Christmas in Orlando – Seaworld, Busch Gardens, Aquatica & Discovery Cove

I’m ready to continue with my Christmas in Orlando series… I know I’ve been terrible. But I’m back and ready to talk about Seaworld, Busch Gardens, Aquatica and Discovery Cove.

Seaworld:

Let’s start with Seaworld, honestly I won’t have too much to say about these, I don’t feel like I have fully made the most of these parks, especially when it comes to the Christmas specials within them… so if you have more information or any comments please drop them below.

Days etc… I’ve been to Seaworld twice. The first time we spent a little longer there, got there for opening, did all the rides and shows but then we didn’t really feel like there was anything to do to take us to the evening. The second time we went with friends who aren’t the biggest fan of Seaworld, so really we just went to ride Kraken, Mako and Manta – so it was just a morning visit, literally a couple of hours. So in my opinion you can get this park done within one day… even half a day depending on how much you wanna see. I believe they do have some Christmas things that go on in the evening, maybe an ice skating show or something 🤷🏻‍♀️ and they also have the Sea of Trees that will light up as it gets dark. But for me, I like to get this park done and be able to visit another park the same day.

Tickets… We get our ticket for Seaworld in with our Discovery Cove Ultimate ticket. We have also purchased some extra tickets before, such as the Quick Queue Unlimited for the day, which is normally really cheap for Seaworld, I think because they don’t have a ton of rides, but again could be worth it if you wanna be in and out quick.. and on our first visit we also got the Priority Seating for Shows ticket which I would definitely suggest getting if you wanna see all the shows. Again this was a really good price. I’ve added the links below for ticket extras at Seaworld.

https://www.seaworldparks.co.uk/park-extras

We did also purchase the all day dining deal on our first visit, which is a great idea if you’re gonna spend the whole day there, but as I mentioned above, we didn’t so was a bit of a waste.

Christmas Specials… They do have some meet and greets that could be great for your kids, for example, Rudolph and Santa. They also have a Sesame Street show, and some of the animal shows do Christmas specials in the evening. Link below for event details…

https://seaworld.com/orlando/events/christmas-celebration/shows/

Moving on to Busch Gardens:

Days, etc… If you’re unaware, Busch Gardens is actually in Tampa, not Orlando. But it’s only about an hour or so drive away. So we normally head there nice and early, to arrive for opening. We only normally head there for one day out of our trip, and never feel like we need any longer there. It does have some of my favourite thrill rides, but we ride them a lot on the day we visit! We’ve never experienced this park really busy, it’s always been quite relaxed, but we’ve only visited twice over the Christmas period. We’re also normally done there just as it’s getting dark, so head back at a reasonable time and stop on the way home for dinner somewhere.

Tickets… Like the Seaworld ticket, this is included in your Discovery Cove Ultimate ticket. However if you aren’t visiting Discovery Cove on your trip then you can buy a ticket on Attraction Tickets Direct which includes all Disney, Universal and Seaworld Parks. Attraction Tickets Direct will no doubt have some form of ticket that is perfect for you, see the link below.

https://www.attraction-tickets-direct.co.uk

Again, we have tried some extras at this park too, including the Quick Queue Unlimited, All Day Dining and Serengeti Safari. We are a big fan of the Quick Queue Unlimited ticket, prices vary depending on when you are visiting but our theory is if we’re only gonna visit Busch Gardens once on our trip, we like to get as much done as possible.. and like to ride our favourite rides over and over again.. this makes that super easy to do, I think the most we’ve queued with this ticket is maybe 10 minutes! The All Day Dining is a great deal if you’re spending the whole day there… and the extra animal involved things you can do at Busch Gardens are amazing. We LOVED the Serengeti Safari and would opt to do it every time if the group were travelling with want to. Feeding the giraffe’s was amazing.

Christmas events… I’m not super sure that we’ve experienced as much of the Christmas specials that we should have, but it isn’t really what we visit this park for. Honestly we get all our Christmas fix from The Disney parks alone… But one thing we did see that was really cool was a Christmas Show that was going on in one of the restaurants while we were eating lunch. There was singing and dancing, it was really cute and cool just to watch while you’re grabbing some food.

Similar shows to Seaworld are available, an ice skating show, Sesame Street and some music events. I have copied the link below.

https://buschgardens.com/tampa/shows/christmas/

Now for Aquatica:

I love Aquatica, it’s actually one of my favourite water parks, it’s definitely up there with Typhoon Lagoon for me! There is so much to do, and a lot of the group activities are super fun! Unfortunately I’ve only visited Aquatica once as we didn’t have a chance on our a second visit to Orlando, but is definitely on my list to visit on our next trip.

Days, tickets, etc… Water Parks are only open normally 10am-5pm over the Christmas period. So this normally makes for quite a chilled and relaxed day. We normally try to do a water park before or after a crazier day. Especially if you’ve had a late one the night before, it’s nice to have a bit of a lay in on the water park days. It’s also always nice to mix a water park day up with dinner somewhere on International Drive, or another activity on International Drive such as crazy golf!

The ticket for Aquatica normally comes in with whatever ticket you have chosen to get for Seaworld and Busch Gardens, however if you aren’t going to those parks, you can buy a day ticket for Aquatica pretty cheap!

Aquatica is great for all ages, we went in a group of adults and children of different ages, and we all had a great time. There’s a few thrill slides for the older ones, but there’s also some big splash play zones for the smaller ones. I thought their rapids pool was also one of the best, we had our most laughs of the day trying to get out of it 😂

Definitely worth a visit if you have the time!

Last but not in the slightest least… Discovery Cove:

This is often looked passed or always a park that people have to think about, or aren’t sure of. I LOVE it. It is a must do for us, and is the most relaxed day you’ll have in Orlando (without staying in your hotel/villa for the day). The price of the ticket normally puts people off, however you get a lot for your money!

Tickets, Days, etc… There are a couple of different tickets you can get, depending on what you want to include. For example, you can opt in or out for the Dolphin Swim, and if you do the Dolphin Swim, you can add Busch Gardens, Seaworld and Aquatica onto your ticket. I have a link to the options on Attraction Tickets Direct below…

https://www.attraction-tickets-direct.co.uk/search/apachesolr_search/Discovery%20cove

As much as I always say I won’t do the Dolphin Swim again, we always end up doing it again because we normally visit with different people who want to do it! But it’s amazing. I love every second of being in the water with the Dolphins, and the photos they get are amazing. So we always go for the ultimate ticket which includes Dolphin Swim and entry to the other parks.

When you are purchasing your ticket for Discovery Cove you have to select the exact date that you want to visit, so make sure you think about that with regards to the rest of your trip before booking.

PRO TIP: Discovery Cove is a very early start (we normally arrive just before 7am) so don’t plan to go the day after a super late night!

The ticket includes SO much. When you arrive, you book in for the time of your Dolphin Swim. We like to have this earlier in the day so we can get in done straight away and don’t have to keep checking the time whilst doing other things, which is why we arrive before it opens at 7am (the earlier you check in, the earlier your Dolphin Swim will be). You then get breakfast, where there is so much choice! Hot and cold food, muffins, fruit, cereal, it’s great! And you can grab as much as you want – this is included in your ticket price.

Other than your Dolphin Swim, there are a lot of other activities at this park. There is a big snorkel pool, with thousands of fish, sting rays and an area where you can see sharks on the other side of a window. There’s a lazy river with birds and otters that you’ll swim through. And also various animal meets throughout the day with animals you might not often get to see, for example, sloths!

You also get a hot or cold lunch buffet included, again like breakfast with lots of choice and you can have as much as you want. And snacks all throughout the day. This includes, pretzels, cookies, ice cream, rice crispy treats, as well as drinks. If you’re over 21 then you can also get alcoholic drinks. The park normally closes at 5pm so dinner isn’t available, but if you’re like us and fill up on breakfast, lunch and snacks, then you’ll only need something tiny for dinner anyway!

Also included is towels, snorkel gear and dolphin friendly sun cream. So you don’t need to worry about anything! It’s an amazing day which I would 100% recommend. If you have smaller children going with you, check out the rules on their website as there is a minimum age for the Dolphin Swim. I found the FAQ page on their website very useful, here’s the link!

https://discoverycove.com/orlando/faq/

I think that’s me done for this edition in my Christmas in Orlando series… my next one is going to be the one and only Disney World. Make sure you take a read!

Speak soon… Rachel xo

Author: RachelsDisneyTips

I love all things Disney. I'm not at all an expert or someone who gets to visit Disney parks all the time, but I do have a passion for research and helping other people have the best experience possible on their Disney holiday!

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