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  • Hook the trainers. To get the most out of a visit, try to be in the same place as the animal trainers, who frequently appear to nurture their charges. Ask questions. Get involved. They may even allow you to feed or stroke the animals (set aside another $25 or so for fish food). These zoologists love sharing information about the animals they have devoted their lives to. Feeding times are usually posted outside each pavilion’s entrance; you may need to backtrack a few times to make the schedule, but the interaction will be worth the effort.
  • Smart seating. Do try to be at shows at least a half-hour early, and for Shamu, add another 10 minutes to walk around the lagoon to the stadium. SeaWorld is not as controlling as—Disney about where you’re permitted to sit, so the best seats go first. Furthermore, several shows (“Pets Ahoy!” especially) don’t permit latecomers. At others, you can’t get out easily until it’s over.
  • Soak zones. Outdoor marine shows have a clearly marked “soak zone” in the front rows of the seating section. Bank on the first 10 rows as being the wettest. Don’t take this warning lightly; you have no concept of how much water a 10,000-pound male orca can displace. Of course, sitting with your kids in the soak zone on a hot day is one of the great pleasures of SeaWorld, and most soak zone seating has the added advantage of affording side views into the tank where the animals prepare for their leaps and splashes. But for those with expensive hairdos, ponchos are sold throughout the parks, including at stalls beneath Shamu Stadium, for $8 ($7 kids). Keep your electronics somewhere dry, because salt water can fry their circuits.

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.