I live near Central Florida and I have been a card carrying Disney fan for a long time. I enjoy Walt Disney World – most times.

Then, the other day, my son invited me to join his wife and three kids to SeaWorld in Orlando. Gee, I had not been there in decades.  I had to wonder what had changed and I was more than pleasantly surprised at what I found.

SeaWorld was clean and well maintained and growing. While not on the overwhelming multi-zip-code scale of WDW, there were an ample variety of things to do, see, and experience – so much so that in a 10 hour visit, we did not get anywhere near to all the areas. Also, unlike WDW, the walk to the parking lot was easily doable, the lines to attractions were nearly non-existent to about a 20 minute wait (once), the walkways throughout the park were “stroll-able” and your interest was stimulated by well considered landscaping and areas of flamingos, pelicans, and other wildlife.

Within some buildings, the appearance was somewhat Disney-esque in design. But it is easily overlooked as SeaWorld has replaced cartoon magic with realistic comfort. Furthermore, the food (while still mass produced and of limited options) was actually better than the typical fare at WDW. And outside, while SeaWorld is very serious about conservation of wildlife and protecting the environment, three major attractions also appeal to a different type of thrill seeker.SEaworld RC 0618

At SeaWorld, there are roller coasters that challenge the parameters of velocity and acceleration forces common to most of this planet. The Mako, Mantra, and Kracken Unleashed are guaranteed to pump adrenaline and put a smile on the most serious of coaster junkies. These are completely different from the sedate to momentarily thrilling rides found at Disney. While the Rockin’ Roller Coaster in Hollywood Studios is an indoor contained version – it is on not on the same par, depth, height, length, turns or scream factor as those found at SeaWorld.  (See their Roller Coaster video here: https://seaworld.com/orlando/rides/ )

penguinsSeaWorld also appeals to ages of children through great-grandparents without the aid of fantasy and animation. Petting and feeding Stingrays was enjoyable, watching penguins happily waddling through snow and ice was entertaining, as were watching the beluga whales, sharks, jelly fish, youngster dolphins, Sea Lion and Otter show, eating pretzels and pineapple ice cream, and so much more we have yet to do. There are also evening activities (Electric Ocean) and fireworks. And there is more coming soon: Infinity Falls and Sesame Street.

SeaWorld has indeed become an attraction on a scale of expectation set by WDW. The smaller size is actually welcoming, the blend of joyful entertainment and education is complementary, the broad scale of interactivity is intriguing, and they have done this with a profound respect for life and environments of all kinds.

SeaWorld is highly recommended for a day (or annual pass) of “just a great time”- without the hassle.

There are often deals on tickets and Florida resident specials. Check it out here: SeaWorld

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