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Chet is heading to So. Cal. with my DSIL and has scheduled a day for Sea World and a day for the San Diego Zoo. Any help would be appreciated. (We've already got the 3 days they are spending at DLR covered )
OK, at Sea World - feed the dolphins! Look into the feeding times, they have one right after the park opens. DH would get in line to get the food while I got a spot with the kids. You can actually feed other animals, but the dolphins are right there in front of you and you can pet their "melons" (the round part of their forehead).
Also, have them look into dining with Shamu. You can reserve a table where the killer whales hang out and I think (but I'm not sure) that there is some extra interaction - at least with the trainers....
We loved the zoo, too. We liked the skyway ride - gives a nice arial view of the park. And we really liked taking the bus tour at the front of the park. There is some uphill climbing involved, so be prepared. There is a restaurant in the middle of the park that is several levels. We ate in the table service part and it was "okay" (a little fancier than what we wanted for the menu and a bit steep in price) - we decided that the "counter service" part would have been a better choice.
Get to the park when it opens, during busy times! Start with Atlantis, then map out which shows you'd like to see, and fit exhibits in between. The Shipwreck Rapids ride is tame by comparison with KRR in WDW or DCA's Grizzly River, but it is very refreshing and you will get soaked! Think passing under a full waterfall soaked. It also opens later than Atlantis. Check when you enter for it's opening time. Bring a change of clothes and towel for after those rides.
Feeding the dolphins is my favorite thing to do! It's $5 for a tray of 4 or 5 fish. Watch it, the seagulls are thieves, and they are brave! The Sky Tower is beautiful and a great way to calm down and cool down.
The park gets chilly in the evening, being on the ocean, so bring a light sweater or sweatshirt for the evening. And lots of sunscreen! Not a lot of cover, and most of the shows will have you in the sun.
We agree with doing atlantis first, deciding which shows you want to see and plotting them with the other attractions in between. Dining with Shamu is the best!!! When they get to the zoo - if they do the bus tour first, it will give them the lay of the land so they know where they want to go. View the pandas early in the day and don't forget about the Polar Bears!
Some Day My Prince Will Come!
Katie - WDW - August 2011