Review: Sea World Marine Theme Park (Gold Coast, Australia)

During an Uber ride to Dreamworld Theme Park (which I reviewed here) the day before my husband and I visited Sea World, our driver made a passing comment that Sea World was “a whole lot of nothing”. I took his appraisal rather seriously and thought to myself that he must know better since he’s a local, and proceeded to second-guess our decision to go to Sea World. However, that was all for naught because I had a really enjoyable and inspiring time there!

I guess it depends largely on what type of experience you’re looking for. If you’re more of a thrill-seeker looking for lots of death-defying roller coasters, Sea World probably wouldn’t fit the bill. But if you’re more of an animal lover looking to get up-close and personal with some incredibly cute critters, then Sea World is just the place for you.

Two girls frolicking in front of the entrance to Sea World Marine Theme Park
Entrance to Sea World

I think it’s great that Dreamworld and Sea World developed their separate conservation niches when it comes to the types of animals they take care of. We saw a lot more land animals at Dreamworld, whereas Sea World (as the name suggests) focused more on sea animals. Perfect for those who want to visit both places without too much of an overlap (:

One of the activities at the park was the Penguin Feeding Presentation, where we learnt several fun facts about these cute little creatures, like how they eat about 25% of their body weight in food and therefore need to go to the toilet up to 60 times per day (can’t recall the exact number but I remember it being an insane number of bathroom trips). During the feeding, nearby seagulls wanted to get in on some of the action too, so the trainers had to intermittently squirt high-speed water from a hose at them while maintaining their professional demeanour to share nuggets of information. It was pretty hard to stifle my laughter!

Trainers feeding little penguins during the Penguin Feeding Presentation at Sea World Marine Theme Park
Little penguins getting fed at the Penguin Feeding Presentation

A close-up shot of a little penguin during the Penguin Feeding Presentation at Sea World Marine Theme Park
A satisfied penguin after its meal at the Penguin Feeding Presentation

A seal frolicking at Seal Harbour at Sea World Marine Theme Park
A seal frolicking at Seal Harbour

A lazing polar bear with its eyes closed at Polar Bear Shores at Sea World Marine Theme Park
A lazing polar bear at Polar Bear Shores

A gentoo penguin at Penguin Encounter at Sea World Marine Theme Park
A gentoo penguin at the Penguin Encounter located indoors

The main highlight of the park for me was the Affinity Dolphin Presentation! These intelligent creatures are sooo lovable and I could really see the connection between the dolphins and their trainers, which was amazing to watch. Another one was the Seal Guardians Presentation, and although it was clearly targeted at kids, it was equally entertaining for us to watch those adorable clunky seals, blubber and all, wobbling about the stage performing with their trainers.

We also caught the Ray Reef Presentation, where we purchased a cup of fish for $5 to feed the rays swimming in a huge wading pool. Signs everywhere around the pool indicated which parts of the rays we could touch and which parts we should not (love how they’re big on safety for both the visitors and the animals). It was heartwarming to see the kids who were feeding the rays go from not wanting to put their arms in the water out of fear to giggling and screaming in excitement when they successfully got to pat the rays, memories that will probably stay with them for a long time to come (:

Dolphins leaping into the air during the Affinity Dolphin Presentation at Sea World Marine Theme Park
Dolphins performing tricks during the Affinity Dolphin Presentation

A dolphin with its trainer at Sea World Marine Theme Park
A dolphin preparing to meet and greet one lucky audience member

A seal mimicking its trainer's leg lift movements during the Seal Guardians Presentation at Sea World Marine Theme Park
A seal mimicking its trainer’s movements during the Seal Guardians Presentation

A cheeky seal sticking out its tongue during the Seal Guardians Presentation at Sea World Marine Theme Park
A cheeky seal sticking its tongue out during the Seal Guardians Presentation

Feeding and patting rays at the Ray Reef Presentation at Sea World Marine Theme Park
Feeding and patting rays at the Ray Reef Presentation

A ray swimming past the glass enclosure at Shark Bay at Sea World Marine Theme Park
A ray swimming past us at Shark Bay

Small red jellyfish at Sea Jellies Illuminated at Sea World Marine Theme Park
Pretty jellyfish at Sea Jellies Illuminated

If you still want that dose of thrills and spills to complete your theme park experience, there are two rides you can check out: Storm Coaster (be prepared to get a tad wet) and Jet Rescue Coaster (be prepared for high speeds and turns). One downside is that the rides are pretty short in duration, which means a much longer wait time than actual exciting time. Another thing to note is that you are required to put your belongings and loose items into a locker located quite a distance away before queueing for these rides (the usual option of leaving them at the side just before getting on the rides was not available), so that’s even more queueing to do. Thankfully the queues on a Tuesday were very manageable.

Within the next two years, the park has scheduled the opening of The New Atlantis, a section that will include three new exhilarating rides. I was a little disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to experience these rides this time round on our visit because they look really fun!

Looking upwards at the Storm Coaster ride at Sea World Marine Theme Park
Storm Coaster ride

My overall rating of the experience: 4 out of 5 stars. There seems to be a thoughtful focus on allowing park visitors to personally experience these amazing animals in up-close encounters so that we develop a real empathy for them and an understanding of the impact we humans have on their survival. We usually fear things we don’t understand, so here at Sea World, they take their public education and animal advocacy pretty seriously to dispel myths and create greater awareness, which I really applaud them for! The rides were fun, except for the slight inconvenience of having to queue for lockers, then queue for the rides. But what I loved most about the entire experience was learning about and sharing personal moments with these animals. I left the park feeling heartened and inspired to do my part for them (:


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