SeaWorld Orlando is one of the non-Disney attractions that families often overlook. That's a shame because it's the perfect park for kids for many, many reasons.

SeaWorld Orlando Rides

SeaWorld Orlando has some thrill rides, like the Journey to Atlantis water coaster and the big, bold Kraken and Manta roller coasters, but it also has family friendly attractions and rides just for the younger set. Families love Wild Arctic, a simulated helicopter ride with a small sprinkling of adventure thrown in. There's even a motion-free version for toddlers, babies, and guests of any age who are prone to motion sickness. At the end, you disembark the "chopper" and visit animal habitats with fascinating creatures like polar bears, walruses, and beluga whales.

The Sky Tower is a ride for all ages. The ride vehicle climbs a 400 foot tower for a breathtaking view of SeaWorld and the surrounding area. You might even catch glimpse of the downtown Orlando skyline on a clear day.

Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin is a family-friendly journey right into the penguin habitat. What was once a walk-through exhibit is now a state-of-the-art ride with trackless vehicles. It's the closest you can get to penguins without stepping out into the snow.

The crowning jewel for kids is Shamu's Happy Harbor, a delightful collection of kiddie rides themed to the sea. The little Shamu Express roller coaster is always a favorite, but youngster also love to clambor aboard sea creatures on the specially designed carousel. There's also Ocean Commotion, a slip-siding boat ride, the Flying Fidder crab that bounces up to 20 feet, the Swishy Fishies tea-cup style ride, and the spinning Jazzy Jellies.

Shows At SeaWorld Orlando

Shows are the featured attraction at SeaWorld Orlando, and kids' eyes light up with glee as they see the park's orcas and other talented animals. One Ocean is the signature show in Shamu Stadium. It showcases the SeaWorld orca pod and blends jumps, slides, and splashes with a conservation message. Blue Horizons features high-jumping dolphins, human high divers, acrobats, and soaring birds. Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island is a rollicking adventure with sea lions, walruses, and even a cute little otter. If you get to the theater just before showtime, beware the mime who loves to heckle late comers, much to the delight of the rest of the audience.

Wild animals are fun, but the kids will enjoy seeing familiar animals, like cats and dogs, performing at Pets Ahoy. This show also features birds and a pot-bellied pig. Most of the animals were adopted from shelters to become members of the critter cast.

Alure: Call of The Ocean has New Age music and talented performers doing cirque-style acrobatics. It's a bit long for younger kids, but the dragon fascinates everyone in the audience.

Check the show schedule when you arrive at SeaWorld Orlando. You might luck into a Sesame Street show if you visit during a busy season.

Animal Feeding At SeaWorld Orlando

Looking at animals is fun, and SeaWorld Orlando has plenty of opportunities for that, like the dolphin nursery, dolphin and orca underwater viewing areas, and the shark tube that totally surrounds you. But kids prefer hands-on experiences. and this theme park has plenty of those, too. You can buy food for the sea lions, sharks, sting rays, and even the dolphins. Some of the best family moments happen when you see the wonder on your child's face as he touches a velvety sting ray for the first time or you hear the squeals of delight as your junior dolphin lover actually has one of the gentle sea creatures eating right from her hand.

Special SeaWorld Orlando Events

SeaWorld Orlando caters to kids with several annual special events, starting with Just for Kids in January. This event features live concerts with family favorites like the Imagination Movers and Choo Choo Soul. These Saturday shows are free with regular park admission.

Other kid-friendly events include the Halloween Spectacular, with trick-or-treat stations handing out tasty goodies, plus photos with costumed characters, candy apple making, crafts, games, dancing, and more. The year ends with SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration, which invites kids to hop aboard the Polar Express for a visit with Santa, to see a nativity show with live animals, and to marvel at special Christmas versions of the sea lion and Shamu shows.

The Grande Villas Resort at Lake Buena Vista is only three miles away from SeaWorld, and Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham just down the road, on International Drive. Visit or call the agents at 877-886-7195 for great deals on those and other Orlando hotels and vacation homes.