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 much SeaWorld parking is, and more! If you’re heading to SeaWorld Texas, read this first.
Visiting SeaWorld Texas in 2023
I recently visited SeaWorld San Antonio Texas with my husband, 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 summer 2023.
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.
Also, you really want to 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 just for the bonus perks.
Especially since for spring break, they are giving you an Aquatica pass for free with the purchase of a SeaWorld pass! Check out the deals here!
As of summer 2023 SeaWorld is currently offering a variety of ticket and pass options.
SeaWorld currently has four different ticket options, all with their own saving options.
- Single-day, choose a specific date tickets – you can save 35% off by purchasing these online in advance. Buy these here.
- Single-day, any day tickets – these are valid any day within 12 months of purchase, you save 5% by buying these online compared to at the gates. Buy these here.
- 2-day tickets – these give you unlimited visits to SeaWorld and Aquatica for 2 consecutive days. Buy these here.
- 3-day tickets – these give you unlimited visits to SeaWorld and Aquatica for 3 consecutive days. Buy there here.
SeaWorld Season Passes & Annual Passes
SeaWorld is now also offering four different pass options, and I highly recommend looking into getting one of these if you’re planning to do more than one day at either of the parks as the price of the season pass is typically actually cheaper than tickets when you consider the free parking ($25 value) and discount on in-park offerings.
Plus, they always have huge sales happening! If you purchase these online, you save big as well!
- SeaWorld + Aquatica Season Pass – unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica until January 3, 2024. No blockout dates, free general parking, and up to 5% discount on in-park offerings. Note that this is a SEASON pass, not an annual one.
- Silver Annual Pass – unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica for 12 months, free general parking, 2 free guest tickets*, and up to 20% discounts on in-park offerings.
- Gold Annual Pass – unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica for 12 months, free up-close parking, 4 free guest tickets*, up to 30% discount on in-park offerings.
- Platinum Annual Pass – unlimited admission to 11 SeaWorld parks throughout the country for 12 months, free up-close parking, 6 free guest tickets*, free animal tour, and up to 50% discount off in-park offerings
*Free guest tickets are available over the course of the year, not all as soon as you purchase a season pass. For example, the gold pass includes 1 ticket valid Jan-1 – May31, 2 tickets valid June 1 – sept 30 and 1 ticket valid oct. 1- jan 31.
So what’s the best ticket?
It’s not so cut 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.
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! And since the season pass prices are so good right now, I’d recommend at least a regular season pass if you’re doing more than one day.
SeaWorld offers complimentary tickets to certain groups of guests. You can find more details below:
- Complimentary Teacher Card – SeaWorld offers complimentary teacher cards to any K-12 active and certified Texas grade school teachers. Register here at the bottom of the page by May 31, 2023 to get this card and get free admission.
- Complimentary Preschooler Card – SeaWorld offers complimentary Preschool Cards to kids ages 3-5 who are Texas residents (under 3 are already free). Register here at the bottom of the page by May 31, 2023 to get this.
Plan Ahead for Your Trip
Luckily we’re getting back to the days where you don’t have to do quite as much planning ahead of time, but I still recommend doing a little planning and prep before you go. Make sure you’re aware of the following:
- Check dates before you go. SeaWorld Texas has different hours and days that it’s open depending on the season, so I always recommend checking before you choose your date. Park hours can be found 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.
- Download the SeaWorld app. It’s often the best place to find up to date info on hours, ride closures, and any other details for your visit.
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, especially if visiting during a peak season like spring break.
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.
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!
Just like with tickets, they’re constantly running sales on the all-day dining pass so keep an eye out and buy it when it’s on sale! Also, if you think you’ll use it – buy it online ahead of time to save money!
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 as 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 three 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 options includes the adult thrill rides, etc.
- Quick Queue Junior – unlimited quick queue entrance to children’s rides including Grover’s Box Car Derby, Grover’s Round Up and Abby’s Rockin’ Wave
- Quick Queue Unlimited – unlimited quick queue entrance to most of the most popular rides including Texas Stingray, The Steel Eel Roller Coaster, The Great White Roller Coaster, Journey to Atlantis, Rio Loco, Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster, Abby’s Rockin’ Wave, Grover’s Round Up and Super Grover’s Box Car Derby. This does NOT include Tidal Surge.
In addition to those options, there is an option to purchase a quick queue unlimited + reserved show seating pass.
The prices for the quick queue unlimited are now based on expected park capacity. Prices go up as they 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, a season or annual pass gets you a discount on quick queue purchases for your entire group! So make sure to login to your account before buying.
SeaWorld Elite VIP Tour
SeaWorld San Antonio is now offering an Elite VIP tour option as well with prices starting at $399.99 per person (minimum of two people) and includes preferred parking, expedited park entry, front of the line access to rides, reserved seats at shows, meals/snacks, select animal experiences, and a private tour guide for up to six hours, and other surprises.
I’ve personally never done a VIP tour at SeaWorld, but I loved our experiences doing them at Disney World, Disneyland, and Universal Studios so if you have the cash and only one day and want to do it all, it might be something worth looking into.
Don’t Miss SeaWorld Shows
SeaWorld is always changing up its show schedule but what you can know is that the amazing shows are all worth watching!
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. There are a ton of Christmas specific shows and events happening in addition to a lot of their regular shows!
The shows listed below are their standard show, but they also add seasonal shows (or at least they have in the past) so make sure to check the full schedule for SeaWorld shows here.
SeaWorld San Antonio Shows
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 & Otter Spotlight* – An all-new show featuring California sea lions and Asian small-clawed otters that’s supposed to be both educational and hilarious!
Ocean Discovery* – See birds, beluga whales, and Pacific white-sided dolphins interact with their trainers and perform.
Sesame Street Block Party – This show is in the kid’s area in the Sea Star Theater and includes Sesame Street characters movin’ and groovin’ to a DJ in a fun-filled dance party.
There’s also a Sesame Street Party Parade that’s not technically a show but is entertaining if you have little ones!
SeaWorld Summer Spectacular
In addition to the regular shows that are mentioned above, from June 2 to Aug 6, SeaWorld Texas will also be doing a summer spectacular with additional summer themed shows including:
- HydroPower: Xtreme FX – A high-powdered water ski stunt show with a rock band, lasers, and pyrotechnics!
- ImaginOcean – a brand new show that’s a black light puppet show featuring an undersea adventure that kids will love!
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:
- Tidal Surge – the world’s tallest and fastest screaming swing – takes you right into the clouds!
- 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
- Super Grover’s Box Car Derby – a kiddie coaster that’s perfect for introducing kids to roller coasters! This is my favorite of the kid-friendly rides for littles.
- Sea Swinger – a high-flying amusement park ride that has you flying close to upside down in seconds!
- Riptide Rescue – a fun spinner ride that has you on a mission to rescue sea turtles (or pretending to).
- Rio Loco – a white water rapid ride that’s guaranteed to get you wet, perfect for a hot day!
Out of all of the SeaWorld rides, make sure not to miss these ones:
- Tidal Surge
- Texas Stingray
- Wave Breaker: The Rescue
- Great White Roller Coaster
- Steel Eel Coaster
- Rio Loco (if you like getting wet)
New Ride Coming Soon!
SeaWorld San Antonio is adding another ride this summer called Catapult Falls that will be the world’s first launched flume coaster with the world’s steepest flume drop! It’s not open yet but the plan is sometime during the summer of 2023!
In addition to the rides, there is also a huge kids play area in the Sesame Street area that my kids played in forever!
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 and learning more about the dedicated team of animal care experts.
Since we had my 4-year-old son, we just did some of the more basic up-close animal 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!
SeaWorld has both the option to do individual animal experiences like the penguin one, but they also offer really cool sounding ultimate tours and programs like the ultimate animal experience that is a full day experience including meeting a beluga whale, touching a shark, feeding a sea lion, touching a penguin, and more.
Pretty sure my animal loving boys would love that tour! You can all of their experiences and tours here.
Play Games at SeaWorld Instead of Getting Souvenirs
When we went a few years ago, 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 ticket or a season pass that gives you admission to SeaWorld and SeaWorld Aquatica. Definitely take advantage of the affordable tickets and passes and plan at least a couple of hours, or even an entire day, at SeaWorld Aquatica San Antonio.
This is an even better tip since season passes are currently free for Aquatica when you purchase a SeaWorld season or annual pass!
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!
Other Things to Know About SeaWorld Antonio
In addition to those insider tips, here are some things that are good to know before you go! Also, if you’ve been to SeaWorld San Diego or SeaWorld Orlando, don’t assume that you know everything about SeaWorld Texas – they are similar in ways but not all the same.
SeaWorld Cashless System
SeaWorld San Antonio has moved to a cashless system as of May 4, 2023. Credit cards, debit cards, or smart devices with Apple Pay or Google Pay will be accepted throughout the park.
If you only bring cash, they have a kiosk where cash can be turned into a prepaid debit card to be used in the park.
SeaWorld San Antonio Parking
SeaWorld offers general parking for $32 online or up-close parking for $42+ online (based on the date you choose). If you do not purchase it online ahead of time, the cost for SeaWorld parking at the gate may be higher.
Many of the season passes come with free general parking so keep that in mind when purchasing tickets! There is only free parking at SeaWorld if you have a pass that comes with free parking.
SeaWorld Texas Seasonal Events
SeaWorld has regular events going on to keep things new and exciting from the summer spectacular mentioned above to a SeaWorld Spooktacular during the Halloween season in the fall. You can check the website for more details on events going on during your 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 $49.99 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 $32 for general parking (free with season or annual passes) plus any food and beverages (discounted with annual passes).
No outside food, beverages, or coolers are allowed to be brought into SeaWorld other than a bottle of water (or refillable water bottle). Exceptions may be made for food allergies, baby food, and special dietary needs and guests should contact guest relations prior to visiting for approval.
Leave a Comment