Make-A-Wish families receive a one-day pass to SeaWorld Orlando, in addition to three days at Walt Disney World and two days at Universal Orlando. We found that SeaWorld is the park that best adapts to the busy schedule of a Make-A-Wish trip. It can be high-adrenaline or easy-going – whatever works best for your family.
We arrived at Give Kids the World (GKTW) very late after a long travel day, and we needed to start our first day in Florida slowly. Also, our kids really wanted pony rides at Give Kids the World, which were scheduled for our first morning. We had been to SeaWorld San Diego before, so we planned to sleep in, enjoy the pony rides and then visit to SeaWorld Orlando for a few hours. This low-pressure plan worked well for us.
Keep in mind that SeaWorld has a lot to offer. It is among the most educational parks on GKTW's list. The Manta coaster is one of the best rides in Orlando. SeaWorld Orlando has many shows and exhibits, so it is especially fun for family members who don't do rides.
This was our #1 priority at SeaWorld. There is no set schedule for dolphin feedings at Discovery Cove because the times are adjusted daily to accommodate the dolphins' dietary needs. Daily feeding times should be listed on the daily park agenda when you arrive.
We were lucky to arrive at feeding time. It was mid-day. With my son's GKTW button, we were ushered to the front and given enough fish for our whole family to feed the dolphins. It was a lot of fun!
Related: Tips for Visiting SeaWorld Orlando
Our next stop was the whale show at the far other end of the park. It was a long walk, and extra-tough since we weren't yet accustomed to Florida's summer weather. We were ushered to the handicap zone with our button. My son (who had completed treatment for cancer) didn't really need to be there, so we chose our own seats at the next show.
We really enjoyed the humorous Clyde and Seamore sea lion show, and highly recommend it for kids. The pet show is lots of fun and one of the best kept secrets at SeaWorld. I have always enjoyed the playful and fast-paced dolphin show at SeaWorld San Diego, though we didn't see it in Orlando.
SeaWorld has a number of great educational aquarium exhibits. We cruised through the shark exhibit, which was a slam dunk. I also really like Wild Arctic, TurtleTrek and the penguin exhibits. These places are good for seeing and learning about wild animals, and enjoying the air conditioning too!
We love touch pools and SeaWorld Orlando has them! They are a great way for kids to interact with the animals. We spent some of our time up close with the rays.
We only spent a few hours at SeaWorld, and our kids were a little young for the big coasters, so we skipped the rides at SeaWorld. We returned to SeaWorld Orlando when our kids were older, and the coasters were their favorite part of the park on that trip.
Manta and Kracken are thrilling coasters – among the best in Orlando. Journey to Atlantis is a water ride. The Wild Arctic Ride is an optional entry to the Wild Arctic exhibit. It is indoor with a screen, like Star Tours at the Disney parks. The Sky Tower is a leisurely ride where you'll get a panoramic view of SeaWorld and the surrounding area. Shamu's Happy Harbor has lots of rides for families with younger kids.
Especially for Wish families
SeaWorld Orlando offers a number of special perks for Wish families. They are:
- Free parking – Show your GKTW button at the entrance. You must have a handicap placard to park in handicap spaces.
- Free dolphin feeding – Show your GKTW button to receive free, front-of-line access and fish for the family.
- Reserved seating at shows – Show your GKTW button to sit in the handicap section at the shows. If you want to sit elsewhere (like the splash zone) you may want to arrive early to get the seat you want.
- Expedited entrance to rides – Show your button to get “expedited” entrance to rides. We didn't try this, so I suspect that you'll be escorted to the front of the line, but can't say for certain. Regular visitors have the option of purchasing front-of-line access, so you probably get to hang with this group.
- Free photo – Professional photographers are stationed around the park to take photos for visitors to purchase. You can get one free photo with the voucher you'll receive. Redeem it at the photo purchase booth.
- Free stroller or wheelchair rental – Show your GKTW button. Many Wish families prefer to bring their own strollers because they are generally more comfortable, may have more storage, and can be used in the large parking lots.
Learn more at the official Give Kids the World website at https://www.gktw.org/.
SeaWorld may not be your family's #1 priority on a Make-A-Wish vacation, but it's a fun park and well worth a few hours or a whole day. SeaWorld is accredited by the AZA and is filled with top-notch aquarium exhibits. The shows are entertaining. The rides are among the best in Orlando, and should satisfy the adrenaline junkies in your family.
I hope that our experience helps your family have a great day visiting SeaWorld through Make-A-Wish.