My Twins are BIG fans of SeaWorld San Antonio. When we visited SeaWorld last year during Mother's Day weekend, Amy and I had a difficult time getting Audrey and William to leave the park because they were having such a great time. After this initial visit, Amy and I planned to revisit the park this year.
Last year, Amy learned about the special promotion that SeaWorld San Antonio has for children who are 5 years old and younger and residents of Texas. These children are able to get a FREE season pass to SeaWorld and Aquatica (the water park inside of SeaWorld). Talk about a lot of money saved! Since the Twins did not turn 6 years old until later in June, we made sure to visit SeaWorld prior to their birthday to take advantage of the free season passes. We applied for the free passes online, printed the forms, and brought them to the SeaWorld San Antonio ticket window to get the actual passes.
For Amy and me, I found a really good website to purchase our passes for a discounted rate: Texas Travel Industry Association. In addition to SeaWorld San Antonio Fun Cards for only $42.95 per person, they also offer many other amusement park tickets for discounted rates (e.g. Wet 'N Wild Splashtown Houston, Space Center Houston, Fiesta Texas San Antonio to name a few). They deliver the SeaWorld San Antonio passes through email. We printed these out and brought them to the ticket window at SeaWorld. If you decide to use TTIA to purchase your SeaWorld tickets, make sure to do it at least a day or two in advance to ensure you get the passes in time for your visit.
Last year, we found a great hotel that is nearby the SeaWorld San Antonio park that also offers free shuttle service to SeaWorld: Holiday Inn San Antonio NW - Seaworld Area. This free shuttle service is the main reason for deciding on this hotel. The hotel has a restaurant connected to the hotel. We had the breakfast buffet at this restaurant the first morning during our stay. I enjoyed the breakfast, but Amy, William, and Audrey did not like the breakfast very much at all. For this breakfast, each child is able to eat at the buffet for free for each adult breakfast purchased. Even with this discount, the breakfast was about $31. This hotel also has a heated indoor pool which is very small; this pool is more of a lap pool. The Twins loved this pool, but it gets crowded quickly. The hotel also has a larger unheated outdoor pool that was too chilly to comfortably swim in during our stay.
Our initial plan was to travel to San Antonio on Thursday afternoon while the public schools were still in session so that we could enjoy SeaWorld and Aquatica without all of the large crowds. Unfortunately, we didn't check out the SeaWorld calendar to ensure that Aquatica was open on Friday. On this Friday, it was not open! Therefore, we spent Friday only enjoying the SeaWorld park.
On Friday, we woke up early so that we could make it to SeaWorld before it opened at 10 am and get our tickets. We arrived at the park about 9:30 am, quickly got our season passes without having to wait in line, and then waited about 20 minutes in line for the park to open its doors.
After the Twins had their photo taken with Shamu, we went to the aviary to look at some of the beautiful and exotic birds. We did not see this exhibit last year. I should note that all of these photographs were taken with the iPhone 6 with a LifeProof waterproof case. Unfortunately, this LifeProof case creates some light flare that you will see later especially with artificial lighting such as during the Shamu water show.
As you can see, the birds here are absolutely beautiful. I bought some little containers of food that the Twins fed to the birds; the food seller only accepts cash, no credit cards accepted. If you leave the container on the ground or on a log, the birds will not hesitate to eat directly from the container. This is a great way to get some very nice photographs.
A toucan eating the food that Audrey fed it.
A peacock going to eat the food that William left for it.
Another activity the Twins really enjoyed was the feeding of the sea lions. It was $5 to get a little container of fish and squid to feed the sea lions; credit cards are accepted here. The sea lions would flap their flippers on the side of the enclosure to get you to throw them some food. Sometimes, they would pick the food out of the air before it even hit the water!
The Twins love amusement park rides. They remembered the Shamu Express roller coaster from last year and really wanted to ride this immediately. They must have rode this ride at least four times on Friday and maybe six times on Saturday. They couldn't get enough of this ride!
The Twins then rode some of the other kiddie rides. While they were riding these, I went off to explore the park with the SeaWorld San Antonio iPhone app. There is a feature in the app that you can checkin to several different checkpoints in order to collect badges. There are a total of 20 different badges to collect. By collecting a prerequisite number of badges, you qualify for a prize. Unfortunately, the app doesn't tell you what the prize is until you get enough badges and the prize is pretty chintzy: a very small container of bubbles! It is not worth draining your battery in order to check to see if you are near a checkpoint to collect a badge for this small prize. Also, some of the badges couldn't be collected because they were located behind an area under construction. The app is good at displaying your current location and the location of the different rides, shows, and restaurants. It also shows you the wait times for the rides which can be very helpful when planning which ride to experience next.
I am not a giant rollercoaster fan by any stretch of the imagination, but I decided to ride the Steel Eel and the Great White roller coasters out of curiosity. I first rode the Steel Eel and had a wait of about 45 minutes. When I initially wanted to ride the Steel Eel, I was unable to ride it because they were doing some work on it. I rode in the car directly behind the front car. This roller coaster starts off with a huge 15 story drop followed by several camelbacks so that you feel weightless several times. I had the sensation as if I was about to fly out of the car! I must admit, I am NOT a fan of being weightless. This ride only has a lapbar to hold you in. I am not a huge fan of this ride and felt a little beat up when I left the car.
The other roller coaster is the Great White which is a floorless inverted roller coaster. With this ride, there are shoulder bars that keep you secured. Also, this ride is almost constant motion and lots of loops and rolls. I really enjoyed this ride and I would ride it again. It also helped that there was not a line for the Great White when we went on Saturday morning when the park opened.
Another ride that Audrey and I liked is the Journey to Atlantis. William is not a big fan of this ride since it made him feel a little sick. With this ride, you board a "raft" and head way up on a track into the sky. You can see the entire park from the highest point of the ride. You then plunge down into the water and get pretty wet! Audrey and I wanted to ride it again, but unfortunately, the ride was having lots of mechanical issues so the wait was too long.
On Friday, William and I wanted to ride the Rio Loco which is a water rapid ride in a circular raft. Unfortunately, they closed the ride after we were waiting for about 20 minutes because of mechanical problems. Therefore, on Saturday morning, this was the first ride that the family headed to experience. I must say that the Twins absolutely LOVED this ride. I think we rode it six times straight; it helped that there was not any line for this ride. I think we would still be riding the Rio Loco if I hadn't put a limit on it. Also, we all got drenched because of the waterfall. I mean totally soaked. This video below shows the excitement that the Twins have for this ride.
The first show the Keck family saw was the famous Shamu show with the famous killer whale. This is William's favorite show at SeaWorld. Of course, if you decide to sit up closer to the water, you are almost assured to get wet by one of the killer whales or by the trainers. Both Audrey and I got wet when the trainer threw water into the stands. It was VERY cold! William wanted to see the Shamu show again on Saturday afternoon, but because of a terrible thunderstorm, they cancelled the show.
We also saw the awesome Azul show which I would describe as Cirque du Soleil meets water. We saw this show Friday and Saturday. On Friday, there were not that many spectators and the show did not have the pre-show with a very funny comedian who is also part of the actual water Azul show. If you don't want to get wet, make sure you are nowhere near him! Some of the spectators got drenched and we got a little wet.
During Friday's show, one of the beluga whales named Oliver did not cooperate which halted the show temporarily. He is one of the younger beluga whales and did not want to leave the area where the performers had to jump into the water. We thought the trainers and the SeaWorld staff handled it really well. One of the trainers came out and spoke about how beluga whales live in the wild. It was very informative.
On Saturday's show, they also had to temporarily halt the show, but this time, it was because of the thunderstorm that was rolling into San Antonio. After about a ten minute delay, they were able to complete the Azul show.
The acrobatics are extraordinary and this was Audrey and my favorite show.
There are several places to eat at SeaWorld, but it is very expensive and it can be quite a wait. Of course, this was not a surprise since this is par for the course at any amusement park. On Friday, we ate at the Harbor Market. Amy and I had the fish and chips while Audrey and William ate chicken tenders and macaroni and cheese. The total bill was about $60 for this meal. On Saturday, Amy agreed to wait in line for pizza and chips at Azul Treats while we watched the Azul show. This meal was also $60. None of the food was very good on either day. One tip is that when the park was not busy on Saturday morning, I was able to get ice and tap water for free.
The thunderstorm rolled into SeaWorld around 2 pm on Saturday which I think effectively closed down the park. Luckily, the Holiday Inn shuttle was able to meet us at the front of the park and take us safely back to the hotel.
For the Keck family, you have to see the Azul show. It is spectacular. Of course, the Shamu show is also great and you should make time to see it, too. For the rides, the kids loved the Shamu Express roller coaster and the Rio Loco the most. I also enjoyed the Rio Loco, the Journey to Atlantis, and the Great White.
Have you ever been to SeaWorld and do you have any tips for a great time there? If so, please leave your story in the comments!