5 Things I Learned at SeaWorld

My family and I recently visited SeaWorld San Diego as their guests.  Not being regular theme park patrons, we made a lot of stupid mistakes (such as lining up for water rides in the heat of the day, crisscrossing the park repeatedly with exhausted children, and consuming enough churros to sink a ship).

We made a few interesting discoveries too, here are the top five:

1.  Shamu has multiple personality disorder

The famed killer whale Shamu is a lot like Lassie, but with a twist!  While the fictional collie dog has been played by nine dog actors at one time or another over the franchise’s 50-year history, there are 24 whales playing the role of Shamu worldwide at this very moment.

There are seven in San Diego, eight in Orlando, five in San Antonio, and four at Loro Parque on Tenerife in the Canary Islands (a Spanish archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa).  If you ask me, that’s a lot of whales.  They should form a union or something.

2.  You can bring your own baby…and not much else

No sooner were we through the gate than my sister-in-law discovered her husband hadn’t packed any diapers.  They had a quick clenched-teeth discussion that frankly made me a little nostalgic for my own diaper bag days, before happily learning that SeaWorld sells diapers (and also pacifiers and bottles) at the stroller and wheelchair rental center.  Crisis averted.

Some restaurants in the park also have signs prominently inviting slacker parents to “Ask Your Server for Baby Food!” in case you couldn’t be bothered to bring that either.

3.  Vending machines are deadlier than sharks

According to a chipper park employee at the Shark Encounter exhibit (a conveyor belt through a plexiglass tube through a shark tank), you are statistically more likely to be fatally crushed by a falling vending machine than killed by a shark.  Here are a few other things that kill more people than sharks every year: deer, coconuts, toasters, and chairs.  Consider yourself warned.

One more fun shark fact: according to George Burgess, Director of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the the University of Florida’s Florida Museum of Natural History, “Most of us have probably swum within 15 feet of a shark and didn’t know it.”

I don’t know about you, but I am already planning my next vacation.  To a dude ranch.

4.  Beer is on the menu at SeaWorld

We were a little surprised to see people quaffing Budweisers in the park, until we remembered that SeaWorld is owned by Anheuser-Busch!  (They also own Sesame Place, a theme park for kids aged 2-7, which seems sort of sinister.  Then again, I guess somebody has to own it.)

There’s other beer-related fun too.  At Clydesdale Hamlet, visitors can get up close and personal with the world-famous 2,000-lb Budweiser Clydesdale horses (though not too close, apparently they bite).  I took a pass on this nutty and incongruous exhibit in favor of encounters with actual marine mammals.  This is SeaWorld, after all.

5.  The food is expensive, but it comes with a seagull warranty

Like most theme parks, SeaWorld frowns on outside food.  If you spend 9 1/2 hours in the park (like we did), you’ll be spending a lot of money on meals.  There is some good news though.  All food purchased at SeaWorld comes with a seagull warranty—it’s in the fine print on the back of the park map:

“Seagulls in the park can be aggressive.  Please do not feed seagulls or leave small children alone with food.  SeaWorld replaces purchased food stolen or damaged by seagulls.”

Shamu photo courtesy of TeresaHsu.  Seagull photo courtesy of Randy Son of Robert.



  1. says

    Does your sister in law know that you just called her a slacker parent in print? :)

    I am *so* not a theme park person. But I can only think that beer would help…

  2. says

    Beer makes everything better.

    And thanks to this post I’m jonesing to visit SeaWorld in the Canaries but afraid to get near my toaster…hmmm.

  3. says

    Funny post with some great tips. I have been to Seaworld several times and never heard about the Sea Gull warranty :). Your post has made me think that it’s time to post some theme park strategies up on my site or maybe write a guidebook to Sea World. It’s on my list :)

    Keep your eye out!


  4. says

    You officially cracked me up Jamie. I have forgotten to bring diapers to a theme park before and was happy to see that there was enough demand for diapers that they did sell them. I was unaware of the seagull warranty. Nor was I aware that I have been 15 feet from a shark. Thats great to know considering I will be in Hawaii in a coupel weeks! Thanks for the nightmares!

  5. Tanya says

    We always bring in our own food, rebels that we are. (I can’t stand waiting in long food lines with hungry children.) Although, it’s good to know about the seagull warranty just in case!

  6. says

    Not sure if it still applies, but they used to have a little known, but very helpful, pretty darn good ticket discount if you show your Southwest frequent flier card when you buy tickets to the park. Might be enough for a few beers to help the parents endure!

  7. says

    I just want to publicly say one thing: I’ve seldom seen people who slack less than my brother and sister in law. It’s actually sort of intimidating. ;)

  8. says

    This post made me nostalgic for my college days in San Diego. Not so much because of Sea World, but because we used the word “quaff” a lot. I looked it up – you spelled it correctly! Love learning stuff from your posts.

  9. Veronica says

    So I just recently returned from a trip to Florida where I visited Disney World and I loved it! I also visited SeaWorld and had dinner @ the Shark Grill, when I returned to the dark stroller parking area my stroller was gone! My LO was devastated and I was furious, prior to entering the restaurant I tried parking the stroller near the entrance but was told by the person at the desk that I had to take it all the way across to the stroller parking area. I didn’t leave any valuables in the stroller, thank goodness!!! When I notified the restaurant that my stroller was missing the manager came out and turned the lights on where my stroller was parked. A bit to late!! I was asked to file a report with the park security and wait the next day to see if perhaps the stroller magically reappeared. I was given the number for “Risk Management” and asked to call them in the morning. I did call and was told that I would not get reimbursed for the stroller because of their policy. I really do feel that had the lights been on in that section the chances of my stroller being stolen would have been reduced. SeaWorld did not agree, I won’t ever go there again. Even Disney Parks offer a replacement stroller.


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