It’s not often you get to dine with a superstar. I had the opportunity recently, and I jumped at it. I was at SeaWorld in San Diego, California, and booked the Dine with Shamu lunch so I could meet SeaWorld’s most famous celebrity up close. I invite you to join us for lunch, and read all about the experience below.
My lunchmate was an 8,000 pound killer whale named Corky, and my seat was right beside the killer whale pool. Throughout the meal Corky swam all around and right up beside the tables. There were even shallow pools where the killer whale could get really up close to the diners. Finally, there were two trainers at the pool that told the audience all about the whales and answered questions throughout the lunch.
The meal is an all you care to eat buffet that costs $39 for adults (ages 10+), $19 for children (ages 3-10), and children under 3 are free. Lunch and dinner are the same price, and there is also a breakfast with Shamu option for $26 adults and $16 for children. The food was surprisingly good for what I expected to find in a theme park, and was a definite step up from what you found in the rest of the SeaWorld dining facilities. All the food is made fresh on site and included beef bourguignon, chicken piccata, a fresh roasted turkey carving station, pastas, shrimp, salads, and a huge dessert bar. In addition, there was also a kids buffet line with all the standard kids fare including: macaroni and cheese, chicken fingers, and hot dogs. In addition, all beverages were included with some Anheuser-Busch products available as well.
Dine with Shamu goes on year round, but the seatings vary depending on the time of year you go to SeaWorld. You can find the available times on the SeaWorld website. There are also special events throughout the year including Easter Brunch, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Breakfast with Shamu and Santa. If I was solely judging the cost of the meal based on the food, I would think it is overpriced ($39 for lunch is pretty steep). However, the food is only part of what you are paying for, and the truly unique feature of this meal is Shamu (or in this case Corky). How many places can you dine nose-to-nose with a killer whale?
During my lunch, I was able to learn all about the SeaWorld Theme Park as well as learn about SeaWorld’s conservation efforts. The San Diego park has been around for 45 years since March, 1964. It was founded by four fraternity brothers from UCLA with plans of opening an underwater restaurant. When they couldn’t figure out the logistics of an underwater restaurant, they decided instead to open a marine life park. Hey, if you can’t eat the fish, you might as well come to understand and appreciate them better? Shamu ended up coming to the park in 1965, and SeaWorld became the first park in the world to exhibit a killer whale. In addition to the shows and attractions at SeaWorld, I was surprised to learn about all the research and conservation funded by SeaWorld.
For example, the San Diego park alone rescues over 200 animals each year off the beaches of Southern California including dolphins, sea lions, pelicans, etc., and they have a 65% success rate in rehabilitating the animals and returning them to the wild. There is also the SeaWorld/Busch Gardens conservation fund that grants money to conservation efforts throughout the world. In addition, there is an extensive breeding program that goes on at SeaWorld, and most of the animals in the park were bred there. SeaWorld has mastered artificial insemination in marine mammals, and the first marine mammal conceived by artificial insemination was born right at SeaWorld San Diego. SeaWorld scientists can also predetermine the sex of a dolphin before it’s conceived by separating the X&Y chromosomes. So there’s some high powered research going on behind the scenes and SeaWorld that most guests don’t even know about.
I would definitely recommend the Dine with Shamu experience. The food was the best you will find in the park, I was able to get an upclose look at the killer whale, learned about the park, and chatted with the trainers. Make plans for this to be your big meal of the day, and you should have a great time.