At the end of June, I had the opportunity to visit SeaWorld Aquatica Waterpark Orlando. This opportunity came through a sponsorship from SeaWorld to see firsthand how SeaWorld is taking additional safety measures in light of COVID-19.
As we have traveled over the last few months we have found that businesses, theme parks, and transportation have never been cleaner. SeaWorld is no exception.
Update: Covid restrictions and regulations are no longer required. SeaWorld Aquatica did an awesome job and hopefully, we will never have to go through a pandemic ever again!
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Sea World Reopening
The SeaWorld parks in Orlando and Tampa opened up on June 11, 2020, with additional safety precautions to help address the coronavirus disease. SeaWorld owns four parks in Florida: SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando, Discovery Cove, and Busch Gardens.
Covid Safety Measures – SeaWorld Aquatica Waterpark Orlando
While many of the safeguards are similar across parks, as a water park, Aquatica Orlando has lighter measures once you are in the park. You don’t need to wear masks when in the water but are asked to wear them when you go in gifts shops.
For more information, you can find Aquatica Orlando’s specific health and safety FAQs on their website.
What to Expect at Aquatica
I generally found the Aquatica FAQs to be accurate. Let’s jump in and talk about the specific measures being taken. I’ll share my experience from (roughly) start to finish, taking you from what I needed to do before getting to the park, how I got into the park, and then what it was like in the park.
Do I Need to Make a Reservation to Go to Aquatica?
Update: Reservations are no longer required. (I will leave this information here in case reservations are needed again at some point in the future)
First things first, if you are thinking about going to SeaWorld Aquatica Waterpark Orlando in the near future, you will need to make a reservation before you go. I don’t know what the “max” is for park attendance but have read that the park started at 30% capacity, with the ability to make gradual increases.
To get a reservation, you first buy a ticket. You must already have your ticket purchased ahead of time. Once you have purchased your ticket you will then use your ticket ID to make a reservation. If you can’t get a reservation for the day you want to go, you can use your ticket for SeaWorld Orlando or Discovery Cove.
For what it’s worth, we made our reservation the day that we actually attended, which was a Tuesday, and had no problem getting in.
If you are interested in getting tickets online please use my link above!
Parking at SeaWorld
As you arrive at the park, you will need to pay for parking. You have two options: Regular and Preferred (closer to the park). There is a $10 difference between the two.
The day we attended, it appeared that parking attendants were directing cars to park in every other spot. Once those were filled, the open spots were then filled.
We know that parks are trying to space cars to minimize close contact. Spaces were filling up fast, but you could control the spacing a bit by waiting for those around you to get out.
Out of the Car; Get Your Mask On!
Are face masks required at Aquatica Orlando? Yes! Wait, no! I mean yes and no.
Let me explain. Yes, you will need it once you get out of your car and prepare to enter the park. But once you are in, you can take off the mask and will only need to put it back on when you are going inside (retail and food).
If you don’t have a mask, SeaWorld will make masks available for purchase.
Aquatica employees were all wearing face masks (including lifeguards).
Are Temperatures Taken Before Entering SeaWorld Aquatica Orlando?
Yes. A tent is set up with staff ready to take your temperature. If your temp is over 100.4 you will be tested again, and if your temp again exceeds 100.4, you will not be allowed to enter the park.
Once you get your temperature taken, you will then walk toward the official entrance. The entrance is split into three zones. Since you should already have your ticket on your device and have made a reservation, you should head to Zone C, on the right.
Social Distancing While Entering SeaWorld Aquatica Waterpark Orlando
There are social distance markers in place. Some people were merging from the left, and folks converged a bit at that point, but for the most part, guests maintained their distance from each other.
SeaWorld has placed plexiglass at the bag check stations and at where workers take tickets to help protect its workers. There are also safety signs near the entrance indicating COVID protocols.
Just so you’re aware, and this is something I didn’t catch from the safety FAQs, is that you can get a cashless wristband. Preload money to the wristband, and should get refunded any unused amounts. (We didn’t have a chance to test this out.)
You can get these wristbands in Zone A. This option is convenient and helps limit contact points when purchasing items.
Beaches and Chairs
Once we entered the park, we headed to get a seat in the sandy areas facing the wave pools. This is a great spot to start. One thing we noticed is that there are signs telling guests not to move seats to help with social distancing. We felt that we had space.
The row we sat on had five seats, and at one point a woman with a couple of kids asked if they could put items in the seats we were not using.
We didn’t have an issue with that because we were not using the seats for anything other than storing our supplies. However, if we were all sitting in the seats where we put our items, we would have been right next to each other.
Rent a Cabana
If you are concerned about chairs (location to other chairs, whether other guests have sat in the chairs previously, etc.), another option is to rent a Cabana. That will be a more costly option but can give you greater peace of mind.
Slides at SeaWorld Aquatica Orlando
Aquatica Orlando was voted the #1 water park by USA Today. With a title like that, you can expect to have a fun time! There are some of the most innovative and new water park rides located in this park.
To use the slides, you need to go up staircases. At KareKare Curl, an employee limited how many guests could go up the staircase at once to help maintain proper spacing.
Lines at SeaWorld Aquatica
At other locations, blue lines were placed on the floor to indicate where you should stand. When we were there, some guests were very good at standing on the blue lines, but many others seemed oblivious.
Social Distancing on Staircases
The other challenge at the park is that there are often two lines going up the same staircase, meaning space is not only needed in front and behind you, but also to your side.
Fortunately, the staircases seemed fairly wide. As you stand in line to both get your tube and then proceed to the actual line for the ride there are blue social distancing marks that will direct you where to stand.
Hand Sanitizer on Rides
There is hand sanitizer located both at the start of the ride as well as hand sanitizer as you finish your ride. We were not required to put hand sanitizer on before getting on a slide.
Tubes at Whanau Way were handed from one guest to another (you waited in line at the bottom of the slide and grabbed the tube from a guest as he or she exited the ride).
Waves Pools at Aquatica
There are two wave pools! That way one pool is always on.
Both pools had a rope to help direct you to the entrance and exit in one place. Observing the pools, this setup helped limit guests clustering and walking past each other.
Lazy (and Not So Lazy) Rivers
There are two rivers at Aquatica: a traditional lazy river (Loggerhead Lane) and a fast-moving river (Roa's Rapids).
On Roa's Rapids, you can wear a life jacket. Tip: even if you think you may not need one, you may have a lot more fun with one.
Usually, the life jackets are out on a rack, but Aquatica is sanitizing each life jacket as an added safety measure, and lifeguards individually hand out the life jackets to guests.
Normally there wouldn't be a line to receive one, but with the extra time it takes to clean them, there was a line to use them when we were there. The line wasn’t long, and we were grateful for the additional measures taken.
SeaWorld Food and Retail
We felt that there was proper spacing at food establishments and in shops. Aquatica will still take cash but encourages contactless payments (credit cards, cell phones). As mentioned above, you can use a cashless wristband.
Lockers, Chairs, and Other Surfaces
Lockers and chairs are available. I am not sure how often surfaces are cleaned, but we saw employees going through and cleaning in bathrooms.
Aquatica Orlando per se does not have shows, but it does have dolphin feedings throughout the day. There were circles located around the feeding area telling guests where to stand to help maintain social distancing. We felt we had plenty of space while watching the dolphins being fed.
Is it Worth it to Go to SeaWorld Aquatica During the Covid Pandemic?
Yes, I think it is worth going to Aquatica despite having to adapt to the new normal way of Covid measures.
We had a great time at Aquatica and felt comfortable. SeaWorld Aquatica did a great job with spacing for temperature checks. There were a few spacing hiccups getting through the front gate, but once in the park, we felt we had plenty of space while walking through the park.
A great aspect about Aquatica is that everything is open!
How Did I Feel Wearing A Mask into SeaWorld Aquatica?
I have been wearing a mask anytime I go in public so I didn't feel too awkward about wearing it in the park. It is a lot hotter and more humid in Florida (97 degrees the day we went) and I tend to sweat a lot easier but overall I didn't think it was too bad.
What was the Temperature Line Like?
As you approach the park the temperature tent is the first thing you will see. To enter the tent there are social distanced spacers available to help you know exactly where to stand. It was a fast and easy process. The employee took my temperature and sent us on our way.
Did I Feel Like My Experience was Similar to Pre-Covid SeaWorld Aquatica?
Yes, besides having to go through the temperature check as soon as we were in the park and the mask removed I would say there was not too much of a difference from pre-Covid standards.
Was it Crowded or Dead?
SeaWorld is limiting the capacity of its parks. SeaWorld Aquatica Waterpark Orlando hits park capacity at 16,000 people. I could not be certain how many people were in the park but to me, it was very crowded.
I thought there would be fewer crowds during these times, but did not find it that way. It was pretty busy.
Did I Have A Fun Time?
Yes, there are so many water slides and fun rides to keep you busy the entire day. I really didn't feel like Covid measures that were put into place lessened my experience.
Ready to Visit SeaWorld Aquatica Orlando?
SeaWorld Aquatica is a world-class water park. It brings joy to do things that you did before Covid hit. If you are healthy and want to have a great time this is the perfect activity.
This was our first time at SeaWorld Aquatica but not our first time experiencing SeaWorld. We went to SeaWorld San Diego last Christmas and loved it! SeaWorld makes its parks safe and fun! This is a perfect thing to do in Orlando!
Other Orlando Attractions
As you explore Orlando you may want to plan a trip to Universal Studios Orlando be sure to check out my other posts! The best rides at Island of Adventure and the best rides at Volcano Bay as well as the best rides at Universal Studios are sure to help you plan your trip! If you love Harry Potter plan a trip to Harry Potter World is a must-read as well as planning out all your Harry Potter souvenirs. Plus, check out my favorite restaurants at City Walk!
Don't forget Disney World. The most magical place on earth. If you want more info on that you can join my Disney Facebook Group and seek any answers you need to plan a perfect Orlando trip.
If you have any questions join my Facebook Travel Community. You can ask any questions you have about upcoming trips and everyone is happy to help you plan your trip. I also try to give exclusive travel deals that companies send me. It is a great group to join!