Venturing Out…SeaWorld!

In February my two boys and I loaded up with my parents and headed to Orlando for a long weekend. We’re sort of spoiled in that we can get to Orlando in around four hours so typically our trips are a little shorter than those of you who have to fly to get there. With little ones our max is about three days of parks and then we head home. {This is absolutely just our personal preference!}

 Instead of Disney *gasp!* we headed to SeaWorld and Legoland on this trip and we had a BLAST. I’m going to highlight SeaWorld today and I’ll share our Legoland experience next month.

SeaWorld was our first stop. We stayed VERY close to the park (Hilton Orlando which was just about two miles away). We had the option of taking hotel transportation to the park but it only ran about six times a day so we opted to drive ourselves. At the parking attendant I even paid a little extra for closer parking (I think the total was about $15) and we were about 10 parking spaces back from the entrance. This, to me, was worth it…especially for the couple of times we had to run to the car because we’d forgotten something.

It is worth noting that they DO allow food in the park. Between talking with friends and reading their rules online I wasn’t sure, but the day we went we were allowed to go in with all the snacks that we brought. The bag checker did look for adult beverages. They also checked for straws so if you’re taking drinks for little ones, note that they don’t allow those. It would be stinky to get into the park with only Capri Suns only to be told to leave them outside. We took snacks and ate lunch in the park. Food is pretty pricy there, though, so just be aware!

We had an awesome time at SeaWorld, but I want to highlight my favorite things. We didn’t ride any of the BIG rides because my boys couldn’t do them. But there are plenty of rides for little ones.

Our first attraction as soon as we walked in the gates (we arrived at opening) was to meet Shamu! The costumed character, not to be confused with the actual whale. :) My oldest child is four and he is ALL ABOUT the character meet and greets. I packed our Disney autograph book just in case we had an opportunity to use it and Shamu posed for pictures and signed in the autograph book. Made his day!

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 We tried to go straight over to the kiddie rides, but it should be noted that when we went (in the off-season) the kiddie rides (and maybe the big rides) and the Shamu Stadium area didn’t open for an hour after the entrance opened. Instead, we went to Antarctica and rode the penguin ride.

 My favorite part of the day was watching the trainer/Orca interaction. Shamu Stadium was completely closed (no Shamu show!) while we were there, but the trainers were still interacting with the whales and it was amazing. I could’ve watched all day long!

 My oldest’s favorite part of the day was riding the Shamu mini rollercoaster. I lost count for how many times we rode, but it was a lot. He LOVED it. Their kids’ area is great! It has a huge three-story playground (that was a NIGHTMARE for my children who are scared of heights) and lots of rides that are for kids and parents. We had a great time!

 My second favorite part of the day was Wild Arctic. It was AMAZING. They have a polar bear, a walrus, and beluga whales. The animals were amazing to watch and the whole building was amazing. There is a ride in this part of the park but we weren’t able to go on it because of height requirements. (My son is 41.5 inches and it seems like everything is a 42 inch requirement!)

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Our whole day at SeaWorld was pleasant and enjoyable. The park wasn’t overly crowded, the weather was perfect (I wore jeans and a 3/4 length shirt in February and was completely comfortable all day), and there was plenty to do. My dad commented that he thought it was the perfect sized park. We stayed from opening to nearly closing and didn’t feel rushed at all.

 SeaWorld has some awesome discounts and perks so shop around when purchasing tickets. We bought discounted one-day tickets but they also have a great combo package right now that’s good for five parks for 14 consecutive days. You can even park hop on it! I’m not a travel agent, but it sure looks like a great deal!

 We thoroughly enjoyed visiting SeaWorld and it will be on our list of places to return one day!

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