SeaWorld is an ocean-themed amusement park in San Diego, California. The park offers 17 rides for guests of varying ages and tolerance for thrill. For small children there are seven appropriate rides, many of which are organized into the Sesame Street Bay of Play, which features a playground and roaming Sesame Street characters in addition to the rides. Rides include Elmo’s Flying Fish, in which children ride giant plastic fish up and down in a circle.
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Octarock is a giant octopus-themed swing that rocks back and forth, while Submarine Quest takes guests on a ride past the Ocean Explorer exhibit to view animals that live in the ocean. Water rides at SeaWorld include Journey to Atlantis, a high thrill roller coaster that splashes guests as their flume rolls through water features, and Shipwreck Rapids, a medium thrill ride that simulates a white water trip down a river. Other high thrill rides include the Manta roller coaster, and the Electric Eel, which opens in 2018. The Bayside Skyride is a gently moving gondola that takes guests high above San Diego’s Mission Bay for an overhead view of the park and surrounding area. SeaWorld is home to over 10 aquariums and touch tanks where guests can view and interact with ocean life. Turtle Reef is home to green sea turtles, hawksbill turtles and loggerheads. The exhibit also features an educational video game that highlights the perilous sea to shore journey, and back again, that turtles face when reproducing. Sea Lion Point is home to several sea lions and seals, the Wild Arctic tank holds beluga whales and walruses, while Penguin Encounter is home to over 300 Emperor, Macaroni, Gentoo and Adelie penguins. Interactive sea-life exhibits include the Explorer’s Reef, where guests can touch small sharks and rays, and the Aquaria Touch Pool where guests can learn about and touch sea urchins, wavy top snails and opaleye fish among other creatures. Dolphin Encounter offers guests the opportunity to meet, touch and feed bottlenose dolphins. Restaurants and dining options are located throughout the park.
History: SeaWorld San Diego was the first of the Sea World locations. The park, founded by four friends from the University of California Los Angeles, opened in 1964. The four had originally hoped to build an underwater restaurant, but when their idea was not feasible, they expanded their idea into the 22-acre theme park. Four years later, the park, which had been privately held, began to sell stocks to finance expansion to additional markets. An Ohio location opened in 1970, an Orlando location opened in 1978, and a San Antonio location, the largest of the four, opened in 1988. SeaWorld Ohio was converted to a Six Flags park in 2001, and the remaining three SeaWorld parks have now been owned by the Blackstone Group since 2009. In 2015, partially in response to public pressure after the 2013 movie Blackfish, which negatively portrayed the experiences of Tilikum, a captive killer whale that had taken the lives of two trainers, Sea World decided it would no longer showcase the orcas through acrobatic performances but instead through a nature show that emphasizes their natural behavior. In 2016, SeaWorld announced that it would no longer breed orcas and that the orcas currently under their care would be the last generation at orcas at the parks.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Sea World is likely best known for its shows and presentations. Orca Encounter features the theme park’s orca whales. The show highlights the animals’ natural behavior with an entertaining and educational video backdrop. Dolphin Days showcases the athleticism and playfulness of bottlenose dolphins in a choreographed presentation. Sea Lions Live showcases the park’s sea lion ambassadors, Clyde and Seamore with a spoof on family-friendly music and television shows. Pets Rule is an indoor show in which rescued cats and dogs perform tricks. Special holiday-themed shows take place for Halloween, Christmas and other major holidays. Exclusive park experiences include up-close encounters with many of the park’s sea life. Guests can purchase VIP experiences with the beluga whales, dolphins, penguins or sea lions. Immersive VIP tours are available which take guests behind the scenes for 2, 4 or 6-hour tours with their own private guide. The park offers educational programming for grade-school aged children. Educational Summer Camps are available with a variety of themes. Educational school group tours and overnight stays are offered for scout groups, church groups and others. Teacher resources and field trip guides with a focus on science and math curriculum are also available.
500 SeaWorld Drive, San Diego, CA 92109, Phone: 619-222-4732