SeaWorld San Diego Trip Report: Ocean Explorer and Orca Encounter

SeaWorld Trip Report: Ocean Explorer and Orca Encounter

It goes without saying that Gabe and I go to Theme Parks A LOT! So it was an especially big treat when SeaWorld San Diego invited us down to the park to Experience the launch of their brand new attractions: Ocean Explorer and Orca Encounter!

We arrived at the park bright and early, eager to discover all the things that SeaWorld has to offer. While we were visiting the park primarily to see the two brand new offerings, it has been over TEN YEARS since either of us had paid a visit to SeaWorld! So there were plenty of new-to-us things to explore as well. But we will get to that later… Let’s talk about the two brand new attractions!

 Ocean Explorer and Submarine Quest!

Ocean explorer is a brand new realm of the park filled with fun children’s rides and interactive adventures. It is themed like an undersea base where children can explore and discover new things about the ocean and go on some very fun rides as well!

The Littlest explorers can go on rides such as Octa rock, Aqua Scout, And Sea Dragon Drop! There is also a jelly fish-themed swing ride for older explorers called Tentacle Twirl. One thing we did notice is that all the rides were voiced by the same “high pitched” voice. We were initially confused because it sounded as though each rides spiel was recorded at the same time and in the same manner.

But all of this was settled after riding their new star attraction of the Ocean Explorer area Submarine Quest! The voice ended up being the main robot characters voice which you see throughout the area.

When we got to this attraction the line was 2 hours long! A very popular attraction for just its second day open! It was also having major mechanical issues in the morning and did not open up until right before lunch time. Surprising how such a brand new attraction is having such issues. But, I am sure SeaWorld will get everything in order soon enough. The Queue for this ride is colorful and fit well to the rides theme, but leaves a bit to be desired. When you are waiting over two hours for an attraction, the queue needs to be engaging and entertaining! You can see that ideas of this are here because ss you walk through the queue, you can see notes that scientists have left as a way to mark their discoveries.

Right before you board your mini sub and start your expedition, you will pause for a photo.  The backdrop is very fun and vibrant. This is a great idea since most people riding the attraction will be families. Sometimes people get caught up in going to theme parks and never really think to slow down and take pictures. This will atleast allow families and visitors alike to have the option of purchasing this photo. The only problem I see with this photo op is its placement. It is LITERALLY right before you get onto the attraction. Allowing each family to take their time to get their families in the photo really slows down the line. Possibly having the photo op earlier  and having it optional in the queue could have helped alleviate this issue. (Something along the lines of the Norman Bates photo op on the Backlot at Halloween Horror Nights)

Guests will then climb aboard a mini sub and embark on a mission to collect data and see what exciting undersea creatures they will find on the way. Explorers can monitor their on board digital navigation and take scientific readings by using the interactive dashboard. The interactive screen allows explorers to do such things as launch scientific equipment and count sea creatures.

Overall, Submarine Quest is a fun interactive ride for the young at heart. Little explorers will feel as though they are going on a deep-sea adventure while also learning and interacting with the environment around them. But I feel like “older explorers” will not be as enthralled as the little ones.

Orca Encounter

After we finished up at ocean explorer, we made our way over to the Orca stadium to experience the all new show: Orca Encounter.

The new show includes an impressive new stage that combines a beautiful practical set that blends into a very big screen.

The Orca Encounter show is filled with loads of fun facts about Orcas, as well as plenty of live demonstrations from the Orcas themselves!

You will learn many new things about these amazing creatures. How they swing their tail fin to stun their prey, to how they love to jump out of the water and have fun! What we found most interesting is that the trainers said the actions the whales are doing are nothing out of the ordinary for them. They do not teach them tricks, all these motions and actions are things whales naturally do in the wild. Do you know how much water is displaced as an orca swims? This little girl does…

We found the Orca Encounter to be a fun and educational view into the lives of these amazing creatures. On-screen media mixed with live demonstrations from the Orcas themselves added up to a great experience for all.

Trip Report: The rest of our fun-filled Day at SeaWorld!

Explorer’s Reef

Gabe and I were absolutely filled with excitement as we started our Day at SeaWorld! And we were immediately enthralled with the touch pools right at the front of the park called Explorer’s Reef. Explorer’s Reef consists of several shallow pools that allow guests to touch a variety of sea creatures. Our particular favourite were these tiny fish that would come up and nibble at your hands! (Don’t worry completely harmless!)


We next found ourselves heading towards Manta, which is a very fun launch coaster! Neither of us had ever ridden Manta before, and we both loved it! In fact, we went right back in line to ride it again!

Neither of us had a bad thing to say about this ride. It is a fun thrilling time! The ride vehicles are very nice looking and we both absolutely loved the tunnel that you launch out of! It looks like you are under water with Manta ray’s swimming all around you!

This ride was definitely a highlight for us!


Although it was a cloudy day, we knew we just had to ride Atlantis! And it was totally worth it! We did get a little splashed, but it was a really fun ride and we didn’t mind at all.

At first glance, this ride looks absolutely beautiful! It is grand and very well themed. The queue goes along with the theme very well, and we absolutely loved the aquarium tank at the exit that looked like the lost city of Atlantis!

Overall, Atlantis is a very fun water coaster with lots of thrills and beautiful scenery.

Backstage Tour and Sea-Lion Encounter

Since Gabe and I had not been to the park in so long, we thought it would be fun to do one of the behind scene tours! We decided to do the Sea Lion tour; it was around $50 dollars per person. Our tour guide first brought us to the back stage area and gave us some information about just how much SeaWorld does in the way of rescue and rehabilitation of sea life. We were able to see sea-lions that were currently being rehabilitated, as well as the animal hospital where they were in the process of helping an injured bird. We were even greeted by a few Dolphins!!

After that, we were guided to the back area of the sea-lion enclosure where we were visited by a few sea-lions! The first one that was brought out was a partially blind older female. She was very well-behaved and we were even able to touch her! Many of the animals that we interacted with on the tour were unable to be released back into the wild. There is a very long reason for this and process! I will not bore you with the details but it does include the Government.

A few more sea-lions were brought out. The employees were all very nice and told us all about each animal and what brought them to live in SeaWorld.

The Sea lion tour was well worth the price. It was very informative and it was such a privilege to get to interact with these creatures on a closer level.

And even more fun…

Scattered throughout the rest of the day, we saw and experienced as much of the park as we could. We rode the Bayside Skyride, we grabbed a drink at Pineapple Pete’s, and we saw as many animals as we could!

Throughout the day, we saw countless animals and sea creatures. Here are a few of our favourite pictures of all the amazing animals we saw:

We are so thankful that we were able to spend the day at this wonderful park. We saw and learned and experienced so many things throughout the day. From thrill rides to animal encounters, this park has something for everyone and every age. And there are so many new and exciting things on the horizon for SeaWorld San Diego. We can’t wait to plan another trip and see what they do next!!!

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