|Front, main entrance|
This is a good size park that is a mixture of zoo, aquarium and amusement park. There are two entrances to this park. One via the main entrance at the front, adjacent to a large car park and the other at the back of the park for hotel guests staying at Sea World Resort. A monorail station services the back entrance and includes two other stations at the front and centre of the park.
At the front of the park is where you can see both Gentoo and King penguins in the Penguins Encounter enclosure. Also close to this area is the dolphin nursery, rehabilitation pens and seal show arena. In the centre of the park is where the majority of the rides are located including a children’s ride section and roller coasters. There is also a variety of retail shops, cafes and show style amusements. Close by is where you will find Polar Bear Shores, Ray Reef (where you can feed rays for an additional charge) and a large variety of small and large fish at Shark Bay. The Dolphin show is located at the back of the park in a purpose built arena and is close to Seal Harbour and a Little Penguins‘ enclosure called Penguin Point.
The park has a large variety of cafes, restaurants and retail stores spread throughout. A small cable car connects the front of the park to the centre, close to the polar bears and shark lagoon.
|One of the specialty retail stores on site|
As this is an amusement park there are many rides throughout. There are two animal shows, Seal Detectives, and a dolphin show called Imagine that are both scheduled twice daily and are included in your entry ticket price. Talks and feeding times are also scheduled daily for all animals.
For an extra charge Sea World has a large variety of personal experiences called Animal Adventures and range from one on one time with dolphins and sea lions, underwater experiences in Shark Bay, to behind the scene tours at Polar Bear Shores. All this information is located on the web site.Helicopter and whale watching cruises can also be arranged on site.
|Touch pool at Shark Bay|
Sea World has a very impressive captive breeding program with over 20 dolphins being born on site. They have also set up a foundation called The Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation. This a not for profit organisation that has supported over 120 research projects and has an extensive education campaign on the importance of conservation of the world’s oceans. This foundation also has a specialised team on standby 24 hours a day to assist in the rescue of marine animals across the region.
Stu’s Favourite BitThe Polar Bear enclosure (Polar Bear Shores) is an excellent way to get up close to these massive animals. The enclosure is a great example of what the combination of technology, good animal husbandry and large enclosures can achieve. This is a state of the art enclosure and is one of the best I have seen at any zoo I have visited. You can see the bears at ground level, water level or overhead looking down into the enclosure. The glass wall viewing allows for very close up experiences. I had a great one-on-one experience with a polar bear trying to share its fish with me as you can see by my photo below. This is also the only place to see polar bears in Australia.
Go HERE to see a selection of animals found at Sea World at Stu @ the zoo TV
Stu’s review and tips
I got married at Sea World seven years ago and this has always been my all time favourite park so it’s going to be a little hard to be objective, but here goes.
Sea World Gold Coast is not affiliated with the SeaWorld parks in the USA. Follow this link to see my SeaWorld Orlando review.
|Informative signage at every enclosure|
The two animal shows on offer are great – Seal Detectives is suited more for children and a lot of fun. The dolphin show – Imagine is a conservation lesson and history lesson combined with an opportunity to see dolphin’s natural abilities in the wild including some additional tricks that they have learned for health check purposes. This is all done with the backing of a great soundtrack and is definitely worth watching. The show takes place at Dolphin Cove, a large series of sandy bottom lagoons one of which is the show arena and the others can be seen directly after the show.
|Dolphin show – Imagine|
The food available for sale is very expensive and on the day of this review was not fresh and in one case not edible. All day refillable drink cups are available and good value at $6.00 for a small cup. If you do insist on eating at the park – the Dock Side Tavern veranda seating area is a great place to look over the park and nearby dolphin pools.
On the down side, I felt a constant bombardment of advertising material to get you to spend more money. Signs everywhere pushing the Animal Adventures you can have at an extra charge, feeding stations to feed fish for a dollar. Lolly and small toy vending machines everywhere, at just the right height to entice little children.
Watch out for the kiosk where they are trying to get you to attend a time share holiday package seminar. You know the ones! Win a prize from a scratch n win ticket only to be told that you have to go to a five hour seminar to collect.
The monorail is more for entertainment value than an actual transportation system, as it was very slow and crowded. It does give you a good perspective of the park looking down including a view into some of the animal rehabilitation holding pens at the back of the park. The cable car goes over some of the dolphin pools for a unique view.
|The Monorail -See the park from a different perspective|
Sea World is currently adding new attractions – more roller coasters and ride experiences. I just hope that they remember that the feeling of a special one-on-one encounter with one of your favourite animals will be around long after the thrill of a roller coaster has passed.stuatthezoo.com