We debated whether or not to visit Sea World Orlando. Sea World San Diego is 8 minutes from our house and we go there a lot. But, thanks to the folks at Sea World Orlando, we received complimentary passes. I thought it would be interesting to compare the two parks and talk about why someone from San Diego should or shouldn’t also visit Sea World Orlando.
One thing we loved about Sea World Orlando is the change of pace from the Disney theme parks. Similar to Sea World San Diego, it’s a beautifully landscaped oasis and not hectic. We went on a Sunday morning and it wasn’t very crowded. Disney World, was crowded every single day and dodging people with a stroller gets old. It was nice to take a break from that. Unfortunately, we spent only one morning at Sea World Orlando because it started to rain and we were nervous about finding a taxi.
I did make a horrible mistake initially. When we go to Sea World San Diego, La Jolla Girl happily chirps about seeing Elmo at the Sesame Street Bay of Play. She is obsessed with Elmo, Big Bird, and the rest of the Sesame Street gang. When we got to Sea World Orlando, she was on the hunt for Elmo, because she associates Shamu with Elmo now. Both Sea Worlds have a lot of similar exhibits, but Orlando does not have the Sesame Street Bay of Play. I should have managed her expectations a little bit better because I didn’t know that. She threw a major fit when we left the park because she wanted to see Elmo.
The play area for kids in Orlando is called Shamu’s Happy Harbor. They have a few big sand pits which happens to be one of her favorite past times. In fact, La Jolla Dad and I got a little bit bored of watching her in the sand because she was in there for so long. They have a very large jungle gym similar to the one at Sesame Street Bay of Play, in fact, it might be a bit larger. They also have a Shamu roller coaster for young kids, which they do not have in San Diego. La Jolla Girl demanded to go on that. Luckily, she’s tall for her age as kids riding with adults have to be 38″ tall. Anyway, it was faster than it looked, though she thought it was the best thing ever. So, her first roller coaster was at Sea World Orlando! The Sesame Street Bay of Play is larger and newer than Shamu’s Happy Harbor. La Jolla Girl loved Shamu’s Happy Harbor, but I bet she prefers the Sesame Street Bay of Play. I’m sure that when La Jolla Girl is older, she’ll love the fact that she’s been to both Sea Worlds.
We saw the Blue Horizons dolphin and whale show which just arrived in San Diego. It was very flashy with fancy costumes, acrobatics and birds, too. La Jolla Girl loved it. We saw the penguin exhibit which is almost the same as it is in San Diego and wandered around most of the park. San Diego is larger, but some of the buildings in Orlando were nicer, and Mediterranean looking. The restaurants also looked a little more upscale (I don’t necessarily mean more expensive), with a diverse array of food options. It has a cozier feel.
I assume that most people who take a family trip to Orlando go to visit the Disney theme parks. I learned that the cost per ticket of a multi-day Disney pass, after 3 days, is minimal. Translation, it’s almost the same to buy a 3-day as it is a 5-day Disney pass. So, to spend another day at Sea World Orlando is an additional significant cost. Is it worth it? I would say it depends on your family’s interests (if you have a marine biology lover, then 100% yes) and how much time you have to spend in Orlando. And, it would depend on whether or not you have Sea World in your backyard like I do. It’s literally in my backyard, as I can see it from my house. If you are from San Diego, and are short on time, then you probably can give it a miss (if your kids allow it) since both Sea Worlds have similar exhibits and ours is larger. If you’ve never been to Sea World at all or have a long stay in Orlando, then you should definitely consider visiting Sea World Orlando regardless of where you live. We enjoyed our visit there and you will too.
Top photo credit: Flickr, xrayspx
Bottom photo credit: Flickr, gvgoebel