Sea World Orlando- first time visitor

Associated parks:

Wednesday, January 22, 2003 10:48 AM

Thurs. and Fri., Jan. 16-17, and Sun. Jan. 19.

We arrived shortly after park opening and we immediately noticed the beautiful landscaping and relaxing atmosphere of this park. The entrance, with its lighthouse and replicated seashore made a lovely first impression. We meandered our way to the Killer Whale Stadium to watch the live broadcast of the Space Shuttle launch on the giant screen at 10:39 am. It was cool as everyone counted down to blast-off and then Shamu jumped out of the water just as the shuttle took off. Then, we could see the real shuttle in the sky over the horizon as it soared upward with flames and smoke trailing behind. That was a nice surprise to start off our visit.

The park is beautiful, and there is no clear pattern to how it has developed, but I liked it that way. The setup allowed us to make our own trails and discover something new along the way. Wild Arctic was a fun attraction with a fun and mostly convincing flight simulator that took us to the arctic circle. Once there you enter the habitats of beluga whales and seals, polar bears, and walruses. These indoor habitats were quite realistic and well themed with props and lighting, and they allowed up-close viewing of the animals above and below water.

The Cirque de la Mer show featured some amazing acrobatics, but it featured a visual mime/comedian who I found to be more insulting and degrading than funny. (Later, this also turned out to be true for the mime who opened the Sea Lion show. Why does Sea World think this kind of negative comedy is of value?)

The animal shows were amazing. The Shamu Adventure combined fog, a bald eagle, video presentations, and interactions between the trainers and the whales in a way that was interesting, educational, and fun. The Key West Dolphin Fest was my favorite show with a live singer accompanying 8-9 dolphins performing at once to open the show. That was quite a sight. The show also featured three false killer whales who were quite amazing as they jumped and launched the trainers into the air. Their routines were similar to those with the killer whales, but the smaller stadium allowed for more upclose viewing.

I was impressed with the way Sea World's exhibits allow such up-close interaction with the animals, not just in viewing, but we could even feed and pet the dolphins and feed seals, sea lions, and sharks. The Sting Ray Lagoon where you could pet and feed the animals and the Clydesdale Hamlet were closed for renovations though, which was disappointing. Only a young Clydesdale colt was on display in the paddock outside.

Other highlights were the impressive Manatee display, the Penguins, and the amazing Pets Ahoy show in which every type of pet (including dogs, cats, mice, birds, ducks, and a pig) put on a unique performance seemingly on their own.

The food in the Anheuser-Busch Hospitality Center was very good and the free beer was appreciated.

A major section of the park on one side of the lake is walled off while they construct the new restaurant/shopping complex. From what we could see, it looks to be quite large and impressive. The closed off area also included the sky tower and the bayside stadium.

We were slightly disappointed with the Atlantis water coaster as the story line was confusing making the dark-ride aspect of the ride less enjoyable, and the timing of the special effects was off. The princess/fairy/mermaid character (whatever she was) turned unexplainably from friendly to evil. We also made the mistake of sitting in the front seat where our pants, shoes, and socks became drenched during that little dip around the corner after the big drop. The weather was chilly, so fortunately it was late in the day shortly before we left . The splashdown was nothing, but that hidden tidal wave from the dip will get you. Sit in back unless it is a hot day.

Kraken was amazing. It was very long and the smoothest coaster I have ever ridden. There was no wait even at midday for either Atlantis or Kraken.

We saw everything there was to do at a relaxing pace in two full days, and as we bought an unlimited admission FunCard (for the price of a one day ticket) we returned on a third day to do the things we enjoyed again. Overall I found Sea World Orlando to be a great bargain with their second day free or unlimited admission FunCard programs. Food was also very good and much better than most theme parks. Portions were large making a typical sandwich or meal and a soda large enough for two people. This made food prices very reasonable. All restaurants gladly gave us complimentary cups of water.

My only real complaint about Sea World Orlando were the pesky photographers near the entrance who practically blocked us from proceeding and tried to insist on taking our picture each day. They were quite aggressive and more annoying than at other parks. "We brought our own camera, thank you."

I was very pleased with our overall experience and the value of our time at Sea World, and I would recommend it as a relaxing alternative to some of the other hectic Orlando area attractions.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003 1:34 PM
Nice TR! I got to see that space lauch in school!

-Sean Newman

Wednesday, January 22, 2003 5:16 PM
Kick The Sky's avatar Seaworld is my favorite park in Orlando. Great report about the park. I am going at the end of February and hoping the March 1 shuttle launch doesnt get pushed back any as that is the day I leave. I saw one shuttle go up a few years back and it is an awesome experience.

Bob Hansen

A proud CoasterBuzz Member

Best line of the 2K2 XMas Season: "Jesus, Mary and Joseph! A nativity set, you shouldn't have!"

Wednesday, January 22, 2003 5:19 PM
So Atlantis actually has a story? I wouldn't have ever known...

*** This post was edited by PT300 on 1/22/2003. ***

Thursday, January 23, 2003 4:45 AM

Park photographers make a comission on each photo they take/sell, I believe. It only takes a minute to pose for a picture...would it kill you? Many of Sea World's employees are college students just trying to make a buck. Just pose for it next time and you'd be helping that cute girl at the main entrance out immensely...;)

BTW - AFAIK, most guests love that mime and it's a highlight of their day. I'm sorry, did he poke fun at you or your family?

Thursday, January 23, 2003 6:09 AM


Neither of the pre-show 'comedians' poked fun at me nor my family, but I didn't appreciate how they mocked overweight people and non-caucasian people in the audience. Much of their antics were funny, but some were out of line. As we left the Cirque de la Mer show, we heard a couple other comments from visitors such as "we liked the show but they should drop the short guy."

As far as the photographers, I understand the employees' and the company's situation, but at other parks they seem to be kinder and less pushy. At Dollywood those photographers are downright friendly and also act like greeters. At the Magic Kingdom the photographers on Main Street practically have to be approached and asked to take a picture. I just thought that the photographers at Sea World set a slightly aggressive tone each time we had to pass through their area.

I hope this better explains my views. We truly loved Sea World and I hope to return there again.

Thursday, January 23, 2003 6:27 PM

I'm surprised at your lukewarm reception of Atlantis. I think it may have made a difference if you had visited when the weather was warmer, and I agree - wet socks and shoes are never my cup of tea. But this is a problem with any water attraction.

Thursday, January 23, 2003 7:24 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

The semi-official storyline of JTA:

After untold eons, Atlantis rises in the harbor of a quaint Greek fishing village, spurring a modem, full-scale media invasion. Spanning an area the size of nearly six football fields and towering taller than a 10-story building, the ancient city radiates anew, revealing glorious Greek temples and rolling Mediterranean hills. The main temple looms large, crowned with a radiant dome that shines like a beautiful blue beacon across Central Florida. But inside, dark secrets dwell within the mysterious maze. The magnificent building surges with water and shakes with unearthly sounds. Guests make their way past the media horde and board rickety Greek fishing boats. Without warning, an ominous current tugs at the boats and, as the journey begins, reality retreats in the distance. A wise, old Greek fisherman offers the only protection against the Sirens: a golden seahorse that magically metamorphoses into Hermes, a glittering guide. Immediately, the battle between Hermes and the Sirens is on and riders, caught in the clash, twist, dive and dodge through uncharted waters at speeds up to 50 mph. Pulled back into Atlantis by unseen forces, riders will suddenly descend into the dark and mysterious depths of the Sirens’ lair. The last and most spectacular drop—unlike any found at any other theme park in the world—nose-dives at highway speeds down 60 feet of S shaped, bob-sled curves.

Yes, I'll admit it's a tad "unclear" if you go in with no idea of what to expect, but if you know the story before you ride, it makes much more sense.

Also glad to see Kraken find another fan - I still think it's one of the more underrated coasters around. As more and more people get a chance to experience it, it seems to do better each year in the various coaster popularity polls.


Friday, January 24, 2003 5:18 AM

Sometimes I get disappointed when something (a book, movie, play, theme park attraction, etc.) is not what I expected. It takes a few more tries to experience it and appreciate it for what it is and not what I expected it to be. This may have been the case with Atlantis, unforturnately however, the cold weather and the way in which we became drenched on our first ride kept us from wanting to give it another chance. I think I was expecting the indoor aspect of Atlantis to be at least as impressive as Escape From Pompei at BGW and along the lines of Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom in its style, but it didn't come across as well executed as either of those. The faces on the video screens didn't work for me. I think I would enjoy the ride better if and when I am able to return and I know what to expect. Actually, the drop was incredibly steep and quite impressive, and the "coaster" aspect reminded me of the old Screamin Delta Demon bobsled style ride I always liked at Opryland.

I appreciate your comments ophthodoc and Lord Gonchar. By the way, I never knew Kraken was thought to be underrated by anyone. It is one awesome coaster, and it should be a model of how smooth a coaster can be. We loved it. And while we are talking about underrated attractions, I wasn't expecting much from Wild Arctic after reading some reviews, but it turned out to be one of our favorite rides/exhibits. Both the flight simulator and the animal exhibits were very well done and highly themed, and the simulator was effective and somewhat comical.

Friday, January 24, 2003 5:26 AM

Wow... It's a rarity to see a Sew World trip report here that talks about anything other than the rides. The wildlife is the main part of the park, and I think alot of people miss that. Anyway, great TR and glad you had a good time.

I thought the pre-show mime was a riot, but I see how some people could be put off...

Lord Gonchar - Thanks for the story to JTA... it *almost* makes sense now. What I really don't get is how the theme to Beetlegeuse fits in...

Friday, January 24, 2003 7:33 AM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Well, perhaps underrated was the wrong word. I'm a BIG fan of Kraken and as crazy as it seems I rank it right up there with some of the best I've ridden (Superman:ROS at SFNE, Millennium Force, etc) - I seriously like it that much.

So pretty much anything less than that sort of praise would seem "underrated" to me. :)


Friday, January 24, 2003 5:32 PM

Put me down as a fan of the mime - I found him hilarious. And I'd have to believe a lot of people do, because he's been there at least three years.

Kraken has the best zero-g roll I've ever ridden.

And thanks for the well-written and objective trip report!

Without the chaindog, you'd never get up the lifthill...

Saturday, January 25, 2003 7:26 PM
Cirque De La Mer is my favorite show anywere! I saw just about all of them in Orlando to!


Saturday, January 25, 2003 7:45 PM

Great TR. I agree that SWO is really a beautiful park and is a lot less hectic than the other O-town parks.

I think it's pretty obvious to anyone that's ridden Kraken that it has the best 0g roll in existence.

I was watching Super Bowl stuff on TV and they showed SW in San Diego. Someone handed a Sea Otter a football and he ran with it. The otter then handed it off to someone else. I have never seen the Sea Lion show at SWO and when I saw this I just flipped! I have been missing out on this cute-as-hell creature on every visit. I visited the SWO site and sure enough the otter is part of the show. There's no way I'm going to miss seeing these adorable creatures next time I go to SWO!

Sunday, January 26, 2003 6:40 AM

I visited the SWO site and sure enough the otter is part of the show. There's no way I'm going to miss seeing these adorable creatures next time I go to SWO!

When we saw the show, which is held in the Sea Lion and Otter Stadium, I don't think there was an otter. There was an animal that they referred to as a rat, but it looked like a weasel or a muskrat to me. I've seen sea otters in the wild in California and this wasn't one of those. Perhaps the sea otter wasn't available due to unforseen circumstances (Sea Otter Union strike?, lol). The show consisted of two sea lions, the "rat," and a walrus.

Sunday, January 26, 2003 7:28 AM

gardener14 said:

...I think I was expecting the indoor aspect of Atlantis to be at least as impressive as Escape From Pompei at BGW and along the lines of Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom....

I would agree that Journey cannot compare with Splash Mountain. When it comes to theming, it would be hard (even for an Anheuser park) to match, or even come close to, a signature attraction like Splash Mountain at Disney. On Splash, you are totally immersed with detail, and more than one ride is necessary to fully appreciate it. I can remember being "stuck" in a queue for one of the several lifts on the ride (boat stacking on this ride seems to happen every time I'm at Magic Kingdom), and watching two vultures overhead (which I'd never noticed before) talk about our impending plunge down the big waterfall. I'd never noticed them before, and while sitting there for several minutes waiting to go up the lift, listened to their well-written and entertaining dialogue. You don't even need to be moving to have a good time on Splash Mountain.

As far as Pompeii goes, although it is a very effective ride, Journey is a much larger-scale production with (I think) more sophisticated theming. The re-rideability is higher on Journey as well, at least for me.


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