At SeaWorld, the focus isn’t on thrill rides or “magic”—it’s animals, and thousands of them. Just about everything to see or do involves watching marine creatures in imitated habitats or performing in shows. Many tourists, particularly those over a certain age, claim SeaWorld as their favorite Orlando park, because there’s a lot going for it: 200 acres of space for gardens, a compound that absorbs crowds well, an earnest educational component, and a refreshing lack of patronizing mythology.
The SeaWorld experience differs from other parks in that it’s show-based. Your day here will revolve around the scheduling of a half-dozen regular performances in which animals (mostly mammals, but some birds, too) do tricks—except here, they’re called “behaviors”—with their human trainers. Although there are rides, they’re not in the true spirit of the place. SeaWorld’s banner attraction is the Shamu show, and when you’re not watching killer whales do back-flips, you’re ambling through habitats stocked with other beautiful creatures. Whereas a day spent at Islands of Adventure or the Magic Kingdom might send you slumping home and reaching for the Calgon, it’s unusual to come away from SeaWorld stressed. Thoughtfully, schedules are posted online a few weeks ahead of time so that if you’re really anal, you can map out your day in advance; the various show schedules are under "Park Info."