The Christmas celebration at SeaWorld San Diego is almost underway, and I can tell you what to expect based on first-hand experience. Guests will be treated to holiday cheer, complete with sparkling lights, a fun holiday show or two, a special holiday fireworks display, and other fun-filled surprises, all with yuletide flair.

Christmas festivities this year will run from November 17 through January 7, 2024.

So if you haven’t yet, plan to add SeaWorld’s Christmas celebration in San Diego to your holiday celebrations! The good news is that while you can enhance your experience with upgrades, most of the activities and events are included with park admission at SeaWorld San Diego. Here are 18 things to look forward to when you go on your merry quest.

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NEW SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Activities

Every year there is something new to look forward to at the Christmas celebration at SeaWorld San Diego, and this year, they have truly gone over the top with the holiday cheer!

1. A STOCKING FULL OF SOUL

One of SeaWorld’s strengths is in its shows, which means the shows for Christmas at Seaworld San Diego are next level. This year you’ll be able to enjoy several that are holiday-themed.

Join America’s Got Talent favorite Bryan Cheatham and his friends in a soulful holiday celebration, A Stocking Full of Soul, this Christmas, which will include favorite SeaWorld characters. Don’t miss him on Friday-Sunday nights at the Nautilus Amphitheater.

2. 30′ tree lighting

Don’t miss the annual SeaWorld Christmas tree lighting celebration in Jingle Bell Square. Two special guests all the way from the North Pole will be on hand with some Christmas Magic to help light the spectacular 30-foot tree.

3. Mrs. Claus’ Christmas parade

Make sure to catch Mrs. Claus and her crew of elves as they traipse across the park under the holiday lights and festive colors, spreading holiday cheer to all at SeaWorld San Diego. It happens twice every day so check the schedule when you get to the park.

4. reindeer scavenger hunt

For a fun family activity, grab a map (you can purchase one at the SeaWorld store) and scour the park in search of Santa’s gifts for his reindeer. You’ll get a special prize if you return your completed map to the store.

5.  DONNER AND BLITZEN’S LAZER LIGHT SHOW

SeaWorld San Diego presents the ultimate holiday lights show with laser beams set to holiday music in a thrilling spectacle. The show runs every night at the front of the park.

6.  SANTA’S LIVE REINDEER

Holiday festivities don’t get better than live reindeer! Straight from the North pole, Santa’s reindeer will be making a stop in San Diego, CA, to join in the Christmas celebration. Send a Christmas wish to Santa when you send a letter via the reindeer.

7. Snowfall at Jingle Bell Square

"Snow" blows over a crowd at SeaWorld San Diego Christmas.

If your Christmas wish is to see snow this holiday season, SeaWorld San Diego is happy to make that Christmas wish come true! While not quite a true winter wonderland, it will “snow” a few flakes at SeaWorld San Diego in Jingle Bell Square on select days while a DJ spins kid-friendly danceable tunes.

Then, like magic, snow (tiny bubbles) will be blown over the crowd for a white Christmas you’ll see only in San Diego.

8. PHOTOS WITH SANTA

Head over to Santa’s Village for the opportunity to take photos with Santa Claus in his cottage during SeaWorld’s Christmas celebration. Tell him all of your Christmas wishes before plunging into his supply of candy canes.

9. RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER

Included with SeaWorld San Diego park admission is the chance to take a photo with Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer. He’s, of course, located in Rudolph’s Christmastown (inside the Holly Jolly Marketplace) near Jingle Bell Square, where the snowfall happens.

In this area, you’ll also find several photo backdrops featuring Santa and reindeer, the Abominable Snowman, and others.

10. HOLLY JOLLY MARKETPLACE & THE CHRISTMAS SHOPPE

It wouldn’t be a SeaWorld San Diego Christmas celebration without a little bit of shopping. Stock up on some gifts and decor as the seasonal boutique will feature plenty of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer merchandise since the Holly Jolly Marketplace is where you take photos with him.

The Christmas Shoppe feels like it belongs in a shopping mall. I was surprised by how nice some of the holiday merchandise is, from ornaments to kitchenware, so do pop into the shops. They can hold your purchases.

11. PHOTO BACKDROPS

A Santa and reindeer backdrop at SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Celebration.
Lots of kids were taking photos here.

Find your ultimate Insta-worthy moment or San Diego photo-perfect moments in front of the various backdrops throughout the park.

Festive colors adorn Santa’s sleigh, a menorah display at the Manta roller coaster (one of SeaWorld San Diego’s best rides), and all around the park.

Don’t miss the palm trees lit like candy canes for a special San Diego holiday twist. We love nothing more than strolling the park while sipping hot chocolate, craft beer, or holiday cocktails and taking in the various sights.

12. THE HOLIDAY MUSIC ACTIVATED TUNNEL OF LIGHTS

Unique to SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas celebration is the holiday music-activated Tunnel of Lights. Walk through the more than 5,000 colorful lights as they shimmer to music.

13. SPECIAL DINING EXPERIENCES

Check to see what special dining experiences are happening during SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas celebration. This year, dine with orcas on a poolside patio and enjoy a visit from Santa.

14. SPECIAL HOLIDAY ANIMAL PRESENTATIONS

If you’re fans of Clyde and Seamore (the witty sea lions in the Sea Lions Live show). You’ll notice that their stage and act have a holiday twist.

The same goes for the Dolphin Days show. I highly recommend taking a break from the rides and games to see both signature shows.

Be sure to get there 15 minutes early for the best general admission seating because everyone loves sea lions and dolphins!

15. HOLIDAY-INSPIRED FOOD

My waffle on a stick in front of a Christmas tree.
Breakfast or dessert – you decide!

You will definitely eat, drink, and be merry at SeaWorld San Diego this season with treats like waffle on a stick, SeaWorld’s famous hot chocolate with candy toppings like peppermint crumbles, SeaWorld’s specialty holiday cocktails, limited-release holiday craft beer, and more.

TIP: GET THE REFILLABLE MUG

You can actually purchase a holiday mug and use it to receive $.99 hot chocolate refills around the park.

16. HOLIDAY FIREWORKS

On select nights guests during the Christmas season are treated to a spectacular holiday fireworks show at SeaWorld San Diego.

Tips for Your SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Celebrating Visit

California theme parks are busy during the holidays, and SeaWorld San Diego is no exception. During our weekend visit during the Thanksgiving break, lines for popular quick-service kiosks and counter-order restaurants were quite long throughout the day. So hop in line to eat if you see a short line, especially on weekends.

We also upgraded our tickets to include Quick Queue. This popular ticket upgrade allows you to enter a shorter line for popular rides like the Electric Eel roller coaster and Journey to Atlantis (which makes this a popular theme park for teens in San Diego). The teens with me could ride each other multiple times with only a few minutes’ wait.

Many holiday events happen in the afternoon and evening, so plan your visit accordingly. Most importantly, plan a day to visit SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration this year and let your Christmas wishes come true.

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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