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SeaWorld San Diego facts for kids

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SeaWorld San Diego
SeaWorld San Diego logo.svg
Slogan Real. Amazing.
Location 500 Sea World Drive, San Diego, California, United States
Theme Ocean Adventure and Exploration
Owner SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
Operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
General manager Marilyn Hannes
Opened March 21, 1964; 58 years ago (1964-03-21)
Previous names SeaWorld of California, SeaWorld Adventure Park
Operating season Year Round
Visitors per annum 4.311 million (2013)
Area 189 acres (76 ha)
Total 16
Roller coasters 5
Water rides 2
Website SeaWorld San Diego
Status Operating

SeaWorld San Diego is an animal theme park, oceanarium, outside aquarium and marine mammal park, in San Diego, California, United States, inside Mission Bay Park.

SeaWorld San Diego is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). 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.


San Diego Sea World
Previous entrance replaced by Explorer's Reef on March 21, 2014.

SeaWorld was founded on 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.

Initially held as a private partnership, SeaWorld offered its stock publicly in 1968 enabling it 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. The partnership later sold SeaWorld Ohio to Six Flags in January 2001. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich owned the parks between 1976 and 1989, when Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. purchased them. After InBev acquired Anheuser-Busch, it sold SeaWorld San Diego and the rest of the company's theme parks to the Blackstone Group in December 2009, which operates the park through its SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment division.

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 mammal park may be operated by SeaWorld within 560 miles of the City limits.

The park has been closed since mid-March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.


SeaWorld San Diego Aerial
Aerial photo of the park from 2012.


Many of SeaWorld's shows are seasonal and may change based on the time of year.

  • Orca Encounter: a show highlighting the park's killer whales and various aspects of their lives.
  • Dolphin Days: guests can meet the Whale & Dolphin family and learn what inspires their trainers.
  • Sea Lions Live: a show that spoofs television shows and music, featuring California sea lions and Asian small-clawed otters.
  • Sea Rescue: an indoor theater that shows episodes of ABC's Sea Rescue about SeaWorld efforts saving injured marine animals.
  • Cirque Electrique: a summertime evening show featuring world-class acrobatic performances. Formerly known as Cirque de la Mer.


Bayside Skyride

Bayside Skyride is a 1967 VonRoll type 101 gondola ride located in the northwest corner of the park behind the Bayside Amphitheater. It travels over Perez Cove for a 6-minute ride on two 80-foot (24 m) towers and lands on the other side before returning for a full loop. Bayside 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.

Ocean Explorer

Ocean Explorer is a kids realm that opened on May 27, 2017. The area includes four rides: Aqua Scout, a ride that bounces in mini submarines, Octarock, a swing that rocks back and forth, Sea Dragon Drop, a child size drop tower and Tentacle Twirl, a jellyfish-themed wave swing ride.

Riptide Rescue

Located outside Turtle Reef, Riptide Rescue is a spinning flat ride, with the vehicles being themed to SeaWorld's rescue boats.

Sesame Street's Bay of Play

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 Dumbo the Flying Elephant" and Oscar's Rockin' Eel, an eel themed "Tug Boat" ride.

Shipwreck Rapids

Shipwreck Rapids is an Intamin river rapids ride themed to a shipwreck on a deserted island. At one point riders pass by a sea turtle exhibit. There is also a point where riders go underneath a waterfall into a cavern.


Skytower is a 320-foot (98 m) Gyro tower that was built in 1969 and designed by Intamin. 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 (1.02 rpm).

Roller coasters

Electric Eel

SeaWorld San Diego Electric Eel Roller Coaster
Electric Eel at night

Opened on May 10, 2018, Electric Eel is a Sky Rocket II model by Premier Rides. Electric Eel is currently the tallest and fastest roller coaster in San Diego. Electric Eel stands at 150 feet (46 m) tall, with a track length of 853 feet (260 m) and speeds of up to 62 miles per hour (100 km/h).

Journey to Atlantis

Journey to Atlantis is a Mack Rides water coaster that was built in 2004. The ride stands at a height of 95 feet (29 m) and contains three drops and an elevator lift. In addition, the ride hits a max speed of 42 miles per hour (68 km/h).


Emperor is a Dive Coaster manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard. With a height of 153 ft, Emperor will be the tallest, fastest and longest Dive Coaster in California. The ride will contain 2,500 feet (760 m) of track, an immelman loop, 143 feet (44 m) tall 90 degree drop and will reach speeds over {[convert|60|mph|km/h}}. It is planned to open in 2021.


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.

Manta roller coaster at Sea World San Diego
Manta roller coaster at Sea World San Diego

Tidal Twister

Tidal Twister is a Skywarp Horizon model by Skyline Attractions. Tidal Twister is the first Skywarp Horizon and is the second coaster manufactured by Skyline. The ride reaches a top speed of 30 miles per hour (48 km/h), with a height of 22 feet (6.7 m) and a track length of 320 feet (98 m). The ride opened on May 24, 2019.

Animal exhibits


SeaWorld San Diego is home to three aquariums. Each aquarium houses different types of aquatic animals, both fresh and saltwater.

Aquaria: World of Fishes: The park's first aquarium, containing a variety of animals, including pirahnas, alligator gar, leopard sharks and an olive ridley sea turtle

Octopus Aquarium: This aquarium is home to a variety of cephalopods, including various specious of octopus, cuttlefish and nautilus.

Ray Aquarium: Located adjacent to Journey to Atlantis, this aquarium features a variety of rays and fishes.

Explorer's Reef

Opened on March 21, 2014, Explorer's Reef is an attraction that contains animal attractions and structures. Featuring four different touch pools, Explorer's Reef gives guests the opportunity to interact with a variety of fish, including 400 Brownbanded bamboo shark and white-spotted bamboo sharks, more than 4,000 cleaner fish and horseshoe crabs.


There are three species of dolphins at SeaWorld San Diego: common dolphin hybrid, Atlantic, and Pacific bottlenose dolphins. Pacific & Atlantic short-finned pilot whales also live at Dolphin Amphitheater. The parks dolphins may rotate between Dolphin Amphitheater, Dolphin Point, and Animal Care as their needs change.

Animal Care:

Dolphin Point (12 dolphins): Crunch (M-43 y), Cascade (F-36 y), Kolohe (F-35 y), Dottie (F-32 y), Razzle (M-31 y), Tobie (F-30 y), Belle (M-30 y), Beaker (F-28 y), Daphne (F-20 y), Bugs (F-14 y), Bodie (M-5 y) and Sarasota (F-4 y).

Dolphin Amphitheater (18 Dolphins): Sandy (F-41 y), Melanie (F-31 y), Bullet (F-27 y), Malibu (F-22 y), Corona (F-20 y), Zana (F-16 y), Maguire (F-16 y), Venus (F-15 y), Captain (F-14 y), Cocoa (F-11 y), Kali (F-10 y), Koa (F-11 y), Avalon (F-10 y), Connie (F-8 y), Lanikai (F-6 y), Blue (M-1 y), Jack (M-9 months), and Skye (F-9 months).

Dolphin Amphitheater (4 Pilot Whales): Argo (M-19 y), Ava (F-8 y), Ace (M-8 y), and Piper (F-7 y).

Killer whales

Shamu with trainer
Kasatka performing "The Shamu Adventure".
SeaWorld San Diego "Orca Encounter" Exhibit
Orca Encounter Exhibit

SeaWorld's main attraction are its killer whales, ten of which are housed in San Diego in a 7 million gallon habitat. Shamu was the name of the first killer whale brought to SeaWorld San Diego in 1965. "Shamu" is now used as the character name for the costume character at the park entrance. SeaWorld San Diego ended their theatrical Killer Whale shows at San Diego in January 2017. San Diego was the first of the three SeaWorld parks to premiere "Orca Encounter," a more educational presentation that gives insight into various aspects of a killer whale's life.

Killer whales: Corky (F- 56 y), Ulises (M- 42 y), Orkid (F- 32 y), Keet (M- 28 y), Shouka (F- 27 y), Nakai (M- 19 y), Ikaika (M- 18 y), Kalia (F- 16 y), Makani (M- 8 y) and Amaya (F- 6 y).

Wild Arctic

SeaWorld's Wild Arctic is home to various species of cold water animals, including beluga whales and different species of pinnipeds.

Belugas: Ferdinand (M), Allua (F), and Klondike (M).

Harbor seals: B.B. (F), Gunnar (M) and Denali (F).

Ringed seal: Natchek (M).

Northern Sea otters: Cinder (F) and Spruce (M)

Walruses: Dozer (M), Basa (F), Kulu (F), Chouchou (F).

Seals & Sea Lions

SeaWorld San Diego "Sea Lion & Otter Amphitheater" Exhibit
Sea Lion & Otter Amphitheater exhibit

SeaWorld San Diego houses California sea lions in both its Sea Lion Point exhibit, as well as Sea Lion & Otter Amphitheater.

Sea Lion & Otter Amphitheater (Sea Lions): Duke (M), Harvey (M), Jorge (M), Victor (M), Kiawe (M), Murdoch (M), Ozzy (M), Tank (M), and Jay (M).

Sea Lion Point (Sea Lions): Chita (F), Diamond (F), Khloe (F), Deisel (M), Rebar (F), and Fancy (F).

Sea Lion Point (Harbor Seals): Tomas (M), Olaf (M), Cyclops (M), Anna (F), Annie (F), and Grimsey (F)

Sea Lion Point (Guadalupe Fur Seals): Megan (F) and Boldt (M).


2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
4,000,000 4,000,000 N/A 4,260,000 4,260,000 4,147,000 4,200,000 3,800,000 4,294,000 4,444,000
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
4,311,000 3,794,000 3,528,000 3,528,000 3,100,000

Aquatica San Diego

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. The park is located approximately 23 mi (37 km) southeast of its sister SeaWorld park, in Chula Vista, California. The park features 26 slides. On October 21, 2019, SeaWorld Entertainment announced that Aquatica San Diego would be converted into Sesame Place, the first Sesame Place theme park on the West Coast. Aquatica never had their final season in 2020 before closing and will be reopened as Sesame Place in 2022. The new park will retain some water park attractions and integrate them into the new park.

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