We were back at one of our favorite parks in the state (or anywhere really), SeaWorld San Diego! The park that perfectly combines rides, exhibitions, shows, animals, landscaping, and family fun. During this visit we made sure to get our last One Ocean show in, and we spent quite some time in the animal exhibits. Of course we also rode the park’s rides. That and a whole lot more in our Trip Report!
– Recently our images have popped up on other sites and forums, awesome that our coverage spreads, not so awesome that no one mentioned where they got the images from. We are totally fine with our audience using our images, BUT ONLY IF credit is given to californiacoasterkings.com. Thank you! –
To start off our day we were welcomed by a Pokemon Go sign. No surprise of course, the world-wide smart-phone game is so incredibly popular that every park needs to warn guests not to enter restricted areas to catch Pokemon. There were a bunch of signs throughout the park.
A very respectful welcome inside the park was the flag that was hanging half mast.
Right next to which we found Cafe 64. We headed to Cafe 64 to purchase our All Day Dining deal wristbands. We cannot stress enough how fantastic this deal is. The deal offers one meal every hour which includes an entree, your choice of side or dessert, and a medium drink. We headed to Cafe 64 first as they offer breakfast, served until 11 am. This burger restaurant’s unique variation on breakfast offered us bacon cheeseburgers, with egg, on a bagel. This was a great pick me up in the morning, as we were extremely tired after the three and a half hour trek down to San Diego. We made Cafe 64 our first and last meal of the day, as we were sure to chow down on their delicious burgers again, before checking out Shamu’s Celebration: Light up the Night.
After grabbing a quick bite at Cafe 64 for breakfast, we headed over to our first of the park’s two coasters; Journey to Atlantis. We walked right on, seated in the back row, to avoid maximum soakage. As usual, this ride did not disappoint, offering great water drop, and a fun little coaster part before the final splashdown. We also love the exit of this ride, as we spent plenty of time watching the rays and other sea life in the Atlantis themed tank.
Next up was the nearby Wild Arctic. This visit to SeaWorld we didn’t get a chance to ride the Wild Arctic motion simulator ride, since we’ve ridden it before and love the accompanying exhibit so much we headed there immediately. This incredibly elaborate, multi-level walk-through always gets our attention for about an hour each visit. The exhibit begins above the water, as viewers can see belugas above water as well as polar bears and then walruses. You then drop down below in a shipwreck to view a large amount of other arctic sea life, capped off with underwater view of the belugas. The belugas are some of our favorite creatures at SeaWorld, as they seem to be majestic and social creatures. Watching their interactions with each other is something truly incredible.
Is that Manta I see?!
And then it was time for… MANTA! Our favorite family coaster. They started off running two trains, though they soon brought out a third one. You’ve got to love the awesome theming around the ride. Including the multi-media launch tunnel. The only issue being that it’s hard to see what goes on in the tunnel once the door of the launch track opens because of the light entering. Luckily we didn’t have that issue at night. The ride offers some great airtime and fun transitions, thus of course we had to ride it a few times in between shows and other attractions.
Speaking of shows… time for Dolphin Days! Dolphin Days, SeaWorld San Diego’s only dolphin show, is always enjoyable. The show begins with an MC leading the crowd in 3 singalongs. Next, the dolphins are let out and it’s time to watch these majestic, athletic creatures soar. Unlike the Killer Whale shows, trainers are allowed in the water with the dolphins, offering some cool tricks including surfing and water skiing on the backs of the dolphins.
Another unique quirk to this show, which we love, is the utilization of Pilot Whales, a creature seldom seen by theme park goers. This show offers not one, but two pilot whales, showing their athleticism off around the pool. This show is another one on our can’t-miss list at SeaWorld San Diego.
Oh time for some more Manta before heading to One Ocean. We truly appreciate the landscaping in this park. The line’s aquarium, vegetation and theming are perfect. In addition to which the architecture of the ride’s buildings is just amazing.
But now… One Ocean time! This was probably our last time seeing One Ocean as the popular killer whale show is departing after this year. The show will be replaced with a new Orca Encounter attraction/demonstration in a refurbished setting with rockwork, waterfalls, trees and everything else natural. This is in addition to the fact that SeaWorld is stopping all Orca breeding. The pre-show showed a video describing the positive changes. And we’re very excited to see the new encounter soon! Talking about the actual show, we advise you try make it out there before it leaves. It’s, of course, one of our favorite shows. Especially the showing we saw during our visit that opened with Ulises (picture above), the gentle giant. The show also featured another personal favorite orca of ours: Shouka. (Shouka used to live at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom). The stadium was jam-packed with guests, creating an enjoyable atmosphere during the park’s star show. Here are Shouka and Orkid performing a front flip.
One of the park’s rides is their Sky Tower. Which is a luxurious double-deck observation tower attraction. And is one of our favorites. You get a great view from the park below, the ocean in the distance, the bay you’re in, downtown San Diego, and nearby Belmont Park. We have yet to ride this during the sunset, as we usually ride Bayside Skyride then, but it must be gorgeous.
Right below we find Explorer’s Reef. Unlike the San Antonio Explorer’s Reef we visited a few weeks back, our home version is very interactive. So… onward to one of our favorite entrances of any theme park, Explorer’s Reef. Here the child immediately awoke in us, as we rushed to touch Sharks, Horseshoe Crabs, and whatever else we could get our hands on. The touch-pool that we spent the most time out was that of the bacteria eating Doctor Fish. These fish, eat dead skin and other bacteria off the hand of patrons in the pool, and let us tell you, it is one interesting, can’t-miss feeling.
Mama Stella’s Pizza Kitchen, located between Manta and the Dolphin Stadium, earned our patronship again, as we also ate at the Italian, garden themed restaurant on our last visit. Although the restaurant offers pizza, as its name states, we went for their pasta, remembering how good it was from our last visit. Once again it did not disappoint. Great sized portions of delicious food in a beautiful garden, and Manta soaring over us.
We finally got to experience the park’s Turtle Reef. During our last visit we missed out on the exhibit, but this time around we finally got to experience it. It’s a very nice exhibit. Just like most other SeaWorld exhibits and aquariums it was visually very pleasing and was of very large scale. The exhibit features three types of sea turtles and an array of fish. As well as benches to view the creatures from a distance. The entrance is a tad hard to find if you don’t happen to be in the area, but if you keep walking past the Shark Encounter entrance alongside the Dolphin Stadium, you can’t miss it!Besides awesome creatures (some reason seeing sea turtles in a large aquarium is impressive), the exhibit also features in interactive screen wall where you can track rescued and re-released turtles that SeaWorld San Diego saved, which is very informative. The exhibit also features a custom made video game. Two groups of 4 people can play this game at a time and go on a virtual journey while collecting points. Overall the exhibits is one of our favorites. It’s incredibly educational, features interactive displays and games, and has a giant aquarium with different types of windows and viewing areas for guests to enjoy.
The aquarium “Aquaria”, located just to the left of the Cirque de la mer Stadium is somewhat of a personal favorite of ours. The exhibit features unique fish not seen that many SeaWorld exhibits or any aquarium at all. These fish include but are not limited to Gator fish, and even huge swarms of piranhas. Be sure to stop by this aquarium earlier on in the day as you can watch the feeding of the Piranhas (usually at 11am). Something that we sadly regret to say we missed.
Right nearby there’s an all-female turtle exhibit that is also part of Shipwreck Rapids. More on that later!
There was a special Summer Vibes performance at the Mission Bay Theater we headed to next, more about this AWESOME set of shows in our special article.
The shark encounter at SeaWorld San Diego, like wild Arctic, is an incredible walk-through that has both great educational and and amusing value. We love how it is more than just an aquarium exhibit but rather puts you in the habitat of the sharks living in the exhibit. The encounter not only features several tanks with sharks, but also a shark Nursery tank full of young baby sharks, as well as a section that shows different sizes of sharks teeth fossilized in the rock wall. This is another can’t-miss SeaWorld exhibit, so be sure to check it out.
A favorite thing of ours to do is going to the Shamu Underwater Viewing area. Where some of the park’s orcas swim around. We went earlier in the day to see one of the park’s younger male orcas Nakai swim around with Orkid and Keet, and then later during Dine with Shamu to see Keet leap out of the water (spectacular to see it from below the surface). Ulises was also there later in the day. He’s our favorite orca in the SeaWorld pod. It’s a great little exhibit to check out when you leave the stadium after you went to see a show and take some pictures of the whales. Here’s Nakai again. One of the smaller males in the pod.
We sampled our favorite looking restaurant, The Shipwreck Cafe, last. This restaurant not only has great theming but great food. The portions are huge as each meal comes with a side, as well as your choice to add another side or dessert offered on the all you can eat dining deal. This restaurant also offered the single best vegetarian option we saw all day at the park, featuring hummus, grilled veggies, and your choice of one of their 5 artisan salads. (For a HUGE array of Vegetarian food, Mama Stella’s is your place to go). Pair that with seating offering great views of the Shipwreck Rapids below, and you get a great meal!
Then it was time to ride of course! This is our favorite rapids ride in the state, and for a good reason. It features animals, superb theming, waterfalls, indoor sections, and have I mentioned ANIMALS? Flamingos, turtles, and a collection of other exotic birds.
And since we got absolutely soaked on Shipwreck Rapids it was time for a night-time (more like sunset) ride on a coaster that is also a water ride. 😀 We love Journey to Atlantis at any time of day, because as long as you don’t ride the front row, you don’t get completely drenched. Thus we decided to hop on again before heading back to Wild Arctic. The coaster was running incredibly smooth during our visit, and we just love their awesome operations. IF there is a line at all, it moves insanely quickly.
If you have been reading our site for a while you will know how much we love Sky rides. Then it is no wonder that a sky ride over Mission Bay is something we make sure to experience every time we’re at the park. Like Manta, we decided to wait to ride the sky ride until sunset. Staring at a coastline at Sunset is a magical feeling, but being above the coast during sunset is incredible.
Then it was time for Manta in the dark. But since it was too dark to snap a good picture, here’s a picture of Manta’s best element, the airtime right-to-left transition. So good! – As we had planned earlier in the day, we waited till it was completely dark to re-ride Manta. This offers a completely different experience. First of all, in the dark, the launch tunnel is completely illuminated, and looks incredible. Also, when the doors open during the day, you know when it is going to launch. This is unnoticeable in the dark, adding a little surprise as to when the ride will launch. Finally, like most coasters, Manta runs a lot faster by the end of the day! When planning your day at SeaWorld San Diego, make sure to save time to ride Manta in the dark as well as during the day.
We came back to the Shamu Stadium for another highlight show at the park. The nightly summer show is called Shamu’s Celebration: Light Up the Night and again featured the always energetic Shouka. The show features light effects, a DJ and a custom playlist of SeaWorld music for the show. The show’s use of lights really offer a wonderful alternate show experience. I hope they will bring back some sort of night show after all the big changes they’re making to the stadium.
Timed perfectly with an announcement of the start of the fireworks show at SeaWorld, the inaugural firework goes off right at the other end of the park and this incredible night spectacular begins. We watched the firework show from the same seats in which we observed Shamu’s Celebration: Light Up the Night as we did last year, and once again we’re thrilled and dazzled by this explosion of color in the sky. SeaWorld does a fantastic job of putting on the show nightly during the summer.
Stick around till closing as you’re not going to want to miss this show. They launch high quality professional fireworks.
And that ends our day at SeaWorld San Diego. Every visit again we realize how great this park is. It’s clean, and offers a huge variety of shows and exhibits, in addition to quality rides that quickly fill up your day! Let’s finish with a shot of the bay bordering the beautiful park. 😀
Thanks for reading this SeaWorld San Diego Trip Report! Make sure to read our Summer Vibes special from the same visit! As well as our Trip Report from our visit to SeaWorld San Antonio a few weeks back, another beautiful park that lacks some amazing exhibits that San Diego has but features one of our favorite coasters ever: Steel Eel!