We went a couple of years ago, it was cool. I agree with the previous poster, pricey and the food was nothing special, but as with any signature dining experience, you're paying more for the experience than the food. You don't get any personal interaction with the animals, but you get to meet the trainers and take pics afterwards. You get to sit poolside, at a private pool behind the scenes, and while you're eating, the trainers are telling you (and demonstrating) how they teach the animals tricks. Because of the seating, there are some really nice photo ops (they send the animals up to the side of the pool to 'pose' a few times). They have cute little Shamu shaped chocolate covered cookies, which my kids thought were so neat.
Location: SW PA/a.k.a. "The Tundra" in the winter & "A Sauna" in the summer
Concierge Level: 7
Definitely Dine with Shamu!
They do the seating assignment based on when you book the reservation. I got a peek at the list when we were checking in - so booking early does pay off. I booked on 7/3 for 11/29 and we were seated at the 6th table. All tables seem to have good views, but this is the area where you have one of the best views when they "beach the whale" (for lack of a better description of the trick). We had an excellent view of the middle of the pool and one of the demonstration areas was about 5' from me. Great photo ops!!!
As for the food, it's standard buffet bill of fare. However, after a couple of bad meal choices at WDW for the days prior, the Dine With Shamu buffet was very good! Yes, the main attraction is the close up of Shamu. But we would definitely do this dinner again.
When you go in, they take your photo in front of the pool. SW photo pricing is kind of a la carte (very different from WDW Photopass). So I didn't buy any and never took the time to go view our photos. They also give you a "backstage pass" type of lanyard with an autograph card for the trainer to sign.
They rotate the whales in the show. The night we went, we saw their largest whale - 12,000 lbs. He is about 20 years old and I think is probably the one I saw as Baby Shamu back in the late 80s! Given the size, the trainers do demonstrate the splash. I had read warnings about not putting personal belongings under the table. My feet got a little wet as I was sitting in the first seat by the pool - I was not soaked; no one else in the group even felt it.
We did dine with Shamu 2 years ago at the California Sea World. Can't remember if it was lunch or dinner, but the meal was a buffet. The food wasn't that great. It was fun to watch the whales swim around while you eat though. It was "down time" for the whales and they weren't performing, but they still swam and played a lot. One of the babies even played fetch with one of the trainers. It was cute. We had been warned that we were all in a "splash zone" for the duration of our meal. Luckilly we didn't get wet, but they make a point of telling you it can happen.
Maybe we were just lucky, but we didn't have any idea about this until we got to the park. Made a reservation when we got there and got to sit right next to the water. Very cool. Getting to be that close to the animals was worth it, but the food not so much. Although the desserts were tasty. IMO worth it!
Dine with Shamu is one of our favorite meals. IMO, the dining choices at SW stink. I like being so close to the whales and the interaction with the trainers. Last year, there were 2 options; I would do Dine with Shamu (not Backstage with Shamu) This one gives you the interaction with the trainers and whales and great picture opportunities. It's on our must do list.
It was the highlight of our Sea World day. The kids loved being so close to the whales. The food was decent enough, the beer was free, and priority seating for the big show. It was well worth the price imho.
you can also check out the vip tour. for $100-125 an adult and $75-100 per child, you get a 7 hr tour which includes dining with shamu, front of the line access to several rides and reserve seating for several shows plus you get to feed the dolphins and other mammals. it may sound expensive, but if you dine with shamu only, it costs nearly $50 a person, so for about $50 more, you get to experience some pretty cool sounding extras!
we haven't done it yet, but have booked it for nov 28th and are very excited to experiece sea world \this way.
For all the good things in life and happiest moments dreamt Heather B
Location: Exported from Morgantown, WV to Shreveport, LA
I haven't done it, but I've posted a link where you can read an in-depth review of the one in San Diego: DIS Unplugged Blog. Incidentally, the author of this review said that the food was very good at the San Diego location, but on a later podcast, the members of the DIS Unplugged team who had done the one in Orlando said the food wasn't anything special.
Here's the link to their podcast where they talk about the program in Orlando: Round Table Discussion.
Finally, here's the actual SeaWorld page that talks about the dining experience, along with the menu! Dine with Shamu