Rediscover SeaWorld Orlando
By Kai Rambow
The sudden leap of the killer whale (orca) took everyone by surprise even though we were expecting it. Witnessing a huge orca breech is magical. The oceans cover 70 percent of Earth’s surface, yet most of the animal life is rarely seen. When we do spot an animal it’s usually a quick glimpse when it surfaces to breath. SeaWorld enables us to see many of these magnificent creatures up close.
SeaWorld has added some new exhibits, so if you haven’t been in some time you’re in for some wonderful surprises. One of these is “Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin.” This is an environmentally controlled replication of conditions in Antarctica.
There are four different kinds of penguins here squawking and swimming around. The set up for viewing is great, including an underwater viewing area. Penguins are awkward on land, but graceful swimmers. You get to see penguins up close without having to fly to the bottom of South America and making a two-day passage in rough seas.
If there is one image associated with SeaWorld it is that of an orca. “One Ocean” is a theatrical performance showcasing several orcas. It’s a great opportunity to see these huge creatures gracefully leap out of the water.
It was recently announced that SeaWorld will be ending its theatrical performances with orcas. “One Ocean,” the orca show, will stop in San Diego this year, while Orlando is scheduled to stop in a year or two. The orcas will still be there; this will be your last opportunity to see these shows.
One of the best features at SeaWorld is the ability to see marine life clearly underwater.
Tip: When you are outdoors and looking at the dolphins or orcas, there is usually an underwater viewing area. You have to look for them. They are usually at the opposite end to where you are standing. Ask employees to help find the entrance; you’ll be glad you did.
Tips for a Great Trip
Suggested Itinerary: Check park hours (9 – 5:30) and show times before you go.
If you arrive a little before the park opens, you can follow this plan to maximize your time with the least amount of walking at a fairly relaxed pace. I’ve left out the roller coaster rides. If you pick up a map, you can follow the numbers.
Once in turn left and head for Dolphin Cove (16 on map). You’ll be able to easily see several dolphins swimming and playing here. At the opposite end (17) you’ll find the underwater viewing area for the dolphins.
Keep towards left side of map (19) to catch the sea turtles and manatees. There is an underwater viewing area here as well. The 3D showing is optional; interesting but not a must see.
Head to the nearby Dolphin Theater (9) to catch the 10 a.m. show “Blue Horizons.” You’ll see dolphins, pilot whales, birds and performers in a fast-paced, energetic show. Pay attention to seats marked “soak zone,” otherwise you could get splashed.
Exit opposite side of theater and head for the nearby Antarctica exhibit. The entrance is not readily noticeable so pay attention to number (32) on map and ask employees. You’ll go through a series of doors because this is a climate-controlled environment. It is definitely chilly in here, however, well worth the visit.
This was not here the last time I visited. The recreated Antarctica environment houses several types of penguins that you can see up close. Don’t miss the underwater viewing area here. Unfortunately, the ride here was shut down, so no review.
At the Sea Lion and Otter Stadium (40), you can catch the 11 a.m. show “Clyde & Seamore’s Sea Lion High.” This slapstick type of show involves, sea lions, otters and performers.
After this show head towards Shamu Stadium (66), center of the right side of the map. The “One Ocean” show features orcas (killer whales) is very popular and seating fills up fairly quickly. The lower portion of seats will have availability, but they are in the “soak zone.”
By now you’ll probably want to eat. There are a few options within a short distance. The back of the map gives descriptions, which can help you decide rather than walking to each one.
After recharging head back to the orca area for underwater viewing (69). Then on the backside of Shamu Stadium head towards Wild Arctic. Before reaching the animals here, you’ll have a choice of a simulated helicopter ride or walking trek. The trek is probably your better option. Following the brief simulation, you’ll then be able to see beluga whales, walruses and seals with both surface and underwater viewing areas.
Work your way towards the middle for the Seaport Theater (37). Catch the 2:15 “Pets Ahoy” show. This is a very popular show, so avoid arriving too close to start time. Cats and dogs provide a very entertaining show. Blink and you might miss something.
As you head out, be sure to stop by the Dolphin Nursery (11) for some really close up views of dolphins. Some of them love showing off to people, and this is a great way to end the day.
When to Go: Now is a great time to go, before it gets really hot and to beat the summer crowds.
What to Wear: Comfortable walking shoes, sunglasses and sunscreen are important.
Best Ticket Prices: AAA is your best option. Otherwise buy online; it’s $20 more at the gate. You can also save a few dollars by purchasing your parking pass online before you go.
7007 Seaworld Drive