SEAWORLD ORLANDO TRAVEL GUIDE - WHAT TO DO, EAT, AND WEAR (SEPTEMBER 2019)
When SeaWorld Orlando reached out earlier this summer and invited me and a friend to come hang out for a day, I was SO excited for the opportunity, especially since I haven’t visited since I was a sophomore in highschool!
I already had plans to be in Orlando at the end of September, which ended up being perfect timing for their Craft Beer Festival, so my friend, Brenton, and I decided to make our very first day of vacay a SeaWorld day!
We started our day early because we knew we wanted to take advantage of as many things as possible, and even though we had an extremely full non-stop day, we both agreed we could have easily spent a second day there to finish exploring and do some of the things we missed out on.
P.S. If you missed the good times over on Instagram, I have my stories saved to a “vacay 9/18” highlight on my profile, so check it out once you’re finished here!
WHAT TO DO
Rollercoasters. LIKE, OMG. SeaWorld Orlando has 3 incredible coasters, Manta, Mako, and Kraken. All three are completely unique, but equally awesome.
Manta greets you right as you enter the park, so obviously, we had to jump on it first. You’ll lay flat on your stomach for this coaster, and it gives you the sensation of flying through the water, just like a manta ray would. There are tons of twists and turns, and a particularly thrilling upside down loop that will disorient the heck out of you in the absolute best way possible. Definitely one of the coolest coasters I’ve ever been on!
Here’s the thing. I am not typically a fan of massive drops. Therefore, if I had actually SEEN Mako’s 200 foot straight down drop before I went on it, I probably wouldn’t have. (This is a very valuable lesson in NOT trusting your friends, people.) I was convincingly told that this was a smooth, gentle, slightly up-and-down coaster with no crazy loops. I WAS LIED TO. Okay, maybe not about the smooth / no crazy loops part.. but EVERYTHING ELSE. YES.
That being said, I absolutely loved every second of it, and after my heart rate resumed a normal rhythm, we did it again. (Just in case you think I’m being dramatic, I went back and checked my heart rate data from my Apple Watch, and I topped out at 138 bpm that day.) There are no shoulder restraints in the ride car, which gives you a dangerously free feeling, and on top of that, Mako hits a top speed of 73 mph, which makes it the fastest, tallest, AND longest! coaster in the state of Florida.
All things considered, this was hands-down my favorite coaster of the three.
Kraken is a classic SeaWorld Orlando staple that’s been around since 2000. It’s the world’s second longest floorless coaster and features 7 inversions. It’s located right next to Mako, and it’s a must-do for coaster enthusiasts!
And if you’re not a coaster fan, there are plenty of other fun rides to take advantage of. We didn’t make it on Journey to Atlantis or Wild Arctic, but here are some others we loved!
Brenton rode Infinity Falls (a river rapids raft ride) while I watched from the scenic bridge above the 40 foot drop. He actually bought a poncho to prepare, but still came off soaked, so if you’re wanting an escape from the heat, this is definitely the way to go!
Pro tip: Most rides at SeaWorld require you to store your belongings in a locker before entering the ride queue, and this ended up being a super easy process. You’ll find locker kiosks around the entrance to each ride, and I recommend choosing the unlimited $2 for 2 hours rental option. Here’s the coolest part: you can move your locker rental from ride to ride. So if you hop on Manta first thing in the morning and you’re done in 30 minutes, you can get your stuff back out, head to the next ride, and transfer your rental to the next set of lockers. That way, you’re not wasting the time you paid for or having to backtrack to your original locker spot once the 2 hours is up.
ANTARCTICA: EMPIRE OF THE PENGUIN
Speaking of great places to escape the heat, I highly recommend this one. Once you get inside, the waiting rooms are wonderfully chilly, and the ride itself is adorable. Definitely a must-do if you have kids! You can choose from a “mild” or “wild” version. We chose “wild”, and it was still quite nice and easy. Plus, there’s a pretty cute black and white feathery surprise at the very end.. if you catch my (snow) drift.
FLAMINGO PADDLE BOATS
This was another silly little extra we loved. There is a small extra charge for this ($7/person), but you get 20 minutes to float leisurely around the lake and an incredible view of Mako to top if off. So worth it.
Oh, and SeaWorld Orlando definitely isn’t just rides. There are shows and animal experiences galore, so if you’re not a thrill-seeker, you’ll have an equally amazing time!
SEA LION HIGH WITH CLYDE AND SEAMORE
This was the only show we made it to, and I am so glad we did. I literally cry-laughed through the entire thing. You’ll get to see Clyde and Seamore the sea lions being insanely adorable, along with some other surprise guests (including an otter and a walrus). I can 100% guarantee that the entire family, young and old, will absolutely love this show.
Pro tip: get there in advance, because the pre-show entertainment (the SeaWorld Mime!) is top notch, too.
Almost everywhere you look, there are incredible animals with incredible stories. We didn’t make it around to all of the experiences (Seriously could have used another full day! Have I said that already?), but we did love Turtle Trek and the Manatee Rehabilitation Area, Stingray Lagoon (where you can pet the rays as they peacefully glide by), Pacific Point Preserve (Brenton basically had to drag me away after watching the insanely cute sea lions for a very long time), and Dolphin Nursery.
While hanging out at Dolphin Nursery, we talked to a SeaWorld team member who explained a certain training exercise that was going on at the time. The caretakers were gently encouraging one of the dolphins to flip over on its back while they “pretend prepped” it for a blood draw by snapping a rubber band on its tail. Each time the dolphin did as they requested, it was given a treat. She explained that they are conditioning the dolphin to think of this as a trick or a game, so when the caretakers actually do need to draw blood or give shots, it won’t be a traumatic experience since the dolphin knows it will end in treats!
Pro tip: If you want to maximize your day, I HIGHLY recommend SeaWorld’s Unlimited Quick Queue, which is an upgrade to your regular ticket (easily added on when you purchase online). It wasn’t a super busy day, but we did see wait times posted as high as 50 minutes for some of the most popular attractions. Our Unlimited Quick Queues ensured that we never waited more than 5-10 minutes for anything all day long.
WHAT TO EAT
As I mentioned, we were there during the Craft Beer Festival, which means there were 100+ craft beers and 20+ food dishes to choose from. If you’re planning a trip during the festival, you can purchase an 8-sample lanyard for $40 and a 12-sample lanyard for $54. (Ages 21+)
We loved being able to sample so many awesome offerings. Some of the highlights included our very first choices - the Kobe Beef Sliders and Fish Taco (pictured directly below). The fish taco was bigger than my face, and since there were 2 sliders included, we each got one! These were easily our favorite two food items of the day. Brenton is more of a beer fan than I am, and he enjoyed all the samples he got, but we were both huge fans of the Frosé.
We also tried (and loved!) the Impossible Burger and Green Tomato Slider along with the Schinkennudeln (a delicious ham and cheese pasta that I didn’t even attempt to pronounce when I ordered it). Both are pictured below. Seriously, I cannot say enough good things about the portion sizes and the quality of the food.
WHAT TO WEAR + THE BEST PHOTO SPOTS
The end of September is still extremely hot in Central Florida, so easy breezy clothes are an absolute must!
My SeaWorld OOTD:
This Lilly Pulitzer romper that I found on Poshmark. (originally $160, I snagged it for $40!)
Toms classics are my go-to parks shoes.. they’re SO comfy! (find them here)
J. Crew Factory sunnies (several years old, but find a similar pair here)
Mint Apple Watch band (from Amazon, here)
This incredible, colorful, larger than life Guy Harvey mural is close to the entrance of Mako, and makes a great photo backdrop!
The iconic SeaWorld Orlando logo is a perfect photo spot, and it’s big enough for an entire group or family to gather under. You’ll find it as you’re entering into the park to the right.
Not only was the Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin area a great place to cool off, it was a gorgeous place to take a quick pic! Once inside, you’ll feel like you’re surrounded by glaciers, and let’s be honest.. how could I pass up a photo op when I matched the background so perfectly?
Just as you would expect, there are lots of opportunities for picturesque water backgrounds. We found ourselves wandering by this spot multiple times, so we finally grabbed a few more samples, and settled along the water near the Sky Tower.
We had a DREAM of a day at SeaWorld Orlando, and I absolutely can’t wait to go back. I’m planning another trip in February with my family and they probably wish it would hurry up and get here already so I’d quit going on and on about how fun it is!
If you have any questions about what we did, or how to have the best day ever at SeaWorld Orlando, I’d love for you to leave a comment below! Onto the next adventure!
Thanks again to SeaWorld Orlando for hosting us. If you’re planning a trip to Orlando, you should definitely include a SeaWorld day in your plans.. and if your trip is within the next month, the SeaWorld Craft Beer Festival will run weekends until October 27th, 2019, which means you still have time to enjoy!