Explorer’s Reef Opens at SeaWorld San Diego

Explorer’s Reef is SeaWorld San Diego’s brand new entrance plaza, bringing guests into a hands-on under-the-sea experience as soon as you approach the park gates.  With new concierge style ticketing, beautiful beach themed landscaping, a larger-than-life wave sculpture, and real animal interactions, the new entrance has become an attraction in itself.  Continue reading for more information and, of course, tons of photos from SeaWorld San Diego’s Explorer’s Reef.

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The multi-million dollar renovation project makes it’s debut in conjunction with this week’s kick-off of the SeaWorld’s 50th anniversary celebration, “Sea of Surprises“, and was designed to help guests enter the park faster and more efficiently.  [Click here to see how San Diego’s sister park in Orlando is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the original SeaWorld theme park.]

“At SeaWorld San Diego, we’re reinventing the arrival experience of a theme park with Explorer’s Reef,” said Brian Morrow, SeaWorld’s creative director. “Guests will have a new way of approaching the park, entering the park, and exploring the park right off the bat.”

SeaWorld San Diego Explorer's Reef

New self-service ticket kiosks at the park’s entrance.

 

As you approach the gates, the landscaping is sand covered and beachy, leading you into a stunning 30-feet tall by 100-feet wide wave sculpture over the turnstiles that take you right into the under-the-sea experience.

SeaWorld San Diego Explorer's Reef

A larger-than-life wave sculpture immerses you under-the-sea as you enter the gate.

SeaWorld celebrates 50 years.

SeaWorld celebrates 50 years.

 

Once inside the undersea oasis, you’ll be surrounded by coral sculptures covering touch pools housing both saltwater and freshwater tanks.  Here, you can learn about different types of fish, as well as have hands-on interaction with them.  There are nearly 5,000 fish housed in the tanks, and animal experts are on-hand to talk about each of the different species.

“The animal experiences will be fantastic at Explorer’s Reef,” said Morrow.  “Guests will be able interact with incredible sea creatures, including sharks, rays, skates and even horseshoe crabs, and the delicate little cleaner fish will nibble at your hands when you put them in the water.”

SeaWorld San Diego Explorer's Reef

Coral covered touch pools.

 

Guests interact with the sea life in the coral covered touch pools.

Guests interact with the sea life.

SeaWorld San Diego Explorer's Reef

Signage over each pool provides information about the fish living in that tank.

SeaWorld San Diego Explorer's Reef

A young guest interacts with the cleaner fish.

SeaWorld San Diego Explorer's Reef

Looking for something a little more intense than cleaner fish?  Maybe sharks are up your alley!

SeaWorld San Diego Explorer's Reef

A peek at the Brown-banded Bamboo Sharks.

SeaWorld San Diego Explorer's Reef

Rays & Horseshoe Crabs. If you want to get the heebie jeebies, ask one of the on-hand animal experts to turn a horseshoe crab over for you. Yikes!

The overhead tropical coral is really lovely, and provides much needed shade while interacting with the touch pools.

The overhead tropical coral is really lovely, and provides much needed shade while interacting with the touch pools.

SeaWorld San Diego Explorer's Reef

In addition to the coral, the surrounding landscaping is beautiful and really adds to the under-the-sea experience.

 

One thing I think worth mentioning are the hand washing stations.  There are a few located throughout the area, which we appreciated after submerging our hands into the various touch pools.

SeaWorld San Diego Explorer's Reef

 

Explorer’s Reef spans more than three acres, and in addition to the new interactive elements, it also includes all of the standard park fare.  A new open-air marketplace where you can buy all the souvenirs you could dream of, a refreshment stand serving Starbucks coffee (though to be clear, it’s not an official Starbucks location), stroller and wheelchair rentals, lockers, and more.

SeaWorld San Diego Explorer's Reef

SeaWorld San Diego Explorer's Reef

New merchandise celebrating SeaWorld’s 50th anniversary now available in the new shop.

SeaWorld San Diego Explorer's Reef

Sea Pixels is a new photo pick-up spot.

SeaWorld San Diego Explorer's Reef

New refreshment stand

 

Explorer’s Reef is a wonderful addition to the park.  Whether you prefer to observe the fish from afar, or dip your hands into the pools, the design and landscape of the area is really stunning and can be enjoyed by the whole family.

SeaWorld San Diego Explorer's Reef

 

Visit seaworld.com/celebration for continuing news about SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration and the Sea of Surprises.  For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Chrysty Summers

Growing up in southern California, Disneyland has always been a staple for my family. Today, my husband and I spend most of our free time at the parks, where you can usually find us soaking up the atmosphere of Buena Vista Street in California Adventure. We also love traveling to Walt Disney World as often as we can, especially during the Epcot Food & Wine Festival in the Fall! Find me on Twitter @PenelopePeach for live updates from around the parks.