SeaWorld Orlando is a great place for all ages, but it has special appeal for children. What kid doesn't love tossing a fish to an expectant sea lion or getting nose to nose with a dolphin or orca in the underwater viewing areas?
Here are some of the reasons that SeaWorld is a no-miss park for families with kids:
The shows at SeaWorld are action-packed but short, making them very kid-friendly. The youngsters will delight in the fast pace and cute animals, and the shows are over before they have time to get fidgety. Most of the shows are centered on animals, but there's also a seasonal Sesame Street show featuring Elmo and Abby Cadabby. Check it out if you have toddlers and visit during the summer or holidays.
SeaWorld has thrill rides for the cynical teens and tweens in your family, but the young kids aren't left out. Have a child who's too short to ride Manta or Kraken? She'll squeal with delight on the pint-sized Shamu coaster and other rides in the Happy Harbor area.
Kids can also ride the Sky Tower for a bird's-eye view of the park, and there's no height restriction if they tag along on the paddle boats, which are available for a small extra charge.
Most youngsters can hop board the Wild Arctic simulator, too, since its height restriction is only 42 inches. If they're too short, fear not. There's an optional stationary spot where they can go along on the "helicopter ride" to the polar bear and walrus habitats without any motion.
Kids love to explore via touch, and SeaWorld isn't a park where the animals are all locked away at a distance. The orcas and dolphins are both visible in underwater viewing areas where visitors can literally get right next to them. Above the water, the Dolphin Nursery showcases moms and babies, and youngsters can actually touch and feed dolphins for an extra charge at Dolphin Cove.
Want to interact with even more animals? SeaWorld sells food for the sea lions, sharks, and stingrays. Just warn the kids to watch out for the sneaky gulls who perch around the feeding areas, ready to steal a piece of fish.
You'll find helpful educators throughout the park who are happy to answer kids' questions. Encourage your youngsters to start a chat and ask about any of the animals.
SeaWorld has plenty to do for kids, but it's not as large or overwhelming as some of the other Orlando theme parks. The hours vary by season, but even if you visit in the summer or around the holidays, when the park is open late, you can hit all the major sights and activities and still leave early enough to get the kids in bed before they get too cranky. Just map out the must-see shows for your family, then fit in other activities around that.
You'll find lots of dining options at SeaWorld, from counter service restaurants to a pizza buffet to a more formal experience in front of the shark tank in Shark's Underwater Grill. Just grab and go at any convenient eatery if you have light eaters. If your kids are at the age when their appetite seems never ending, the all-day dining plan lets you pay one price and get food and beverages all day at select locations. That's especially handy for popping in for as many cold drinks as your family needs on a hot summer day.
SeaWorld is also very allergy friendly if any of your children have special dietary needs. There's a wide range of gluten-free options and a system for communicating directly with the chefs to make sure food items are allergen free, based on your specific concerns.
SeaWorld holds special events for kids throughout the year, so you may be lucky enough to visit when something exciting is going on. For example, in January and February, Just for Kids brings performers like Choo Choo Soul and the Imagination Movers to SeaWorld with free Saturday concerts, and Jack Hanna typically visits with his animal ambassadors once or twice a year. SeaWorld also has trick or treating for Halloween and a wide variety of holiday activities in the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years period.