We debated whether or not to visit SeaWorld Orlando during a recent trip. We can see SeaWorld San Diego from our house so, as you might imagine, we go there frequently.
You can save on tickets, tours, and hotels through my affiliations. If you make purchases through some links in this post, I may be compensated. Our editorial guidelines.
I thought it would be interesting to compare SeaWorld Orlando vs. SeaWorld San Diego and talk about why someone from San Diego should or shouldn’t also visit SeaWorld Orlando. These days, with SeaWorld San Diego’s addition of new roller coasters, the parks are quite similar to each other which wasn’t so much the case when this post was first published.
One thing we loved about SeaWorld Orlando is the change of pace from the Disney theme parks. Similar to SeaWorld San Diego, it’s a beautifully landscaped oasis and less hectic than other theme parks.
We went on a Sunday morning and it wasn’t very crowded. Walt Disney World theme parks were crowded every single day and dodging people with a stroller (my daughter was in preschool at the time) gets old. It was nice to take a break from that. Unfortunately, we spent only one morning at SeaWorld Orlando because it started to rain and we were nervous about finding a taxi back to our hotel.
At SeaWorld San Diego, my daughter happily chirps about seeing Elmo at the Sesame Street Bay of Play. She was obsessed with Elmo, Big Bird, and the rest of the Sesame Street gang. When we got to SeaWorld Orlando, she was on the hunt for Elmo, because she associates Shamu with Elmo now. At the time of our visit, there wasn’t a Sesame Street Bay of Play but there is now a Sesame Street at SeaWorld area to suit smaller kids which replaced Shamu’s Happy Harbor play area.
SeaWorld San Diego once lacked thrill rides. Over the past year or so they opened up Tidal Twister and Electric Eel high-speed roller coasters. SeaWorld Orlando also has two high-speed roller coasters and both parks have the Manta roller coaster. The battle of SeaWorld San Diego vs. SeaWorld Orlando is now even in this regard.
Here’s really the bottom line. Most people who visit Orlando with kids on a family vacation go to visit the Walt Disney World theme parks. The cost per day of a multi-day Disney World tickets decreases with the more days you add on, especially because you can buy them at a discount. Depending on SeaWorld Orlando ticket promotions, it might be more expensive to add a day at SeaWorld Orlando than to add a day at Disney World.
Is the extra cost 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 theme parks. And, it would depend on whether or not you have a SeaWorld in your backyard as I do.
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 SeaWorlds have similar exhibits and ours is larger. If you’ve never been to SeaWorld at all or have a long stay in Orlando, consider visiting SeaWorld Orlando regardless of where you live.
We enjoyed our visit there and you will too.