Opened in 1964, SeaWorld San Diego is the original park in the SeaWorld chain. The founders of SeaWorld originally intended to build an underwater restaurant, but the plans fell through. Instead, the four UCLA graduates created a 22 acre zoological park dedicated to marine life. The park opened with several dolphins, some sea lions and two marine aquariums, and attracted over 400,000 visitors its first year. Since then, Sea World San Diego has hosted more than 130 million visitors.
Today, SeaWorld San Diego is a wild combination of water park, amusement park and aquarium, featuring over 5,000 fish from 434 different species. The biggest attractions at the San Diego SeaWorld include Shamu, an orca show, and the Shark Encounter, a 60 foot long acrylic tube that takes visitors directly through the heart of the 280,000 gallon shark tank, allowing a close look at these creatures
Aquarium de La Mer features two dozen displays and hundreds of tropical and cold-water fish. The World of the Sea Aquarium features tropical fish and native California fish. Dolphin Encounter and Dolphin Interactive Adventures are designed to give guests a chance to interact with dolphins at varying levels. The Penguin Encounter features one of the only successful breeding Emperor Penguin colonies outside Antarctic. It also is the first zoological facility to breed emperor and chinstrap penguins, helping to boost these animals' numbers in the wild.
Don't miss the Shamu Close-up, which lets visitors into the world of the orca through viewing platforms and underwater viewing windows for up-close observation of the majestic and playful black and white whales that started the whole thing.
For families with small children, SeaWorld San Diego features the Sesame Street Bay of Play, a two acre play area with rides aimed at the under-six crowd. Kids may meet and greet popular Sesame Street characters, and enjoy climbing and playing on net crawls, tunnels and an air bounce.
Families and individuals can also Dine with Shamu on his private patio. The intimate poolside meal features a delicious buffet and talks by trainers. Other dining experiences at the park include Breakfast with Elmo and Friends at the Garden Plaza and lunch or dinner at the Shipwreck Reef Caf,, where diners can enjoy their meals alongside some of the most delightful exhibits in the park.
Of course, the amusement park rides are among the biggest draws and attractions at SeaWorld San Diego. The most popular rides include the Journey to Atlantis water coaster ride and the bumpy Wild Arctic ride that features a simulated helicopter trip to an Arctic Research station. The two newest rides are the Bayride Skyride and Skytower which both offer panoramic views of Mission Bay and downtown San Diego.
Park hours vary by season and depend on the weather. Park admission is $65 for ages 10 and older, $55 for children ages 3-9, free for children under 3. Multi-park passes, SeaWorld Passports and discounts are available. For more information about SeaWorld San Diego admissions and hours, contact SeaWorld Public Relations at 619-226-3929.