Trip Report: SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration

It’s the spirit of the season as SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration returns this year, running on select dates now through Jan. 4, 2021.

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By Eric Oh

While rides and select attractions remain temporarily closed due to the State of California’s COVID-19 guidelines, SeaWorld San Diego is still providing guests with the opportunity to celebrate the holidays with amazing animals, seasonal food and drink offerings, decorations, and entertainment.

clyde & seamore's christmas special

SeaWorld has brought back the fan favorite sea lion show, “Clyde and Seamore’s Christmas Special,” this year. In the 20-minute performance, Clyde and Seamore show their jolly spirit along with their trainers to put on their own version of a television Christmas special. It’s a great show for families of all ages!

As for other presentations, we were surprised to learn that though the park (well, technically, zoo) had signage promoting the “Dolphin Island Christmas” show, they instead performed their regular daytime “Dolphin Days” show, but added a pre-show by having a performer singing holiday tunes with a ukulele. It was a weird way to start the show, and we’d prefer they carry the show as their Christmas show as it was in the past.

“Orca Encounter” had no Yuletide flair, even though it was touted on their website that all three of their animal presentations (Dolphin, Orca, and Sea Lion) would add “a touch of holiday cheer.”

However, new this year is Rudolph’s Movie Experience, which takes place at the Orca Encounter stadium (yes, that actually happened). If you’ve been to SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration, this is a very similar offering, but in San Diego, is an outdoor experience. As an end-of-night treat, they showed a shortened version of the “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” claymation film on the 150-foot-tall LCD screen, and Rudolph himself appeared at the very end, waving guests goodbye as a thank you for visiting. We enjoyed it for what it was, but we think it was the wrong venue to do it at. Making it an intimate experience might have been better, as Rudolph was located far away from us, over where the stage is for “Orca Encounter.” Obviously, California’s COVID-19 guidelines bars any indoor activities, so we totally understand that.

Another brand new offering is “Santa Presents: Christmas Animals Around the World.” The show is located at the Nautilus Amphitheater, where the old “Pets Rule” show was and other seasonal shows such as “O Wondrous Night” and “Winter Wonderland on Ice.” Santa comes out and is the host of the show, and tells stories of holiday traditions around the world with live animals. He is also co-hosted by animal trainers, who brought out animals such as alpacas, camels, alligators, and even reindeer to talk about them. It’s a fantastic animal presentation and we highly recommend it.

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Let’s talk about the seasonal food offerings, shall we? This is the one place we feel they shined with Christmas Celebration. Even though they only had four quick service restaurants open throughout the property, they each offered delicious items. Items include twin turkey melt sliders, glazed ham sliders, chili, tomato bisque, and a peppermint cheesecake. Normally they would have food festival-type stands littered throughout the park, but that wasn’t the case this year – probably as a way to promote physical distancing.

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While we had a fun day at the park, it was a day full of inconsistent information from their staff and website. They clearly were not prepared for opening day, as they were still installing decorations and putting together the scavenger hunt (which you can purchase a map at the SeaWorld Store, and win a prize, which happens to be a backpack).

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Overall, we personally thought that SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration was mediocre at best for 2020. We understand that the pandemic has cut a lot of usual offerings in the past, but they were not prepared at all to kick off their event for guests. However, we have faith in SeaWorld to continue polishing their event offerings as time goes.

SeaWorld San Diego’s Christmas Celebration runs select dates NOW through Jan. 4, 2021. Christmas Celebration is included with park admission for single-day visitors, Pass Members and Fun Card holders. Tickets are on sale now and date-specific reservations are required for everyone.

Visitors can take advantage of up to $30 in savings on single-day tickets, or, for an even bigger value, purchase a SeaWorld Annual Pass, which includes free parking, up to 50% off on in-park purchases, access to special rewards and much more.

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