We had had quite a long day yesterday and being the tail-end of the trip we were low on energy anyway so it was fairly Nice to realize SeaWorld did not open until 10 am so a nice lazy morning was on the cards. A gentle walk down the Pacific Beach Seafront to the Crystal Pier to watch the Surfers who were making the most of the large surf that had been pounding the coastline. Then a quick Starbucks breakfast before getting ready for Sea World.
SeaWorld – $91.99
Parking at SeaWorld is a whopping $22! We were only in Pacific Beach and an Uber was only $6-7 each way so a No-Brainer. We got a nice Iranian gentleman who was very eager to Discuss US and UK Politics, something we tend to try and avoid on these trips. However, it was an interesting and enlightening tale of how people in this part of the US feel about the Current State of Affairs on both sides of the Channel. Usually, Americans are far too engrossed in their home politics to take an interest in ours. The Ride-Share arrangements at see world are well integrated and we were dropped off right near the entrance.
As we got there for around opening time it all felt very quiet. A few people were milling around but in general, it was very quiet. This is partly due to us visiting early season and partly due to the flagging attendances of the Park. Once upon a time, the Park was in 3rd place behind Disneyland and Univeral Studios but since the Blackfish Documentary and the public’s rejection of the Killer Whale shows visitor numbers have flagged.
We are still borderline how we feel. In all honesty, we would prefer the whales to be rehoused, maybe in a Sea pen enclosure or some such arrangements. Scientists agree release is not an option but it doesn’t mean they need to be kept in unnatural enclosures. We applaud SeaWorld’s efforts, they are Phasing out the Whale Shows, ending Captive Breeding, and not acquiring more Whales. So while the Existing whales remain it actually makes sense to train and exhibit them, otherwise, boredom would kill them! But it remains an oddly unappealing offer, People who don’t care about the animal’s welfare dismiss the park as “it’s no Shamu Show!” but the environmentally conscious reject it as it’s still housing captive Orca’s… They can’t really win.
What is for Certain is SeaWorld HAS to evolve. Its future is Orca Free and there needs to be something more to attract visitors to replace the Draw of the stars of the park, Orcas. SeaWorld is in the Process of this so we wanted to check out the park and see what the Post Orca World holds for Seaworld. And in our opinion, the future is bright…and thrilling!
SeaWorld’s plan appears to be to convert the Park into a real theme park filled we modern and exciting thrill rides. It now houses 3 Large thrill rides, Manta, Electric Eel, and Tidal Twister with the Mako Dive Coaster Scheduled for Next Year! On top of this are some more regular theme park attractions such as Journey to Atlantis (Water Coaster), Shipwreck Rapids, Riptide Rescue, Wild Arctic, and a selection of family rides at Ocean Explorer!
On top of this, there is the Bayside Skyride and The Skytower although for some reason these are an extra $5 not something we are used to in theme parks, normally the entry fee is enough!
Unfortunately, due to it being the low season a few of the rides were not open yet so we had a somewhat limited roster. But Both the Manta and the Electric Eel were open to ride. Manta is a decent ride. It’s not the most thrilling coaster but a good smooth ride and would appeal to any coaster fan as it’s a fairly tame ride.
Electric Eel, however, is fantastic! It’s a savage and brutal ride that instills fear in the ride queue as you are forced to watch the riders before you experience the ride. The acceleration is really brutal and the ride fly’s through the loading area 3 times before heading off on a lap. The pass-throughs that howl past the next riders caused more choking of riders than we have ever seen. So many people just refused to go on the ride after seeing it in action. We think in part because you don’t especially expect such a thrilling ride to be in SeaWorld until it’s right before you. Of course, there was no Choking here and we rode it twice. Queues were almost non-existent and we walked straight on.
While it’s wild and exciting to watch, it’s even better to ride. The first launch (Electromagnetic launch system) is pretty savage, but it isn’t enough to get you over the first rise. As you pass back through the load area another lump of speed is poured on, and the car stalls partway up the hill behind, partly inversed! One final pass through the road area and another final boost set you on your way! Up to the top of the structure which is 150ft tall where you experience a slow barrel roll with huge drops below you! then through the final loop and back to the load area breathless and exhilarated. It’s a great ride!
Apart from the Rides, there are also a huge host of Animal Exhibits to enjoy. The Park is an aquatic zoo of sorts with a huge host of Aquatic animal exhibits. Sea Lions, Penguins, Sharks, Fish, Beluga Whales Orcas, Dolphins, Otters, and Sea Turtles. It’s a great collection and probably worth visiting for on its own, however not at the $92 entry fee.
The Beluga’s were a particular highlight, although again the question of whales in captivity raises its head. But the Whales are stunning to behold and their exhibition area is giant. Meaning for large parts you can’t even see the Whales as they roam underneath their makeshift Iceberg.
The Emperor Penguin Exhibit was another highlight. Hailing from the Antarctic the Day/Night cycle is matched to their home location and we are in the middle of the endless nights of winter over there so the Colony was in Darkness. This added a really surreal and another worldly feel to the exhibits as we watched the penguin’s play.
We also love Sea Turtles, I mean who doesn’t but we have a real thing for them. So we obviously loved the Turtle Exhibit. The Shark Tank is another Obvious hit But we also love some of the less obvious exhibits such as the Moray Eels, Nautilus, and the Horseshoe Crabs. Overall we spent a long time checking out all the different exhibits.
The Other Highlight of the Park are the Shows. We are slightly disappointed by the schedule there was only one showing of each show per day, although that increases in the peak months. There is the Dolphin Days Show and the Sea Lion Show. However, we came mainly for the Orca Encounter to check out the new show and see how it compares to the Shamu Shows of old!
Honestly, it was pretty fantastic! The old Shows were all about spectacle and theatre. The new show is more about natural behaviors, and with a creature, as impressive as an adult Orca these behaviors are as impressive as anything from the past. But the reality is it’s not all that different from the old Shamu Shows, there is more of a focus on education rather than glitzy dance numbers but as far as we are concerned that’s great. The actual tricks performed are pretty similar. A selection of breaches, jumps, Tail slaps, and beach landings. There are still the Famous crowd drenchings that draw such laughter from the Dry portions of the crowd. Be aware you do run the risk of being completely drenched if you sit in the Splash Zone. Really if you get caught in the wrong spot you might as well have just jumped in the pool! Sitting right in the middle of the amphitheater we missed the worst of it but there are no guarantees unless you head up to the Dry zones, but that is little fun!
The day had become seriously warm and Sitting in the Ampitherer things really heated up so a little splashing was a welcome relief. All too soon the show had ended. We spent a little more time seeing the last few exhibits we had missed before the show, took another ride on the Electric Eel as the queue was still none existent, and then headed out of the park. The low crowd levels had meant we had got around everything in super-fast time and after a quick Uber ride back to the Hotel we had a bit of free time.
The Pool at the hotel is nothing to write home about but we were oceanfront on Pacific Beach so headed over to the Main Pool, The Pacific Ocean! A few hours of relaxing on the beach in the wonderful Spring Sunshine was just the tonic! Then back to the hotel to get ready for the evening.
Belmont Park – $56
The plan was to take a stroll down the Beach Walk to Belmont Park. The stroll was gorgeous in the early evening air as we dodged the endless Electric Scooter and Bikes that whizz up and down the beach all day long. We are unsure if this is a passing phase or a sign of future travel. But they look a whole lot of fun and are very cheap and accessible. But Kate has never been into Biking so we left them to the locals.
Belmont Park is an old-fashioned beachfront amusement park. With the Pass, you get an all-access wristband meaning you get unlimited rides and attractions. The Cut-Off for using the pass is 5:30 pm but once used the wristband is good until closing. Unfortunately being early in the season there was a limited selection of open rides. It was a little disappointing for us as adults. In high season this would be a great way to spend an evening, but as it was $56 was an incredible amount to spend. If we didn’t have the pass this would definitely be a skip! However, the place was awash with happy and excited kids of all ages. They were certainly enjoying the rides!
We had a ride on the Beach Blaster, Octatron, and the Belmont Express. We even went on the Carousel! There is also Mini Golf, Lazer Tag, High Ropes, and a climbing wall. We were really disappointed the Zip Line and the Control Freak were closed as these are a large proportion of the Adult rides at the park.
The Main Attraction for it was running, however. The Giant Dipper. A real old-school Wooden Roller Coaster. Built in 1925 it’s a real heritage item and as they say, They just don’t make ’em like this anymore. What it lacks in pure speed and height against its modern ancestors it makes up for in old school fear. The whole thing just feels unsafe and about to come off the tracks. It’s been running for nearly 100 years without crashing, but it sure feels far less secure than it should. This is the charm of these rides though, and we love the Great Dipper. It probably wasn’t worth $56 each but glad to have had it on the Pass. As we say With an attraction Pass you are far more likely to do things you just wouldn’t have without.
Food Options are limited at the Park so we decided to look for something as we strolled back. We headed over to the Mission Bay side of the Peninsular for the first stretch. It is very serene and peaceful on this side. The still waters lapping the beach and just the odd paddle boarder gliding by and a few dog walkers and joggers in the paths. A very peaceful stroll checking out some wonderful properties and imagining living here!
Once we got back to the more populated areas we started looking for some food. We found a nice Pizza place with a great roof terrace and ordered a whole Pie to share with a 50/50 topping. When it arrived it was bigger than the table and took some taking down but it was very tasty which helped a lot with that. However, there was still no chance we could demolish it, and the food beat man on this occasion. So we loaded the remains up in a box and headed back to the hotel with breakfast sorted for tomorrow.
Go San Diego Pass running Total
Today we only used two attractions but one was the headline big hitter and the other still a high-value item. So we are already well into profit with a whole day of fun remaining. Tomorrow is a big day so we expect to get some real use out of the pass.
- Day 1 : 3 Attractions $96
- Day 2 : 2 Attractions $148
- Day 3
- Total Cost: $244
- Pass Cost: $186 (Bought with a 10% discount code)
- Savings: $ 58
The Savings today really mounted up. However, we do have some reservations. The Belmont Park Pass was excruciatingly expensive. There is no way we would have parted with $56 for a wristband had we not had the pass. Families would get FAR more use out of the pass and it was clear that the kids in the park were having a fantastic time. So for Families, the Pass would be of superb value here. It would cost a Family of 4 $224 to buy the wristbands! This really shows the value of the pass. But for us, we really could have skipped Belmont park we didn’t near to $56 worth from it, although we did get to ride the giant dipper which we may not have bothered with if we were not armed with a pass.
Also, the $92 quoted for SeaWorld is the most you would have to pay. A midweek ticket can be found for $56 + $10 service fee if bought online. But the Pass does provide an anytime ticket for as many days as the Pass is valid and that’s worth at least $76 so it really is good value just maybe not quite as stunning as the $92 headline suggests.
However, you look at it we at least broke even today and have a lot planned for tomorrow so there is no doubt the pass would work out as great value. We should also not up until now we have had no issues with the pass at all. Every time we have used it we just go straight into the attraction with no hassle at all. Tomorrow we delve into the world of timed tickets where passes can be awkward so let’s see how that unfolds!
Live Blog – Trip Report