SeaWorld Orlando

We have been to Orlando a handful of times now and almost always with a target to check out those big hitting parks that everyone knows, Disney and Universal. For a lot of my travel info, especially if we are about to check out places that we haven’t been, I join Facebook groups specific to those locations to learn more before I go. Well, on occasion in those groups I would see comments about SeaWorld and how much everyone loved it and how great the rides were. I have to admit that when I thought of SeaWorld in my head, I thought of animals and shows, but it never crossed my mind that they might have coasters and other rides too. A quick look at their site showed that they indeed did have some pretty cool looking coasters, so on Damion’s extra special 10th birthday trip down to Orlando last September, we finally decided to take our little thrill seeker to see for ourselves how SeaWorld compared to the rest. Here is what we found out:

  1. Ticketing

I was a little surprised at the price of the tickets as they were not really any cheaper than checking out those other “A-list” locations in Orlando, but they did have a promo for an all-day dining add on at the time of our bookings so I figured saving the cost of food may still make this a good deal.  

2. Atmosphere Overall

The park definitely felt a tinge more outdated or not as well kept I might say as other parks we are used to. I wouldn’t say it was dirty per se, but just not up to the caliber we normally see. The layout was a bit strange and confusing on our first trip in, and some of the walkways can get a bit tight when it gets busy. Sesame street land was cute, not overly big for a kid’s area, but I could see some younger kids really enjoying their time there. The animal interactions areas are fairly intermixed with rides, which gives a nice balance so you feel like you can enjoy both of those aspects of the park.

3. Service

This is where I feel they were most lacking, especially compared to those other “A-list” parks around Orlando. It wasn’t that the employees were unfriendly by any means, but the majority seemed to be very unknowledgeable, and no one moved at an appropriate pace to really do their jobs well. My first example of this was when we first got there, we wanted to hit a restaurant and grab a snack and drinks. We had the add on “all day dining” to our tickets which allows you to get something at approved locations every 90 minutes, so we had planned to at least grab a few drinks to get us started. We stopped and asked an employee where we could go that accepted the all-day dining option. They didn’t know and didn’t attempt to try to find out for us, so we went to search for someone else and their answers weren’t any different. After walking around in a circle for far too long, in the heat, we broke down and just bought some drinks outside of the meal plan. When we did eventually find a place later in the day that accepted the dining option we had, we ended up waiting over 45 minutes in line to get hog dogs and fries. This seemed to continue on as a common theme for the rest of the day.

4. Shows/Animals

Unfortunately, other than the animals that are easily seen while venturing around the park, we didn’t get to do much else with animals. We went over to where the penguin exhibit would be, but the line was far too long, and we knew at that time that Damion would not be able to make it through the wait without a meltdown. With our express passes we were supposed to have preferred seating at shows, and we had planned on seeing one, but got delayed with a ride shut down and even though we still arrived 5 minutes before show start they told us that we were not allowed to enter and we would have to wait for the next show time (which was past the time we ended up staying). So not a lot I can tell you personally about the animal stuff, other than plan for some lines and make sure to arrive to shows early!

5. Roller Coasters and Rides

We definitely got to try out some fun coasters and a couple much needed water rides during our extremely hot visit to the park, they had one coaster that felt very similar to a ride we have at our Ohio park that we frequent, Kings Island, but most of the others were a different set up and felt new for us. We purchased the quick queue unlimited, essentially their option of a “fast pass” but found that it really only came in handy on their newest coaster, “Pipeline” and on their water ride “Infinity falls” which both of these seemed longer due to maintenance issues that would shut those rides down from time to time as.

6. Disability Pass

SeaWorld, like most other amusement parks, does offer a disability pass to some of their attractions (basically for the large coasters/water rides). It is a familiar set up to most where you go to the ride of choice with your Ride Accessibility Program (RAP) sheet and the attendant will write down a return time for you to come back and ride. Because we had the “quick queue” we didn’t use this pass at all. We did however get one from guest services because we were already forced to wait in a very long line to talk to someone about how to get our “quick queue” passes which we had purchased online. (Come to find out we just had to carry around the 3 papers I had printed out at home with the quick queue information, which was not very convenient to keep these big papers handy. And of course, nowhere on the paper did it say they were what you would use, which could have saved us a long wait in line.) I had thought getting a RAP pass may help us with some of those rides that didn’t have a quick queue lane but unfortunately that is not how the park is set up and they only make those accommodations on the big rides.  

Overall, I’m sorry to say that I was not impressed. I will admit that it was a HOT day when we visited. I was aware that Florida is still hot in September, but man was it HOT. I know that played quite a bit into my son’s already low sense of patience, and I’m sure it was a bit of a factor in our mood as well. But with all that being said, I have been to parks in some extreme heat before, and this was still my least favorite park we have ever been to. Maybe my expectations were too high? Maybe we have just gotten spoiled with the programs and service provided by the other parks we patron? Maybe the park really shines in those areas that we unfortunately weren’t able to see like the penguins or water show? Whatever the case, this place is far down on my list as a consideration to visit again any time in the future, especially with the fact that the cost is comparable to going to those same “A list” parks. If you have a younger kid who is into Sesame Street or a child who really loves some of the animals, they feature than you may find it more fun than we did. I would just say that if you decide to go check it out for yourself, set your expectations accordingly.

For more park information click here to view SeaWorld’s website directly.