Visiting Tips for Sea World in San Antonio

Mary Gormandy White
Shamu Performance at Sea World

As the largest of the three Sea World parks, Sea World San Antonio also incorporates thrill rides and unique attractions that draw thousands of visitors each day to this Texan marine wildlife and adventure park. For decades, this 250 acre theme park has awed families with stunning attractions and other incredible features. When most people think of Texas, they envision cattle, sagebrush, and rattlesnakes, but in fact, dolphins, orcas, and penguins have become just as famous in the Lone Star State.

Best Deals

Ticket Deals

There are a number of ticket options for Sea World San Antonio. You can save $8 off single-day admission by purchasing your tickets online instead of buying them in-person at the park. As of 2013, online single day tickets for adults are $54 for adults (ages 10 and up) and $46 for children (ages three to nine). Add $8 if you would rather buy your tickets at the gate. Season pass "Fun Cards" are just a few dollars more, costing just $62 for adults and $54 for children when you purchase online. There is no charge for children under three years of age.

While at one time admission to Aquatica water park was included with Sea World Admission, that is no longer the case. You can, however, purchase a single-day ticket that will allow you to visit both parks. Adult dual-park tickets are $87 and the cost is $79 for kids. However, if you plan to spend more than one day in one or both of the parks, you can pick up a dual-park "Fun Card" pass for just $10 more than the one-day admission cost for both parks.

A few other ticket discounts are available, including:

  • Military: The Waves of Honor program provides one free admission day annually to active duty members of the military as well as to National Guard members and reservists who are activated or on drill duty. Up to three dependents will also receive free admissionf for the day.
  • AAA: Members of AAA can receive discounts online and at gate ticket purchases. Discounted tickets can also be purchased directly from AAA offices.
  • Tickets at Work: If your employer participates in the Tickets at Work program, you can pre-order tickets to this park at a savings of up to 15 percent off walk-up rates.

Vacation Packages

If you're traveling to San Antonio, you may find that you will save money by bundling your lodging and ticket purchases together via a hotel package with one of the theme park's lodging partners. See the San Antonio Vacation Partners page to learn about current options.

Save on Parking

Parking costs $15 per day. If you are planning to purchase season tickets, you may want to upgrade one of the passes to a "1 Year Pass" from a "Fun Card." Doing so will entitle the ticket holder to unlimited free parking, as well as additional discounts on merchandise in the park. The "1 Year Pass" for Sea World only costs $100 (regardless of age), while the fee is $135 if you want unlimited admission and parking for both Sea World and Aquatica.

Food Savings

If you've been to many theme parks, you know that the cost of food inside the park can be quite steep. Sea World San Antonio has a unique program to help park-goers keep their in-park dining costs at a fixed level. You can pay $32.99 for an All-Day Dining Deal. Each person in your party who purchases a deal will receive a wristband signifying participation at the program. You can visit several eating establishments within the park as many times as you want throughout the day. Every time you go through the line, you will be able to choose as much as one entree platter, one extra side or dessert item and one drink.

If you plan to stay in the park for a full day, this can result in a significant savings, as well as allow you to accurately budget for your park outing. However, if you only plan to eat one meal in the park, you may find that it is not worth the cost.

Navigating the Park

With a park this large, it is a good idea for guests to be aware of the different attractions and what they may want to see long before they enter the gates. Otherwise, they may waste precious time engrossed in park maps or wandering in circles rather than enjoying the full park experience. You can use the free Sea World for iPhone or Android app on your smartphone to help plan your trip and find your way around the park once you're inside.

Quick Queue Passes

You can avoid spending time standing in line by spending an extra $25 on a Quick Queue pass that will provide priority boarding -meaning that you get to skip the long lines - on several of the park's most popular rides.

Several bloggers who have visited the park indicate that these passes are well worth the cost. For example, an article on the Still Living the Dream blog indicates that the passes allowed the blogger's family to feel like VIPS when they were able to get on rides right away, while park-goers without passes often had to wait up to an hour. Momma D Jane indicates that the passes are ideal for older kids who will be determined to ride every single ride in the park while they are there.

Rides

This Sea World park boasts several amazing coasters and other thrill rides.

  • The Great White: This inverted coaster is as powerful as the shark it is named for as it thrusts riders into a feeding frenzy of five inversions at speeds reaching 50 miles per hour.
  • Steel Eel: Another stunning coaster, the Steel Eel has an undulating profile of classic hills as it crests at 65 miles per hour after a 150 foot initial drop.
  • Journey to Atlantis: This high-tech water coaster is the first of its kind in the United States. At the crest of the 100 foot lift hill, the coaster cars will rotate more than 360 degrees, offering pristine views of the park before dipping - backwards - through a small trough. The cars then rotate again before plunging down the watery finale.
  • Rio Loco: To cool off on a hot Texas day, park guests can challenge this crazy river for a wild white water rafting trip through unpredictable waterfalls.

  • Shamu Express: Younger guests will delight in this family roller coaster with a Shamu theme, the perfect way to get close to the iconic killer whale without getting splashed.

  • Sesame Street Bay of Play: Young children will enjoy this three acre park-within-the-park where they'll be able to enjoy Sesame Street theme rides, performances and activity areas.

If you visited the park before May of 2011, you likely remember the Texas Splashdown log flume ride. That attraction was closed after being part of the park for two decades, according to the Inside Sea World San Antonio blog.

Shows

Guests who want a less intense experience will enjoy the incredible shows Sea World San Antonio has to offer.

  • The signature orcas are the stars of the shows One Ocean, and Shamu Rocks! while the bottlenose dolphins and beluga whales share the spotlight in the expressive show Azul that also features acrobatic performers and exotic birds.
  • Other shows offer guests everything from cute comedy routines with sea lions and pets (many rescued from animal shelters) to daring water ski adventure stunts and the interactive Pirates 4-D sensory experience.
  • The park's newest shows are Pets Ahoy and the Latin-themed Sol Celebration.

For the best experience at the park's different shows, guests are urged to arrive early and to behave courteously to other visitors enjoying the entertainment. The RWeThereYetMom blog recommends arriving at the shows 30 to 45 minutes before start time to make sure that you're able to get really good seats. Clumsy Crafter encourages park visitors to heed the "splash zone" signs at shows, urging visitors to avoid sitting in them unless they are okay with getting wet.

Animal Encounters

A highlight of any Sea World trip is interacting directly with the park's amazing animals. Visitors can feed colorful lorikeets in the park's aviary, as well as touch and feed Atlantic bottlenose dolphins at Dolphin Cove.

Sea lions and seals can also be fed, and guests can safely come face to face with a variety of sharks in a colorful coral reef exhibit. The Penguin Encounter is another popular attraction, where a moving walkway parades guests past more than 200 penguins in their own snowy sanctuary.

Lost Lagoon

The Lost Lagoon is a relaxing water park and a unique feature of this Sea World destination. Guests can enjoy the Castaway Cruisin' lazy river - complete with islands and misters - or get into a surfing mood in the wave pool. Splash Attack is the interactive and wet funhouse with dozens of geysers, sprays, and fountains, and two kiddie areas offer tamer splash zones for younger guests. Several water slides are also key features of Lost Lagoon, where every visitor has the chance to be a sea creature themselves.

When to Visit

Sea World San Antonio is open year-round, though hours and shows vary seasonally. Because the weather in San Antonio virtually never gets cold, any time is a good time to visit the park. However, the summer months tend to have the most shows and longest operating hours. If you visit between Thanksgiving and New Year, you'll get to see the park's annual Christmas Celebration, though not all standard attractions and shows will be available then.

See the Park Hours and Show Schedules page for a calendar that shows operating hours by day, as well as lists shows and special events. Tip Junkie recommends getting to the park as close to opening time as possible to make the most of your time in the park, indicating that the lines are shorter and shows are less crowded early in the day.

Park Conveniences

A few conveniences are available at the park that you may find to be helpful:

  • Stroller rental: Rather than having to deal with transporting your own stroller to and from the park, you can rent one when you get there for only $13 per day. This is a great option for travelers relying on taxis and public transportation, as well as for parents who aren't sure if their young children might prefer to walk or ride once they get to the park.
  • Locker rental: You can rent a small locker at the park for just $18 per day. This is a great way to keep valuables safe while you're riding the roller coasters and water rides, yet within easy reach throughout your time in the park.

Items to Bring

Make sure that you are prepared to make the most of your day at Sea World San Antonio by carrying must-have items along with you. This can help you avoid over-spending in the on-site stores, as well as ensure that you have access to items that will make your experience comfortable and pleasant.

  • Sunscreen: The southern Texas sun is hot throughout the year, so you'll likely need sunscreen no matter when you visit. Opt for a sunscreen designed for athletic activities and water exposure since you'll likely perspire throughout the day, as well as get wet when enjoying the water rides.
  • Hat: It's also a good idea to wear a hat to protect your scalp from the Texas sun while providing shade for your eyes. Of course, you'll need to leave your hat with someone or in a locker while enjoying the park's roller coasters, but you'll likely be glad that you have it any time you're not on a coaster.
  • Beverages: The park's food and beverage policy allows each family to bring in a six-pack size cooler with non-alcoholic beverages like sodas, water bottles and juice boxes. As long as you don't mind carrying the cooler, taking advantage of this policy can help you save money (if you aren't getting the dining pass) and reduce the amount of time you spend standing in lines.

Enjoy Texas-Size Fun

Sea World San Antonio is a great getaway both for local residents and anyone visiting the Lone Star State - with everything from classic boardwalk games and amusements to high-tech thrill rides to animal encounters to innovative entertainment, this park truly has something for everyone.

Visiting Tips for Sea World in San Antonio