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SeaWorld – Sailing the Sea: Your Day at SeaWorld

SeaWorld can be seen quite comfortably in a single day, without rushing madly around or otherwise driving yourself crazy. This is especially true if you’ve arrived during one of Orlando’s slack periods or if you will be forgoing the thrill rides. But even during the most crowded times, SeaWorld is still more manageable than other parks in the area.

SeaWorld is not a large park, but its comfortable layout and the large Bayside Lagoon at its center make it seem larger than it is. Much of the North End of the park is lushly landscaped with large shady trees and bird-filled pools along the walkways. The South End, on the other side of the Lagoon, is open and airy with a gently rolling landscape. In look and feel, it is quite a contrast to the more tightly crammed spaces of the Magic Kingdom and Universal Orlando. Many parts of SeaWorld have the feel of a particularly gracious public park or botanical garden.

One of SeaWorld’s key differentiators is the fact that the vast majority of its attractions are either shows that take place in large, sometimes huge, outdoor auditoriums or “continuous viewing” exhibits through which people pass pretty much at their own pace. My observation is that most people pass through pretty quickly so even if there’s a line, the wait won’t be unbearable. Once inside you can take your own sweet time. Here, briefly, are the different kinds of attractions at SeaWorld:

Rides. There are just four “rides” at SeaWorld but they are doozies.

Outdoor Auditorium Shows. These are SeaWorld’s primo attractions — Shamu, the sea lions, the dolphins, and some lesser events. There are plenty of shaded seats for these shows (anywhere from 2,400 to 5,500), but even in slower periods they fill up, which should tell you something about how good the shows are. It is possible to enter these auditoriums after the show has begun if they are not full.

Indoor Theater Shows. Some shows take place indoors, in darkened air-conditioned theaters. None of them involves sea mammals and none of them falls into the must-see category. When these shows begin, the doors close and latecomers must wait for the next performance. Be aware that it is difficult to leave these shows in the middle.

Seasonal Shows. Some shows are only put on when the park is open late, which means summer and Christmas. They are designed for twilight or after dark viewing and thus run only in the hours just before park close. I have called these shows out in the reviews in this chapter.

Aquatic Habitats. This is SeaWorld’s term for its continuous viewing exhibits of live marine animals. The habitats range from huge tanks like those you may have seen at aquariums to elaborate stage sets the likes of which I can almost guarantee you’ve never seen before.

Guided Tours. These are small group experiences that operate on a limited schedule and charge a moderate additional fee. They offer unique access to SeaWorld’s “backstage” areas and a chance to learn a bit more about some of the park’s most interesting inhabitants.

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