Shamu, Shows, and Sun on a Spring Break Day at SeaWorld Orlando

Recently, I was in Orlando leading a group of college students on an Alternative Spring Break trip at Give Kids The World Village.  When we completed our volunteer work on Thursday, March 15th, there was one day left to “play in the parks” before heading back to Upstate New York.  Half of us decided to spend it exploring SeaWorld Orlando.  Follow along for a photoblog of our day.

SeaWorld was the only major Orlando area theme park I had not yet visited, and I was curious to see the park.  Our group arrived close to park opening, around 9:00am, and found it wasn’t too busy at that time.  We entered quickly, grabbed maps, and shot a couple photos near the park entrance.  We decided to stroll past the stingray lagoon and dolphin cove as we made our way to the whale and dolphin theater to see Blue Horizons.

This show uses dolphins, false killer whales, aerialists, divers, and birds to tell an artistic story of a girl in love with the sea.  We were all pleasantly surprised by the birds, especially the condor swooping down overtop the crowd.  This show was a favorite of the students, and a great way to set the tone for the rest of our day at SeaWorld.

After the dolphin show, we made our way to Manta to ride the face-first, face-down roller-coaster.

The wait for Manta wasn’t too long, approximately 40 minutes.  However, the queue was one of the most interesting roller-coaster lines I had experienced in any theme park.  First of all, it was mostly indoors and cool, almost as if you were winding your way down into a seaside grotto.  Once inside, the queue wrapped itself around an indoor aquarium filled with many different species of fish and rays including: guitarfish, cownose, spotted eagle, and leopard stingrays.  It was tranquil watching the graceful rays in their tank, and a great way to pass the time.  Also along the walls were notes and messages as if left by divers exploring a vast, uncharted ocean.

Our oceans are really connected, so really, there’s only one ocean on Earth.  Only one.  And, it’s home to an extraordinary diversity of life, from microscopic zooplankton, to the colossal blue whale.  Much of it still remains a mystery – more unexplored than explored, more unknown than known.  ~Anna, marine scientist

Before you knew it, you were at the loading platform strapped into your seat for the ride.  Manta was a fast, smooth, coaster, that spins, twists, and splashes its way through the ride.  Lots of fun!

Something that has always struck me no matter what SeaWorld park I’ve visited – including San Diego’s and the now closed Ohio park – is how beautiful the environs are with artistic landscaping, plantings, and sculptures.  There’s so much to look at in line, waiting for shows, and strolling down the walkways.  In Orlando, “The Waterfront” is a district of shops and restaurants that has a Jules’ Verne retro-futuristic explorer feel to it.  After a yummy BBQ lunch at Voyageur’s Smokehouse, it was time to take in the Clyde and Seamore sea lion show.

The official title was Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island, but the title or plot was irrelevant.  The device was just an excuse for slapstick humor and puns.  The sea lions put on a silly show that had not really changed since I saw it as a kid in Ohio.  However, it still got the crowd laughing, and the cast of the show appeared to have just as much fun as the crowd, and laughed along with the jokes or when animals and/or equipment would not act appropriately.

By the time Clyde and Seamore ended their silliness, it was time to make our way over to Shamu Stadium for the signature One Ocean killer whale show.  This show premiered in 2011, and replaced the popular “Believe” killer whale show.  The overarching message was the following – we all share one Earth and one interconnected ocean, and it is our duty to preserve this resource for all.  During One Ocean, immense killer whales leapt and flipped and, of course, splashed their way through the performance.  It was a moving show, but it was also noticeable the trainers no longer entered the water with the whales.

Now it was getting later in the day, and we needed to meet up with the rest of our students (who didn’t come to SeaWorld) for dinner.  There was time for only one more ride or show.  Our group split up, and agreed to meet back at the front of the park.  Those who came with me had just one thing to say…

Release the Kraken!!!

Kraken is a floorless steel roller coaster, quite “twisty” in nature – full of loops, corkscrews, and drops.  We hiked over to the other side of the park, found barely any line at all, and waited perhaps 10 minutes.  The ride was a lot of fun, and even surprised us in a couple of places with drops we weren’t expecting.

Our group had a wonderful day at SeaWorld, saw 3 shows (the first one, Blue Horizons, was my favorite), rode 2 major roller coasters, and had a relaxing, leisurely lunch.  It was the perfect way to celebrate our previous week of volunteering at Give Kids The World Village.  For more photos of our day spent at SeaWorld Orlando click on the photo gallery below.

Disclosure: SeaWorld Orlando provided a special group discount for my students and I to visit, but all opinions expressed in the article are mine.  For more travel news and features, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.