SeaWorld San Diego


Location: Mission Bay (6 Miles Northwest of Downtown San Diego)

Open Daily: Hours vary by day. Ranges from 10AM – 5PM during Winter to 9AM – 11PM during Summer.

Cost: Several options starting at $64 with discounted online admission. Parking is $14 for cars.

Features: Shamu, Shows, Amusement Rides, Aquariums, Dolphins, Polar Bears, Penguins, Sesame Street Rides

Dolphin and Whale Show at SeaWorldSeaWorld Highlights: SeaWorld has something for the whole family to enjoy from Sesame Street shows to Shipwreck Rapids. However, the most famous SeaWorld attraction that attracts the young and old alike is Shamu, the Killer Whale. SeaWorld San Diego is the original SeaWorld, where Shamu got his start in 1965. It is only one of three SeaWorlds, with the others located in Orlando and San Antonio. There are so many shows to see and amusement rides to enjoy that you will not be able to try everything in one day. There are also opportunities to dine with Shamu, jump in the water with dolphins, serve as an animal trainer for the day, and take a behind the scenes tour.

Best Times To Visit SeaWorld:

  • SeaWorld is near the coast, offering a temperate climate with enjoyable temperatures year-round. However, if you are a little finicky about the weather, read our description about San Diego weather along with the following bullet point.
  • If you want to avoid the daytime sun, May and June offer the best chance of overcast skies, especially in the mornings. Even if it is sunny, several animal attractions, including the Wild Arctic exhibit with the Polar Bears and the Penguin Encounter, offer cool indoor shade. Summer evenings are also a nice time to avoid the mid-day sun but keep an eye on the coastal forecast because you may want to wear a long sleeve shirt or windbreaker on some evenings.
  • If you want to avoid the crowds, summer evenings are the best time to visit. The shows will still be crowded but the rest of the park is relatively quiet. The biggest crowds arrive on holidays while summer weekends are also quite busy. If you do go on a summer weekend, try to avoid the lines by arriving as the gates open.

What to Expect

    • The terrain is flat but you will still want to wear good walking shoes. For those with disabilities, check the accessibility guide for more information.

Dolphin and Whale Show at SeaWorld

  • Stadiums fill up quickly for the animal shows, even in the evenings when there are fewer visitors. If you want a seat close to the stage, arrive at least 20 minutes before showtime. Watch out for the designated ‘splash zones’. You will get very wet if you sit in these areas. It is a favorite spot for kids who want to get splashed by Shamu and friends.
  • If you plan to get wet on the water rides or sit in the ‘Splash Zones’ at the Shamu or dolphin shows, consider waiting until the middle of the day. The dry air and sun will help you quickly dry out. Otherwise, you can bring a change of clothes and leave them in a locker or go back out to your car after getting a re-entry stamp.
  • On occasion, certain rides or attractions are closed for maintenance. If you have a favorite attraction, make sure it is not closed for your visit by check out the list of SeaWorld attraction closures.
  • Food – For an amusement park, SeaWorld does a great job offering plenty of good dining options. From bakeries and delis to smokehouses and pizza kitchens, you will find something to enjoy throughout the park. If you want some entertainment while you eat, try Shipwreck Reef Cafe and watch guests head down Shipwreck Rapids. There are also several ‘Dine with Shamu’ options. You can make your reservations online to eat while being entertained by Shamu.
  • SeaWorld Map – This interactive map gives you a feel for what to expect. You can select various areas of the map to learn more information about shows and rides. This map is not printable.
  • Upon Entering – Pick up a SeaWorld Map, which will include an insert for the day’s Schedule of Activities.

Breakfast with Shamu at SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld Shows – All of the shows include story lines, comic relief, and a strong sense of adventure. The Shamu Shows are by far the most popular. Killer Whales have been entertaining SeaWorld audiences since 1965. Each Shamu Show occurs several times a day and lasts about 20 minutes. The current daytime show is called ‘Believe’ and the nighttime show is called ‘Shamu Rocks Around the World’. (You can read more about the storyline for these shows on Wikipedia.)

Listed in order of popularity, there are Dolphin Shows, Sea Lion Shows, and Pet Shows. All are excellent and worth seeing if you have the time. For kids, there is the Sesame Street 4-D Movie where you feel like a part of the action. During the summer, catch Cirque de la Mer, which highlights the strength and acrobatic skills of human performers.

All of the shows are held in separate stadiums. Be sure to get there at least 20 minutes early if you want seats close to the stage. However, avoid the ‘Splash Zone’ if you don’t want to get wet! For show times, select the day you plan to visit on the Park Hours and Schedule page.

SeaWorld Rides

For the following rides, you must be at least 42 inches tall:

  • Journey to Atlantis is an intense water roller coaster adventure.
  • Shipwreck Rapids hosts up to nine riders in an innertube, for a water-splashing adventure fit for a family.
  • Wild Arctictakes you on simulated jet helicopter ride on a dangerous mission into the Arctic.Atlantis water ride at SeaWorld San Diego

Skytower – Take a ride up to get a sky high view of San Diego County. This is not for those who are afraid of heights. There is a nominal fee and riders must be 48 inches tall.

Bayside Skyride – Take a cable car ride over Mission Bay. Get the birds eye view from La Jolla to Downtown San Diego for a nominal fee. Riders must be at least 56 inches tall.

Bay of Play – If you are too short for the previous mentioned rides, don’t worry. The Sesame Street Bay of Play is for you. It includes three rides for the kids.

More SeaWorld Attractions

Throughout SeaWorld, you can learn more about your favorite animals. While you are taking a break from the shows and rides, here are some of the activities that will keep the whole family entertained:

Shipwreck water ride at SeaWorld San Diego

  • See Shamu up close;
  • Visit the home of the dolphins (if you are lucky, you can feed them);
  • Surround yourself with sharks in the walk-through viewing tube;
  • Step inside to take a break from the afternoon sun and view the polar bears, walruses, and beluga whales;
  • Be entertained by 300 waddling Antarctic Penguins;
  • Feel the skin of sea creatures in a Tide Pool;
  • Explore the sea life of creatures from around the world in in three different aquariums;
  • Feed seals and sea lions

FAQ’s – Frequently Asked questions about SeaWorld and their animals. Learn the history of SeaWorld and get the details about the animals they support.

Fireworks – Evening fireworks during the summer light up the night sky. The shows usually start at 9:50 PM. For more information, read the fireworks section on the General Information page.


Live Shamu Cam – When you can’t see Shamu in person, the next best thing is to see him on a web cam!

SeaWorld Tours – Get in the water with the dolphins or go behind the scenes to learn about animal care and rehabilitation. There are several tours and interaction programs to choose from.

SeaWorld Adventure Camps – Camp out with the animals at SeaWorld San Diego. Organize a one night sleepover for the family. Better yet, send your kids to a fully chaperoned one night sleepover or enroll them in a two-night through six-night camp. Day camps are also available.

Plan a SeaWorld Party – What could be more fun than celebrating a special event at SeaWorld? There are nearly two dozen venue options, which can host from 50 friends to 10,000 guests. Learn more on how to plan a party at SeaWorld.


Admission Prices: (Costs are Approximate)

  • Parking is approximately $16. See more details below.
  • Entry is Free for Active Duty Military Personnel and up to three dependents. Online registration for this military recognition program is required.Elmo children's ride at Sea World San Diego
  • Standard Fee at the gate is $84; $78 for Kids ages 3-9. But on the SeaWorld website you can purchase $64 tickets for both adult and child.
  • Multi-day and Multi-Park ticket options also available.
  • SeaWorld Passports provide the best deals if you want to visit more than once during the year. Consider buying the Fun Card if you only plan go 2 or 3 times within a calendar year. Otherwise, the 1 or 2 Year Passports are probably the best deal for most visitors, since it provides unlimited admission for a full year from the time you buy your pass and includes free parking and numerous discounts on food and special programs.
  • AAA Members can save as little as 5% when showing their AAA card at the gate to as much as 20% when they purchase tickets from their local AAA branch office.
  • Tickets can be purchased online to avoid the short lines that typically form at the Sea World ticket entrance. It is highly recommended you buy them online if visiting on a summer weekend or holiday.

Hours – Varies by day. Check the SeaWorld San Diego Park Hours and Schedule page.

Directions from Google Maps to 500 Sea World Drive 92109

Traffic – Getting in and out of SeaWorld San Diego is relatively easy. It is 1.5 miles from the I-5 Freeway and .5 miles from the I-8 Freeway.

If you are heading southbound on highway I-5 on a summer weekend morning, expect a 15 minute delay exiting at Sea World Drive. Be sure to get in the right exit lane as soon as you see signs for Sea World Drive (Exit 21). Traffic can back up for a half mile or more. Expect much longer delays on summer holiday weekends as many people use Sea World Drive on their way to the beach.

If you are heading westbound on the I-8, expect up to a 15 minute delay on summer weekday evenings as you get caught up in rush hour traffic. Also expect long delays on summer holiday weekends as many people use the I-8 on their way to the beach.

Sky Tower ride at SeaWorld San DiegoParking – Parking costs $12 for cars and can range from $8 for motorcycles to $17 for RVs. You can pay extra for preferred parking spots closer to the SeaWorld entrance.

There are several parking toll booths so any backup of cars clears out fairly quickly.

Once you pass the parking booth, the SeaWorld entrance is about 300 yards down on the left side. There is just as much parking beyond that point as there is before it. You may want to drive down the right side of the parking lot to avoid the pedestrian traffic heading from the parking lot into SeaWorld.

Transit – Buses do serve SeaWorld. See San Diego Transit Information for access to the Bus Schedules and the online Transit Planner.

Find More Attractions with Similar Themes or Location: *Top San Diego Attractions*, Amusement Parks, Aquariums & Zoos, Kids Attractions & Activities, Mission Bay |

One Response to “SeaWorld San Diego”

  1. katie says:

    i am going to sea world for spring break and it made me even more excited to see all of the pictures and other comments

Help others find things to do and see! Share your ideas.

Connect with Facebook

Or, fill in the form below:

  • Join our great San Diego Tours or Create Your Own Adventure!

    "Having trouble dreaming up the perfect trip...TourGuideTim has you covered...use his comprehensive website to design your own adventure." - Los Angeles Times
  • Translate Travel Guide

  • Search for San Diego Attractions

  • Follow-us to Explore San Diego

    TourGuideTim on Facebook     TourGuideTim on Google+ TourGuideTim on Twitter TourGuideTim on Pinterest TourGuideTim on YouTube