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Orlando, Florida is famous for its many attractions that bring thrill-seekers, vacationers, and families flooding in every year. Sure, there are the huge theme parks, water parks, and museums that everyone knows about, but nestled away on International Drive, is a gem, or more accurately, a “pearl” from the ocean. Welcome to the SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, where the ocean comes to greet you! Read on as we share our top tips and must-dos!
Sea Life Orlando is located at ICON Park on I-Drive. Where The “iconic” park’s The Wheel and The Orlando Starflyer take you high above the rest, Sea Life Orlando takes you down into the depths of the ocean to witness the world underwater.
Azure blue waters, deadly sharks, friendly seahorses, elegant stingrays – there is so much to see, learn and do here at Sea Life Orlando, especially for the little ones in your bunch.
From petting a starfish to learning how the largest aquarium in Florida works, this awe-inspiring experience is one you’ll definitely want to include on your next vacation. Here’s a detailed guide on everything to do here so you can see for yourself why visiting Sea Life Orlando is a must with kids.
Throughout the aquarium, there are spots where you can get your information sheet stamped as you learn about life under the sea – a great little momento of your visit.
SEA LIFE Orlando Attractions
360 Degree Ocean Tunnel
Sea Life Orlando is home to the only 360-degree ocean tunnel in Florida which gives visitors a panoramic view of all things under the sea!
From schools of fish, almost-inanimate anemones, and eels, to even fierce creatures like sharks, you’ll be able to encounter all your favorite aqua buddies here with the benefit of not getting wet. The acrylic tunnel puts you right in the middle of all the action, with finned friends above, below, and all around you. Keep on the lookout to meet the aquarium’s icon, Chely, the rescued green sea turtle!
The Coastal Rockpool
Get a little wet at SEA LIFE Orlando’s interactive exhibit, the Coastal Rockpool. Modeled after actual rockpools that are often found on the shoreline or along the reefs, the Coastal Rockpool is a small pool with live creatures from the oceans for you and your little ones to touch and feel!
Dare to lay fingers on a friendly starfish or a spongy anemone? This mini-ecosystem teaches you all about these creatures as you interact with them and watch them in their own mini-world. The harmless critters’ may not feel exactly as young children imagine they will, so go in expecting a few startles and screams to start with.
Pro tip: If your child is one that needs some extra preparation before trying something new, introduce them to a couple of new textures at home. Think slimy, like a ball of dough, or rough, like a sponge – all kept in a shallow tub of water, of course.
Head to the next big attraction at Sea Life Orlando, the Indian Ocean. Modeled after the actual ocean with two smaller attractions, it’s the place where you’ll get to meet Ted and Joy, the next two celebrity inhabitants at this aquarium.
Ted the turtle played a huge part in developing TED, the Turtle Excluder Device. A TED is a type of gear that is fitted on huge ships and trawlers to prevent turtles from coming in contact with trawling nets, one of the biggest threats to sea turtles today.
Joy, on the other hand, is a zebra shark that the Association of Zoos and Aquariums recently hatched as part of the Species Survival Program. Make sure you stop by and meet them both when you’re visiting the aquarium!
A visit to one of the most iconic places on i-Drive is never complete without a family photo, and there’s no place better than the mind-blowing Jelly Wall to get one. The exhibit is essentially a color-changing vertical tank wall with jellyfish swimming inside of it. The bioluminescent jellyfish provide visitors with pops of neon blue, pink, and purple to draw some contrast with the blue you’ll see all around you.
The best part is that you get to pick the color you want for your snapshot. Remember to turn off your camera’s flash when capturing your photo with the mesmerizing moon jellyfish.
Behind The Scenes
If you and your little ones are interested in the technical aspects of an aquarium, Sea Life Orlando offers a behind-the-scenes tour that takes you around and shows you the functioning of an aquarium. You’ll be able to see what it takes to keep an aquarium up and running, and the beautiful creatures happy and healthy.
Ever wondered what these finned friends eat? The tour will show you how underwater meals are prepared and fed to the animals too.
Witness Sea Life’s breeding efforts and go “aww” at the baby animals and new creatures that haven’t yet joined their friends in the aquarium! There’s also an interactive quiz where you can help them feed the fish too so if you thought a behind-the-scenes tour might be boring, think again!
The Behind The Scenes Tour also offers visitors the opportunity to learn more about the Florida Reef Tract Rescue Project by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The initiative is set up to rescue and conserve the corals of Florida from the stony coral tissue loss disease.
Check out Feeding Frenzy, where you and your family will get the chance to feed a school of tangs. Fans of “Finding Nemo” will be excited to try and spot one that looks the most like Dory, the forgetful blue tang! You can also take home a photo as memorabilia from the feeding tank.
The Feeding Frenzy closes temporarily from time to time so make sure you check out the website before you plan your visit.
If your kid is a Minecraft fan, they will probably be able to identify this endangered creature that has now been assigned to a designated section here at Sea Life Orlando. Named after the Aztec god of fire, the axolotl is an amphibian that is said to have been around since the 13th century.
And while its name might sound intimidating, they are actually very adorable and quite gentle. In fact, as a part of the salamander family, they look a little like them too!
Axolotls are currently facing extinction and were more commonly seen around the New Mexico region. Lucky for you, you can just head to the aquarium to enjoy seeing these gilled salamanders with the cutest yawns!
The younger kids in your bunch are sure to enjoy the sight of them, and you can even play a game to see who can count the most number of axolotls in the tank.
For those of you who just can’t wait to get in the water, the aquarium has the next best thing – a virtual reality experience that is good enough to make you feel like you are waddling your way through the deadly waters of the Bahamas. Why “deadly’, you ask”? Because you’ll be making your way through shark-infested waters and getting the closest you might ever get to be to these apex predators!
While this might be a little too intimidating for the littler ones in your group, the older ones that want to test their bravery will be sure to delight in an experience that takes them into the water.
How much time do I need at SEA LIFE Orlando?
The best thing about Sea Life Orlando is you can spend as long as you want enjoying the sights here underwater. There are so many things to see and do that you might feel tempted to leave and come back later, but don’t! The general admission pass does not allow re-entry. Realistically, all the exhibits and activities at Sea Life combined should not take you more than two hours to complete.
What are the SEA LIFE Orlando opening hours?
Sea Life Orlando aquarium opens at 11 a.m. and that includes on the weekends. While closing times vary from day to day, it’s safe to say the aquarium always closes between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. Exact closing times are updated in advance two days at a time, so check those out before you make your plans.
Where is SEA LIFE Orlando?
Sea Life Orlando is located inside ICON Park, at 8449 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819, USA. When driving down I-Drive, you can spot ICON Park by The Wheel and the Orlando Starflyer, both of which are ICON Park’s highlights.
How do I get to SEA LIFE Orlando?
If you’re staying on International Drive, Sea Life Orlando Aquarium is close by; only 1.3 miles away from The Orange County Convention Center, to be accurate. In fact, you might even be able to walk there.
If you plan to drive, head to Sand Lake Road and then turn right onto International Drive. After about 0.3 miles, take the U-turn to your left and you’ll find the free parking garage right next to the park.
For those keen on arriving by rail, there’s a Sunrail Station at Sand Lake Road, roughly 7 miles away from the park. The i-Rail trolley will take you directly to the park. Remember to get off the train at stop 17 if you are on the Red Line Northbound, but at stop G9 if you’re on Green Line Southbound.
Bus riders can take the Lynx bus from links 8, 38, 42, 50, 58, and 111 to reach International Drive. Cab services such as Uber and Lyft are available too.
Where can I park at SEA LIFE Orlando?
The parking situation at Sea Life Orlando is one of the most convenient when it comes to visiting Orlando attractions. It’s free and right next to the park – what more could you want?
You’ll find the huge parking space at the back of the park off of Universal Boulevard, just a short stroll away from the aquarium. So, if you are planning to drive down with the whole family, have no fear, because it’s a hassle-free experience!
What attractions are at SEA LIFE Orlando?
Sea Life Orlando is home to some of the most exciting aquatic life attractions in the city. They have the largest and only 360-degree tunnel aquarium, with all sorts of aquatic life above, around, and even beneath you.
Bioluminescent moon jellyfish to light up the darkness, friendly starfish to pet, rare creatures of all shapes and sizes to see, and even a VR experience that lets you “dive” right into the action. And if all of that is not enough, there is also an awesome gift shop to collect ocean-inspired souvenirs for your friends and family back home.
Do you have to book SEA LIFE Orlando in advance?
Tickets are available to purchase at the entrance of Sea Life. However, the aquarium advises that you buy your entry passes online to avoid the rush and to guarantee admission on busy days when wait times for entry can be long.
Ticket prices online will vary, depending on the day and the time slot you choose for your visit. Keep in mind that online prices will not be applicable to passes bought at the park.
Can you take pictures at SEA LIFE Orlando?
You are allowed to take as many pictures as you want with your gang at Sea Life Orlando Aquarium. Remember to turn off your flash, as this can frighten and intimidate the animals, and in some cases, even harm them. Aside from that, there are no restrictions to photography within the aquarium.
What items cannot be taken into SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium?
Due to security concerns and the lack of storage facilities, the aquarium does not allow you to carry large bags and luggage into the premises during your visit. The same goes for firearms or weapons of any kind. However, strollers, diaper bags, backpacks, and handbags are all permitted.
Can I bring my own food and drink to SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium?
Outside food and drink are not allowed inside the aquarium. While there are no cafes or eateries inside the aquarium premises, there is a food court in the terminal building and a spread of eateries in the vicinity on International Drive.
Remember that your passes do not allow re-entry, so make sure you plan out your meals before you make your visit. Food aside, there are restrooms and baby changing facilities within the premises and locker facilities in the terminal outside.