Anyone who has been to the SeaWorld Parks will know that its next to impossible to narrow down all the excitement on offer into one list.
With SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, Aquatica and Discovery Cove offering record-breaking attractions and unforgettable sights, the thrills are seemingly endless. Incredible rides and unbelievable animal experiences allow guests to experience the speed, power, agility, beauty and grace of some of the worlds most impressive animals on land or under the sea.
You can glide through the sky with the grace of a ray on Manta at SeaWorld before encountering the animals in The Grand Reef at Discovery Cove, or dive face-down like a stalking falcon on Falcons Fury and speed like a big cat on Cheetah Hunt at Busch Gardens.
If you prefer a slower pace, you can step into Dolphin Lagoon at all-inclusive day resort Discovery Cove where you can swim with a bottlenose dolphin or hand-feed exotic birds in the Explorers Aviary.
Youll meet cheetahs and mantas, sharks, penguins and turtles, soar through the air and glide like a creature of the deep, experience jungles, rapids and watery landscapes inspired by habitats thousands of miles across the earth, brought to vivid life. Expect the unexpected – here are the 13 most exciting things to do at the SeaWorld Parks.
1 Visit the park with the MOST rollercoasters in all Florida
Busch Gardens is home to more rollercoasters than any other park in the Sunshine State – which considering Florida is the theme park capital of the world, is some claim to fame. The rides are not just rollercoasters either – they are exploratory missions into the planets most exciting animal worlds.
Coaster enthusiasts will love super-fast Cheetah Hunt, the parks longest coaster, SheiKra, a 200-foot tall floorless dive coaster, Falcons Fury, a 335-foot freestanding drop tower, and Montu, Kumba, and Floridas first family spin coaster Cobras Curse to name a few.
The thrills are set to continue into 2019, when Floridas tallest launch coaster Tigris opens at the park.
2. Plunge down the worlds tallest rapids drop
SeaWorlds newest water ride Infinity Falls has more than just the worlds tallest rapids drop up its sleeve. Wind your way through ancient civilisations, mysterious jungles and past fountains and waterfalls as your raft spins and plunges into swirling rapids, finally hurtling down that 40ft drop – the tallest of its kind in the world – into the white waters below before gently coming to a stop at Harmony Village.
This ride isnt just about thrills (though it has plenty): it wants to show riders the wonders of the worlds rivers and inspire a message of conservation.
3. Ride the mighty Mako – Floridas only hyper coaster
As the newest coaster at SeaWorld (and many claim the most exciting), Mako is more than just a rollercoaster – its a hypercoaster, and its Floridas only one.
Named after the fastest shark in the ocean, this absolute beast speeds around a towering 200ft-high, 4,760ft track at a top speed of 73mph, taking in a full height vertical drop and plenty of air time.
There are no upside-down moments – or inversions as they are called in the biz. This is about being higher, faster, longer than the rest.
Its 2m 24s of pure adrenaline.
4. Go on a Serengeti Safari
Over at Busch Gardens you can meet more than 300 species of animals, including big cats, gorillas, elephants, meerkats and snakes.
Climb aboard a safari truck alongside your expert guide and explore the 65-acre Serengeti Plain, home to zebra, rhinos and giraffes (additional fees apply).
5. …and have a selfie taken with a giraffe
With animals all around you on Busch Gardens Serengeti Plain, its impossible not to get a great shot – but the giraffes in particular are known for being very camera-friendly.
Dont be surprised if one leans in with a big smile (or pokes out its long blue tongue) just as youre about to snap your pic.
6. Plunge down Orlandos steepest drop tower
Brave the 40ft watery free fall on Ihus Breakaway Falls at Aquatica. This colourful, twisting, turning water slide features the steepest multi-drop tower in all of Orlando – and it delivers a massive adrenaline rush too.
Step into one of three clear breakaway boxes at the top of the slide and stand face-to-face with other riders, not knowing who will fall first… Without warning, the floor will disappear under one of the capsules and you will plummet 40ft down before zooming through a 360 degree spiral slide. This ride is built to thrill – and it does not disappoint. Totally world class.
Fun fact: Ihu is named after the waterparks colourful gecko.
7. Swim with dolphins
After all that adrenaline, its time to go in search of some serenity. At Discovery Coves Dolphin Lagoon, you can swim alongside beautiful bottlenose dolphins, coming nose-to-nose with these playful creatures in blissful surroundings. Watch them play, learn about their habits – and if youre game, hold on to a fin for the best ride in Florida.
Not only is Discovery Cove the only place in Orlando you can swim with dolphins, but you can hand-feed aviary birds here too. An all-inclusive day resort that is an animal-lovers paradise.
8. Fly like a ray on Manta
Manta at SeaWorld is a seriously unique rollercoaster that glides around the track, swooping and diving, giving the rider the sensation of being a real-life manta ray. At a pretty speedy 56mph, the manta-shaped coaster is not actually the fastest – but its one of the most immersive and thrilling.
The coaster takes on four inversions up to 140ft high over a pool, with sudden face-down vertical drops, an exhilaration inline twist and sharp turns timed with fountains bursting up to the train, making it feel as if the flying manta has launched right into the water.
The ride is entered through an aquarium filled with the beautiful creatures too. A truly unique themed rollercoaster. Sit at the front and put your arms in the air to really feel like youre in flight.
9. Experience the thrill of a Cheetah Hunt
Inspired by the speed of a hunting cheetah, Busch Gardens Cheetah Hunt coaster takes on twists, turns and an upside-down roll at the top speed of 60mph. Its a family coaster, but with plenty of thrills thrown in. With a tonne of exciting airtime, launches and high-speed zig-zagging across the tracks, its constantly on the list of coaster fans must-do coasters in Florida. Hunt it down quick and join the fun.
Dont miss Cheetah Run while youre there too – long glass viewing windows on to the plain where you can witness the worlds fastest land animal at full sprint.
10. Snorkel among thousands of fish and rays and come face-to-face with sharks
At Discovery Coves stunning Grand Reef, you can swim or snorkel among beautifully colourful fish and gliding rays.
Or don a diving suit complete with helmet for SeaVenture (additional fees apply) – an innovative underwater walking tour where youll take a leisurely stroll across the sea floor, get up close and personal with unique sea life and stand among a school of fish feeding around you with the magnificent reef as your backdrop.
You can come face-to-face with sharp-toothed reef sharks too, though you neednt worry about the teeth, as they are on the other side of a long panoramic window!
11. Take on the only floorless rollercoaster in Orlando
Who fancies speeding around a 4,177ft track 153ft up at 65mph with legs dangling, open-sided cars and nothing beneath your feet?
Oh you do? SeaWorlds Kraken Unleashed – named after the terrifying mythical sea monster from the deeps, kept prisoner by Poseidon – is the worlds second longest floorless rollercoaster and the only one in Orlando – and its an unforgettable ride.
Seven inversions – including two vertical loops, a dive loop, a spiralling camelback (zero-g roll), a cobra roll and a flat spin – make for some serious white knuckle moments.
Rated Extreme by SeaWorld, this – SeaWorlds first ever coaster built – is for the real coaster geek.
12. Eat dinner surrounded by sharks
In the magical blue-tinged glow of this sub-aquatic dining room, hundreds of sharks glide by, inches from your table, as you dine on delicious steak and sea food. Sharks Underwater Grill at SeaWorld is fine dining and fascinating views with a wonderful window into the deep. Dont miss this one!
13 …and visit the Arctic AND the Antarctic in one day
At Wild Arctic, experience this mysterious, frozen part of the world as if you were right there in the Tundra yourself. The 3D simulator will take you on a thrilling jet-helicopter ride through the icy Arctic landscape, soaring high over treacherous peaks and down into valleys as it journeys to the Base Station Wild Arctic, where youll witness the magic of beluga whales and walruses.
Or step on to the ice at Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, where youll meet four species of penguin – Gentoo, King, Adélie and Rockhopper.
This award-winning exhibit mimics the natural Antarctic environment – which means its freezing!
HOW TO BOOK YOUR SEAWORLD PARKS ADVENTURE IN ORLANDO, FLORIDA
There is so much to see and do on a trip to Orlando that it can seem overwhelming trying to work out how to fit it all in.
To book a trip to SeaWorld Parks along with the rest of your Orlando experiences, visit Virgin Holidays and let them take care of all the details.
They have 30 years experience nailing down the best itineraries – and as well as making sure you make the most out of the theme parks, they can book all your flights, accommodation and car rental too.
You can make an appointment to see an Orlando Holiday Expert in one of Virgins stores – find details here.
Getting help from a Virgin Holidays expert means that all your tickets, passes, theme park packages, parking and plans will be sorted for you – and they can even get your fast track passes to avoid the queues on the big rides.
It takes the all the hard work out of booking – all you have to do is pack your cossie and turn up.
Virgin Atlantic flies direct to Orlando (MCO) from Gatwick (LGW) and Manchester (MAN) daily, with summer services from Belfast (BFS) and Glasgow (GLA). To make your holiday extra special, Vroom lounge access is available for anyone flying from Gatwick or Manchester. Find out more about Vroom access here.
COMPETITION: Your family could be in with a chance to experience the wonder of Orlando for FREE!
Virgin Holidays and Visit Orlando are giving one lucky family the chance to spend a week in the sunshine state, with free reign to enjoy all that Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Parks have to offer.
The winners will get return Economy Flights from London Gatwick or Manchester Airport to Orlando International for 4 people (2 adults & up to 2 children up to 16) and hotel accommodation for 7 nights at a 3V or 4V hotel on a room only basis.
You will be able to get around in style with car hire for the whole week with the Virgin fully inclusive insurance package included in the prize, along with entry tickets to Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Parks for 1 week.
And thats not all. Three runners-up will each get an incredible £500 Virgin Experience Days gift card, which they can spend on a whole host of exciting treats and days out, such as supercar track sessions, luxury spa days, theatre tickets and so much more.
All you have to do to be in with a chance to win and experience the magic first hand is draw your perfect family holiday in Orlando. Find out more here.