Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sea World - San Diego, CA

Sea World- San Diego is always a favorite destination for our family. But as we all know any trip to a theme park can be overwhelming. Taking a few minutes to learn some of the tips and tricks can not only set-up your day for fun but possibly even save you money! Below are some of the tips (including money saving ideas) that are Sea World – San Diego specific:

Before your trip…

-Grab a couple of the inexpensive ($1 each) rain ponchos at Target or Wal-Mart. (I keep one tightly folded up at the bottom of my purse when we go to Amusement Parks.) I knew we planned on watching the Believe (Shamu) show and that it would be a hot day – Perfect for sitting in the Soak Zone! As we were waiting for the show to being I wrapped up my purse inside one of the rain ponchos and it stayed perfectly dry even though we were sitting in Row 3! (Note to self: Next time sit in Row 1 closer to the center of the stadium!) Vendors were selling Sea World ponchos for $20 each!

-Plan to go on a Saturday if you are driving from Orange County or Los Angeles areas and leave early in the morning (around 8am if possible). One thing we have little patience for is weekend traffic and we’ve found that by leaving Orange County at 8am or before on weekends is essential to not get caught in the weekend southbound traffic in San Clemente/Oceanside. Getting caught in that traffic can add more than an hour to your drive time! Be prepared for traffic on the way back home if you leave the San Diego area anytime after 2pm, especially on Sundays… where there is bad traffic through Carlsbad/Camp Pendleton and San Clemente. Get to the park as it opens, you will be able to get more done and be able to leave the park as it is getting busy early afternoon.

-If you have and use a double jogger, this is one amusement park they work well in as there is always ample stroller parking. You will most likely not need to collapse your strollers/joggers during the day and the paths have ample space so you won’t feel like you’re driving a semi truck through back alleys! Sea World also has nice double joggers available for rent…something I haven’t seen at other parks!

-Bring a couple water bottles. This cuts down on the last minute “Mom! I’m thirsty!” moments and saves your beverage purchases for meals.

-Don’t expect to see all the shows at the park. Pick your top two shows and plan your day around those unless you plan on being at the park from the moment it opens until the minute it closes. Do plan on arriving at least 10 minutes before each show so you can get decent seating if you are going during peak seasons.

-Sea World has a great deal right now, adult admission for the price of children ($55) and you get to go back to the park a second time before the end of this year. This is great because it takes the pressure off to see everything, but isn’t like buying a season pass. We plan on going back during October to see the Halloween themes.

-There are a number of interactive experiences you can book ahead of time that add additional cost to your trip and all can be found on their website – Dine with Shamu, Dolphin Encounter, Wild Arctic Interaction and other guided tours.

-Bring sunscreen! Because many of the shows are water based, you are getting lots of sun ray reflection and can get sunburns very easily (sunny day or not).

-Bring plenty of hand sanitizer. There are hand washing stations at all exhibits, but I always prefer to follow up with some Purell!

During your day …

-Our kids love souvenirs, especially animal ones. Early on I figured out that by allowing them to purchase the smallest size Shamu and Turtle, that it would save money. We allowed the kids to get two small stuffed animals each (totaled about $20 or $5 each!) and the kids felt like they made out like bandits. In reality, we spent the same amount or less than we would have if we had allowed them to pick out the larger sizes. I told the kids at the beginning of the day that they would each be able to pick out one souvenir, but that I wanted them to take their time and check out all the choices before making their decision. Good life lesson also! Allowing them to get a bonus animal each at the end of the day was icing on the cake to them.

-We had a couple of attractions we wanted to see at the top of our list for the day, so we saw those first. My kids (as do many) have a habit of wanting to spend a long time at each attraction, not aware there might be one they like more later on in the day. Knowing we didn’t want to stay much past 1pm, I decided it would be fun to not take as much time at each attraction but allow each of the boys to pick one attraction they wanted to go back and take a second look at later in the day. This was AWESOME and I will be using this for all appropriate future family adventures! This took the pressure off and allowed us to at least get a peek at virtually all of the attractions at the park. The kids were happy because they knew that they had complete choice over which one they wanted to see again. Brett chose to pet the Manta Rays for a second time and Kyle chose the Shark experience (note the Shark Experience became VERY busy by the end of the day and was certainly not as neat as seeing earlier in the day).

-Since we arrived at the park so early in the day, we had a mid day heavy snack (two large plates of Nachos). This was a great mid day snack that was much less expensive than buying a heavy meal there and we skipped the long lunch lines at the restaurants. When we got home we had a large healthy dinner, which was a perfect way to end a long busy day.

Easily missed attractions that are worth finding…
-Seeing the Manta Rays at the Forbidden Reefs. This is a fun one where you get to touch them! They are very friendly and almost seem to love the attention!

-The Tide Pool is a great place to touch the Sea Stars. My kids love interactive exhibits and this is one where they can walk right up to them and touch them. How cool is that?

-Bring lots of quarters! Many of the attractions allow you to purchase food through a dispenser to feed the animals.
For more information click here


JLC August 25, 2009 at 4:14 PM  

Its been ages since I've visited Sea World. Hubby used to run the spotlight for the Shamu and Walrus shows! Even though they have done a lot for oceanic wildlife, I always feel bad for their captive animals. I suppose that is why I prefer the Wild Animal Park. The animals there have more freedom to roam.
Thanks for all the tips!

Daytrippingmom Media August 25, 2009 at 7:37 PM  

WE love Sea World- these are great tips. We have the silver passes and use them at least once a month.

We actually love going during the evening on summer nights. It took me 1hr and 15 on the way there and a little over an hour on the way home. I left around 430 and left the park after the firework show. The kids fell asleep on the way home. It was perfect!

P.S. I just linked you up!

Katie August 25, 2009 at 10:16 PM  

We always have a great time at Sea World and it had been awhile since we had taken the boys (which is funny because they are huge animal lovers as are we). We've been so busy with our trips to San Diego Zoo, Disneyland and San Diego Wild Animal Park... Wow, this has been a busy summer!

Thanks for the link up Aracely!

Just Spotted August 26, 2009 at 6:04 AM  

great tips! i don't get down to sea world as often as i should!

xoxo, K

Lane Family September 3, 2009 at 9:17 AM  

Just an FYI~ my family went to Sea World last month (we are going again next week) and they now offer an all you can eat pass for $49? By the time you get two meals, its WAY worth it if you're there all day. It includes drink, appetizer or dessert, & main course. On a hot day - the drinks alone are worth it!

Katie September 3, 2009 at 9:23 AM  

Thanks for the FYI!

I had seen the meal deal and weren't there long enough for it to make sense for us, but it could definitely be a real cost saver for families!

They are also offering low monthly installment plans for the season passes (I think it is about $6/month per pass!). Great deal!

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