It's Jason from Carltonaut's Travel Tips. Earlier this year I was in Orlando for a business trip. The work keep me busy during the day, but lucky for me, SEA LIFE Aquarium Orlando was open till 10 PM so I could check it out after a long day of working.
While it would've been nice to visit the aquarium with my kids, it allowed me to do a little scouting of the venue so I could make note of what to visit next time the family and I are in Orlando. Here's a quick guide to help you plan your visit to SEA LIFE Aquarium Orlando.
Save Money: Buy Tickets Online
It's always nice to save a few dollars when you travel. If you buy your tickets online, you can save about $2.50 per ticket. If you're interested in a Behind-the-Scenes tour of the aquarium, you can add that to your ticket for an additional $5 each.
What's better? If you want to visit some of the other activities offered at ICON Orlando (the complex where SEA LIFE Orlando is located), you can purchase multi-pass tickets to two or even three attractions. The two other attractions are:
- ICON Orlando – the large Ferris-wheel towering 400 feet above Orlando
- Madame Tussauds – the famous wax figure museum featuring sport and music icons, historical figures, Hollywood stars and more
If you decide to purchase the combination tickets, you can likely spend a few hours visiting the aquarium and wax museum, and taking a 25-minute ride in the Orlando Eye.
Grab Your Dive Log Book
When you first check in at SEA LIFE Orlando, you'll want to ask about getting a DIVE LOG BOOK for your kids. The free pamphlet will keep you kids engaged in learning about aquatic life throughout the aquarium.
Your kids will find nine Dive Stations that look like the picture below. They can read fun facts about a given sea creature or issue facing life underwater. Don't forget to have them use the embosser to stamp their log book – because if they have all nine stamped when you get to the gift shop at the end, they can turn it in for a little SEA LIFE medal.
Another option for kids is to purchase a $5 SEA LIFE Ranger Mission Pack. It's a little workbook they can complete during the visit. Simply keep an eye out for the circular MISSION stickers and complete the activity.
Know the Event Schedule for the Day
When you first arrive, you'll notice a schedule for the day. It will include talk times in various exhibit areas in the museum, as well as feeding times. The talks and feeding times are located throughout the day, so if you're like me (having to work during the day, but visiting the museum in the evening), you may end up missing the talks and feeding times. Visit their website to confirm any feeding times or talks that interest you most so you can be there at the right time.
Don't Miss the 360-degree Tunnel
SEA LIFE Orlando offers a lot of things for kids (and kids-at-heart) to climb into. Near the start of the tour, you'll find an aquarium with a crawl space underneath and little domes you can pop up into to get a closer look at the fish swimming around the tank. There are other tanks you can explore – big and small.
One of the highlights of SEA LIFE Orlando is the 360-degree tunnel that takes you through a large tank. If you hang out there long enough, you'll see sharks, sting rays, sea turtles, and so much more. They'll swim below your feet or above your head. It's a great way to feel immersed with the fish without getting wet. It's a win-win.
Take Time to Explore SEA LIFE Orlando
SEA LIFE Orlando does a great job arranging the areas of the museum. Sections are organized by type of aquatic life found in various parts of the world. The Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans each have their own dedicated section.
Beyond simply looking at tank after tank of fish, visitors can explore various hands-on exhibits as well. One room has large screens where you can identify different types of sea creatures or play fun (yet educational) games.
Another area has fluorescent lighting that illuminates real jelly fish as they float around the tank. It's pretty relaxing to watch a jelly fish pulse its translucent body as it glides through the current.
I will note that the mission of SEA LIFE Orlando isn't to just wow visitors with cool fish. It's a fabulous place to learn about conservation efforts – and the need for more conservation efforts – that will help protect our oceans, water ways, sea life and more.
Finish Up at the Touch Pool
No aquarium is complete without the opportunity to touch real sea creatures. The tide pools include starfish, sea anemone, crabs and more. Adults are asked to supervise their children at this exhibit, but there is also a museum worker there to answer any questions you or your kids may have.
Once the touching part is done, be sure to have everyone wash their hands before heading into the final part of the tour – the gift shop.
If your child completed the DIVE LOG BOOK or the Ranger program, have them check in with the cashier in the gift shop. Otherwise, enjoy checking out the cool souvenirs from the aquarium, including stuffed animals and so much more.
Good to Know
Where: 8401 International Drive, Orlando, Florida (it’s by the tall Ferris wheel – you can’t miss it)
When: Open daily at 10 a.m., but closing times vary by season. Visit the website for official closing times.
How Much: An adult ticket is currently $28. Child tickets are $23. I recommend you buy online to save $2.50 per ticket, or combine with other Orlando attractions to save money on admission.
How Long: You'll want to plan at least one hour, but if you want to take the time to explore everything and enjoy a talk or feeding, you may want to plan on two hours.
Amenities: There is a gift shop at the end of the Aquarium tour. Restrooms are located in the main lobby of ICON Orlando. There are numerous restaurants in the area as well.