I grew up in Texas and visited San Antonio quit often. However, I never made it to Sea World. Perhaps, my history professor father was more interested in taking us to the Alamo and River Walk. Regardless, I missed out, until now.
One of the benefits of traveling for work is earning loyalty points and having people tag along – for free. That’s where my daughter and I come in. My husband had a business trip in San Antonio so I thought it would be a perfect time to take my two-year old to Sea World – free hotel, airline miles, discounted online tickets to Sea World, oh and kids two years old and under are free. Talk about traveling on a budget!
I must admit we lucked out going to Sea World in November. Since it’s off-season there were not a lot of people there so we were able to get up close and personal with the dolphins and the fish in the Coral exhibit (this was without paying extra for the tours they offered).
My daughter loved the dolphins and was able to splash her hands in the pool to get them to come over to where we were. If her arms had been just a few inches longer she’d be able to say she touched a dolphin. One day…
We were able to explore Sea World on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with very few other people. (Sea World does have shorter hours in off-season, it’s only open on the weekends typically from noon-6pm.) So we had excellent seats for most the shows, just outside of the Splash Zone. These seats are clearly marked as seats that may get “sprayed” and they did. On a hot, summer day it would wonderful to sit there, but not a cool, November afternoon.
We were able to check out a few shows, including “The Cannery Row Caper”. Hilarious. Here’s a quick clip I caught on my Flip.
Shamu’s Happy Harbor
I had read great things about Shamu’s Happy Harbor, an enclosed area is just for kids and a so I had planned to take my daughter there to burn off a little energy. However, it was closed. One of the few bummers when traveling in offseason… I learned that the park is redoing this area to create The Sesame Street Bay of Play. It actually sounds great, so if you’re planning a trip in or after the spring of 2011 you should make sure to check it out.
Sea World iPhone App
Even Shamu has an iPhone
I love my iPhone and there is seriously an app for everything, including Sea World. From the local weather updates to driving directions to the park, to show times and a full park map – this app has everything. Oh, and it’s free.
One of the features I really liked that helped my daughter learn more about the animals we were looking at (ok, I also liked sounding really smart) was the index/glossary they had on all the animals in the park. This feature also showed you on the map where you could find specific animals and provided walking directions.
The one issue we had this trip with the app was with the show times feature. It just wasn’t working; the times weren’t updating. It wasn’t really a big deal since we grabbed a map/schedule when we entered the park but still annoying.
A few other helpful features the Sea World iPhone app offers: a park map, wait times for rides, restroom locations, food and the distance.
A few other take aways:
I was very surprised by the food selections at Sea World. You could actually get a very tasty healthy meal in the Sea Star Market.
Buy your tickets online to save money. Sea World has an online only offer for four tickets, each cost $47 – a $10 savings. (Kids two and under are free.) There are several kiosks onsite where you can purchase your tickets, these seem great if it’s a crowded day.
Download a map of the park in advance so you can plan your route. (Go to Plan Your Trip, Print Map)
Check shows time in advance so you can plan your route. You can pay for other, private shows done before the park opens. They sounds fun but probably not the best venue for a two-year-old, thus we saved our money.
Download the Sea World iPhone app. It’s free and has a ton of information – maps, show times, etc. See my next blog post/review on it.
Elaine Schoch is the founder of Carpe Travel, a site designed to inspire others to travel, to know it is possible to balance life’s passions – travel, wine, family – with real life, aka work, deadlines, screaming kids and the overall daily grind. Meet Elaine…