programs or tour Seaworld Rescue.
RIDES FOR EVERY PALATE
This year marks the premiere of a new adrenalin-inducing ride. The Electric Eel triple-launch rollercoaster with inversions and speeds up to 100 kph should satisfy thrill-seeking teenagers and young adults. For the adventurous, first explore the California bat rays touch pools and observe how
they gracefully move through the water. Then prepare to soar, glide and dive like a giant manta ray on the Manta doublelaunch coaster. Plunge down 18 metres on the Journey to Atlantis water coaster and, if you still need to cool down, take a spin down the Shipwreck Rapids raft ride.
For a respite, take a gondola ride on the Bayside Skyride or go up the Skytower for panoramic views. For younger seafarers, gentler rides include Abby’s Sea Star Spin, Elmo’s Flying Fish and Oscar’s Rocking Eel.
To date, Seaworld Parks have rescued over 33,000 animals. Seaworld’s Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program focuses on marine species rescue, rehabilitation and return, and monitors 145 kilometres of coastline in Southern California. It partners with agencies such as NOAA Fisheries, who ultimately determines which rescued marine mammals stay or go. It also collaborates with universities and research foundations, including the Hubbs-seaworld Research Institute (HSWRI). Because Seaworld can monitor the health of its marine animals regularly, they have 30plus years of data they can share to complement field research and serve as a scientific benchmark against wild marine mammal populations.
FLOAT, SWIM OR SLIDE
If you still have energy, travel south to Aquatica Seaworld’s Waterpark in Chula Vista for a day of slipping, sliding, floating and lounging. Be prepared to walk up many stairs for the higher-intensity waterslides such as Hoo Roo Run or Kiwi Curl. If you prefer a more relaxing day, hop on an inner tube and float down the lazy river on Loggerhead Lane or wade around Big Surf Shores wave pool. Don’t miss the bright pink Caribbean flamingoes strolling around.
ABOVE: Electric Eel is the tallest, fastest rollercoaster in San Diego, featuring a multiple-launch experience with high-energy twists, electrifying loops and inversions. 2018© Mike Aguilera Seaworld Parks BELOW: Presented in a documentary-style format featuring a three-storey, first-of-its-kind infinity screen, Orca Encounter combines a live orca presentation in a most natural setting complete with a rugged coastline backdrop featuring towering pines and picturesque waterfalls.2017© Mike Aguilera Seaworld Parks
ABOVE: Ocean Explorer includes exciting rides such as the Tentacle Twirl, an exhilarating wave swinger ride where guests fly in chairs suspended from the tentacles of a giant jellyfish. 2018© Mike Aguilera Seaworld Parks