What the basics cost at SeaWorld Orlando:

Parking: $17
Single strollers: $15 per day
Double strollers: $25 per day
Wheelchair: $12 per day
ECV: $50 per day
Lockers: $8 (small) or $11 (large) per day
Coke: $2.70 / Bottle of water: $2.80 / Cup of beer: $7

TIMING YOUR VISIT: You will spend quite a bit of time waiting for shows to begin. People show up early for seats, so it’s smart to arrive at least 30 minutes ahead of show times. (It’s also imperative that you wear a watch.) Crowds are lightest Tuesday and Wednesday. Important: If the forecast shows prolonged rain (as opposed to Florida’s typical spot showers), reschedule your visit. Not only will you spend lots of time outside, but it’s also harder to see marine animals when the surface of the water is pelted by raindrops—not to mention the fact that if there’s so much as a twinkle of lightning anywhere in the county, these water-based attractions close faster than a shark’s mouth on his dinner.

GETTING ORIENTED: Once you park ($17, and more expensive “premium” spots aren’t worth it) or get off the I-Ride (the stop is near the front gates), head for the lighthouse that marks the entrance. Inside, grab a placemat-size park map. On the back, printed fresh daily, is the show schedule, plus the opening times of all the restaurants and attractions. Shows usually begin an hour after park opening, and the blockbuster Shamu show, “One Ocean,” has only a few presentations. I always prefer the last one because it’s less crowded. On the off chance there’s a space for a special interaction you’d like to do, the Guest Services and Reservations desk is the place to book. Otherwise, the Cape Cod–style entrance plaza is where you do the necessaries such as rent strollers and lockers. The area is really just a warm-up for the rest of the park

The pathways are lined with the odd “Animal Connections” enclosure—flamingoes here, turtles there—but those are really more like landscaping features than attractions, and some (but not all) aren’t listed on the maps, so poke around. If you’re interested in riding the park’s thrill rides, the best time is when the Shamu show is scheduled, as it soaks up hundreds of people at once.

SeaWorld has a free SeaWorld Discovery Guide app (but no free Wi-Fi) that orients you, supplies show times, and helps you remember where you parked.
If you’re doing a full complement of the non-Disney parks, including both Universal parks, SeaWorld, Aquatica, Wet ’n Wild, and Busch Gardens, then you’ll find value in the FlexTicket, also sold on SeaWorld’s site ($320 adults, $300 kids 3–9 for all those parks), which gets you into all of them for 2 weeks.

SeaWorld sells Quick Queue Unlimited ($20), which allows you to cut lines by entering through the exit, but lines are rarely long enough to warrant it. You can also buy the 6-hour Expedition SeaWorld VIP Tour (starting at $79 adult, $59 kids 3–9 in low season) that includes reserved seating to three shows, food, and Quick Queue.

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.