Last time I went to SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida was about 20 years ago, I didn't even live in Florida yet and honestly, so much has changed ever since. I mean, after all, 20 years has passed (lol).
To be quite frank, our family was in between going to Magic Kingdom, our usual and typical theme park destination or Legoland but we were still looking around at different options and the reason why we ended up going to SeaWorld is very simple, it was totally FREE. Although I am beyond happy to have given it a try.
Now, before you go crazy trying to figure out how I got my family of five for free into SeaWorld, let me just tell you how right now. Every so often, SeaWorld gifts veterans and their family (up to five people) a trip to enjoy the park for one day entirely free, and I happened to be looking into theme parks exactly when they were running that promotion and I also happen to be a veteran myself. How awesome, huh?
So, here's your first tip, (not really) when visiting SeaWorld, if you are or you have family whom are in the military or are veterans, check their military discount page on their website to see if they are currently running a promotion for discounted or completely free tickets.
7 TIPS FOR VISITING SeaWorld
SeaWorld is one of the theme parks in Orlando that closes fairly early, around 6 to 8 pm depending what time of the year you visit (except for December that stays open until 10 pm for the Christmas parade).
Many shows are hosted in the morning and early afternoon so the earlier you arrive, the better the chances you'll have of watching as many shows/attractions as you can. Here's SeaWorld's calendar park hours
DO NOT pay for preferred parking
Even if you don't arrive early, the parking lot is not very far from the entrance so there is no need to pay for the preferred parking
Here are the parking prices for 2019 ( They are subject to change at anytime)
General - $25
Preferred - $40
RV's - $30
Bronze Pass Members - $12.50
Silver Pass Member - $15
Download the SeaWorld Discovery Guide App
The SeaWorld Discovery guide app is a tremendous help and I am so glad I took the time to download it and learned where everything was before I arrived at the park. Right from the app you can keep up with show times, all events for the day, wait time for rides , access to the park map and so much more!
You can even schedule animal experiences such as the dolphin encounter, directly from the app. You can also upgrade your tickets from regular to quick queue and purchase dining plans directly from your phone.
Invest in Quick Queue
The reason why I say invest in a quick queue is because it will save you and your family so much time and as you know you time is precious! You will actually be able to enjoy the park much more, see more attractions and catch more parades.
We ended up purchasing two adults and one child quick queue but my biggest tip to you is if both adults will not be riding at the same time, which was the case for our family, then you only need to purchase one adult quick queue and share it.
Prices for quick queue have went up from $55 to $60 per adult and $50 per child but as I mentioned totally worth it if you want to make the most of your time at SeaWorld.
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All Day Dinning Plan
Everyone knows that eating at theme parks can get very expensive very quickly so after seeing some of the menu items and their prices, we figured that the all day dining plan was the best option for our family of five who loves to eat.
We purchased two adult dining plans at $34.99 per adult (price subject to change at anytime) and one child's dining plan at $19.99 per child. Although our family consists of five people ( two adults, one middle aged child and two toddlers) we only purchased three dining plans and the reason being is because it is available every hour so you can easily share three big meals between five people.
That means, every hour we had access to two adults meals which consists of an adult entree, drink and dessert/side and one child meal, including one child entree, drink and dessert/side. Each restaurant provides different kinds of meals; from rice and chicken with beans, to pizza, hot dogs, ribs and much more.
SeaWorld really is well rounded as far as food goes, providing all types of food for all types of tastes! Out of thirteen restaurants available at the park, nine of them are part of the all day dining plan, here they are:
Mama's Pretzel Kitchen
Captain Pete's Island Hot Dogs
Side note: I really wish we would have only purchased two all day dining plans as we skipped a couple of meals because we were still super full from the previous one.
Be on the look out for free stuff
During our visit, SeaWorld was offering one cup of free beer per guest (21 and over only) which can be very expensive at any theme park, so this was definitely a plus.
Certified Autism Center
I understand that this may not be a tip for everyone but certainly it is for me and my family as our oldest son has autism. SeaWorld has recently partnered with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards to become a Certified Autism Center.
What that means is that SeaWorld's staff are being trained to handle all people, including those with specials needs such as autism. They have also created a sensory guide that includes great information such as the level of sensitivity for each of their rides and attractions. This can be of tremendous help for parents and caregivers in understanding and analyzing which rides/attractions are best suitable for their loved ones.
If you are the parent or caregiver of someone with special needs, you may also want to enroll for the ride accessibility program (RAP) at the Information & Reservation Counter/Guest Service located at the park, this will give guests with special needs and five other party members the ability to use SeaWorld's special access program.
You may also obtain a noise cancelling headphones for any party member who may experience noise sensitivity so don't forget to check out SeaWorld's sensory guide for more information on where to obtain those, quiet rooms, low sensory areas and more.
Also, read my blog post on 10 Theme Park Must Have's, like water shoes and filtered bottle waters to ensure you have everything you need to enjoy your Florida vacation.
Bonus tip: Purchase tickets, upgrades and book animal encounters via the Rakuten app on the SeaWorld website to get cash back on your purchase.
Not a Rakuten member? Sign up and receive $10 cash bonus. Our family uses the cash back we earn from Rakuten to purchase souvenirs and other items throughout the park. We call it "play money" because we spend it on things we otherwise wouldn't spend on.
Have any other tips for visiting SeaWorld? Let us know in the comments below, we'd love to hear from you.