Last week we went to the reopening of SeaWorld Orlando after its temporary closure due to COVID-19. We were not impressed, and noticed loose rules and limited things to do. We went back this week to see if things had changed, and we can say that the original social distancing and mask plans are now being upheld.
SeaWorld Orlando has done a full-180 on how it operates compared to their opening last week. Today, we were met with quick lines, helpful employees and rules being enforced. It was a much more pleasant experience that aligns closer to what was normal at SeaWorld prior to the temporary closure.
Before even heading to the security checkpoint, SeaWorld now offers face masks for sale. For guests who forgot theirs, or perhaps want to try a different style, this was helpful. We noticed three different parties buying the specialty themed animal masks. It was certainly a popular stop for guests coming into the park.
On opening day, many rides were closed and the ones open had 50+ minute waits. Today, even on major coasters like Mako, the wait times averaged 15 minutes. The SeaWorld ambassadors running the attractions were working far more efficiently. The entire process, from loading and unloading guests to cleaning the ride vehicles, was done much faster. Because of the social distancing needs, many rides are running with a limited capacity; this is expected and will add obvious increases to wait times. That being said, it appears the ambassadors are back in the swing of things.
We also noticed more social distancing markers throughout the park. They were even extending outside of the normal queue for Infinity Falls.
Along with more markers, we also noticed less guests. Certainly opening day brought a lot of people in, but perhaps it was too much for day one. Today it took seven minutes to get from the park signage on the road to scanning our pass and parking our car. This is much better compared to 30+ minute waits that were experienced by some on the first day.
We felt that the entire park was more peaceful overall and had more control over the guests. The guests who were there also did a generally good job of following the rules as well.
Not every guest wore their mask the proper way, but overall, it was a vast improvement to the park’s first day reopened. We noticed an interaction between a SeaWorld ambassador and a guest, where an older man was not wearing his mask and was asked to put it back on by the ambassador. The man explained that he was getting very hot. The ambassador responded with numerous locations to take mask breaks and nearby shade. She also gave him a free water bottle.
We went to get food to evaluate how the quick service lines were being handled. Even though we got our food right at lunch time, we were met with a short wait. The ambassadors were also seen cleaning numerous areas. To get condiments and cutlery, guests now have to ask when receiving their meal. It is also important to note that water fountains around the park have been disabled. Instead, guests are encouraged to get free water from any dining location.
The SeaWorld Orlando app still appears to have trouble displaying wait times. The maps and show schedules were accurate and easy to use, but the ride times were a bit of a guess all day.
Overall, SeaWorld felt like a totally different park than what we experienced on reopening day. Yes, some attractions didn’t open today, but most were closed on purpose due to social distancing. Yes, some waits were extended as compared to pre-quarantine expectations. But, for things that SeaWorld can control, it was a significant improvement.
We are hopeful that this will continue, and that over time more rides and interactive elements will open when safe to do so. Today was a fun and relaxing trip to SeaWorld Orlando, and we are excited to return.