By Rebecca Alwine
Earlier this month, my family packed up and PCSed from the deserts of Arizona to the beaches of Florida. We stopped in San Antonio to enjoy SeaWorld.
I did quite a bit of research in advance regarding the complimentary Waves of Honor tickets. I had a hard time getting the online ticket process to work. I didn’t have time to keep playing around with it, so as my desktop was packed up, we decided we’d risk it at the park.
Note: The website says you absolutely cannot get tickets at the entrance. We had absolutely no problem doing this. We simply walked up, presented my husband’s active duty ID card, and he filled out a quick form. He was allowed to bring up to three dependents, so our family entered for free! Children under 3 are free.
Here are our favorite parts of SeaWorld San Antonio:
Aquarium & dolphins
Before entering SeaWorld or Aquatica, there is a completely free section of the park that includes the main gift shop, the dolphins, and an aquarium. We ducked in towards the end of our trip when ominous rain clouds were overhead. We were able to see sharks, beautiful fish, and some very determined unicorn fish and get up close and personal with the dolphins. If you’re driving through San Antonio and don’t have enough time for the whole park, consider this as a nice break.
This 30-minute show came highly recommended to us. The show features pets that have been trained to entertain. It’s fun to watch cats, dogs, and birds tell short stories with their handlers and show off their skills. I don’t want to ruin the surprise for you, but there are some animals you will be shocked to see in this show! As a bonus, all of the animals are rescue animals from local shelters.
Bay of Play
This area is perfect for younger kids as there is a giant climbing structure and lots of opportunity to get wet! The area is not secured, so make sure to keep a close eye when they’re playing. There are several rides in this area that kids can enjoy by themselves (or with adults if they aren’t tall enough). From a roller coaster to carousel, there is something for all levels of adventurous kids.
In addition to the free admission, we were also given two coupons, each for 30 percent off, that could be used once for food and once for merchandise. We’re not sure if this is standard, but this was our experience.
At the far end of the park, past the Great White roller coaster, is the Penguin Encounter. Don’t be alarmed by the fishy smell! Take a slow ride on the people mover past the penguins and watch as they eat, swim, dive . . . or just stand there.
You do not have to get wet at SeaWorld. But, where’s the fun in that? There are a few rides that you simply will get wet on. Journey to Atlantis was our first stop; if you haven’t been there, think log flume. Of course, the people on the ride don’t get as wet as those who dare to venture to the “splash area” at the bottom. We then journeyed to Rio Loco, which is sort of like a lazy river. You’re not submerged in the water, but as the float turns and traverses the rapids, you’re going to get wet.
SeaWorld San Antonio has some great extras for families. From stroller rentals to allowing you to pack snack-sized treats, they have family in mind. They also have multiple charging stations around the park, lots of restrooms, and some changing areas near Bay of Play. Lockers are available near the water rides to keep valuables safe, the men’s and women’s restrooms have changing tables, and there are also nursing stations for feeding babies.
For someone who doesn’t like roller coasters, I really enjoyed SeaWorld. We went on a Monday and the lines were nonexistent. With the help of our complimentary tickets and coupons, we made out like bandits. We each got a souvenir, lunch, and ice cream treats. It was an absolutely wonderful experience, and I highly encourage each and every military family to try it.