In an attempt to take advantage of the fabulous special experiences that SeaWorld San Diego has to offer, we finally booked Dine with Shamu.

My daughter had raved about a similar orca breakfast she experienced with her grandparents, so I thought I’d spring for dinner on an evening we were planning on being at the park anyway.

Through my affiliations, you can save on tickets, tours, and hotels. I may be compensated if you purchase through some links in this post—our editorial guidelines.


Parking wasn’t a problem when we arrived at about 4:30 p.m. on a summer weekday, though the park was crowded. Regular park admission is required when booking Dine with Shamu, which isn’t totally clear (though given the cost of the dinner relative to the regular ticket price one can assume that it’s not included) when booking. Off I went to the ticket booth to renew my annual pass.

Basically, enter the park and weave left to where Shamu is. There is plenty of signage leading you to the entrance of the dinner. They scanned our ticket and next was one of those obligatory “we’ll take your photo and you can buy it later” opportunities. Thankfully, my daughter isn’t at all interested in those so we moved on to our table. Luckily, we were located right next to the glass, which is why there’s a bit of glare in my photos. They don’t like you stand up for photos as it blocks other people’s views of the show.

We arrived a few minutes late, perhaps not more than five, and I was surprised to notice that many guests had not only been to the buffet already had made decent progress on their plates. A waiter took our drink order and directed us to the buffet.

Dine With Shamu Buffet Food

It’s a buffet at a theme park, so keep your expectations in check, but it wasn’t bad. A simple salad bar complimented multiple entree choices including tri tip, which is where most guests were hovering. I appreciated the emphasis on locally-grown produce and sustainable caught fish which is inline with SeaWorld San Diego’s commitment to the environment.

I tried the quinoa spinach salad, tri tip and sustainably-caught Alaskan pollock. All good, but not mind-blowing. Wine and beer are available at additional cost, but it’s cheap. I think my little bottle was $6.

Dine with Shamu at SeaWorld San Diego Dinner

Of course, there’s plenty of kid-friendly eats such as macaroni and cheese, breaded chicken and Swedish meatballs. A variety of cakes and cookies were available at a dessert table. My daughter ate a Shamu-shaped cookie. Breakfast with Shamu is also an option.

You’re not really going for the food though, you’re going for a close-up of Shamu.

The Show

Dine with Shamu at SeaWorld San Diego-Whale

The trainer does a fairly quick show explaining what the killer whales eat and how they are trained without any pressure. If the whale doesn’t feel like jumping out of the water on command–no big deal. But if they do, then they get a mouthful of fish. Apparently, the whales also LOVE ice so it was cool to see Shamu happily eat crushed ice like my 6-year-old eats ice cream.

Staff had the audience point cameras in a certain direction prior to asking Shamu to perform tricks (always appreciated). Kids were loving this as it’s probably as close to Shamu as you can get in the park considering the stadium where the shows are performed is enormous.

Know that the show and dinner are not quite an hour long. In fact, I felt a little rushed toward the end as staff was hustling people out. If you are already at the park and need something to eat, this is a very good option. If you are coming to the park just to do this, it’s likely too expensive, unless you are an annual pass holder, by the time you pay to park and purchase park tickets.

Dine with Orcas Ticket Information

Dine with Shamu at SeaWorld San Diego-Restaurant

It’s easy to purchase tickets online via SeaWorld San Diego (remember you’ll also need park admission).

  • Adults: $41
  • Kids: $21

Bring cash to pay gratuity at the table, unless you plan on ordering wine or beer, in which case you can tack it onto a credit card. To enter the park, don’t forget that you can also buy discount SeaWorld tickets or use the Go San Diego pass.

Top photo credit: SeaWorld San Diego

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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