Recently, we were invited to visit SeaWorld in San Antonio. We had a great time exploring the main park, as well as Aquatica, and learned a lot along the way. As a result of our experience, we’ve put together a list to help guide your next visit. Read on for tips and insider secrets, along with information on hours, coupons, discount tickets, hotels, military passes, and more!
#1 Go during the week if you can.
SeaWorld can get really busy on the weekends during the summer. But here’s something you may not realize – weekdays are totally different. We went as the park opened on a Tuesday and the crowd was thin. The entry line was short, and the rides barely had any lines. We were able to ride the same roller coasters over and over all day without standing in line.
Of course, as summer draws to a close, the park closes up during the week for the most part. However, during the fall, the park is open on various Mondays and Fridays. Since most kids will be in school, if you’re able to go on one of those days, that’s probably your best bet.
And remember, the park usually opens at 10 am. Get there when doors open! This will help you avoid the thickest crowds and the worst heat.
#2 Share an all-day dining pass.
As at any theme park, eating at SeaWorld can add up quickly. If you plan on spending a full day at the park, you can spend a small fortune eating three meals with your family, not to mention purchasing snacks in between.
Luckily, there’s a way to mitigate the damage. All-day dining passes are $34.99 for adults and $19.99 for kids. These passes allow you to get an entrée, side or dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage every 90 minutes. So it’s easy enough for a couple to share an adult pass and for two kids to share a kid pass. And since you’re able to get a meal every hour-and-a-half, it’s pretty much guaranteed no one will go hungry all day for a fixed amount. It worked wonderfully for us.
#3 Don’t just see the animals—ride the rides.
Everyone knows that SeaWorld is famous for it’s marine animal shows. And while we spent some time watching them, our kids are of the age where they’re more interested in the rides. And the fact is, SeaWorld San Antonio has some pretty awesome roller coasters. In particular, we enjoyed the Steel Eel, Wave Breaker, and Journey to Atlantis.
Just a quick side note though, the Steel Eel was intense. Even though your child might be just tall enough to ride, it’s no joke! The Wave Breaker is a better entry-level experience for those just tall enough to ride the big coasters.
#4 Take a refillable water bottle.
You see reviews complaining about paying $3.50 for a water bottle. Luckily, there’s an easy way to avoid it. We had reusable water bottles in a backpack, and employees at drink stations let us refill them with water and ice for free. We had cold water all day without spending a dime on water bottles. Come prepared!
#5 Don’t skip Aquatica… and get a Quick Queue pass if you can.
If you’re going to SeaWorld, I recommend spending at least a half day (if not an entire separate day) at Aquatica. Sure, it costs a bit extra, but it’s totally worth it. And if you buy online three days in advance, you can get a Flex ticket, good for three days at both parks, for only $15 more than a SeaWorld single day ticket!
This water park is right next to SeaWorld, making it easy to access if you have tickets to both. And it’s full of really fun water slides. We particularly enjoyed Wahalla Wave, which sends you up a zero gravity wall, and the Taumata Racer, which we raced on over and over. Great times. I also experienced the new slide, Ihu’s Breakaway Falls, which was pretty crazy, since the floor literally drops out from under you.
I will say, if you can swing it, get the Quick Queue passes for Aquatica. They’re $15 each online and allow you to skip the lines. While we didn’t feel we needed it for SeaWorld, it definitely came in handy at Aquatica. Perhaps because more people were spending time in the water park to avoid the heat.
#6 Buy your tickets online in advance.
As mentioned above, it’s a good idea to purchase your tickets online. And not just online, but three days before you plan to attend. That’s because most tickets are $5 off when purchased three days in advance. Also, make sure to look at various package deals. For example, you may save a bit by bundling your ticket with an all-day dining pass.
#7 Avoid the hot dogs…opt instead for the BBQ.
With the all-day dining pass, the only entrée you can get in Mango Market is the hot dog. We can tell you from experience, skip it. The hot dog there wasn’t good . Even the kids didn’t like it. It was discolored and tasted about how it looked – terrible.
On the other hand, the Smokehouse Grill in SeaWorld was pretty solid. No, it’s not the best barbecue you’ll ever have, but we didn’t expect it to be. It’s a theme park restaurant, after all. That said, we were pleasantly surprised with the tenderness of the ribs. The brisket was pretty good too. So assuming you have entry to both parks, skip the hot dogs and go for the BBQ.
#8 Preferred parking can be worth the extra few bucks.
Simply put, parking at SeaWorld isn’t cheap. A general parking pass will run you $21.25. However, for just a few dollars more, you can upgrade to an Up-Close Parking pass. This allows you to park really close to the entrance. This can be a lifesaver when attending with small children. Keep in mind, you’re going to be walking around all day in the heat. The last thing you want to do is walk a long way back to your car, not to mention have to look for your car, in the blazing heat after all the fun has come and gone. For us, the upgrade was a no-brainer.
#9 If you’re coming from out of town, book a hotel near SeaWorld.
A full day at the park is fun, but it’s utterly exhausting. The last thing you want to do after spending all day in the heat is make a long drive back to a hotel. Luckily, there are some good hotels near SeaWorld in San Antonio. If you plan on going this route, look into deals that bundle a hotel stay with your park tickets and you may be able to save a little money.
#10 Active duty military can get a free ticket for themselves and up to three dependents members.
Are you an active duty member of the military? If so, you may be surprised to find out that the SeaWorld military discount isn’t just a discount… it’s free. Once a year, you can get complimentary tickets for you and three dependents. It’s a deal that simply can’t be beat! Learn more about you complimentary military tickets here.
Have questions about SeaWorld San Antonio, TX? Ask in the comments below!