One of the best parts of living in Orlando and having annual passes for all the parks is being able to make spontaneous visits. This morning the weather was so beautiful that I decided to get in some exercise at SeaWorld before settling down to an afternoon of work. Spring break has already started, so the parks have been insanely busy, but my early arrival allowed me to enjoy the park at a leisurely pace. Here are some tips for making the most of a SeaWorld morning visit:
1) Arrive as early as possible. I generally aim for just a bit after opening time so the initial crowd disperses a bit.
2) Consider using the Preferred Parking. That’s a no-brainer for me, since I get it free with my platinum annual pass, but it’s worth the extra cost if you have kids, strollers, etc. to haul around. It lets you park close to the entrance so you get a fast start and don’t have far to walk after an exhausting day in the park.
3) Choose your bag check line carefully, or better yet, use cargo pants instead of a bag. I do the latter, but I noticed that the bag lines were massive on one side while the security people were trying to lure people over to the other, where no one was in line. People tend to move in herds, so break free and you’ll be rewarded with a much shorter wait.
4) Do a quick ride on Manta if the line isn’t long yet. Alas, this morning it was having mechanical difficulties or I could have hopped on with a minimal wait. By the time I left (a little before noon), the wait was 35 minutes and getting longer as massive crowds continued to descend on the park.
5) Hustle to the animal exhibits. There’s nothing I love more than watching the penguins or sharks without a massive crowd around me. I was literally the only person in those two exhibits when I went through. Just be aware that when the park opens at 9 a.m., the area with the sharks doesn’t open until 10 a.m. Kill some time at the underwater dolphin viewing, which also shouldn’t be crowded, or feed the sea lions. I promise their antics will make you laugh. I also got some great uncrowded time in Wild Artic, where the walruses were putting on an underwater acrobatic show.
Concentrate the later part of the day on seeing the shows once the park gets crowded. The arenas hold a LOT of people, so you shouldn’t have much trouble getting in as long as you watch the time and get to each one early enough. You may feel drawn to the shows early, but remember: they have multiple performances, but the animal exhibits are only uncrowded for a brief time before the park gets overrun with people. I was shocked at the massive crowds still coming in at noon when I left. Seeing the antics of the penguins, dolphins, sea lions and other creatures will also start your day off right.
Want to see the highlights of my visit? Click the slideshow at left (a couple are fuzzy, as they’re camera phone pics, but it gives you a good idea of how much you can enjoy the morning). Click here to read about the sea lion tour you can book at SeaWorld, and click here for the penguin tour (I highly recommend both). Click here to read more of my articles, and click here to follow me on Twitter.