Here are some pointers I picked up along the way. Be sure to let me know if you’d like to add anything to this list!
Sunblock, hats, and water are a must. It’s hot, so make sure you protect your skin from the Florida sun by applying (and re-applying) sunblock. Keep drinking fluids all day to stay hydrated too.
There are no bags allowed on any of the big thrill rides. This means you need to find a locker for your things while you ride, or leave them with a non-rider. The latter is easier if you’re traveling with small kids, because the little ones can’t ride anyways, so whoever stays with the kids gets to keep the bags too! However, if you’re not traveling with non-thrill-riders, I think that it would be annoying to have to get a locker to stow your things each time.
The Quick Queue pass is great. This is a bracelet that lets you by-pass the long lines, very similar to a Disney FastPass. However, they can cost between $15 and $30, and they are only valid on a handful of rides. We also found it tricky to find where the Quick Queue lines are for the rides. Quick tip: stay at a neighboring Marriott or Hilton property, and you can pick up a Quick Queue pass for free at your hotel lobby! (Though passes are limited, we didn’t have any trouble.)
The big thrill rides really are “thrilling”! Even though my daughter (“The Tween”) was tall enough to ride Manta and Kraken, it would have been much too overwhelming for her. So it’s really important know your kids, and their comfort levels on rides. Just because they’re tall enough to ride doesn’t mean that it’s a “good” ride for them.
The ride area for smaller children is a bit separated from the rest of the park. At Disney, the little ones can ride all but a handful of rides. At SeaWorld, they couldn’t do any rides except in Shamu’s Happy Harbor. And since we saved that half of the park for later in the day, the little ones fell asleep in the stroller by the time we got there, so it was lost on them.
Strollers are not allowed in most of the aquarium areas. This is tricky if you have a little one napping in the stroller. Even though many of the aquarium and animal viewing areas are stroller-accessible, you have to park outside and carry your little one. I suppose I can understand this – if the aquarium areas are packed, the last thing you want is strollers blocking more space. But still, it’s not particularly convenient.
When they say, “Arrive at least 45 minutes prior to a show to get a seat”, they’re not kidding. We showed up to One Ocean about 15-20 minutes prior to the 2:30pm show, and we were in the nosebleed section!
Take advantage of the “2nd Visit Free” option. This allows you to return to SeaWorld at no additional charge for an extra day within a week of your first visit. Florida Residents also sometimes have a “Pay for a Day, Play for the rest of the year” option. This allows you to return to do your favorite things or things you missed the first day. Or better yet, you can return to take part in special activities, such as the Marine Mammal Keeper Experience or Beluga Interaction Program (additional fee). Please note that ticket promotions vary, and Sunshine Travel can help you choose the ticket that’s best for you.