Where do Californians go on a cloudy day? Anywhere but SeaWorld.
SeaWorld is one of San Diego’s most popular attractions. My wife had been many years ago and I had never been, so we made a day of it. We previously went to the one in Orlando but by the time you get through the gates you can tell that a lot more work was done doing up this park than the one in Florida.
The weather today was overcast, which seems to mean that the entire state of California goes into hibernation– the park was empty. We pretty much had run of the entire place. And since we managed to get out of bed before noon, we ended up getting a full days’ worth of SeaWorld. Hooray for us!
PROTIP: You can save a few dollars by buying tickets online instead of at the gate. You can literally do this on your cell phone in the parking lot.
Right inside the entrance are a series of touch pools. They have the usual sharks and small fish available to touch, including those cleaner fish that have seen popularity at spas in recent years. While I’d trust SeaWorld to properly identify the types of fish they stock, your local spa likely doesn’t have any ichthyologists on staff, so you better hope they don’t stock the kind with teeth that transmit blood-borne diseases.
SeaWorld itself is huge. Our 6-year old decided she wanted to be the group cartographer so we humored her by heading for the Sesame Street-themed amusement rides. We rode one of those flying Elmo rides which the girls loved since they could control the up and down motion, we rode Oscar’s swinging galleon (warning: it doesn’t just swing back and forth, it also spins!) and being a glutton for punishment I also took the girls on the teacup ride.
I remember my parents taking me to Sesame Place in Pennsylvania a couple times as a kid. Many of the rides and the rope playground reminded me a lot of those experiences. I later found out Sesame Place is owned by the same group that owns SeaWorld, so go figure. A lot of the rides were probably the same.
We managed to catch the tail end of the whale show (literally– the tail end! Get it? I kill me).
Just past the whales is the dolphin tank. The kids were more preoccupied with seeing them underwater that they missed when they popped up right on top for feeding time.
We managed to waltz right into the arctic explorer ride since the park was so empty. Our 6-year old loved the ride, but when we emerged on the other side, our 4-year old got terrified of the simulated helicopter near-crash and was disappointed that we left SeaWorld when in reality we had just exited the ride.
On hot summer days I’m sure the arctic exhibit is a relief but today it was a bit chilly! We blitzed past the Beluga whale since it wasn’t doing much of anything above the surface.
There was a huge crowd of kids gathered around the walrus exhibit. The walrus was pressed up against the glass, desperately scratching his capped teeth against the glass. Notice all the scratches…!
One of the more amusing things about the penguins in Orlando was the fact that they were all just standing around, endlessly spraying literal streams of poop everywhere. The penguins in San Diego did not share this behavior. Perhaps it is testament to how miserable life in Florida is, that the only thing to do is to live amongst your gaggle pooping on everything.
Since the only exit is through the gift shop, we ended up buying the girls some penguin stuffed animals, which our youngest promptly lost. After that it was on to the sea turtle exhibit.
More than one set of parents thought it was amusing to put their children in front of the glass, then tell them to turn around when the sea turtle approached the glass. Screaming ensued every time.
Leaving the sea turtle exhibit we passed a flamingo pond. Our 6-year old likes feeding the flamingos at Zoo Atlanta, so we were hoping to let her toss some food to the birds but alas we had no change. They have feeders that will dispense a handful of pellets for $.50 or so.
She was also feeling daring enough to ride the Manta rollercoaster but she was too short, so it was double the disappointment. We managed to placate her by buying some anchovies at the Manta touch pool (underneath the Manta coaster). The last time we bought anchovies to feed the animals in Orlando, a bird swooped in and ripped it right out of my wife’s hand. I heard stories that the birds here are equally aggressive, so watch out above.
After that we headed back to the center of the park because we really wanted to go up the Skytower, but it had been closed all morning. This was the only attraction we had to wait in line for all day, though it didn’t help that they were only half-loading it.
While waiting in line we did get to witness a flock of seagulls rip a slice of pizza out of some poor girl’s hands and fly off with it. It sucks for her, but the sight of an entire slice of pizza flying through the air, cheese falling off mid-flight was certainly something to see.
The last thing we did was stop by the Journey to Atlantis ride. It was too cold for me, but my wife and oldest decided they wanted to go on it.
After coming down the slide and disappearing around a corner, all of a sudden announcements that the ride was stopped due to technical issues started blasting from the loudspeakers. Almost fearing the worst (kid getting stuck in the tracks while disembarking or so) I waited it out and eventually they came back down. The ride broke down right after they completed the loop, but everybody ended up ok.
By now it was nearing closing time and the kids were exhausted. We only saw about 2/3 of the park.
We all had a great time. SeaWorld San Diego is a great value, especially if you go early on a cloudy day! We will definitely be back.