The third park we visited on our Texas trip was SeaWorld San Antonio! The park is greatly situated on elevated land and features a giant lake as its centerpiece. This park, unlike our local SeaWorld San Diego, has a thrill-ride collection in addition to stellar shows and awesome exhibits. The park felt well rounded and definitely not cramped as there was ample space between stadiums, exhibits, and rides. The park took us by surprise and was a very enjoyable place to visit. Join us as we take a look around the park!
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Killer Whales: Up Close was the first show held in Shamu Theater during our visit. This show is more of an exhibition of these majestic creatures, more so than a true show, as all Seaworld Shows will be in the near future.
The show is set up as a simulated Q&A, with an an MC asking common questions the majestic orcas, and although a little slower paced than One Ocean or Light up the Night, is a great way to provide facts many in the audience may be wondering about. Trainers answer these questions, and then have the Orcas do brief demonstrations. The show features all five of the park’s orcas, and is a great way to get an up close view of Orcas in action.
The park’s main show, just like at SeaWorld San Diego and SeaWorld Orlando, was also located inside the Shamu Theater. The show “One Ocean” opened in 2011 and is still a guest favorite. The show utilizes custom soundtracks and awesome guest-trainer interaction for what is considered one of the best SeaWorld shows ever produced. The park’s unique whale stadium allows for a better view of the whales in action as the pool is in a whale-like shape and is stretched out with seats on both sides. This way any acts happening on the opposite side of the pool are still relatively close to your side of the pool. In addition, the stadium is inside, offering a very awesome light package, and the best of all: shade. Please note that the stadium isn’t as tall as the ones in Orlando and San Diego, and thus the Splash Zone extends further up. We learned that the hard/cool/wet way. Moving on to the actual show now… the show starts off with the trainers discussing the new direction SeaWorld is going in, and that they will stop breeding killer whales. SeaWorld has listened to the world, but we’re still a tad sad to see an end to such a beautiful era. Then they start discussing the new Orca Encounter that will be coming to the three parks, starting in San Diego next year, which we’ll cover as it’s in California.
The show then opens with… ORCAS! The park’s five orcas, including the two big guys, Ky and Tuar, and the three female members; Takara, Sakari and Kamea all made an appearance in the show, which was cool to see! The show is wonderfully put together starting off with several jumps around the pool, which is always impressive to see. Then there’s a section where the trainers connect with the whales, and then the main scene of the show is the splash section of the show which is pretty much orcas jumping out of the water, using their tales to splash audience members, and it’s the high-thrill action packed section of the show. The show’s big finale is also a SeaWorld San Antonio as a big ball is lowered from the ceiling and one of the park’s orcas makes impressive high jump touching the ball. Overall the show is top notch, it’s the kind of show only SeaWorld can offer, and just like its counterparts on the west and east coast, it was very enjoyable. Sadly there’s no way to see the orcas after the show, since SeaWorld San Antonio does not have an underwater viewing area. Hopefully this gets added when they create their version of the Orca Encounter! But for now, whenever you’re at SeaWorld San Antonio, this (along with a few other show) is a must-see!
Azul is a Cirque type show that takes place in the Beluga Stadium and features everything from Belugas and Dolphins, to divers and synchronized swimmers. As a whole, Azul benefits from having very high production value, which shows both in the sets, the stunts, and the Cirque vibe that they nailed on the head. The beluga appearances are all very cool, mostly just as a result of seeing such a beautiful animal in action, however these appearances are a little scarce.
The dolphins are truly incredible with their tremendous agility and leaping ability. Speaking of leaping ability, the majority of the show focuses on divers and swimmers, who, within the story’s narrative, are fish. To our surprise, this wasn’t really to the show’s detriment. There are some incredibly talented athletes in the show, and the scale of their stunts only increases as the show progresses. The vibe of the show is very cirque, with not a word of dialogue spoken the entire time, but rather just a whimsical soundtrack. Although it’s a bit odd at first, it doesn’t take long for you to get on board with the world that’s established.
Overall, Azul is a very fun show with a lot of good elements. Even though the animal appearances are a little rare, they are spectacular when they’re there, and the stunts performed throughout the rest of the show will keep you thoroughly impressed. If you have the time, this show is definitely worth checking out.
Located in the picturesque Ski Stadium, on the banks of the park’s lake, is HydroPower 2.0, a show that takes water sports to a whole new level. The show features members of the US national Water Skiing team, doing all sorts of stunts, not just on water skis, but on a variety of other water sports equipment, such as wakeboards, aerial skis, jet skis, and even bare feet. On top of this, a comedic MC keeps the audience entertained in between each stunt. Many of the incredible stunts include, a skier skiing with another cast member on his shoulder, to skiers spinning like helicopters airborne while another skis under them, and even a stunt in which three skiers perform backflips simultaneously off of the same ramp.
As an added perk, this stadium offers great views of Steel Eel and Journey to Atlantis. It seems like everywhere you look in this stadium, someone is having an adrenaline rush. It really gets you excited to get back out on the rides.
For lunch we decided to visit one of the park’s nicely located restaurants. Right next to the Sesame Street Bay of Play and the park’s lake we found Rosita’s Cafe, which features a pizza and pasta buffet. We decided to eat there after noting the prices were of incredible value for a theme park. $13.99 a person gets guests unlimited pizza, pasta, salad, drinks and desserts. Sounds pretty good, right? And good it was! They had several types of pizza and pasta, as well as a salad bar of course, and multiple fountain machines for your drinks. It was truly a great place to eat, with plenty of seating near the windows for great views of our favorite coaster at the park, Steel Eel, as it towered over the lake setting. We definitely recommend you take your friends and family to Rosita’s Cafe for lunch and/or dinner during your stay at SeaWorld San Antonio!
The Animal Connections Conservation Center is SeaWorld San Antonio’s education center for the rescue and rehabilitation for ill, injured, orphaned, or abandoned animals. Inside there are birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians and even an armadillo for guests to see and learn about. In addition, SeaWorld staff are more than happy to tell you about these animals and how guests can help protect animals in the wild.
The exhibit features some very cool animals, some of the highlights of which include a gorgeous and massive Burmese python, a totally awesome armadillo, and even a snapping turtle. This center is a great example of SeaWorld’s very successful rescue program, and it is also a great way for everyone to learn about and appreciate some of these cool animals. We very much recommend at least poking your head inside if you get the chance.
When you exit the park temporarily (get a hand-stamp to get back into the park!) you can walk past Aquatica and visit the two new attractions at the park. New for 2016 are Discovery Point and Explorer’s Reef. Let’s start with discussing the wonderful Discovery Point exhibit. The exhibit features a coral reef setting which is home to the park’s bottle nose dolphins.
This exotic exhibit is also home to the park’s dolphin interaction program where guests get to swim with dolphins, we didn’t get a chance to do that, but it seemed very nice. We did though get to fully explore the rest of the attraction, which features a viewing area above the surface of the water, as well as a giant underwater viewing area below.
The viewing area is cool, and I’m talking A/C here. It’s a great place to cool down a bit while watching the gracious dolphins swim around the great looking pool. The viewing area is awesome as it’s gigantic.
It features several huge windows that stretch from the floor to the ceiling, and with the curvature in the windows it even makes one feel as if they were in the pool with the dolphins. Through the use of in-pool windows, you can also see the dolphins in the pool next door, where guest swim with them. Offering a wonderfully broad view of the exhibit. It’s a high-quality exhibit that you can not miss when at the park!
Explorer’s Reef is also new for 2016 and features massive aquariums with an impressive array of fish and sea life. The exhibits focus and coral reefs and exotic fish, the first of which is a large cylindrical aquarium decorated in colorful coral, which is a nice little introduction for what’s to come. The next aquarium is a massive reef with dozens of stingrays swimming around the top, above the extensive coral constructs and tropical fish below.
We were really impressed by this aquarium, both the sheer quantity and variety of fish, but also how beautifully the reef was constructed. The tank just next door is the shark tank. Lit all up in a dramatic deep blue, the tank is home to reef sharks, nurse sharks, zebra sharks, and the scary looking sand tiger sharks. These gorgeous animals are mesmerizing as they patrol their massive tank. It’s an incredible exhibit and the sharks are definitely a highlight of Explorer’s Reef.
Lastly, there’s a circular shallow water tank with huge schools of colorful fish for you to enjoy on your way out. Explorer’s Reef is a very impressive aquarium with some great exhibits that everyone will enjoy. It is definitely one of the animal highlights, and should not be missed.
Inside the park we find another exhibit, right near Steel Eel. Walk through and view a real penguin habitat full with over 100 penguins. Visitors can either walk along or ride the moving sidewalk, as they pass by the simulated icy shore, and view multiple different breeds of penguins. During the summer time, visitors will notice how dark it is in the habitat. This is because penguins are from the southern hemisphere, in which our summer is their winter, therefore less sunlight. An added bonus to this exhibit is that following the penguin habitat there is also a puffin enclosure for visitors to see. These creatures offer an interesting variation, as not many theme parks offer puffin habitats for viewing. Note that if you visit the exhibit in the winter, the exhibit will be lit up all day, for nearly 24 hours, as it’s summer in the southern hemisphere then. 😉
Located between Rosita’s Cafe and Steel Eel is Alligator Cove. This area features a swamp full of the large reptile predators, along with turtles as well. Stopping to see these beasts is quite awe inspiring as they are much more menacing looking in person. A tip the park offers is to come by in the early afternoon hours, as this is when you can see the gators being fed.
Flamingo Cove is a neat exhibit in between Shamu Theater and Journey to Atlantis, that, you guessed it, is home to flamingos! Amongst the bright pink birds there are also a variety of local birds that take advantage of the area such as ducks, geese and sparrows. The exhibit is well kept with beautiful landscaping, and the dozens of bright pink flamingos are definitely worth giving a look!
As the sun began to set on our last night in San Antonio, we headed back to Shamu Theater one last time to see Light Up the Night. This show was very similar to Light up the Night at Seaworld San Diego, featuring the same pre show and music throughout the show.
What the show did have that differed from San Diego was the dome of Shamu Theater, which really contributed to the show. First off, the light package, which lit up different sections of the dome, truly lit up the night.
Secondly, the enclosed top of the stadium allowed for the same great finale that One Ocean features too! The finale featured orca Takara reaching a ball suspended from the ceiling of the theater. Truly a magnificent way to end the show, and our trip to Texas.
Let’s now move on to some of our favorite rides during our visit to SeaWorld San Antonio! One of our very favorite coasters on the trip, and our very favorite at SeaWorld San Antonio, was Steel Eel.
This 150 foot tall Morgan hyper coaster stands beautifully over the park’s giant lake and is one heck of forceful ride! The ride, unlike many coasters in California, is just pure air! We were very pleasantly surprised. The old school trains on the coaster offered plenty of legroom with basic restraints (in addition to a seat-belt) and was very accommodating of larger guests as well. This basically meant: airtime. Literally floating out of your seat for most the ride. The ride starts off taking a left turn onto the lift hill, which we must add is actually a fast lift hill. The lift hill offers a great view of the park, the park’s lake, and the entire surrounding area of San Antonio. The ride then navigates through its first drop which offers the first taste of crazy airtime.
You fly out of your seat and you’re out of your seat all the way to the bottom where the track slightly curves left and passes over the water. This is also where the on-ride photo is taken. The train then flies up into to a giant double camel-back, keeping riders floating out of their seat all the way through both hills, offering great air on the way down.
The train then ascends into the ride’s mid-course brake run, but doesn’t let you breathe for long. The train instantly drops sideways into a large curved drop that force some real positive Gs on riders before shooting into the next large hill again offering floater on the top and crazy good airtime on the way down.
The ride then enters a set of three high-speed hills that all over ejector on top and serious air on the way down. Like several other rides of its kind, the bottom of the drops are quick and snappy and you literally get thrown back into your seat, adding a crazy intense edge to the ride.
The ride finishes off with a high-speed slightly banked S-curve into the brake run. This ride left us speechless and we returned to the ride all day to ride it many more times. Steel Eel was said to be one of the most underrated coasters in the country, and people are right. This ride deserves so much more recognition. The ride is filled with air, offers amazing views, and has a consistent quality mix of forces. If there’s one ride we’d take back to California with us, it’d be Steel Eel. It’s a ride that our state needs! When you visit SeaWorld San Antonio, make sure to get plenty of rides in on this world-class coaster.
Located not too far from Steel Eel is the park’s other thrill coaster. Great White is the third and final B&M Inverted Batman clone in Texas, but of course with a different name, theme, and color scheme.
We do quite like the name Great White, and it’s very appropriate for such an intense, quick, and hard hitting ride. In addition, the blue track with white trains is visually striking, and is a good representation of the animal it’s named after. The theming doesn’t extend too far beyond that unfortunately, but the queue and ride area are very well kept and landscaped. The ride itself, is well, Batman, Batshark if you will. It’s the same layout as every other Batman clone, although slightly more compact. We found it to be overall very smooth and forceful as you’d expect, and particularly enjoyed the Zero G Roll finding it quite snappy.
The train seemed to drag you through the corkscrews with a little extra something, and after four consecutive rides in the back row, Great White very much proved its intensity. The thing is, it’s another Batman. You guys know the drill, it’s a really fun, solid, intense and compact roller coaster. This coaster is perfect for a park this size and it helps round out their lineup a lot with the inclusion of inversions. For us enthusiasts, this may be one of the best/smoothest Batman clones out there. The ride also seems to be loved by guests visiting the park and thus is a wonderful part of the park’s lineup of attractions.
Next up we ventured to a long-gone world… Journey to Atlantis is the name belonging to three Mack rides at SeaWorld parks across the country, the other two being water coasters, this one being a Mack SuperSplash. Each ride has their own unique layout, with this San Antonio version being the most simple. After pulling down your hydraulic lap bars in your 16 person boat, you begin to ascend the 100’ tall lift. At the top, you reach a turntable element, a Mack staple. You are rotated 45 degrees to the left so you are now facing away from the next section. The brakes release and you drop backwards, which is surprising fun. You then bottom out with a decent bit of G force before hitting another turntable. You rotate 45 degrees to the left again so you are facing the 100’ drop in front of you.
Anticipation builds as you wait for the brakes to release. Suddenly you fly down the massive drop, floating up into your restraints from the excellent Mack airtime, as soon as you hit the water at the bottom of the drop the boat decelerates very quickly and powerfully, lurching you forward in your seat with only the friction of the water, no brakes. The splash is huge, and riders are sprayed thoroughly from the waist up. Overall, despite being the most simple version of this ride, it is still a lot of fun with a great drop. As one of the few major attractions at the park, Journey to Atlantis is a very fun ride that shouldn’t be missed.
Speaking of getting wet and rides that can’t be missed… In the Texas heat, water rides are essential. This is why we waited for Rio Loco to open, even though it was down due to technical difficulties. This being said, we may have gotten a little more than we bargained for. Rio Loco starts as a typical rapid ride, traversing through the white water swells that occasionally crest boat walls, getting riders wet. The kicker on this ride, however, is the finale waterfall, similar to Gully Washer at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, across town. Riders have no idea who is going to get drenched by the fall, or even know it is coming, giving the ride a Russian Roulette like feel, but as soon as it is seen, the fun and games stop, and aquaphobia sets in. The fall drenches anyone caught under it, and fills the bottom of the boat with water as well, cooling all riders off, to the max. We would strongly recommend you ride this ride on hot days, as it sure will cool you off quickly.
Overall it was delightful to visit another SeaWorld park. It was our last full day in Texas and we couldn’t have imagined a better place to spend it at. The park has a nice setting, is very spread out, and features several SeaWorld San Antonio exclusive attractions that you can’t find at any of the other SeaWorld parks.
It’s a wonderful place to combine with a trip to nearby Six Flags Fiesta Texas, and together with downtown San Antonio and the Riverwalk makes for a perfect weekend trip to the Texan city. If you get a chance to visit, we highly recommend you step by. If you’re a water park fan, their Aquatica is also known to be one of the best water parks out there! Can’t go wrong with SeaWorld San Antonio!
Thank you for checking out this Trip Report! For more awesome reports from our trip to Texas, check out our report from our visit to nearby Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Six Flags Over Texas! One of our team members also visited Six Flags Great Adventure recently.