SeaWorld San Diego

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For the SeaWorld chain of parks, see SeaWorld.
SeaWorld San Diego
SeaWorld San Diego logo
Location 500 Sea World Drive, San Diego, California, U.S.
Coordinates 32°45′57″N 117°13′38″W / 32.765751°N 117.227275°W / 32.765751; -117.227275Coordinates: 32°45′57″N 117°13′38″W / 32.765751°N 117.227275°W / 32.765751; -117.227275
Theme Ocean Adventure and Exploration
Owner SeaWorld Entertainment
Opened March 27, 1964; 51 years ago (1964-03-27)
Previous names SeaWorld California
Operating season All Year
Visitors per annum 4,311,000 (2013)[1]
Area 190 acres (77 ha)[2]
Total 10[2]
Roller coasters 2
Water rides 2
Website SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego is an animal theme park, oceanarium, outside aquarium, and marine mammal park, located in San Diego, California, United States. The park is owned by SeaWorld Entertainment.

SeaWorld San Diego is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).[3] Adjacent to the property is the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, which conducts research on marine biology and provides education and outreach on marine issues to the general public, including information in park exhibits.[4]


Previous entrance replaced by Explorer's Reef on March 21, 2014.

SeaWorld was founded in March 21, 1964 by four graduates of the University of California, Los Angeles. Although their original idea of an underwater restaurant was not feasible at the time, the idea was expanded into a 22-acre (8.9 ha) marine zoological park along the shore of Mission Bay in San Diego. After an investment of about $1.5 million, the park opened with 45 employees, several dolphins, sea lions, and two seawater aquariums, and hosted more than 400,000 visitors in its first year of operation.[5]

Initially held as a private partnership, SeaWorld offered its stock publicly in 1968 enabling them to expand and open additional parks. The second SeaWorld location, SeaWorld Ohio, opened in 1970, followed by SeaWorld Orlando in 1973 and SeaWorld San Antonio (the largest of the parks) in 1988. SeaWorld Ohio was later sold to Six Flags in January 2001.[5] The parks were owned and operated by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich between 1976 and 1989, when they were purchased by Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. After Anheuser-Busch was acquired by InBev, SeaWorld San Diego and the rest of the company's theme parks were sold to the Blackstone Group in December 2009, which operates the park through its SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment division.[2]

SeaWorld currently leases the land from the City of San Diego with the lease expiring in 2048. The premises must be used as a marine mammal park, and no other marine park may be operated by SeaWorld within 560 miles of the City limits.[2]


Aerial photo of the park.

As of December 31, 2012, there are 26 animal habitats, 10 rides, 20 shows, 2 play areas, 4 special limited-time events, and 11 "distinctive experiences" (including special experiences such as swimming with dolphins). Note that some of the shows may vary during dayparts or seasons, but are counted as separate shows.[2]

In November 2015, Seaworld announced that it would be changing its signature killer whale shows, which historically have featured theatrical and acrobatic performances, by making them more of a nature show that concentrates on natural whale behavior. The new orca presentation is scheduled to be released in 2017.[6]


  • One Ocean (Shamu Stadium): A Shamu show that features the park's killer whales and their trainers.
  • Killer Whales: Up Close (Shamu Stadium): An educational presentation that provides facts about killer whales and how they are trained and cared for.
  • Dolphin Days (Dolphin Stadium): A show where guests can meet the Whale & Dolphin family and find out what inspires their trainers. (Temporarily closed from January–April 2016).
  • Dolphin Point Playtime (Dolphin Point): While Dolphin Stadium is under renovations, guests can see the dolphins in this show. During the Dolphin Point Playtime presentations at Dolphin Point, guests will learn about SeaWorld’s dolphins, watch a training session and be inspired to act on what they can do to help protect animals in the wild.
  • Sea Lions LIVE (Sea Lion & Otter Stadium): A show that spoofs TV shows and music featuring California sea lions and Asian small-clawed otters.
  • Pets Rule (Pets Stadium): A show that mainly features dogs, cats, and a pig, but a variety of exotic birds, emus, ducks, and a kangaroo, make appearances.
  • Cirque de la Mer (Cirque Stadium): Cirque de la Mer takes guests on a journey to the island of Amphibia, where brightly colored amphibians combine characteristics of humans and sea creatures. These whimsical creatures captivate the audience as they demonstrate their super-human abilities through exhilarating acrobatic feats of strength and discipline.[7] (Summer time only)

Seasonal Shows[edit]

  • Shamu's Celebration: Light Up The Night (Shamu Stadium): A summer night show featuring a DJ and the parks killer whales and their trainers.
  • Shamu's Christmas Miracles (Shamu Stadium): A night show featuring Christmas songs along with the parks killer whales.
  • Dolphin Island Christmas (Dolphin Stadium): A Polynesian themed show where you can meet the residents of Dolphin Island.
  • Sea Lions TONITE (Sea Lion & Otter Stadium): A summer night show that spoofs SeaWorld's day shows featuring California sea lions and Asian small-clawed otters.
  • Clyde & Seamore's Big Halloween Bash (Sea Lion & Otter Stadium): Clyde and Seamore spoof their favorite Halloween classics, with a little help from OP otter of course!
  • Clyde & Seamore's Christmas Special (Sea Lion & Otter Stadium): Join Clyde, Seamore, and OP otter as they host their own nighttime Christmas special, which is sure to create an unforgettable show full of holiday cheer.
  • Pets Rule Christmas (Pets Stadium): As the season of winter begins, the Pets partake in winter games, such as a Frisbee Snowball Fight, building Frosty the Snowman and creating a wintery wonderland full of amazing decorations.

Bayside Skyride[edit]

Bayside Skyride is a 1967 VonRoll type 101 gondola ride located in the northwest corner of the park that travels over Mission bay near the "Cirque De La Mer" lagoon for a 6-minute ride. It travels over part of Mission Bay on two 80-foot (24 m) towers, and lands on the other side before returning for a full loop. The Sea World Skyride has the longest span between towers out of any VonRoll Skyride ever built—925 feet (282 m). From 1967 to 1988, the Skyride was known as the Sea World Atlantis Skyride, and took riders to the Sea World Atlantis Restaurant which was located on the opposite end of the ride across the lagoon. After the restaurant closed, the ride remained, but took riders on a full loop, passing through the second station instead of stopping.

Journey to Atlantis[edit]

Main article: Journey to Atlantis

Journey to Atlantis is a joint flume and rollercoaster. The boat leaves the station and climbs the first lift hill, once at the top of the lift the boat takes a small decline to pick up a little speed and then travels around a right-hand turn that leads to the first tower building. The boat then enters the tower and plunges down a flume drop into a small man-made lake of water below.

During the next section of ride the boat slowly travels along a flume of water, makes a left-hand turnaround and approaches the second tower. Speakers placed along the side of the flume reveal the story behind Atlantis. The second tower contains a brief flood before entering a duel-elevator style lift that can lift two boats at a time. In the elevator " a projection of Commerson's dolphins is shown, then a humpback whale which comes in and "causes" the elevator to rise. The boat slowly rocks side-to-side as it climbs to the top. Inside the tower there is more Atlantis style theme and spiel.

Once at the top of the lift the boat leaves the tower and prepares for the end of the drop. The boat then travels down a right-hand twisting drop that turns about 270 degrees, then rises back up onto a flat section of track containing some block brakes. From here the boat descends down another drop that banks to the right, and then climbs up slightly and makes a banked left-hand turn before descending down a small drop into another pool of water. The boat then slowly travels along a flume of water before making a left-hand turnaround and then heading back towards the station.

At the exit of the ride is a large aquarium home to cownose rays, spotted eagle rays, southern stingrays, and leopard sharks.

Dolphin Point[edit]

(Formerly Known as "Rocky Point Preserve") The park's popular bottlenose dolphins are on exhibit here in a multi-pool complex where guests have free access to pet the dolphins. Guests can also interact with the dolphins during scheduled presentations hosted by trainers that give them the opportunity to touch and give training signals to the dolphins. The Dolphin Encounter and Dolphin Interaction Program also take place at this exhibit. Adjacent to Dolphin Point is Otter Outlook, home to the park's California sea otters.

SeaWorld Sky Tower[edit]

The Sky Tower is a 320-foot (98 m) Gyro tower that was built in 1969. The ride was refurbished in 2007 with a new capsule. The ride gives passengers a six-minute view of SeaWorld and San Diego. It rises at a rate of 150 feet per minute (46 m/min) while spinning slowly (1.02rpm). The attraction hosts views of Mission Bay and parts of San Diego.

Sesame Street's Bay of Play[edit]

Sesame Street's Bay of Play is an interactive children's play area that opened in 2008 and is based on the long running Sesame Street children's television series. The area includes three rides: Abby's Seastar Spin, a spinning "teacup" attraction, Elmo's Flying Fish, an attraction in the style of Disney's "Dumbo" ride, and Oscar's Rockin' Eel, an eel themed "Tug Boat" ride.[8][9]

Shipwreck Rapids[edit]

Main article: Shipwreck Rapids

Shipwreck Rapids is a river rapids ride themed to a shipwreck on a deserted island. At one point riders pass by a sea turtle exhibit.

Turtle Reef[edit]

Turtle Reef is an attraction housing over 60 sea turtles in an aquarium with a variety of fish and other creatures.

Wild Arctic[edit]

Main article: Wild Arctic

Wild Arctic is a simulator ride through the Arctic set in a giant helicopter. It features both a simulator or the option to go straight to the exhibits of the wild arctic. After the ride, guests can view animals of the Arctic from both underwater and above. The first exhibit features three adult beluga whales and two adolescent beluga whales. The second exhibit features two female polar bears. The third exhibit features two female and one male pacific walrus.[citation needed]. When guests continue on, they will be able to view the polar bears and beluga whales from underwater.

Riptide Rescue[edit]

A spinning flat ride located at the exit of Turtle Reef themed after rescue rafts.


On May 26, 2012, SeaWorld San Diego opened a new mega-attraction called Manta, a Mack launched roller coaster featuring two launches LSM of up to 43 miles per hour (69 km/h) accompanied by a bat ray aquarium and touch pool. A shallow pool for touching bat rays, white sturgeons, and shovelnose guitarfish lies at the entrance of the attraction while two-sided underground aquarium (for riders and nonriders) can be accessed downstairs or via the queue. Manta begins with 270 degree projected media experience at the first launch. The train rocks forward and backward in synchronization with the projected film of a coral reef and school of rays. The two-minute, 2,800-foot (850 m) long ride stands at a height of 30 feet (9.1 m) and features a drop of 54 feet (16 m). The layout is characterized by multiple turns, short but sudden drops, and crossovers.[10][11]

Former attractions[edit]

  • Sparkletts Water Fantasy Show: was an indoor water fountain show. It was replaced by Window to the Sea.
    • Window to the Sea: was a live educational presentation about SeaWorld's environmental and research activities. It was replaced by Pirates 4-D
      • Pirates 4-D: Was a 3-D film attraction. It was replaced by R.L. Stine's Haunted Lighthouse 4-D. It later returned in 2010 and then closed again in 2012.
        • R.L. Stine's Haunted Lighthouse 4-D: Was a 3-D film attraction based on the book from the Goosebumps series. It was replaced by Lights, Camera, Imagination 4-D! (temporary replaced by Pirates 4-D in 2010)
          • Lights, Camera, Imagination 4-D!: Was a four-dimensional film experience for kids themed around Sesame Street, featuring Elmo and his friends. Effects "spill" into the audience, hence the title 4-D. Some effects include water-jets, rain, blasts of air, vibration, lights, and "rats". The show closed in November 2012, and was later replaced by Madagascar Live! Operation: Vacation
  • Mission: Bermuda Triangle: Was an "underwater" motion simulator attraction, which opened in 1994, and was the park's first thrill ride to include a height requirement. The attraction took riders inside a "submarine" on a trip through the Bermuda Triangle in search of the wreckage of a sunken ship. In 1997, the attraction was closed, expanded with the addition of animal exhibits, given a new theme, a new ride film, and reopened as Wild Arctic.
  • Richfield Hydrofoil Boat Ride: Opened in 1965, a hydrofoil boat ride on Mission Bay. Riders had to pay an extra charge to experience this attraction. The ride eventually closed in the 1980s. The loading dock for this ride was located near the current site of the "Cirque De La Mer" Stadium.
  • Shamu's Happy Harbor: Was an interactive children's play area which opened in 1995. In 2007, it was renovated with the addition of three family 'flat rides', and re-themed as Sesame Street Bay of Play.
  • Theater of The Sea: Built in 1964, was a large "hut" shaped building housing an Underwater Show, featuring underwater performers dressed as mermaids. After the show closed, the theater's tank was later converted to become an aquarium housing Commerson's dolphins. With the opening of Journey to Atlantis in 2004, the dolphins were moved to a new tank near the attraction, and the theater was eventually demolished to make room for Manta.

Animal exhibits[edit]

Explorer's Reef[edit]

Explorer's Reef, SeaWorld® San Diego's spectacular new entrance plaza, where guests will enter the park under a massive wave sculpture and encounter a beautiful, underwater-themed realm of animal attractions, buildings and shade structures. After over a year of planning and construction, Explorer's Reef opened on March 21, 2014, to coincide with the official kickoff of a "Sea of Surprises" to commemorate SeaWorld's 50th Celebration![12]


There are four species of dolphins at SeaWorld San Diego: common dolphin hybrid, both Atlantic/Pacific bottlenose dolphins and Pacific short-finned pilot whales. The bottlenose dolphins may rotate between Dolphin Stadium, Dolphin Point, and Animal Care. Commerson's dolphins were on display for many years, but the remaining three were recently transferred to Aquatica Orlando in January 2016. There are three Pacific short-finned pilot whales that are featured in Dolphin Days: Bubbles (F), 9Lives (also known as Shadow) (F), and Argo (M), a male pilot whale from Kamogawa Sea World who was rescued in 2004.

Animal Care: Sandy (F), Tobie (F), Razzle (M), Belle (M), Purina (F), Bullet* (F), Ripley (F), Malibu (F), Daphne (F), Maggie (F), Zana (F), Bugs (F), Captain (F), Koa (F) and Sarasota (F).

Dolphin Point / Dolphin Interaction Program: Gracie (F), Crunch (M), Cometta (F), Cascade (F), Kolohe (F), Dottie (F), Melanie (F), Steime (F), Beaker (F), Corona (F), Sadie (F), Venus (F), Cocoa (F), Kali (F), Avalon (F), Monte (M), Connie (F), Rain (M), Lanikai (F) and Bodie (M).

Dolphin Stadium (Dolphin Days): Temporarily closed for renovations (January–April 2016).

Animal Care: Pacific short-finned pilot whales- Bubbles (F), Shadow (F) and Argo (M).

Killer whales[edit]

Kasatka performing "The Shamu Adventure". The stage at Shamu Stadium has since been redesigned to accommodate the new "Believe" show. (July 5, 2004)

SeaWorld's main attraction are its killer whales, eleven of which are housed in a 7 million gallon habitat known as Shamu Stadium. Shamu was the name of the first killer whale brought to SeaWorld San Diego in 1965. "Shamu" is now used as a stage name for adult killer whales in performances at SeaWorld parks. Each killer whale has an individual name.

The park's killer whales are currently featured in the shows One Ocean (day show), Shamu’s Celebration: Light Up The Night (Summer Nights show),[13] Killer Whales: Up Close (educational presentation), and Shamu Christmas Miracles (holiday show).

Eleven killer whales live at SeaWorld San Diego: Corky (F), Kasatka (F), Ulises (M), Orkid (F), Keet (M), Shouka (F), Nakai (M), Ikaika (M), Kalia (F), Makani (M) and Amaya (F).

Blue World Project[edit]

On August 15, 2014, SeaWorld announced the Blue World Project; a major renovation to all three of the SeaWorld parks' killer whale habitats. The project will begin with SeaWorld San Diego in 2015 and is scheduled to be completed sometime in 2018 with a cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The company has also pledged $10 million in matching funds for killer whale research.[14] On May 13, 2015 SeaWorld announced to e-mail subscribers of their SeaWorldCares website that plans for the project were submitted to the California Coastal Commission in May 2015.[15]

Features of SeaWorld San Diego's Blue World Habitat:[16]

  • 50 feet in depth
  • 1.5 acres of surface area
  • The SeaWorld "Water Treadmill," a fast water current that will allow whales to swim across moving water
  • A four-story-high viewing gallery
  • Spanning more than 350 feet in length
  • The world's largest underwater viewing experience of killer whales
  • 10 million gallons of salt water

Pacific walruses[edit]

SeaWorld features walruses at Wild Arctic. The last successful walrus birth at SeaWorld San Diego was a male named Dozer (father: Illiyak and mother: Tumuk) on June 21, 1993 who was transferred to SeaWorld Orlando. The walrus habitat is also home to three Pacific harbor seals.

Wild Arctic: Seahook (F), Chou Chou (F) and Mitik (M).


SeaWorld's Penguin Encounter exhibit features over 300 penguins representing seven different species: emperors, kings, gentoos, macaroni's, Adelies, Magellanics, and Humboldts. It is one of the few places in the world where emperor penguins are kept in captivity, including a successful captive breeding program. The penguins are not named and are identified by colored arm bands, with each color representing a number.

Beluga whales[edit]

Wild Arctic is home to five beluga whales. The park's belugas regularly participate in Beluga Interaction Programs and Beluga Encounter Programs.

Wild Arctic: Ferdinand (M), Allua (F), Klondike (M), Atla (F), and Pearl (F).

Polar bears[edit]

SeaWorld's Wild Arctic exhibit is currently home to two polar bears named Snowflake (F) and Szenja (F). Snowflake, born November 28, 1995 came from the Buffalo Zoo in New York. The park's other polar bear, Szenja recently returned from a breeding loan at the Pittsburgh Zoo. The polar bear exhibit is the only non-fish exhibit to have live fish in the aquarium.


SeaWorld houses two different species of otters: sea otters, who live at the Otter Outlook exhibit, and Asian small clawed river otters, who perform in the park's sea lion and otter shows and live in the park's Animal Connection exhibit.

Sea otters: Clover (F), Mocha (F), Coco (F), Sina (F), and Pumpkin (F).

River otters (Animal Connections): Buffy (F) and Zander (M).

River otters (Sea Lion Stadium): Willow (M), Min (F), Desi (M), Sun (F), Leo (M), Giselle (F) and Hana (F).

California sea lions[edit]

The park houses California sea lions at its sea lion show venue as well as its Pacific Point exhibit.

Sea Lion Stadium: Duke (M), Jorge (M), Harvey (M), Victor (M), Kiawe (M), Murdoch (M), Jay (M), Tank (M), Diesel (M), and Ozzy (M).


2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
4,000,000 [17] 4,000,000 [17] N/A 4,260,000 [17] 4,260,000 [17] 4,147,000 [18] 4,200,000 [19] 3,800,000 [20] 4,294,000 [20] 4,444,000 [1] 4,311,000 [1] 3,794,000 [21]


Just like SeaWorld in Orlando & San Antonio, SeaWorld San Diego also includes a water park called Aquatica. SeaWorld Entertainment purchased one of the Cedar Fair-owned "Knott's Soak City" water parks in late 2012. In 2013, the water park opened as Aquatica San Diego.[2][22][23] The park is located approximately 22 mi (35 km) from its sister park, in Chula Vista, California

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "TEA/AECOM 2013 Global Attractions Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2014. Retrieved June 6, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. (December 12, 2013). "SeaWorld Prospectus (Form 424(b)(4))" (PDF). Retrieved January 5, 2014. 
  3. ^ "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". AZA. Retrieved March 20, 2011. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b "History of the Park". Busch Gardens. Retrieved March 20, 2011. 
  6. ^ Martin, Hugo; Weisberg, Lori. "Embattled SeaWorld to overhaul killer whale show". Retrieved 10 November 2015. 
  7. ^ "Cirque de la Mer | Imagination Entertainment". Imagination Entertainment, Inc. Retrieved January 16, 2014. 
  8. ^ "SeaWorld Timeline". Busch Gardens. Retrieved March 20, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Sesame Street Bay of Play". SeaWorld. Retrieved March 20, 2011. 
  10. ^ "Sea World San Diego To Open New Roller Coaster Next Year". Beverly Hills Courier. February 9, 2011. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  11. ^ MacDonald, Brady (February 9, 2011). "SeaWorld San Diego to add Manta coaster in 2012". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ a b c d "Theme Park Attendance". Coaster Grotto. 2014. Retrieved September 3, 2014. 
  18. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2008 Global Attractions Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2008. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  19. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2009 Global Attractions Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 2, 2010. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  20. ^ a b "TEA/AECOM 2011 Global Attractions Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2011. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  21. ^ "TEA/AECOM 2014 Global Attractions Attendance Report Report" (PDF). Themed Entertainment Association. 2015. Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  22. ^ Grieco, Sarah (November 21, 2012). "SeaWorld Acquires Knott’s Soak City". NBC San Diego. Retrieved November 21, 2012. 
  23. ^ Garcia, Jason (November 20, 2012). "SeaWorld buys California water park, plans 3rd Aquatica". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved November 21, 2012. 

External links[edit]