SeaWorld San Diego
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500 SeaWorld Dr · interesting places nearby
SeaWorld San Diego information
SeaWorld opened in San Diego in 1964 and remains one of California’s most popular theme parks. Many visitors spend the whole day here, shuttling between shows, rides and exhibits – you can pick up a map at the entrance to plan your day around scheduled events.
The attraction is best known for the live shows featuring trained dolphins, sea lions and killer whales. One Ocean is the most visually impressive, a 30-minute show featuring the famous Shamu and other killer whales gliding through the water while interacting with each other, their trainers and the audience.
There are numerous other installations where you can see and learn about aquatic life: in Penguin Encounter several penguin species share a habitat that simulates Antarctic living conditions; while Shark Encounter offers the chance to see different species of shark as you walk through a 57ft acrylic tunnel. Several amusement-park-style rides are also available. The new Manta Ray roller coaster swoops across the park at up to 43mph; Journey to Atlantis is a combination flume ride and roller coaster; and Wild Arctic is a simulated helicopter flight followed by a walk past beluga whales and polar bears. Expect long waits for rides, shows and exhibits during peak seasons.
Theme parks like SeaWorld have begun to attract controversy in recent years. While the park maintains that it does its share of animal conservation, rescue, rehabilitation, breeding and research, animal welfare groups disagree, questioning the whole idea of places like SeaWorld, and criticizing them for keeping the marine life in captivity, arguing that the conditions and treatment of the animals are harmful and stressful, and that all of this is exacerbated further by human interaction. A bill in the California state legislature in 2014 proposed to do away with killer whale shows; it was sent back for further study.
SeaWorld can also be an expensive day out, what with loud advertisements as you wait in line and omnipresent corporate logos and gift shops (mostly designed with young visitors in mind) encouraging additional souvenir spending. That said, good deals are often available for multiday or combination tickets with other parks, including San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, Universal Studios Hollywood and/or Disneyland. Inquire at tourist offices and hotels. To save on food, all-you-can-eat passes to multiple SeaWorld restaurants are available seasonally, or keep a cooler in the car and picnic at tables outside the gates – be sure to get a hand-stamp for re-entry.
To get here by car, take SeaWorld Dr off I-5 less than a mile north of where it intersects with I-8. Parking costs $15. Check with Metropolitan Transit System for public transit. Some hotels offer shuttles.