My daughter loves most anything, but she has always had a soft spot in her heart for animals, from the most ferocious extinct dinosaur, to the sweet and cuddly kitten. It wouldn’t surprise us at all if she grows up to be a veterinarian, a zoologist, or animal trainer. So when my husband had a business trip in Orlando, Florida, I jumped on the chance to accompany him, and introduce a little girl to Sea World.
For the first time ever, we didn’t even tell her where we were going. All she knew was that we were going with Daddy on a business trip. Oh, she thought this was going to be a boring trip for her, that is until she recognized the Orlando Airport. 🙂 We still didn’t tell her much, until the next morning.
We always like to surprise her, and I knew of no better way to tell her where we were going that first morning, than to hand her an Orca Whale plush. And yes, he (or she?) would accompany us all day! 🙂
TIP: If you’d like to surprise your child this way BEFORE heading to the park, know that there is a Sea World Gift Shop at the Orlando International Airport where you can purchase items and sneak them into your bag.
We easily found Sea World on a Thursday morning, paid to park our car ($14), and were greeted with a beautiful entrance, complete with lighthouse. Sea World has quite a high tech Will Call and Ticket Kiosk with many windows open to help customers. There was a line, but it did move quickly. You can purchase tickets there, but I highly recommend purchasing them in advance online, as the e-tickets can immediately be taken to the entrance for admission.
As soon as we entered the park, we saw Shamu. Who knew that Sea World had a character meet n greet? I certainly didn’t expect that. Let me tell you, a certain 4 yr old I know was soooo excited, she could barely stand still in line. Ever the sweet girl, when she approached Shamu for the very first time, she held out her small orca whale plush. Shamu acted as if it was her baby, stroking it gently. Such a sweet moment. Pictures were taken and we were off to a great start!
Sea World has professional photographers stationed at various locations in the park. You can view and purchase the pictures taken before you leave the park, but only then. Being the mom of a child, I do hope that they consider changing it so we can view and order pictures for a period of time after leaving the park. By the end of the day, the last thing a child wants to do is stand in line while Mommy or Daddy looks at pictures.
The first thing we decided to do was visit Shamu Stadium. When you visit, be sure to check out the Show Schedule available at the entrance. It has a detailed map, list of restaurants and attractions, as well as any show times. The day we visited, there were going to only be two shows of “One Ocean” featuring Shamu. One at 12:30 and another at 5:30 pm right before the park closed. We opted for the first show, getting to the stadium extra early. I didn’t want to sit in the “Danger Zone”…….this mama didn’t want to get wet. 🙂
“One Ocean” was absolutely stunning. From the stadium to the music, it was a wonderful experience…….and my daughter just sat there mesmerized by the orca whales. She loved catching sight of them underwater before they appeared.
It was time to head to Shamu’s Happy Harbor – just for kids!! Of course, parents can ride too.
- Jazzy Jellies
- Net Climb
- Ocean Commotion
- Sea Carousel
- Shamu Express – rollercoaster
- Swishy Fishies
- The Flying Fiddler
Guests must be at least 38 inches tall to ride the Shamu Express rollercoaster. No problem there as my daughter is very tall for her age. But would she like Shamu Express? I wasn’t sure. It wasn’t a long ride, but it did pick up some speed. This was a real test…..but she was up for it.
Parents: If you have any bags (backpacks, purses, etc), you must step through the rollercoaster ride at the beginning and place your items at a designated spot. You are not allowed to take them on any of the childrens’ rides.
Her Take on Shamu Express:
“What I didn’t like? – The Slow Parts”
“What I did like? – The Fast Parts”
I wondered who had replaced my daughter……she loved it! No Fear! In fact, she eagerly got in line again. Little Miss Independent shocked her mama even more by going on “The Flying Fiddler” all by herself…….up and down. No Fear. She was sitting next to strangers with mama outside the gate. No Fear.
She’s growing up! 🙂
Time to switch gears and head to the Shark Encounter, which we were all looking forward to. The Shark Encounter features one of the world’s largest underwater viewing tunnels, which you access by riding along on a flat escalator.
It was an uncanny feeling, having sharks swimming directly above you. My daughter loved it so much, we went through the exhibit again.
Before we thought about feeding any animals, we knew we’d better feed ourselves. There are many options, but they are spread out throughout the park, so plan ahead.
TIP: ALL DAY DINING DEAL (esp. if you are going to be there from open to close):
- $29.99 Adult price
- $14.99 Child price (age 3-9)
- Includes an entree, side or dessert, and soft beverage
- Unlimited at 6 different locations
- Yes, you can visit as much as you want
It was soon time to head over to the Pacific Point Reserve for what would turn out to be a very LOUD experience. Who knew these guys could be so incredibly loud? I’m guessing they were hungry! This was where we were able to feed California sea lions and harbor seals by purchasing some small fish. Mama was on board once she saw there were sinks with soap and water readily available. 🙂
There was one little guy. Well, not so little. (Pictured above) He just couldn’t seem to move very well, if at all. If the other sea lions weren’t grabbing the food, the birds came in and snatched. Poor little guy. After watching for a while, it was apparent he wasn’t getting much food from the spectators. I knew that one little girl with a soft heart just had to help him out. Daddy lifted her up, and without hesitation, she grabbed a fish and threw it as best she could to her new friend……and he ate. 🙂
I know some of you are wondering, “What about the big rollercoasters?” Oh, don’t worry, Sea World Orlando has plenty for the thrill-seekers among you. It’s just that with a 4 yr old, that’s not on our radar (YET)!
- Manta (pictured above)
- Journey to Atlantis
You know, when we started out our day at Sea World, I thought I knew what the highlight would be. I was wrong.
The highlight of our day at Sea World – Dolphin Cove animal interaction & feeding. Something I almost missed out on. In order to enter Dolphin Cove, you had to pay $7 per person. Same price for adult/child. I thought I’d stay outside the gated area and take pictures of my husband and daughter enjoying the interaction. At the very last minute I changed my mind. I’m so glad I did.
After a brief lesson on how to feed the dolphins (and avoid those hostile birds), we approached them and were brought fish. I was able to snap one picture, but then put it away to fully enjoy the experience. The dolphins were simply amazing. I’d never touched a dolphin before and it’s something I’ll never forget.
Whether you are 4 or 40, Sea World Orlando is full of amazing experiences…….we will be going back!
(Complimentary Passes were provided courtesy of Sea World. All opinions are the honest statements of the author.)