Although we’ve taken a few road trips close to home during the pandemic, somewhere around mid-summer we decided we wanted to venture out a little further this fall. We decided to try somewhere with a short flight. San Diego seemed like a great idea. The only theme park open in San Diego during our chosen dates was SeaWorld San Diego, so we decided to give it a try and review it.
Disclaimer: Theme Park During a Pandemic
I am going to be honest here. While we decided to visit a theme park during a pandemic, the decision to visit a theme park should be solely yours. I am not going to recommend or not recommend traveling. We chose to travel in a way we felt safe, but others may not have felt safe. Honestly, there were a few times when we had to skedaddle out of a situation where we did not feel protected as people were not following protocols.
Every person must decide for themselves what risk(s) they are comfortable with when it comes to travel. I also feel it important not just to protect myself but also to protect others I may have come in contact with. It’s just me. Better safe than sorry.
It is also important to note that our trip was also accompanied by wildfire smoke. This left quite a smoky haze in the air that made everything appear gray. While I am admittedly not the best photographer, be aware that in this case Mother Nature was a factor in the photos I took.
SeaWorld San Diego Review
There were a number of things I was looking to review during my visit to SeaWorld. Among them were:
- Highlights of the Day
- Overall Covid-19 Health and Safety Protocols
- Zoo Days: Bayside BBQ & Brews Program
- Open Attractions
Highlights of the Day
I am a total theme park nerd. It is not uncommon for me to have annual passes to the Disney parks and sometimes Universal Studios. Going seven months between visits to a theme park – any theme park – is highly unusual for me. Needless to say, when I entered the SeaWorld, there may have been a tear or two shed. It was a great feeling.
Below is a short video I made of our day. The music I chose was the same music playing in the background and seemed appropriate to the occasion.
We showed up about a half hour after opening. The process to enter was quick and well marked to keep socially distanced. The employees at the front were energetic and seemed genuinely happy to be there. The mood was set for a great day.
Entry into SeaWorld included their current Bayside BBQ & Brews promotion. I’ll go into that a little later. Suffice it to say, we ate all day long…
I think one of the hidden gems while we were there was the relaxation areas. There were chairs by the bay, a live acoustic guitar player, and pretty much no one else in the area during the time we spent here. We were allowed to take our masks off and just enjoyed the scenery and all the boats out along the bay. It was heavenly!
Review of SeaWorld San Diego Covid-19 Safety Protocols
The attention to protocols at SeaWorld San Diego were apparent from the moment you walk to the front. There were socially distanced circles on the ground approximately every 6 feet. Each group was supposed to stand on a circle. Since we showed up a half-hour after opening, there was no line. We just wound our way around the ropes to get through.
There was to be a temperature screening right as you walked in. No problem. If they took my temperature, I must have missed it. I did see children without face coverings actually having their temperature checked. According to state guidelines, your temperature must be under 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Face coverings were required for anyone aged 2 years or older. You are allowed to take them off when eating, drinking, or in designated relaxation areas. Most people were compliant, but I noticed as the day wore on that employees were less likely to enforce this rule.
There are reminders everywhere to emphasize social distancing. While most people were respectful of this, the ones who weren’t generally were not wearing their face masks correctly. This became a sore spot for me since we have seen firsthand the devastation that Covid-19 brings to families and healthcare workers.
Cleaning and sanitation protocols were spot on! Employees were constantly cleaning high-touch areas. In addition, there were hand sanitizer stations and hand washing stations everywhere. By the end of the day, we did notice that some of the hand sanitizing stations were not being refilled. It was getting difficult to find hand sanitizer. Luckily, we brought our own.
Bayside BBQ & Brews Program
During our visit, our entrance fee included a lanyard for the Bayside BBQ & Brews. Your lanyard included an area to punch allowing each guest up to six items of food or drink. We knew going in that it would be more than enough food for the two of us.
As far as the food goes, we each enjoyed a lunch entree, an early dinner entree, waters, soda, a slice of cheesecake AND a slice of chocolate cake. We took the pieces of chocolate cake back to the hotel with us as we were so full. But the surprise was that non-alcoholic drinks only counted for a half a punch…so two Diet Cokes were just one punch.
My hubby decided to see if he could grab a snack from a stand for a punch. He got a bag of Planters Trail Mix. When he went to get his lanyard punched, the employee explained to us that it was only half a punch, so we picked up another bag to go. When we left SeaWorld, we still had one more punch left unused and had a backpack filled with chocolate cake and trail mix.
The food was better than the typical fare of theme park burgers or pizza. That being said, it did not even come close to the quality of food that you enjoy at a Disney festival. Not complaining, but we’re not talking gourmet food here either.
Open Attractions During Our Visit
During our visit, it is important to note that none of the rides were open. While initially it seemed a little disappointing, there were still a lot of activities to enjoy.
It appeared that all of the animal exhibits as well as the animal presentations were open. This included the Orca whales, sea lions, penguins, dolphins, turtles, and so much more.
There were a few stages set up where you could enjoy live musical performances. As I mentioned earlier, listening to the acoustic guitar while sitting by the bay was a real treat.
The information we received mentioned there were character meet-and-greets. We didn’t see any of these while we were there. I think they were happening in the Sesame Street area of the park. Since we didn’t have little ones with us this trip, we didn’t stop there.
Review of SeaWorld San Diego Final Thoughts
In the time of Covid-19, things are constantly changing. It is great to see parks reopening in ways that are thought out and intended to keep people safe.
I was definitely happy to be back inside of a theme park…even if the rides weren’t open. It was a feeling that there is a return back to normalcy (even if it means wearing masks for a little while).
I would love to see employees trained on how to ask guests to put their mask back on when appropriate. They all seemed unsure of how to address the issue with guests who were pulling their masks down in high-traffic areas.
There was also a little confusion in the shops about how the process for check-out worked. A little signage would have gone a long ways for those of us unsure how to make our purchases. Some people put items back and walked out. I am sure they could use all the revenue they can get right now.
The Zoo Days: Bayside BBQ & Brews program was a great way to kick off their reopening. For the most part, the employees seemed to be back to work. I would rate the experience overall a 7 out of 10.
In its current form, we would not hesitate to return to SeaWorld San Diego. It would be a great place to take the kids right now. Have you returned to a theme park since reopening after Covid-19? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.