Highlights of Our Visit:
There is a nice variety of things to see and do at Sea World - San Diego. We walked through an acrylic tube as sharks swam by, rode the Skytower and got a breathtaking view of not only Sea World, but of Mission Bay and Downtown San Diego, and peered into the chilly habitat of macaroni and emperor penguins. (click on all photos to enlarge; photos taken from my other blog, Island Views, Island News).
Our family enjoyed going to the Wild Arctic to see polar bears and walruses; the Pacific Point to see sea lions; and the Aquariums to see all sorts of sea creatures.
I thought it was great that there were many opportunities for the kids to get up close and personal to various animals. They were able to touch a dolphin at Dolphin Encounter, a sea star at the California Tide Pool, and even a ray at the Manta Aquarium.
The kids also really enjoyed the Sesame Street of Bay of Play.
Unfortunately, due to the weather, a lot of areas in the Bay of Play were closed, but my boys still got to ride on Elmo's Flying Fish and Abby's Sea Star Spin, and they even got a chance to meet Zoe and Elmo!
We also watched three shows at Sea World:
Blue Horizons featured dolphins and pilot whales performing neat stunts, as well as exotic birds and human acrobats, who were all part of a story revolving around a girl named Marina.
Sea Lions LIVE, featuring Sea Lions Clyde and Seamore, was a take on Saturday Night Live featuring various comedic sketches based on some of today's popular TV shows (e.g. Survivor, Dancing, with the Stars, etc.).
One Ocean featured killer whales who demonstrated their amazing abilities to leap into the air.
For lunch, we dined at Mama Stella's Pizza Kitchen.
My husband and I shared a BBQ Chicken Pizza, and the boys got a Cheese Pizza Kids Meal which included a Breadstick and Drink. Everything was delicious - my boys especially loved the breadsticks!
You can check out the Sea World San Diego website to view more dining options, as well as menus.
Visiting with a Child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD):
I know every child with an ASD is different, but we always try various techniques to minimize challenges whenever we travel.
My oldest son has an ASD, and since I knew he'd be interested in going on rides while at Sea World, we went to the Information Center to enroll him in the Ride Accessibility Program. We were given a pass which listed the various rides, boarding location, and boarding information for each ride.
For major rides, a "virtual queue" system is used. For instance, upon arriving at the entrance of Manta, if the wait is an hour, the employee would initial the pass, write down a time to return, and you could watch a show or view other exhibits and return at the specified time.
For smaller rides, such as those in the Bay of Play, the ride operator will make you wait up to two cycles before you can board.
We knew the pass would be helpful if there were really long wait times, as my son has a tendency to have meltdowns and wander off, but because the day we visited was not a very busy day, any lines at rides my son wanted to go on were either non-existent or very short, so we never had to use the pass, but we are glad to know that this option is available.
Also, prior to our visit, we made sure to inform my son of where we'd be going and what he'd expect to see at Sea World. We also downloaded the free Sea World app onto our iPhones so he could look up animals, etc.
Since my son loves watching coasters (because of the repetitive movement), I knew he would love watching the Manta, so whenever it was in view he'd always want to stop and see it. Because of this, it made it a bit difficult for us to move on to other exhibits or activities, and he'd sometimes have a meltdown. During such times we'd simply assist him with self-calming techniques (deep breaths, counting, etc.), then we could move on to the next exhibit.
Also, for those who have kids on a GFCF diet or any other type of medical diet, check with a park employee for assistance before entering the park if you have special diet food with you, since outside food is not allowed (however, water bottles are allowed).
Although several rides were not operating due to the weather, we still had a great time - even in the pouring rain!
My oldest son loved the Sky Tower, my middle son loved the Penguin Encounter, and my youngest son loved the Blue Horizons show (every time a dolphin would leap from the water he'd squeal in delight!).
I love that Sea World is an autism-friendly attraction, and that there was a good variety of exhibits and activities appealing to various age groups.
Below is a slideshow of more photos from our visit. Enjoy!
Sea World - San Diego: 500 Sea World Drive, San Diego, CA 92109
Admission: 1-Day Adult Ticket - $78; Child Ticket (ages 3-9) $70; Visit the Sea World - San Diego website for more promotions and ticket package offers.
Parking: $15 for cars.
Thank you to Sea World for providing complimentary passes for review purposes. All opinions are my own. I received no monetary compensation for this post.
Gem is a Hawaii Mom Blogger who posts reviews and giveaways, and blogs about life in Hawaii as a mom of 3 boys, including one with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. She loves to travel, bake, and eat anything with chocolate.