It took me years to finally get to SeaWorld Orlando and now that I have been, I am obsessed! I love all the sea life focused things to do at SeaWorld and the tropical atmosphere of the park. If you are hesitant like I was to make time for SeaWorld, this article will prove just why it is a top Orlando experience.
This guide will share all the best things to do at SeaWorld Orlando from thrill rides and shows to animal encounters and festivals. I have divided it up into sections so you can easily figure out your top priorities. Be sure to read on and save this post for a truly unforgettable experience at SeaWorld.
Best Things to Do for Animal Lovers
First up are the top six animal encounters that I recommend everyone experience at SeaWorld Orlando, especially nature lovers. These exhibits are immersive and provide up close and personal sights to some incredible creatures. Make sure to prioritize time for checking out the following SeaWorld Orlando things to do.
1. Empire of the Penguins
One of the most famous attractions at SeaWorld Orlando is the Empire of the Penguins exhibit and for good reason. Here you can see five species of penguins in their natural, Artic replicated habitat. There is both an ice viewing area where the penguins waddle around and a lower deck so you can see them dive and glide.
These birds have so much personality that I usually spend at least half an hour marveling at them. It’s also a great spot for hot days because they keep the inside at cold temperatures for the penguins. However, this attraction does have a limited capacity and there can be lines. I recommend going in the morning to avoid these, but even if there is a line, it is worth the wait!
2. Pacific Point Preserve
A lesser-known animal attraction I love is the Pacific Point Preserve. This is where the sea lions and harbor seals are located. They play on huge rocks and beg for fish all day, which you can purchase to feed to them. Seeing the dives some of these sea lions make for fish is so impressive! This area is super noisy with their barks and a little smelly, but so entertaining, I rarely notice.
3. Wild Artic
Another one of the SeaWorld things to do that you shouldn’t miss is the Wild Artic exhibit. Here you can see walruses and beluga whales in their artic environment! Both these animals are gentle giants and I love watching them swim around. There are even close-up tours offered for both species if you want to get a special experience with them!
4. Shark Encounter
For an indoor aquarium experience, Shark Encounter is my favorite. This large section of the park has a variety of sharks and other tropical fish. The best part is going on the moving walkway and watching them swim around in the world’s largest underwater viewing tunnel. I find this exhibit to have so much interesting information regarding sharks and their role in the ocean environment as well.
5. Dolphins Cove
I could watch dolphins swim and jump for hours, so Dolphins Cove is a must for me. This attraction has a large space where you can watch dolphins swim and play together. There are also frequent shows where trainers show off how smart these sea mammals are. It never gets old!
6. Manatee Rehabilitation Area
Lastly, you will want to check out the manatee rehabilitation area where SeaWorld has taken in injured or orphaned manatees from throughout the state. These adorable creatures are vulnerable to extinction due to the many risks of being injured by boat strikes and pollution. This exhibit brings awareness to the issues facing manatees while also showcasing the recoveries these manatees are making.
Best Rides for Thrill Seekers
One thing I did not know about SeaWorld is that most of the rides are coasters. Besides a couple of water rides and Sesame Street Land, the main attractions are pretty exhilarating. For those who do not enjoy coasters, there are still a lot of fun things to do at SeaWorld Orlando. But if you are a thrill seeker, prioritize the following rides.
7. Manta Roller Coaster
For a roller coaster experience unlike any other, the Manta Roller Coaster has you laying down while twisting and turning through the track! You are made to feel like a manta ray gliding through the sea and the ride does an amazing job of creating an exciting experience. Because of the restraints required for such maneuvers, you may want to avoid it if you are claustrophobic, but this ride will make any adrenaline junkie’s day!
8. Ice Breaker
SeaWorld Orlando’s newest coaster, Ice Breaker, is another groundbreaking ride. Though you do not go upside down, you do go backward and take some exciting hairpin turns. I love how fast it goes and the views you get with the ricochet part!
Mako was the first SeaWorld coaster I went on and possibly the scariest. Though it does not go upside, this ride is extremely high up and the drops had me screaming bloody murder! If you hate heights, you may want to avoid it, but this coaster is a speed demon’s dream.
For an all-around excellent coaster, the Kraken has something for everyone. This leg-dangling ride has hills, loops, curves, and more. It is another exciting ride in the lineup and worth waiting in long lines for.
11. Infinity Falls
If you don’t mind getting wet, Infinity Falls will give you a thrilling taste of the rapids. This ride features one of the tallest raft drops, as well as surprise twists and turns. There is a large dryer you can use for a fee afterward, but most find this attraction to be as refreshing as it is fun.
Best Attractions for Families
If you are bringing kids too small for coasters to SeaWorld Orlando, do not despair! There are still plenty of fun things to do at SeaWorld for families. This next section focuses on the attractions that will appeal to young kids, although many can be enjoyed by all.
12. Sesame Street Land
By far the most popular part of SeaWorld Orlando for families is the Sesame Street section. This is where you can find kid-friendly rides, playgrounds, and Sesame Street shows. Kiddie rides include a teacup-style ride, a train, a mini coaster, and a carousel. Your little one can even meet some of the Sesame Street characters for an unforgettable experience.
13. Stingray Lagoon
Kids and adults alike will enjoy the touch tanks of Stingray Lagoon where you can see a variety of different rays and pet them as they glide by. I always enjoy watching the Giant Manta Ray which has a wingspan of five feet tall! This interactive attraction is sure to enthuse kids who love sea creatures.
14. Orca Encounter
The Orca Encounter is what SeaWorld Orlando calls the killer whale show where you learn about the Orcas. Though it is amazing to see these creatures jump out of the water, the show is more aimed at kids. Anyone can watch the orcas during the day at the underwater viewing location, but the show is the only place you will see them jump and do tricks. Families should prioritize a show time here, while other guests may only want to check it out if there is extra time.
15. Sea Lion & Otter Spotlight
Another SeaWorld Orlando attraction great for families is the Sea Lion and Otter Spotlight. Here you see some of the tricks that California sea lions and Asian small-clawed otters have learned. Again, it can be fun for all ages, but the show is super corny so I think kids enjoy it more than adults.
16. Jewel of the Sea Aquarium
Aquariums are one of the best things to do at SeaWorld for kids and Jewel of the Sea is especially worth a visit. This is where a variety of jellyfish and tropical fish are on display. It also includes bioluminescent creatures that are especially delightful. This aquarium is the perfect midafternoon spot to cool off indoors and relax.
Best Things to Do for Holidays
If you get the chance to visit SeaWorld Orlando during a major holiday season, there are even more unique things to do. The park really excels at themed experiences, and you can find lots of new offerings during seasonal events. These next four SeaWorld things to do include the best festival events to plan a visit around.
17. Christmas Celebration
The best time to visit is during SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration, as they really go all out for the holidays. I was impressed by all the lights, trees, and shows and I think it is a worthy competitor to Disney World’s Christmas experiences. Best of all, these special offerings are included in your ticket! In addition to checking out the other things to do at SeaWorld above, make sure to see the Sea of Trees and the Winter Wonderland on Ice show during the holiday season.
For a spooky experience, SeaWorld becomes a haunted park after hours in September and October. To visit Howl-O-Scream, you need a separate nighttime ticket. The haunted houses and walk-around characters can be very scary, so it is recommended only for adults. In addition to getting frightened, many of the rides and aquariums will also be open to experience.
19. Seven Seas Food Festival
Rivaling the Epcot festivals, the SeaWorld Seven Seas Food Festival is quickly becoming a local must-do. This event runs from February to May where food booths are set up with different cuisines to try. From Thursday through Sunday only, this event is included in-park tickets, although food and drinks cost extra. However, the live concerts and dance parties add to the celebratory aspect of this event.
20. Summer Spectacular
If you visit SeaWorld Orlando during the summer, you are in for a treat with Summer Spectacular going on. The park tends to be open later and there are fireworks and exciting night shows. In addition to the IGNITE fireworks and fountain spectacular and the electric ocean concerts, there are also DJ parties and nocturnal animal shows to add to the occasion.
Add-On SeaWorld Orlando Experiences
If you are still looking for things to do at SeaWorld Orlando, there are also some add-on experiences that cost extra. By adding on a couple of these activities, you can have a whole SeaWorld-centric vacation. There are even packages that make this cheaper when you bundle hotels and tickets. Here are some worthwhile things to consider adding to your SeaWorld experience.
21. Dine with an Orca
One of the most popular add-on things to do at SeaWorld is the Dine with Orcas show. This is where you get to see a more immersive orca show while you eat lunch. For only $31 for adults and $22 for kids, it is not much more than a regular theme park lunch would cost you. This is a big hit with families, especially during crowded times when you can get a front-row seat to see the Orcas.
22. Go to Aquatica
If you like water parks, SeaWorld has its own right next door. Aquatica is one of the best water parks in the country and has a variety of themed slides and pools to experience. Here you can slide through aquariums, float down a lazy river and ride a family raft. If you are not planning on visiting any other theme parks, I recommend adding a day at this water park to your vacation.
23. Spend a day at Discovery Cove
For a more unique aquatic experience, Discovery Cove offers a taste of SeaWorld luxury. This is a different kind of water park that offers an all-inclusive experience. A one-day pass includes, food, drinks the lazy river, a large pool, and snorkeling. There are also add-ons like a dolphin swim to make it an extra special day!
24. Do a VIP Tour
Another way to level your SeaWorld experience is by doing a VIP tour. This is a way to get a private, guided experience of the park and not have to wait in lines. The Ultimate VIP tour takes you to the front of the line, includes reserved seating at shows, and even adds animal encounters to your day. This is a pretty penny though, with costs starting at $600 per person.
If you are more of a foodie, the Seven Seas VIP Tour can be a deal. It starts at $500 per person but includes eighteen food and drinks per person. With this tour, you also get reserved seating at concerts and front-of-the-line access to rides. It is definitely a splurge but if you plan to spend a lot on food already, it may be worth it.
25. Experience an Animal Encounter
If you have an animal lover in the family, an animal encounter is one of the best things to do at SeaWorld Orlando. There is nothing more exciting than getting to meet your favorite sea creature in person! You can add on either encounters or close-up tours to see penguins, walruses, dolphins, beluga whales, sharks, orcas, and sea lions.
The animal encounters are usually cheaper than the up-close tours but both are fun ways to get close to animals. Prices range from $20 to a $100 add-on. Though it can be expensive for the whole family to participate, it will create memories that last a lifetime!
Know Before You Go: The Best Things to Do at SeaWorld Orlando
No matter what age you are or the interests you have, there is something for everyone at SeaWorld. I hope this blog post helped you determine the best things to do at SeaWorld Orlando for your family. This world-renowned theme park and marine life center is a big attraction in Orlando and worth a visit for locals and tourists. Here are some tips to keep in mind before visiting this theme park.
- To ride the most popular rides at SeaWorld Orlando, you will want to rope drop the theme parks. This means getting there right when the park opens and rushing to the most popular ride. It is the easiest way to have a short wait for popular rides.
- Another alternative is to get in line for a popular ride just minutes before the park closes. They will continue to let people on the ride who were in line at closing, so you can maximize your park time this way.
- If you really want to avoid long lines, most of these rides offer a paid Quick Queue pass to skip the line.
- One other way to cut down on wait times is to ride the single-rider line. These are common on roller coasters and though you have to ride next to a stranger, the line can be much shorter.
- You need a locker for belongings on all the roller coasters. I recommend buying the multi-use day locker for $10 instead of paying for each one as you go.
- For those looking for hotel options, here are my picks for the best theme park hotels to stay at.
What’s your favorite thing to do at SeaWorld? I love seeing the penguins and sea lions! For more tips for an Orlando vacation, be sure to check out my guide to Florida theme parks.
If you need help planning a trip, I am partnered with Kelly’s Magical Vacations and highly recommend her services. Find out more here!