We visited SeaWorld San Antonio TX and during our visit, learned a handful of important things to know before you go. Everything you need to know about the best tickets to buy, what hours to go, which SeaWorld shows are worth your time, how to play over 20 games for $20, and more! If you’re heading to SeaWorld Texas, read this first.
I recently visited SeaWorld San Antonio Texas with my husband, 4-year-old son, my sister, and my brother-in-law. We visited both SeaWorld and SeaWorld Aquatica and learned a bunch of tips and tricks for making the most of your visit.
This post has been updated since our vist a few years back and is current as of March 2021!
Insider Tips for Visiting SeaWorld San Antonio TX
- Buy the right ticket and buy it in advance!
- Get at least one SeaWorld all-day dining pass.
- Get a quick queue upgrade to skip lines!
- Don’t miss SeaWorld shows.
- Pick the right seats at the shows!
- Don’t count out SeaWorld rides.
- Do at least one animal experience at SeaWorld.
- Play games instead of buying souvenirs.
- Plan a half-day at SeaWorld Aquatica.
Buy the Right SeaWorld San Antonio Tickets
One of the biggest ways you can save money on your trip to SeaWorld San Antonio is to buy tickets in advance. You can save up to 40% on tickets compared to buying at the park!
Also, really think about what type of tickets and passes you’re buying. Even if you don’t plan to visit SeaWorld or Aquatica more than one or two days this year, you still may want to consider their season and annual passes. Keep reading to find out why!
As of March 2021, SeaWorld offered four different types of tickets or pass options. It used to be as simple as just buying a ticket but they had to go and complicate things!
These tickets are only able to be used on a specific date, these are the least expensive tickets and a great option if you are only going one day and your date is set.
These tickets allow you to visit any operating day this year. The single day flex tickets are $22 more than the single day date specific ticket so if you can choose a date, I’d go with a specific date IF you’re doing just one day.
The multi-day tickets however are great deals with a 2 day currently starting at just $77.99 and 3 day starting at just $82.99 (only $5 to add a third day!). They also are available to use across both SeaWorld and Aquatica – a great option if you’re doing both parks!
If you’re planning to do multiple days and both parks in the past I would’ve said getting a flex ticket is a no-brainer. However, they’ve added new options just to make it even more fun and now the no-brainer decision takes a little more thought.
SeaWorld is now also offering season passes, which give you unlimited visits through the rest of the 2021 season, FREE general parking, and up to 10% discount on in-park offerings. They are offering a SeaWorld only option for $89.99 and a SeaWorld + Aquatica option for $104.99.
General parking is $25.00 and if you’re going to buy things in the parks, that 10% discount comes in handy.
These passes give you unlimited admission for 12 months (not just through the end of the year) to both SeaWorld and Aquatica, free parking, in-park discounts, and free guest tickets. There are three different types of annual passes outlined below:
- Silver Pass – unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica, free general parking, 2 free guest tickets, up to 20% discounts on in-park offerings for $119.99.
- Gold Pass – unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica, free general parking, 4 free guest tickets, up to 30% discount on in-park offerings
- Platinum Pass – unlimited admission to 11 SeaWorld parks throughout the country, 6 free guest tickets, free animal experience, up to 50% discount off in-park offerings (including quick queue).
So what’s the best ticket?
It’s not so cute and dry anymore as it has been in the past. Think about how often you’ll be visiting SeaWorld and Aquatica, how many people are going, and how much you will buy in the park. For my family, we just went through the exact same thing with Busch Gardens (a sister park to SeaWorld) and ended up buying just ONE annual pass to get the free parking ($25 savings), free guest tickets (saving us $100), and discounts in the park.
For the SeaWorld scenario, for my family of 3 (baby doesn’t need a ticket), I would choose to buy ONE SeaWorld + Aquatica Gold Pass for $139 to do two days – one day in each park. Since it comes with FOUR free guest tickets, it would get us all three into both parks for two days for that $139 rate, plus free parking and 30% discounts.
Don’t think just because you are only going for one day or two that you can’t buy a season or annual pass – it’s sometimes the best bang for your buck!
Plan Ahead for Your Trip
With the current situtation in our world, it’s a thing of the past to just show up at an amusement park, buy a ticket, and enjoy your day. Just like with any other theme parks right now, you need to do a little pre-planning and packing before you go.
- Know the park safety policies. They are constantly changing so make sure to review them here. As of March 2021, masks were required for guests 2 years and older (more details on the mask requirement here), temperature screenings are happening, physical distancing is being promoted, and more.
- Check dates before you go. SeaWorld Texas is currently only open on limited days (not open M-W for example) and for limited hours when it is open. Park hours can be found here.
- Make a reservation. Unless you purchase a date specific ticket (reservation already included), reservations are required to get into the park whether you’re using a flexible ticket, season pass, or annual pass. Make reservations here.
- Know what’s open. Attractions and experiences are closed at theme parks across the country and SeaWorld is no different. Make sure you check out the rides and attractions list to see what is currently closed before you make a final decision. For instance, the big Dry Play Area (playground) in Bay of Play is currently closed, which might be a deal breaker for families with young kids.
If you have anything scheduled (animal experience, reserved dining, etc.) make sure to get to give yourself plenty of extra time to get into the park. We’ve found that on busy days lines are even longer than normal with social distancing, temperature checks, and other policies that have been put into place.
Get a SeaWorld Dining Pass
If you plan to eat in the parks at all, get at least one SeaWorld all-day dining pass. The dining pass is a wristband that allows you to get one entree, one side or dessert, and one non-alcoholic up to once every 90 minutes in most of the SeaWorld San Antonio restaurants.
So basically you can eat and drink all day long for a minimal price if you time it right. The 90 minute window starts as soon as you check out, and we just set an alarm to stock up on food again once the alarm went off.
An adult dining pass is currently $34.99 and a child is $19.99. I’ll tell you – the one meal we purchased out of pocket was about $15/person. Plus, if you have an annual pass – you can use your discount to get it for even cheaper!
You can’t share the dining pass but no one is stopping you from sharing that bottle of water you chose as your drink with your family. We found that the best restaurants were Smokehouse Grill and the Harbor Market. But all of the restaurants had decent entree options with healthy side options available!
If you don’t get an all-day dining pass, at least get a refillable cup souvenir cup to stay hydrated. You pay once and drink all day long. If you return to SeaWorld again during the season, you can use it again and pay a minimal fee for refills.
If you want something that’s more of a sit-down experience, SeaWorld also offers fun character and animal eating opportunities like dining with the orcas (in the pool behind you), and more. Get more info and dining reservations here.
Skip Lines for SeaWorld Rides with a Quick Queue Unlimited Pass
Unlike other parks where express passes and fast passes are well known, I feel like the quick queue unlimited ticket upgrade at SeaWorld is something not many people know about. Or at least it seemed that way as we walked to the front of the line with ours during our visit.
The quick queue unlimited is an upgrade option for your ticket and really it’s an option that lets you walk to the front of the line on pretty much every one of the SeaWorld rides. The quick queue lines didn’t used to be particularly well marked, so just ask an employee at the front of the ride when you get there if you can’t find them.
Most often, we went up the exit line directly to the front of the line where they scanned our pass and let us walk right onto the ride or back onto the ride as was the case when we rode the SeaWorld Journey to Atlantis ride! This made it possible to do all the rides and activities in just one day.
SeaWorld currently offers two different options for QuickQueue upgrades depending on your height and what rides you’ll be going on. The Quick Queue Junior option is geared toward kids while the Quick Queue Unlimited includes the adult thrill rides, etc.
- Quick Queue Junior – unlimited quick queue entrance to Grover’s Box Car Derby, Grover’s Rock Up, and Abby’s Rockin’ Wave
- Queue Queue Unlimited – unlimited quick queue entrance to all participating attractions including the ones listed for Quick Queue Junior
In addition to those options, there is an option to purchase a quick queue unlimited + reserved show seating pass. The price for the quick queue unlimited + reserved seating is about $10/person more, so we went with that one.
The prices for the quick queue unlimited are now based on expected park capacity. Prices go up as they book more reservations and sell more tickets for specific dates. If you know you’re going during a busy time (aka spring break), get your quick queue upgrades as early as possible to avoid even more inflated prices. If it’s not a particularly busy time, honestly you might not even need quick queue.
Also, an annual pass gets you a discount on quick queue purchases for your entire group! So make sure to login before buying!
Don’t Miss SeaWorld Shows
When we went to SeaWorld a few years ago there were about double the number of shows they currently have running. It was tough to see them all, but we did our best! RIght now there are only a few shows running, which means you should have time to see all of them if you want!
If you’re planning out your trip now, you can get a daily show schedule by clicking on the park calendar then choose the individual day (the actual number circle!) you’re visiting.
The shows listed below were current as of March 2021, but they also add seasonal shows during the summer (or at least they have in the past) so make sure to check the full schedule for SeaWorld shows here.
I’ve put stars by the shows I personally think are can’t miss shows!
Orca Encounter* – Learn more about killer whales and connect in a new inspiring way – this show has replaced the previously super popular One Ocean show – and is the best way to see killer whales in action.
Sea Lion High* – sea lions play students at a high school on graduation day and have to go to “classes” to graduate. Silly but fun to see the sea lions at play.
Ocean Discovery* – See birds, beluga whales, and Pacific white-sided dolphins interact with their trainers and perform.
Sunny Day Celebration – This show is in the kid’s area in the Sea Star Theater and includes Sesame Street characters dancing live on stage. Cute but totally skippable unless you have Sesame Street lovers or extra time on your hands!
Pick the Right SeaWorld Show Seats
One mistake my family made was to purchase AND sit in the reserved seats for all of the shows. While it was wonderful to not have to get to shows early with the reserved seating pass, we really missed out on feeling like part of the action at some of the SeaWorld shows.
For instance, some of the key components of the SeaWorld Orca Encounter show, is the orcas splashing the audience. The reserved seating for that show is up and above everything. You have a great view but you don’t get splashed and really don’t get any interaction with the animals or trainers.
So I highly recommend getting to Orca Encounter early, sit in the splash zone, and be prepared to get soaked. It’s all a part of the SeaWorld experience.
Don’t Count Out SeaWorld Rides
One of the most surprising things to me about SeaWorld San Antonio was how good the rides were. You don’t expect a park dedicated to sea animals to have good coasters, but it really does. And I know roller coasters!
Out of all of the SeaWorld rides, make sure not to miss these ones:
- Texas Stingray – their brand new wood coaster, it’s the tallest, fastest, and longest wood coaster in Texas!
- Wave Breaker: The Rescue – virtually join the SeaWorld rescue team on this fun thrilling coaster!
- Great White Roller Coaster – a steel coaster full of breathtaking loops, corkscrews, and 360 degree flips (my personal favorite)
- Steel Eel Coaster – a hypercoaster featuring a vertical drop of 15 stories!
- SeaWorld Journey to Atlantis – a large boat type log flume that goes forward + backwards, fun! (this attraction is temporarily closed as of March 2021).
- Stingray Falls (at Aquatica – a tube ride in Aquatica with views of stingrays)
They also just redesigned their coaster for kids called Super Grover’s Box Car Derby that we haven’t tried yet, but it looks like a great first coaster for kids! And if it’s anything like the ride it replaced, Shamu Express, I’m sure it’s a fun one!
And if you’re a big fan of raft rides, Rio Loco is fun as well but not on my must-ride list unless it’s really hot outside!
Do At Least One Animal Experience at SeaWorld Texas
SeaWorld’s mission has always been focused on education, conservation, research, and entertainment. One of the best ways they support that mission is through animal experiences for all ages at their various parks.
We had the opportunity to meet and interact with dolphins, to do a penguin encounter where we learned about penguins and actually met a penguin, and to get in the water with and feed stingrays (at Aquatica).
And even though the shows and rides were amazing, the things that my family will remember from our visit was definitely getting the chance to learn about and interact with these amazing creatures.
Since we had my 4-year-old son, we just did some of the more basic encounters but if your group is old enough, SeaWorld also offers the opportunity to swim with a number of the animals (beluga whales, sea lions, and dolphins) at Discovery Point. It’s definitely on our bucket list as soon as my son hits the age minimum.
Call SeaWorld San Antonio when you’re booking your animal experience because some of the times are not listed on the website, especially if there is only one time a day for the experience. You don’t want to accidentally book an experience during something else, so make sure to double-check times before booking!
Play Games at SeaWorld Instead of Getting Souvenirs
When we went back in 2017, SeaWorld San Antonio had one of the best game deals I’ve ever seen in my life, and I’ve been to a lot of amusement parks. This may have just been a promotional deal that summer but if it’s going on when you go, do it!
Basically you pay $20 for a game card and that game card allows you to play every single carnival style game in the park. I asked one of the employees, and she said there were like 25 games in the park. Normally games are like $5 each, so it’s again, like the flex ticket, an absolute no-brainer.
The best thing about it is that there are a handful of games in the park that are always win games. We played all of those and went home with bag full of stuffed animals that my son now sleeps with every night.
And $20 for a bunch of stuffed animals + getting to play all of the games is a way better deal than buying something like a tube of dolphins or a t-shirt in a gift shop for $20. If you collect something from your trips, then go ahead and enjoy the souvenir shopping, but if not, the game card is the way to go!
Don’t Skip SeaWorld Aquatica
I mentioned it earlier but you can get an affordable flex ticket that gives you unlimited admission to SeaWorld and SeaWorld Aquatica. Definitely take advantage of the different 2-park tickets and passes and plan at least a couple of hours, or even an entire day, at SeaWorld Aquatica.
With one of my favorite rides (Stringray Falls) between either park, a great splash zone for kids, a handful of really fun slides, and more – SeaWorld Aquatica is definitely worth the visit!
SeaWorld Texas FAQs
While they are not doing the traditional One Ocean show from years past, they are still doing an orca show called Orca Encounter that is more learning and seeing the orcas to experience their beauty and magnitude.
Ticket prices currently start at $45.99 for a one day, specific date, ticket. There are additional ticket and pass options that may be less expensive per person depending on the size of your group. You’ll also need to pay for parking that’s $25 for general parking (free with season or annual passes) plus any food and beverages (discounted with annual passes).
Yes, masks are required for anyone that is 2 or older. You can see the current mask policy here.
As of March 2021, there were still some temporary closings on rides and attractions. You can get the full list here.