I think that of all the theme parks on Australia’s Gold Coast, Sea World is probably the most rewarding to visit. It’s going to depend on what you really want to get out of a day at a theme park, but Sea World seems to offer a little of each world, and fair bit that is actually unique to Sea World.
That is, you can find rides there, there’s a stunt show, there are water animals to see, and there are shows by said animals (eg dolphins). On top of that, Sea World provides the visitor with up close and personal opportunities with the animals, so it really is pretty varied and worthwhile.
And there are water slides too, so so many bases are covered, a day really isn’t enough to do the place justice – if that’s your sort of thing. If you have no interest in creatures from the deep blue, then perhaps Sea World holds far less interest to you.
You won’t get thrill rides like of Movie World or Dreamworld, well, at least not as many and not to the same level of ‘thrill’, but there are a few, and the one I went on – the Storm Coaster – was fun. It had a little thrill to it, and you get slightly wet, but at the moment they are building a new section called ‘The New Atlantis’ and that appears to have more thrill rides. Otherwise Sea World does have a plethora of rides aimed at younger children. On top of that they have an adventure park section where kids can climb and run across rope bridges and the like. A monorail takes a circular tour of the park which is a good way to start your day – to get orientated.
The shows are pretty cool too. I saw a dolphin show – called the ‘Affinity Dolphin Presentation’ – where the dolphins are doing all sorts of tricks, leaping out of the water and somersaulting, long jumps and the like. There is also a seal show as well which I didn’t catch. Again, the kids seemed to be pretty tuned into this and a couple were invited to come down to the poolside area and pet the dolphins.
The last thing I saw was the ‘Thunder Lake Stunt Show’, which is a pretty cool way to end your day at Sea World (which closes at like 5pm, which seemed pretty early to me). Water ski jumping was the main order of the show as one might well imagine it would be. Lots of fun and a crowd favourite. There are others too, including penguin feeding and others aimed at much younger kids.
But the thing that I think is the best reason to head to Sea World is the animal experiences. I have already written about the Tropical Reef Snorkel, which was great, but there are also opportunities to swim with dolphins, pet dolphins, also swim with seals, and then there’s ‘Shark Encounter’ where you actually go into a cage lowered into a shark tank.
For the less adventurous there is a pool where you can pat rays, a glass bottom boat in the reef area and you can walk under the reef area and see the fish, sharks and rays through glass. I’m sure any of the adventures would prove pretty worthwhile, everyone does cost extra though on your ticket (and usually includes a photograph with the price). The Bay Reef Snorkel was $60, which I imagine os one of the cheaper encounters.
With all this opportunity to be close to the sea creatures, you might wonder about their wellbeing. I certainly do. I’d like to think that in Australia our standards for care and animal welfare are as good as anywhere in the world. But I do think at the same time that the whole operation might be considered a bit of a circus. Animals performing for the will and enjoyment of us humans. I mean – I don’t think you could deny that.
As well as the trainers and staff care for the animals, they are still living outside their natural habitat. With far less space to roam. It’s hard not to feel a little uncomfortable about that – let alone about animals being trained to do tricks for rewards. And of course, people will say they love performing etc etc. I don’t pass judgement – hell I went to the place and I’ve been to plenty of zoos and the like. Even the occasional actual ‘circus’.
But again, this is not supposed to be political and I’m really riffing in my head with thoughts pinging back and forth straight on to the keyboard. But if we don’t occasionally stop and consider the ethics of what we do, then I think we are missing something.
All in all, Sea World is a great theme park. $AUD79 for a single day, $129 for the three-day pass (including Movie World and Wet N’ Wild). It’s really a great place to take kids. From probably 2-3 years old and up. It could set you back a fair bit though, should you take up the animal experiences opportunity.
No. I don’t work for Sea World! Thanks for reading – and May the Journey Never End!