SeaWorld has a leisurely pace, in part because its biggest attractions are up-close encounters with the animals. Don't be in a rush -- you won't have to hurry everywhere, for a change. This park can easily be enjoyed in a day. Its layout, lush landscaping, and many outdoor exhibits give it an open feel. Because of the large capacity and walk-through nature of many of the attractions, crowds generally aren't a concern except at Journey to Atlantis, Kraken, and Manta. You also need to be in Shamu Stadium in plenty of time for the show. Wild Arctic, at times, can draw a sizable crowd, but the lines here don't come close to reaching Disney's proportions, so relax. Isn't that what a vacation is supposed to be about?
A 1-day ticket at the gate costs $79.99 for adults, $69.99 for children 3 to 9, plus 6.5% sales tax. The park's online ticketing system allows you to go to www.seaworld.com, buy your ticket over the Internet (saving about $8 on an adult ticket), print it out, and take the printout right to the turnstiles. Note: SeaWorld also offers multipark passes and, at times, free days, discounted pricing, and other money-saving promotions, so be sure to check online for the most up-to-date offers.
SeaWorld's VIP Tour ($125 adults, $100 kids 3-9, plus mandatory park admission) is a 7-hour guided excursion that includes front-of-the-line access to Journey to Atlantis, Kraken, Manta, and Wild Arctic; reserved seating at the shows; lunch at Shamu Stadium (Dine with Shamu); and a chance to touch or feed penguins, dolphins, stingrays, and sea lions (tel. 800/327-2424). It's one of only two ways to dodge park lines, though these usually aren't as long as at Disney or Universal. Here, however, the pass allows unlimited front-of-the-line access. The second way to avoid lines is via the park's new seasonal Quick Queue pass -- starting at $14.95 and topping off at $24.95 for one-time access, $19.95 to $34.95 for unlimited access -- which is similar to Universal's fee-based Express Pass program.
The Flexiticket -- The most economical way to see the various "other-than-Disney" parks is with a multiday pass that counters Disney's Park Hopper add-on. With the FlexTicket, you pay one price to visit any of the participating parks as many times as you want during a 14-day period. A five-park pass to Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, Wet 'n Wild, Aquatica, and SeaWorld is $274.95 for adults and $254.95 for children 3 to 9. A six-park pass, which adds Busch Gardens in Tampa, is $314.95 for adults and $294.95 for kids. Both passes also include entrance to Universal CityWalk. The FlexTicket can be ordered through Universal (tel. 407/363-8000; www.universalorlando.com), SeaWorld (tel. 407/351-3600; www.seaworld.com), Aquatica (tel. 800/363-2559; www.aquaticabyseaworld.com), or Wet 'n Wild (tel. 800/992-9453 or 407/351-1800; www.wetnwild.com). Note: There's a round-trip shuttle available to Busch Gardens that's free for FlexTicket buyers (it's $10 for other guests).