SeaWorld San Antonio for Families: A Review

Families typically have dreams about traveling to some of the more well-known theme-parks in California or Florida. However, the budget and amount of planning required for those can sometimes be too overwhelming. Not to mention the increased crowds the parks are starting to experience, evening during off-peak times! To help others plan a vacation to this dynamic theme-park, I’ve compiled a SeaWorld San Antonio review for families!

In addition to the location for SeaWorld, San Antonio is an amazing family-friendly destination! It is located in Texas, about three hours west of Houston, and about an hour and a half southwest of Austin, if driving by car. Once you arrive, you’ll quickly discover how many things there are to do in this beautiful, historic, and family-friendly city. While my family has always enjoyed our time exploring San Antonio, SeaWorld San Antonio is by far our family’s most favorite place to go!

Accommodations at SeaWorld San Antonio for Families

La Cantera Resort San Antonio pool and chairs
La Cantera Resort Official Photo

SeaWorld boasts at ton of nearby accommodations for families! Our favorite hotel is the very gorgeous, but kid friendly, La Cantera Resort. Set overlooking San Antonio’s luscious rolling hills, my family loves this place because it offers childcare, a small arcade, and a pool for kids! La Cantera also has regular daily and special holiday schedules of children and family activities. But this is a post for another time! In this post, I will be focusing on the amazing adventures we had at SeaWorld.

SeaWorld San Antonio For Families

SeaWorld San Antonio welcome entrance
SeaWorld San Antonio

The park provides great fun and education for the entire family year-round! (And for a fraction of the cost and time required for the other well-known parks!) I often refer to the park as laid back in my SeaWorld San Antonio review for families, especially for the parents with babies and toddlers. As parents, we have just as much fun as the kids! However, the time spent at the park does not feel overly exhausting, especially if you schedule it right. For example, my family prefers to spend at least two days to visit the park. Don’t worry about the heat, either – it has beautiful landscaping and plenty of trees for shade! Relax in the shade or get as much sun as you need as you stroll from one activity to the next.

RELATED: 17 Fantastic Things to Do in Austin with Kids

Best Time to Visit SeaWorld San Antonio for Families

My family has been visiting SeaWorld for the last seven years. Our first trip was for my daughter’s 3rd birthday, while our most recent visit was for her 10th birthday. This also falls around their Halloween celebrations, which is such a delight! SeaWorld is very intentional about the themes and activities selected for each holiday, as well as the summer season. For this reason, we also try to visit the park all year round. Plus, since we hold the Annual Pass, we can take advantage of the unique seasonal experiences and cooler temps in the fall, winter, and early spring. Though Texas can be hot on any given day, the park is really enjoyable during those times. Summer fireworks are also very exciting after the boating shows!

Tip: Pay attention to the schedule for the Halloween-themed activities! During the day, the park is still quite friendly. However, as it nears dusk, the cast members dress up in scary costumes and pop out to scare you. We didn’t last very long before deciding to leave this trip. It was scary and there were tears, but ultimately fun since we often reminisce about it. If you like this sort of thing, then it is very well done and you will have fun.  

What’s New at SeaWorld San Antonio for Families?

Swimming with sea lions at SeaWorld
Swimming with sea lions at SeaWorld

SeaWorld is constantly updating its family programming! While there have been changes and upgrades to the park, shows, and experiences over the years, the quality of education and fun that families experience has never ceased to amaze me.  After passing the security checkpoint, you will pick up a map with all of the current activities and showtimes. It is a good idea to get a couple of them, as you will continually refer to this document a lot.

Right after the security checkpoint, the park is also divided into three sections; Discovery Cove, SeaWorld, and the water park Aquatica. A ticket is required for SeaWorld and Aquatica, but not for Discovery Cove. Discovery Cove is where you check in for any animal interaction experience. You can also view dolphins in their habitat from above and below, as well as view other marine life, including a variety of sharks and fish; (in the aquarium building!)

Check Out an Animal Show

SeaWorld San Antonio girl kissing dolphin
Kissing a dolphin at SeaWorld

A SeaWorld San Antonio review for families would not be complete without mentioning that the animal shows at SeaWorld are spectacular! If you arrive early enough in the day, you could actually see all of the shows in one day. However, we like to take our time and mix in the other activities with shows over a two day visit. To secure your strollers in the designated area and pick out the seats you like best, it’s a good idea to arrive 20 minutes prior to starting time. Plus, on a hot day, coveted splash zones in the Beluga Whale/Dolphin and Sea Lion stadiums offer much-needed relief!

The famous Orca breeding program and Shamu show at have come now to an end. On the brighter side, my family was able to attend one of the new behind-the-scenes training events to learn more about the habitat and behavior of the remaining Orcas. The Sea Lion and Otter show is always fun, since the animals interact with the trainers in a skit-like fashion. We also love the Pets Ahoy show, which includes all types of non-marine animals, many of which are rescues.

Kids Will Love Animal Interactions

Meeting a sea lion at SeaWorld
Meeting a sea lion at SeaWorld

Our favorite thing to do at SeaWorld is to interact with the animals and the trainers! Most older kids will likely be interested in this (my 10-year- old loves all things marine life and animal behavior.) My entire family has now became enthralled as well, so we all have a great time learning together. For additional fees, members of our family have been able to participate in up close and personal animal experiences, like swimming with dolphins and sea lions. After speaking with a trainer who was feeding the otters, we were also invited to come behind the scenes to meet Leon the Sea Lion and other trainers. This was a nice perk that we were not expecting!

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the trainer’s careers and the animals they take care of. You will most likely see a trainer monitoring the dolphin pool or feeding the sea otters.    

Tip: Sign up for the email list so that you can be notified about special ticket and annual pass pricing, events, and Black Friday specials for the animal experiences. The deals are really great. Pay close attention to the benefits that each of the passes provide, so that you can make the best choice for your family!

When you are not scheduled for an animal interaction or going to see a show, families can take a nice stroll around the park to visit the various exhibits where animals can be seen at any time. Kids can witness fish and sharks in the aquarium, alligators and turtles, penguins, dolphins, seals, sea lions, otters, pink flamingos, and more. Parents will be happy to know it’s all included in the cost of admission!

Sesame Street Bay of Play

Posing with Leon the Sea Lion at SeaWorld
Posing with Leon the Sea Lion at SeaWorld

For the youngest family members, we highly recommend the Sesame Street Bay of Play in addition to everything else SeaWorld offers. Young children and toddlers can enjoy meeting and dancing with Sesame Street characters. Here you will find various rides, carnival games, and a jungle gym over a splash pad! Dance parties and parades with the characters are always fun. As a plus, the playground sits nestled in the shade! For the older children and adults, there is a good variety of roller coasters, water rides, and traditional carnival and arcade games.

Where to Eat at SeaWorld San Antonio

SeaWorld offers a multitude of food and drink options for families, including healthy choices! For example, Harbor Market is great for a cafe-style meal, while Rio Grille is more of a sit-down meal. (There’s also outside seating!) The park’s guidelines also allow certain outside food and drink. To save a few dollars on snacks, then, my family like to pack a few things to take with us. There are various dining options that can provide better savings for your family, so take the time to explore those prior to visiting!

Happy Planning!

I hope our SeaWorld San Antonio review for families will help you plan a wonderful trip to this amazing park! We are looking forward to returning to around Spring Break when the new Sea Turtle Habitat and new rides open. It will also be our first time visiting Aquatica, an exclusive waterpark, where we will be also be able to interact with stingrays!

Written by contributor, Xraka White

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