Opening on June 1st, SeaWorld’s Aquatica San Diego joins it’s sister sites in Orlando, Florida and San Antonio, Texas in providing guests with a unique waterpark experience. Offering the ultimate in leisure, exciting thrills, and educational elements synonymous with SeaWorld, Aquatica San Diego is an oasis for every water-loving member of your family. Continue reading for a photo tour, and our review of the new SeaWorld San Diego Aquatica waterpark.
With it’s vibrant facades, spotless grounds, and lush (though-not-yet-mature) landscaping, we went into the experience with the assumption that SeaWorld designed and built this park from the ground up, just as they had with the first two. When we learned that they actually purchased an already existing waterpark from another company last year for their San Diego location, we were really surprised. They spent the last six months on a major overhaul, including attraction refurbishments, and transforming the entire park to fit Aquatica’s signature South Seas theme. I’m happy to report that everything looks and feels like it’s brand new!
Before you plan your trip, it should be noted that San Diego’s Aquatica is actually located 23 miles south of SeaWorld. Something to keep in mind if you’re visiting from out of town, or if you’re an ambitious traveler considering a visit to both parks in one day.
While the park is fairly modest in size at 32 acres, there are several different types of attractions to choose from. To get our feet wet, let’s begin our tour at the lazy river. Loggerhead Lane is a 1,250 foot lazy river connected to an exhibit featuring a flamboyance of Caribbean flamingos.
Crossing the bridge over the river, there are 3 family-friendly attractions, which are surrounded by an abundance of lounge chairs for your convenience.
Making our way around the park, next we’ll go to Big Surf Shores – a 500,000 gallon wave pool that’s surrounded by a sandy beach, and lounge chairs as far as the eye can see.
Both of the areas we’ve visited on our tour so far feature private cabanas, available for all-day rentals. These can be reserved prior to your visit either online or over the phone, or you can check for availability upon arrival. The prices range from $119 – $179 for the day, depending on the type of cabana (standard vs. premium), and the season. Pricing includes accommodations for up to 4 guests, a gift basket, a private mini fridge, and bottled water (admission is not included).
Bringing in the SeaWorld component, Big Surf Shore is also home to dozens of freshwater turtles! These guys are on display in an exhibit as you enter the wave pool area.
Moving over into the thrill-seeker attractions, the first thing you’re likely to notice as you enter the park is this:
When we pulled into the parking lot, we could only see this slide from the back and both assumed it was an attraction still under construction. Then as we entered the park, we took one look at that giant funnel and let out a simultaneous “Oh, wow.” This water slide was a big hit with everyone we encountered, from kids to adults. The rafts can accommodate up to 4 people.
The rest of the water slides are all conveniently grouped together, with seemingly progressive levels of thrill. Ranging from 60 – 80 feet, some are enclosed and some are open-air, there are drops, twists, turns, and the tallest one is actually family-friendly (although, it does have a height requirement). Whatever type of slide you prefer, chances are pretty good that you’ll find it here.
While the slides may not be brand new, they have all been newly refurbished and are in tip-top shape. They offer a good variety of ride styles to keep you entertained for at least a couple hours of riding. Although they may not incorporate the most innovative features that you might find in a new waterpark, they hit the spot and are well worth the price of admission (listed below).
Now that we’ve experienced the attractions, let’s eat! Another surprise we found were the amount of food options. There’s barbecue at Banana Beach Cookout, and over in the main plaza area there are 3 quick service counters featuring a wide variety of items. There are hamburgers, fish tacos, pasta, pizza, stir-fry, carne asada fries, and some interesting sweet & salty combinations that included tater tots with fresh strawberries and hot fudge, and the thing I just had to try – funnel cake and fried chicken with maple syrup. When they handed me the basket, I was so happy to find that it was a giant chicken tender (no bones for me, please), but was slightly disappointed in how peppery the chicken was. The pepper seemed to over power everything else. It was definitely an interesting take on the chicken & waffles fad.
There is also a Dippin’ Dots stand, sno-cones, and ice cream bars. Further back in the park are grab & go carts with hot dogs, turkey legs, popcorn, churros, and refillable souvenir cups. There’s also an area that serves beer, wine, and margaritas.
If you’re looking to do some shopping during your visit, Kiwi Traders is located in the main plaza area. They have everything you might need, and I was happy to find that the prices weren’t totally outrageous. There were flip-flops for under $12, water shoes for kids & adults for under $18, bathing suits, beach towels, cover-ups, t-shirts, sunglasses, hats, sundries, etc.. The shop also features Aquatica themed souvenirs, such as magnets, frames, shot glasses, mini snow globes and more. There was even an adorable line of Sanrio-style SeaWorld branded items (if you’re not familiar, think Hello Kitty). I wanted every piece!
To help keep your personal belongings dry (and safe), there are lockers in 2 different sections of the park. There are 3 sizes available, ranging from $12 – $15 per day. There are also outdoor showers, changing rooms, and a giant walk-in dryer that costs a whoppin’ 5 buckaroonies.
Going back to the educational element of Aquatica, in addition to the flamingos and turtles who have a permanent home in the park, there were also at least 4 animal experts on hand from SeaWorld. Each one held a different type of animal that guests could interact with, and have one-on-one time with . When asked if their presence would be a regular feature of the park, they weren’t certain, but indicated it was definitely a possibility. For my part, I really hope it is, we thoroughly enjoyed our time with them.
As we wind down our review, let’s get into the nitty-gritty. The pricing. I have to say, I really think the admission prices are a fair deal, we really felt like we had a well-rounded experience in park. Not listed below is the cost of parking, which is $15/car, $10/motorcycle, and $20/RV.
All-in-all, we had a great time, and actually enjoyed that the park wasn’t so expansive. It makes for less walking-time in your wet suit! We would definitely go back, and would consider it an option for entertaining guests from out of town.
DISCLOSURE: Adventures by Daddy received complimentary admission to SeaWorld San Diego Aquatica waterpark on this special media preview day. However, all opinions expressed are those of the author. For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.