A visit to controversial sea world and hostel pub crawl

A little bit unsure whether to visit seaworld since it is so close by for nostalgia reasons, due to whole blackfish documentary, I decide I’m keen to see how they are now since the documentary and what they do for other animals as they are really pushing how they care and rescue so many animals.

Really easy on the bus a 35 to old town then bus 9 going straight into the park too plus only costing only $5 return since the hostel gave me a tap card to load. The hostel shuttle I was planning on getting left earlier than I thought, but at least gives time for breakie. Getting to the park at midday there is plenty of time before it shuts at 9pm to see everything.
First stop is the dolphin show and it is pretty cool as always love dolphins although the stadiums and pools are definitely much smaller than what I remember when young and crowded too. Considering when I swam with dolphins in Kaikora they were swimming miles and miles and this pool won’t even be 1 mile. They do love attention and interaction though and at least get a lot of that here. The shows are quite cheesy with pre songs about being splashed and clapping, sung by some guy on the stage being an entertainer. They also show off a cute pilot whale that not really seen before but apparently related to the dolphin.

Right outside the Dolphins is the shark encounter tunnel that is cool with some sharks that have proper ugly mouths and teeth although I remember it being much bigger a few years ago and feel it’s quite a short tunnel in comparison to ones I have see other places like Sydney harbour is much longer despite it being a third of the park size.
My 2nd show is the controversial Shamu one, but I still end up checking it out and surprised how many how people are there too as the stage is packed out. The whales are at least swimming about freely in the pool but as like the Dolphins it is way too small for the size of them and most have their fins flopping over a sign I think that they are not getting enough exercise or are sad. The show is ok and I notice that non of the trainers get in the water with them. Most of it is getting them to splash the audience much needed as it is so hot and one does do cool spins on the ledge just above the water which is impressive although looks very unnatural. It is also quite cheesy called “one ocean” with Ballard music, which you can buy the soundtrack for even.

Nearby is the original Laguna stadium in the sea used when it first opened in the 60’s for dolphin shows, so now used for a cirque soleil type show which is cool and most impressive part where a guy is on jets and hovering about 30ft in the air and doing loops.


After sitting through 3 shows in the super hot sun, I feel the need to cool down so head to main water ride here which you totally get soaked on. Frustratingly not having data means I can’t download the app to be able to skip the que,so end up spending 45minutes waiting but the ride is fun and worth the wait although I’m sure I get the wettest as hit with some water canons and end up right under a waterfall lol.

Next thinking I’m already wet and might as well do the other water ride Journey to Atlantis, which is a roller coaster with a drop into water the que here is quick and I manage to get in the front row, however not sure that was the best idea as that is the wettest spot since all the water crashes over the top onto my feet. This ride isn’t too bad, but not the fastest especially when it gets stuck and we have to wait 15minutes for them to restart and hanging about in the shade when wet Just makes me really cold!

Over this side of the park is the artic world so head there to grab a pic of a polar bear asleep on a log in the sun to send London Sebastian San Diego since we couldn’t see them at the zoo when we went. But being totally soaked through it was a bit too cold in there, so went through quite quickly, but managing to check out the beautiful white beluga whales and funny walrus along the way, which was swimming right up to the glass and head butting it showing off his fake tusks as they must have been damaged previously.

While I’m here I also do the simulator ride – meant to be a helicopter going through the artic searching for polar bears and falling down steep snow cliffs so quite fun and does rock about quite a lot so better than some simulators. When you exit this you have to walk through the artic rooms again, so this time pass the polar bears totally crashed up next to the glass window so great to get a good view of its huge cute paws – even managing to see it snoring. And then the walrus when I go past it this time is actually trying to through the glass bit the finger of people as they put there hands up to the glass and it actually looks quite scary – pleased the glass is there and the poor walrus seems really bothered by it. The tank they are in does seem far too small for the two of them as they super huge, so not really impressed with the enclosure area especially in these days when I’m sure Sea World can make more room for them.

Next stop in the penguin escalator walk way area.  This I vaguely remember from when I was younger, as I remember the empire penguins. It is still quite cool, although the visibility is poor since the glass is all steamed up and it is dark, so could be better.

So next is time eventually for the main ride of the park Manta Ray and by the time I get there the lines are not too long, so it is only about 30minute wait time and it is nice being in the last of the sunshine trying to dry off. This is definitely the most popular and best ride of the park, as it is really fast and actually does make you stomach go for a long time. Especially when you put your hands up in the air and don’t hold on at all during the ride – like I did on the 2nd time round making the most of the short wait times. It is a cool thing knowing that when the start of the ride is showing the big manta rays swimming above you (before the actual coaster starts) that I have actually been swimming with Manta Rays three times in Fiji and can totally appreciate just how amazing they are. Such graceful and impressive creatures – bats under the sea!

So starting to run out of time before it gets too cold and sun sets, the next couple of stops are ones to take in the views of the park…. Firstly is the circular lift up to the tower which gives really great views of the whole of mission bay and the park seeing the dolphin and whale area from ariel point of view and seeing even more really just how small they are.  Second is the cable car across Laguna stadium and the marina, which is quite nice to see although not much to look at considering it took 30minutes to queue for it.

So final stop of the day, just because I passed it as I left the cable car ride is the sealion and Otter show (Clyde and Seymore Tonight show) always very impressive just how trained they can be. The highlight of the show was where Clyde and the sealion are pretending to be on the Manta Ray ride and they need to go through the height restriction test to get on. At first the sealion is too short so goes on his flippers to get his nose above the bar vs. the otter who tries and is of course too short. Then the sealion and the otter are doing the motions if being on the ride – turning left and right – ending with the sealion afterwards going to his fish bucket to be sick after the ride being too much for him – even managing all the sick noises too so definitely got the crowd going on that one.

I need to leave early so that I can get the bus and get back to the hostel for the pub crawl, which is starting at 9pm. Also without my hoodie it is really chilly in the evenings. So with a massive group doing the crawl, it is a fun vibe and head out with Michael the Geordie guy who has his brother actually here tonight, a weight lifter and he seems to be cool guys and gets on with everyone. Other people on the crawl is Karrie the German girl, a really chilled hippie girl, the three Aussie lads Tony, Hugh and Ryan, Geordie the hostel worker and Amsterdam Thomas the music producer. We go to a dive bar to start with, which isn’t so bad apart from being way too hot and having to wait far too long for a drink. Just there for one before we walk to another bar that is better and has a nice outside area, dart board and few dogs that grabs everyone’s attention. Last place is a live gig with a music band playing who are quite cool – playing a mix of dub step, reggae and the occasional jungle tune. This is where we spend most of the night, split across the dance floor and the bar area hanging out here mostly with Michael the Geordie and the Aussies. Overall a good night and San Diego Ocean Beach definitely has a really chilled feel to it and the live music is a nice touch for my last night out here.

June 29th 2016

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