By Ashley Nichols
On Sept. 7, SeaWorld Orlando announced a new offer for its recently reopened Dine with Shamu experience. “Kids Eat Free at Dine with Shamu” runs now through Dec. 25. The promotion offers a free children’s meal (ages 3-9) for every full-priced adult reservation purchased. This is a great time for families to give the park’s premiere dining experience a try. Team Theme Park Foodie enjoyed lunch at Dine with Shamu in early August, and we highly recommend it for SeaWorld veterans and first-time visitors alike.
I’ve always been a big fan of SeaWorld’s food and the Dine with Shamu buffet reaffirmed my appreciation for the park’s commitment to culinary quality. Tying in with SeaWorld’s mission of “celebrate, connect and care for the world we all share,” the menu strives for sustainability, offering seasonal dishes made with local ingredients to reduce the buffet’s impact on the environment. The food is good for the environment, and it also tastes great.
The full buffet during our visit included freshly baked breads, salad, a variety of entrees ranging from steak to fried fish, and a number of side dishes including seasonal vegetables, summer vegetable lo mein, roasted potatoes and more. The buffet also features a children’s corner with macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, and “sea shell pasta” with tomato marinara sauce and meatballs. I was impressed by the variety offered; it took two trips to get a small taste of everything available, not including dessert. Our favorite dinner dishes included the Whole Wheat Pasta with Shrimp, the Coconut Caribbean Rice and the Open Flame Grilled Chicken. Don’t get too excited to try our favorites, though; we have heard that the menu will be seasonal and will change based on the availability of sustainable ingredients. Drinks, including beer and wine, were included with the price of our reservation.
After a mouthwatering meal, there was still dessert to enjoy. The buffet featured a full selection of SeaWorld’s finest desserts including double chocolate cake, carrot cake, red velvet cake, cheesecake, strawberry shortcake and cookies for the little ones. Yum! For those with healthier inclinations, a selection of fresh fruit is also available. The carrot cake and the chocolate cake were especially memorable, but we enjoyed sampling the other options as well.
While dining, Dine with Shamu guests are treated to once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to peek behind the scenes at Shamu Stadium and learn a little bit more about the Shamu family through a training session. SeaWorld trainers introduce guests to the whales, and discuss a few of their personalities. Visitors also learn more about the killer whale social structure and the Orlando Shamu family tree. Finally, trainers describe their day-to-day activities and the methods they use when teaching the whales the behaviors demonstrated at One Ocean and other Shamu shows. All the while, the whales are interacting with trainers, waving to guests and showing off with high flying leaps. The training session is an educational opportunity, especially for children or youth with an interest in working with marine life or who just love Shamu.
Dine with Shamu costs $49 for adults and $24 for children (unless you take advantage of the “Kids Eat Free” offer), and includes the buffet, beverages and a complimentary photo. Advance reservations are highly recommended. You can read more about Dine with Shamu and learn how to make a reservation at Theme Park Foodie.
(UPDATE: SeaWorld has adjusted the prices. As of Sept. 12, 2012, the prices are $29 for adults and $19 for children unless they qualify for free dining.)
Have you tried Dine with Shamu since its grand reopening in July? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Rant or rave in the comments below, or send me a Tweet at @ThemeParkFoodie. Until next time, happy dining!
• Ashley Nichols is the editor of Theme Park Foodie, a blog that highlights dining and cuisine opportunities at theme parks throughout the United States with a focus on Central Florida. Her interest in the amusement industry’s food offerings began in 2010 when she served as a seasonal team member at an Orlando-area theme park and was repeatedly asked for referrals to the park’s best restaurants or dining options.