The park's attractions include Pacific Point Preserve, a 2 1/2-acre natural setting that duplicates the rocky home of California sea lions and harbor seals. Turtle Point showcases sea turtles swimming in the lagoon or lounging on the beach and sand dunes. The Extreme Zone tests your climbing and jumping skills with a rock wall and trampoline jump (both for an additional fee). A ride on the Sky Tower, open only seasonally and at an additional fee, lets you look out over the entire park.
The Makahiki Luau is a full-scale dinner show featuring South Seas-style food (fish, chicken, and pork) while you're entertained by music and dance of the Pacific Islands. It's hardly haute cuisine or Broadway, but is very much on par with Disney's Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, minus the characters. It's held daily at 6:30pm. During the winter holidays, a Christmas Luau temporarily replaces the original experience. Park admission is not required. The cost is $46 for adults, $29 for children 3 to 9. Reservations are required and can be made by calling tel. 800/327-2424 or going online to www.seaworldorlando.com.
A Whale of a Good Time
Shamu Underwater Viewing is an exhibit that adjoins One Ocean and lets you get close to killer whales and learn about breeding programs. The underwater viewing area allows a great close-up look at the tremendous creatures. You may even get to see a mother with her baby: The newest calf made his debut in October 2010.
In addition to the 9-hour Marine Mammal Keeper Experience , SeaWorld offers another interactive adventure: The Beluga Interaction Program offers participants the chance to touch, feed, and help train (through the use of hand signals) the park's beluga whales. While a wetsuit is provided (bring a swimsuit to wear underneath), the water is a chilly 55°F (13°C), which makes it a bit difficult to maneuver. The cost is $99 to $149, plus the required park admission. The program is not open to expectant mothers or kids younger than 10. Call tel. 800/432-1178 or 407/363-2380, or visit www.seaworldorlando.com for more information or to make mandatory reservations.
Skimming the Sea & Sky
In 2009, Manta, SeaWorld's newest thrill-a-minute megacoaster, made a splashy debut. Touted as an experience unlike any other, the manta-inspired flying coaster takes riders soaring as high as the sky before diving as deep as the ocean depths -- and all at speeds of up to 60 mph past some of the largest underwater habitats in the park. Oh, and did I mention that riders will be face-down, headfirst, and in a prone horizontal position? Don't let the name -- or its appearance from the ground -- fool you: Mantas may be graceful creatures that effortlessly glide through the ocean depths, but SeaWorld's newest signature ride is wild from beginning to end. At times riders will find themselves within inches of the sea -- at others skimming the sky, twisting through four inversions and several near misses, the wildly twisted tracks disorienting (albeit temporarily) even the most veteran coaster crazies. This one's definitely not for the faint of heart.
Because it has few thrill rides, SeaWorld has few restrictions, but you may want to check out the special tour programs offered through the education department. SeaWorld lives up to its reputation for making education fun. The Behind the Scenes Tour offers a 90-minute glimpse into how SeaWorld cares for the animals it rescues (manatees and sea turtles in particular). The cost is $30 for adults and $10 for children 3 to 9, plus park admission. Highlights of the 4-hour Family Fun Tour include touching a penguin, feeding the dolphins and sea lions, reserved seating at One Ocean (the park's newest whale show), a light lunch, and front-of-the-line access to select kid-friendly rides at Shamu's Happy Harbor. The price tag is $75 for adults, $55 for children 3 to 9, plus park admission. The 2-hour Sea Lion Up Close Tour takes you behind the scenes at the sea-lion stadium to find out what it takes to care for the park's sea lions and harbor seals. Included in the tour are an opportunity to feed the sea lions and harbor seals at the Pacific Point Reserve, reserved seats at the sea-lion show (Clyde & Seamore Take Pirate Island), and a photo-op with the stars of the show. The cost is $40 for adults and $20 for children 3 to 9, plus park admission. The Dolphin Up Close Tour takes you backstage at the whale-and-dolphin stadium and behind the scenes at Dolphin Cove for an hour-long tour, where you'll find out just what's involved in training and caring for the park's bottlenose dolphins. The cost is $50 for adults and $30 for children 3 to 9, plus park admission. The Penguin Up Close Tour takes you backstage at the Penguin Encounter. The cost is $40 for adults and $20 for children 3 to 9, plus park admission. Call tel. 407/363-2380 for information or tel. 800/406-2244 for reservations.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.