EX­PLORE SEAWORLD SAN DIEGO

This south­ern Cal­i­for­nia at­trac­tion is where the Seaworld dream all be­gan.

Dreamscapes Travel & Lifestyle Magazine - - Table Of Contents - BY JACQUE­LINE YAU

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.

OCEAN-THEMED AT­TRAC­TIONS

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.

CON­SER­VA­TION EF­FORTS

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

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