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Have you been to SeaWorld San Antonio recently?
Come see what the major changes are from then to now!
SeaWorld San Antonio: Then and Now
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SeaWorld San Antonio has a special place for our family. When the Major and I just started dating, we spent a day at SeaWorld. Before I met him, I had been a marine biology student and had volunteered with the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network. One of the dolphins I had the privilege of working with was Mattie. She was rehomed to SeaWorld San Antonio and it has always been fun to peek back in and visit her.
When we were stationed in San Antonio (2001-2004), we had annual passes to SeaWorld San Antonio. It was wonderful to have such an incredible place in our backyard. My two oldest boys were just toddlers and I loved taking them. We would spend a few hours here and there, hanging out in the shark exhibit, feeding the dolphins, or laughing at the penguin antics.
When we moved back to Texas in 2007, we ventured back to SeaWorld and even then we noticed big changes. However, it's now been 10 years since our last trip there as a family. We were overdue for a trip and were thrilled when SeaWorld invited us to check out SeaWorld San Antonio and Aquatica, SeaWorld’s water park. It was a perfect end of summer weekend trip for us. The changes are major, and I'd love to share with you the things we noticed that are different from then to now.
One of the most noticeable differences is the dolphin area. In the past, the dolphins were in one long pool that had an edge that people could lean over. You were allowed to put your hands in the water and touch the dolphins. You could even buy fish to feed the dolphins.
That has all been replaced by the all new Discovery Point. This new habitat is amazing. It appears to be much deeper. The landscaping around it really enhances it. On one side, visitors are encouraged to view the dolphins at shore level.
There is a new, outstanding underwater viewing area. One of the best parts is that this area has air conditioning. On a hot Texas day, that matters. It is mesmerizing to watch them swim. We could have sat there for hours.
You can no longer place your hands in the water, however, if you are still wanting a closer experience with the dolphins, it is still available. It is much more than simply feeding fish over the walls. The dolphin encounter is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal. Small groups of people wade into the water with trainers, and they get to experience one on one time with the dolphins and trainers. They also offer these experiences with Beluga whales and sea lions. There is also an encounter available with penguins!
Since we were annual pass members for so many years, I've seen quite a few of the shows. For our recent trip, we selected the One Ocean Orca Show. The focus of the show is no longer on orca's performing but is geared more towards education and conservation. SeaWorld is really focusing on the rescue part of its organization. Since I had worked with Mattie, I knew that SeaWorld has an entire force dedicated to rescuing marine mammals. In fact, SeaWorld has rescued over 31,000 animals.
The trainers are no longer in the water, but they do still interact with the whales. You can see the bond they have formed with them, and it's really touching. The show does a great job of being entertaining and educational at the same time.
We also checked out the Ocean Discovery Show, which combines Pacific white sided dolphins, beluga whales, and macaws. My oldest son really enjoyed this. Again, it is impressive to see the dolphins leaping in the air and swimming fast along with the other animals. There was lots of information in the message, and I even learned a thing or two about dolphins that I didn't know.
This was one of the major differences we noticed. I think that was mainly because we went from 2 little boys who could only ride Shamu the mini-coaster, to 4 full grown boys that were tall enough to ride any ride in the park! Since our last visit, SeaWorld has added Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster. We went ahead and let the boys start with this one since it seemed to be a good "starter" coaster.
It turns out my oldest is not a fan of coasters, so he sat this one out. The new ride utilizes jet ski vehicles and mimics the feeling one would have riding one out to a rescue. The ride ends by leading you through a rescue themed gift shop. It was air conditioned (do you notice this is important to me?!). My oldest and I spent a lot of time checking out the rescue gear and watching a great video they had on SeaWorld rescues.
The thrill coasters, The Steel Eel and the Great White are both still there and are still favorites. My kids also got soaked on Atlantis. With the exception of me, the whole family enjoyed Rio Loco. One of the downsides of brain surgery means rides are out for me.
This was a new feature that I don't remember being available in the past. It was not an option we did, but I can see why it would be valuable. My boys were able to ride the Steel Eel and the Great White with virtually no wait. The wait time for Atlantis and Wave Breaker were over an hour. My kids didn't seem to mind waiting, but for me and the oldest, it was kinda boring to just hang around waiting. I would certainly consider the skip the line option in the future.
After the first experience, we realized that it seemed silly to have 2 parents waiting, so the oldest boy and I ventured off on our own. We spent our time waiting in the Explorer's Reef. When they were little we called it "The Shark House".
Twelve plus years might have gone by, but some things never change. My seventeen year old just plopped himself right up next to the glass and watched mesmerized. As a little toddler, I'd often just place his stroller there. The building is air conditioned, with dim lights so you can really see the aquariums. We would spend upwards to an hour, just watching the sharks pass by, and we did this time too. It was bittersweet to me, to see how big my son is and to know this time next year he'll be away at college. Eventually, all the boys joined us and I marveled again at how big they all seem now.
When the boys were little, SeaWorld had a smaller water area that was called Lost Lagoon. We didn't really utilize it then. When we visited in 2007 we did use the wave pool and the lazy river. Lost Lagoon closed in 2012, and Aquatica was built. The wave pool and the lazy river are both still there, but there is just so much more now. The water slides are numerous. There are areas for all age groups. It's the perfect place to spend a hot Texas day.
One of the highlights is how they have incorporated the sea life into the area. There is an area full of stingrays, where you can reach in and pet them. They offer fish to feed as well. The Stingray Falls® water slide takes you beneath this area and allows you to see them swimming above you. Since my oldest son had been so engrossed with the stingrays at Explorer's Reef the day before, I decided to let him do a stingray encounter. It turned out to be one of the highlights of his summer! I will dedicate a whole post to this because it was just so cool!
The lines for the waterslides were long. It was almost 100 degrees and everyone in San Antonio seemed to be trying to cool off here. They also offer the quick queue option, and if you are coming in the summer time, this is something I would defiantly do in the future. We spent a lot of time in the lazy river to keep cool.
It was really neat to be able to see how much SeaWorld has improved their San Antonio location. We were so impressed with our whole experience and deemed it a HUGE family weekend vacation hit. We will for sure be going back!
I'd love to hear if you've been to the park in the past or more recently! Did I convince you to head to the park? Buy SeaWorld San Antonio tickets right here! Better yet, become a season pass holder! Don't forget SeaWorld's Wave's of Honor program for our military members!
I teamed up with SeaWorld because I have a passion for marine animals. The education, experiences and rescue operations make a difference to the world we live in. SeaWorld has committed $50 million dollars to rescue operations & organizations over the next 5 years. SeaWorld is the world leader in animal rescue and the largest rescue organization in the United States - -more than 31,000 animals over nearly 50 years. The ultimate goal is to rehabilitate animals back to health and successfully return it to the ocean. For animals like Mattie, where that was not an option, SeaWorld provides a home that allows her to thrive. I encourage you to learn more about how SeaWorld does this, by visiting SeaWorld Cares.