Time for another entry in our Tourist Traps You Should Get Caught In feature! This time, we’ll be covering perhaps the number one tourist trap in San Diego: SeaWorld. This is place is the epitome of a tourist trap. Parking costs a hard earned Andrew Jackson, soda is sold in plastic memorabilia cups by the fistful, and stuffed Orcas are stacked sky-high in their plastic bins, in a scene reminiscent of Blackfish. But yes, we’re officially going on the record as recommending this tourist trap. As usual, it’s all about how you approach it.
First of all, sail on by the Sea World parking lots and keep your $20 in your pocket. Hopefully I don’t land on SeaWorlds black list and get thrown in Shamu Jail next time I visit, but the following map shows where you’ll park. It’s a short walk to the park entrance – honestly not much further than you’d walk if the paid lots are somewhat full. Before you arrive, you’ll want to search online for the best deal available on a Fun Card, which gives you a year’s visiting privileges for the price of a day pass at the gate. If at all possible, I’d highly recommend coming on a weekday. Without crowds in the park, you’ll only need half the time to see the same exhibits and ride the same rides. This especially applies to locals, because you won’t need a full day of exploration at a time with the Fun Card. Pop in after school or work for a few hours a few times and you’ll see everything the park has to offer.
Our recommendations? Definitely check out at many of the shows as possible. Each show is well-orchestrated, original, and entertaining. My personal favorites are Pets Rule and the Sea Lions show (and the Orca shows, of course). Obviously, Sea World rides aren’t going to blow you away like Six Flags or anything, but the Manta coaster is quite exciting with it’s two powered launches and many highly banked turns. Other then that, every Sea World visit is capped off by visits to all of the various aquarium-like exhibits to see dolphins, sea lions, turtles, penguins, etc. Since you have your Fun Card, make sure to drop by in the different seasons, they mix the shows up a lot and theme well for various holidays – especially Christmas.
Oh, and one more thing to mention – SeaWorld treats San Diego to nightly fireworks in the Summer, and you don’t have to be in the park to properly enjoy them! We’ll touch more on that in a future post.