SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration is underway and I can tell you what to expect based on first-hand experience. Guests will be treated to some much-needed holiday cheer complete with sparkling lights, decorations, and holiday festivities between now and January 2, 2022.

The good news is that while you can enhance your experience with upgrades, most of the activities and events are included with general admission. Here are 15 things to look forward to when you go.

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NEW SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Activities

Every year there is something new to look forward to at SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Celebration.

1. Santa’s Circus Show

One of SeaWorld’s strengths is in its shows. So, this year you’ll be able to several that are holiday-themed. You’ll have a chance to see the family-friendly Santa’s Circus Show several times throughout the day for some fancy stunts, comedy, magic and Christmas cheer.

2. ElMo’s Christmas Wish Show

Elmo and friends dance on stage at SeaWorld San Diego.

This super-cute show is about 15 minutes long and if you watch you’ll learn what Elmo and his friends Cookie Monster, Rosita, Grover, and Zoe really want for Christmas.

TIP: GET CLOSER TO ELMO

You can upgrade to include reserved seating for $5. However, there really isn’t a bad seat in the theater.

3. Snowfall at Jingle Bell Square

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

It will “snow” at SeaWorld San Diego in Jingle Bell Square on select days. A DJ kicks off the event with some kid-friendly danceable tunes. Then, like magic, snow (tiny bubbles) will be blown over the crowd.


Returning Favorite Holiday Activities

Guests of SeaWorld San Diego Christmas Celebration in previous years will be able to look forward to repeat events and activities.

4. Photos with Santa

Head over to Sesame Street Christmas Village for the opportunity to take photos with Santa Claus in his cottage.

TIP: SKIP THE QUEUE

Upgrade your day with Priority Access Photo Packages.

5. Sesame Street Christmas Village

Cookie Monster and Bert greet a guest for photos.

Take photos with your favorite Sesame Street characters decked out in holiday attire. To find out who is appearing where, you can check the SeaWorld San Diego app for times and locations.

5. Reindeer Scavenger Hunt

The Reindeer Scavenger Hunt map can be purchased online or when you get to the park. You’re looking for eight gift boxes. Once you find them, you can take the map to the SeaWorld Store for one of four souvenir pins.

6. 30′ Tree Lighting

Special guests from the North Pole appear daily at 5 p.m. for the 30′ tree lighting. Throughout the day, this Christmas tree serves as a nice photo backdrop. It’s located in Jingle Bell Square but there are other pretty trees scattered throughout the park.

7. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph and friends in front of holiday decor at SeaWorld San Diego's Christmas Celebration.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer © & ® or ™ The Rudolph Co., L.P. All elements under license to Character Arts, LLC. All rights reserved

Included with park admission is the chance to take a photos with Rudolph. 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.

8. Holly Jolly Marketplace & The Christmas SHoppe

It wouldn’t be a 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.

9. Hanukkah Celebration

Between November 28–December 6, guests will be able to view the traditional lighting of the menorah throughout Hanukkah.

10. Photo Backdrops

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

Fill your Instagram feed or perhaps snap the perfect holiday card photo in front of the various greeting card backdrops throughout the park ranging from Santa’s sleigh to a menorah display at the Manta roller coaster, one of SeaWorld San Diego’s best rides.

11. The Tunnel of Lights

Walk through the more than 5,000 colorful lights as they shimmer to holiday music in the Tunnel of Lights.

12. Dine with Characters

Check to see what special dining experiences are happening during your stay. You can have cookies with Cookie Monster or even brunch with Elmo.

13. 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 has 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.

You can buy reserved seating. Or, get there 15 minutes in advance for the best general admission seating.

14. 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 San Diego’s famous hot chocolate with toppings like peppermint crumbles, winter 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.

15. Holiday Fireworks

On select nights guests are treated to a spectacular fireworks show right before the park closes. Check the schedule for dates. I can see it from my house!

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 multiple times with only a few minutes’ wait.

Many of the 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 because there really will be plenty to do.

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