Orca Showby Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

9 Best Ways to SEA Animals at SeaWorld Orlando

While it might claim the title of the “Coaster Capital of Orlando,” the wildest part of SeaWorld is its menagerie of marine animals. SeaWorld Orlando is home to an oceanful of wildlife, from iconic creatures like killer whales, dolphins and sharks to Florida locals like manatees and alligators to flippered and feathered friends from farther away like sea lions and penguins. Best of all, there are just as many ways for animal lovers to experience them all, whether coming face-to-fin during a behind-the-seanes tour or free feeding session, learning about them during a show or keeper talk, or simply appreciating them from afar.

If you’re a wildlife fan who wants to get in touch with nature during your visit to the theme park, grab your wetsuit as we dive into the best ways to enjoy the many SeaWorld Orlando animals. Come on in—the water’s fine!

Top 9 SeaWorld Orlando Animal Experiences for Wildlife Lovers

As much as we love the incredible thrill rides at SeaWorld Orlando (and Sesame Street Land, too!), the heart and soul of this wild theme park are the many incredible marine animals that call it home. In fact, some of those very same SeaWorld attractions—like Manta, Mako and the soon-to-open Penguin Trek—even take inspiration from the creatures themselves. Needless to say, no matter if you’re an animal lover or an adrenaline junkie, there is no shortage of ways to bring the mysteries of the deep and the wildlife that calls the world’s waters home a little bit closer to the surface.

So, when you aren’t screaming your way through Mako or gliding through the air like a ray on Manta, what sorts of real-live animal encounters can you enjoy at SeaWorld Orlando? Bring your snorkel and some goggles, and let’s take a look!

Dolphins at SeaWorld Orlando
Dolphins at SeaWorld Orlando by R9 Studios FL is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Explore the Many SeaWorld Animal Exhibits

The easiest way to “sea” animals at SeaWorld Orlando is by checking out the park’s many animal exhibits. Dotted all across the park, from aquariums inside ride queues to stand-alone habitats like Wild Arctic and Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, SeaWorld Orlando animal exhibits offer both above- and below-water views of all the flippered, finned and feathered friends that live at the park. Best of all, access is free with your SeaWorld ticket. SeaWorld Orlando animals include:

  • Bottlenose dolphins
  • Beluga whales
  • Orcas/killer whales
  • Several species of sharks
  • Manatees
  • Sea lions
  • Harbor seals
  • Walruses
  • Stingrays
  • Manta rays
  • Several species of penguins
  • Jellyfish
  • Flamingos
  • Pelicans
  • And more!

Cost: Free – Included with park admission

Availability: Open daily

Try Your Hand at Being a Keeper by Feeding Some of the Animals

They say that the way to someone’s heart is through food. Well, that’s also the case for the California sea lions, harbor seals, stingrays and sharks that live at SeaWorld Orlando. For a small fee, around $5 each, you can buy trays of food, which are filled with fish to toss to the creatures of Pacific Point Preserve, Stingray Lagoon and Shark Shallows. Significantly cheaper than guided tours offered at the theme park, animal feeding at SeaWorld Orlando is the perfect opportunity to make your visit even more memorable without having to dig too far into your travel budget, and it’s fun for animal lovers of all ages.

Our favorite place to feed SeaWorld Orlando animals is Pacific Point Preserve. Home to a host of playful pinnipeds, the seals and sea lions here will go to some pretty astonishing (and loud!) lengths to get your attention, as well as the tasty fish you have in your hand. Stop by in the morning when they aren’t full and happy from handouts all day to really hear them sing the songs of their people and enjoy some especially adorable antics.

Cost: Trays of food are available for a small fee

Availability: Open daily

Sea Lions at SeaWorld Orlando
Sea Lions by R9 Studios FL is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Get Hands-On with Sharks and Rays

Want to get even closer? We’re talking hands-in-the-water close. Then don’t miss a visit to Shark Shallows and Stingray Lagoon. Not only can you feed the animals that call these SeaWorld Orlando habitats home, but you can touch them, too. Completely free for park guests, these hands-on experiences allow animal lovers to lightly touch sharks that live in the shallows and pet velvety stingrays as they glide past, all without even getting your feet wet. Although, don’t be surprised if you get splashed a little bit. The rays of Stingray Lagoon often flap their “wings” (AKA fins), making it look as if they want to give you a high five.

Cost: Free – Included with park admission

Availability: Open daily

“Sea” One of the Park’s Live Animal Shows

No visit to SeaWorld Orlando is complete without catching its live animal shows. Featuring underwater stars like bottlenose dolphins, killer whales, California sea lions, walruses and Asian small-clawed otters, these fascinating presentations aren’t just entertaining. You’re also sure to leave at the end of it having learned a thing or two. Led by expert trainers and animal care specialists, each show offers a look at SeaWorld Orlando animals’ unique characteristics, behaviors and skills. You’ll also learn about their care inside the park, as well as the challenges they face in the wild and what you can do to help with conservation efforts.

Shows are held multiple times daily. For the day’s schedule, refer to the SeaWorld Orlando website or app. Keep in mind that seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. However, to secure a great seat without a long wait, you can upgrade your day with SeaWorld Reserved Seating, which is available for between $14.99 and $69.99 per person, depending on when you visit. Headlining animal presentations at SeaWorld Orlando include:

Jumping Dolphins at SeaWorld Orlando
Jumping Dolphins by R9 Studios FL is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Dolphin Adventures

Held in Dolphin Stadium, this informational show features SeaWorld Orlando’s pod of bottlenose dolphins. Throughout the presentation, you’ll learn about dolphins’ famed playfulness, as well as the natural behaviors they use to survive and the role they play in the oceans of the world.

Orca Encounter

One of the most majestic creatures on the planet, the killer whale is also the ocean’s most powerful predator. Nicknamed the “wolves of the sea,” orcas are masterful hunters, working together to secure their prey. In this inspiring presentation, you’ll discover a few of their hunting techniques and how playfulness plays a part in their daily lives, all while gaining an appreciation for their care and the impact killer whales have on our world’s oceans.

Due to a commitment made by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment in 2016 to end their killer whale breeding program, this is the last generation of orcas to call SeaWorld Orlando home. So, be sure to visit the pod of five while you still can.

Sea Lion & Otter Spotlight

Located in Sea Lion and Otter Stadium, this entertaining show is just as amusing as it is educational. Starring creatures like California sea lions, Asian small-clawed otters and possibly a walrus or two, Sea Lion & Otter Spotlight offers a glimpse into the personalities, behaviors and skills of these fascinating creatures. You’ll also learn about their habitats and the threats they face there.

Cost: Free – Included with park admission

Availability: Multiple showings available daily

Orca Showby Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Dive Deeper During a Keeper Talk

Want to learn even more? Be sure to check out the many keeper talks offered at SeaWorld Orlando. Offered several times each day, these insightful presentations open a window into the worlds of animals like manatees, sea turtles, sea lions, harbor seals, and bottlenose dolphins and are helmed by the dedicated animal specialists who care for them.

Much more intimate than shows like Dolphin Adventures and Sea Lion & Otter Spotlight, with far fewer people in attendance, these are great opportunities to ask any questions you might have in a relaxed setting and learn about the animals from the people who know them best. Typically, each keeper talk is offered three times a day. So, refer to the SeaWorld Orlando website or app for the day’s schedule.

Cost: Free – Included with park admission

Availability: Multiple presentations available daily

Stop by the SeaWorld Rescue Center

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is about more than theme parks and thrill rides. It’s also an organization committed to animal conservation efforts across the globe, and a huge part of that is the SeaWorld Rescue Center. Home to orphaned, sick and injured wildlife, this state-of-the-art facility has cared for thousands of animals through the years.

Today, the SeaWorld Rescue Center plays host to a menagerie of at-risk manatees and sea turtles—including Kemp’s ridley sea turtles, which are critically endangered. SeaWorld Rescue is also the site of the Coral Rescue Center, a sanctuary run in partnership with the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida for hundreds of rescued coral colonies, the largest public-facing facility of its kind in the United States.

A visit to SeaWorld Rescue and the SeaWorld Coral Rescue Center provides a fascinating look at these vulnerable populations, the care they receive and what you can do to support their future conservation. Animal care specialists and coral biologists are also on hand to answer questions or simply observe as they go about their important work.

SeaWorld Rescue Tour

Between $19-$24/person

For an even closer look at the crucial conservation efforts of SeaWorld Rescue, as well as some invaluable context, embark on a 30-minute guided tour of the facility. Throughout the tour, learn how SeaWorld saves and cares for animals in need and see some of the sea turtles and manatees that call the facility home.

Cost: Free – Included with park admission

Availability: Open daily

Shark Encounter Entrance
Shark Encounter Entrance by Roller Coaster Philosophy is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Eat Alongside the Denizens of the Deep at Dine with Orcas or Sharks Underwater Grill and Bar

Sea lions, seals, stingrays and sharks aren’t the only creatures with big appetites at SeaWorld Orlando. We’re sure that you’re going to be hungry, too, especially after screaming your way through a roller coaster or two. So, after tossing them some fish, why not sit down alongside them for a meal and a show?

Two of the specialty dining experiences offered at SeaWorld Orlando (the other is a seasonal character breakfast featuring some friends from Sesame Street, Dine with Orcas and Sharks Underwater Grill & Bar allow guests to drink in views of killer whales or toothy sharks while savoring some of the park’s best food. Understandably, given the popularity of each, reservations for both are highly encouraged.

For Dine with Orcas, guests enjoy a meal of seasonal, sustainable and locally sourced dishes right next to the killer whales’ habitat, all while watching the incredible creatures practice some of their unique behaviors. At Sharks Underwater Grill and Bar, meanwhile, diners sink their teeth in upscale entrées like pan-seared scallops or filet mignon in the shadow of a massive aquarium teeming with sharks.

Cost: $31 to $59 per adult for Dine with Orcas, price varies depending on the day/season; entrée prices at Sharks Underwater Grill and Bar range from the low $30s to mid-$40s

Availability: Open daily, reservations recommended

Parrots at SeaWorld Orlando
Parrots by R9 Studios FL is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Go Behind the “Seas” with an Up-Close Tour or Animal Encounter  

As wonderful and educational as the exhibits and shows at SeaWorld Orlando are, nothing can compare to the firsthand experiences offered by the park’s up-close tours or animal encounters. Hosted by animal experts, these memorable interactions are available at an additional cost—which, we’ll admit, can be considerable for certain tours. However, between the fascinating bits of information and unforgettable moments like touching, feeding and photo opportunities or hands-on involvement in training sessions, you’re sure to walk away with both knowledge and memories to last a lifetime.

As spaces are limited, advance reservations are highly recommended. SeaWorld Orlando animal encounters include:

Beluga Encounter

Between $99-$119/person

Join a 30-minute walking tour and training session with the canaries of the sea, where you’ll learn about their care and enrichment from an animal trainer.

  • Opportunity to feed

Beluga Whales Up-Close Tour

Between $119-$129/person

Discover more about some of the ocean’s coolest creatures during this poolside, 45-minute walking tour and hands-on interaction guided by an animal care specialist.

  • Opportunity to touch and feed
Leaping Dolphin at SeaWorld Orlando
Leaping Dolphin by R9 Studios FL is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Dolphin Encounter

Between $29-$69/person

Dive into the lives of the dolphins that call Dolphin Cove home, learning about their care and communication style during a special, 15-minute training session.

  • Opportunity to touch and feed
  • Photo taken but sold separately

Dolphins Up-Close Tour

Between $59-$99/person

Come face-to-face and get hands-on with playful bottlenose dolphins at the Dolphin Nursery while also learning about their behaviors and the techniques used by animal care specialists in training sessions during this extended, 30-minute interaction.

  • Opportunity to touch, feed and try out some behaviors
  • Photo taken but sold separately

Killer Whale Up-Close Tour

Between $99-$159/person

Get up close and personal with one of the world’s most majestic ocean animals during this personal training and Q&A session led by an animal care specialist.

  • Photo taken but sold separately
Anarctica: Empire of the Penguin
Anarctica: Empire of the Penguin by zannaland is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Penguin Encounter

Between $49-$79/person

Go behind the scenes at the warm-weather penguin habitat to learn about the birds and their unique personalities from their keepers during this 20- to 30-minute experience.

  • Opportunity to touch
  • Photo included

Penguins Up-Close Tour

Between $69-$109/person

Chill out behind the scenes with some of SeaWorld Orlando’s fanciest feathered friends at Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin during this 45-minute walking tour and Q&A session led by an animal expert.

  • Opportunity to touch
  • Photo included

Sea Lions Up-Close Tour

Between $69-$109/person

Hang out with some of the flippered comedians that call Pacific Point Preserve at SeaWorld Orlando home during this 60-minute tour, where you’ll learn all about their care and training and hear their rescue stories.

  • Opportunity to touch and feed
  • Photo included
Walruses at SeaWorld Orlando
Walruses by Roller Coaster Philosophy is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Sharks Up-Close Tour

Between $19-$49/person

Find out how the park’s animal specialists care for its toothiest residents and learn about the many species that call SeaWorld Orlando home during this hands-on experience at Shark Shallows and Shark Encounter.

  • Opportunity to touch and feed

Walrus Encounter

Between $69-$99/person

Meet one of the stars of the show at Sea Lion and Otter Stadium and learn about their care and personalities during this 30-minute experience.

  • Touchless interaction
  • Photo included

Cost: Starting at $49 to $119 per person, depending on day/season

Availability: Open most days, reservations highly recommended

Flamingos at SeaWorld Orlando
Flamingos by R9 Studios FL is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Be a SeaWorld Orlando Animal Trainer for a Day

This one is for all the die-hard animal lovers and wannabe marine biologists out there. SeaWorld wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of their zoological team. And with the SeaWorld Orlando Trainer for a Day Experience, you get a chance to join them. Though admittedly on the pricey side, this incredible opportunity gives participants an unparalleled, behind-the-seas look into the park’s inner workings.

Throughout the experience, trainers-in-training assist with all sorts of tasks around Dolphin Stadium, from preparing diets to assisting with an enrichment session to helping to set up for the Dolphin Adventures show. It also includes a guided visit to SeaWorld Rescue, offering invaluable context to your day. But that’s not all! For an added fee, you can also enhance your day by helping out at Sea Lion & Otter Stadium and enjoying lunch with SeaWorld Orlando’s killer whales at Dine with Orcas.

Cost: $250 per person (extended program available for an additional fee)

Availability: Open daily, reservations highly recommended

Well, animal lovers, that brings our guide to the best animal experiences at SeaWorld Orlando to an end. Have you tried any of these wild creature encounters yet? Let us know in the comments! Then, find out how we can help you make a splash with your travel budget with our discount SeaWorld tickets.

Hoping to squeeze in another animal-inspired experience into your trip to Central Florida? We also offer discounts for SeaWorld Orlando’s sister parks, Discovery Cove and Aquatica, as well as Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park at Walt Disney World and Gatorland. Heading to one of the other SeaWorld Parks across the country? We sell discount tickets for SeaWorld San Diego and SeaWorld San Antonio, too!