Sink your toes into warm beach sand, float on top of cresting waves, and touch remarkably soft stingrays as they glide past you in the water. SeaWorld San Antonio invites you to the festive South Seas atmosphere of Aquatica, its brightly colored oasis of water fun.
Aquatica – a 20-acre water park tucked away inside SeaWorld San Antonio – is now open for the 2016 season and is welcoming guests to enjoy a taste of island life. A beautiful 42,000 square feet of sandy beaches await, inviting visitors to pull a lounge chair under the shade of a palm tree and relax. But, good luck with that. If you are bringing a child to Aquatica, it’s unlikely you’ll be sitting still for long in this tropical-themed amusement park. There is simply too much ground to cover.
Aquatica’s exciting signature attractions keep visitors coming back summer after summer. Walhalla Wave sends thrill-seeking raft riders soaring up a zero-gravity wall. Stingray Falls takes families on a raft ride through an underwater grotto to see tropical fish and stingrays. Three terraced pools with several kiddie slides, a huge wave pool, an aquatic playground complete with an oversized water-dumping bucket, a 1,200-foot-long lazy river, body slides, and single tube rides are also fine options when it comes to keeping your crew happy (and wet) all day.
In true SeaWorld fashion, edutainment lies around every corner at Aquatica. Animal handlers wander the grounds, introducing guests to exotic animal friends. Keep your eyes open – you may encounter a chatty parrot or get to pet a snake.
A highlight of every visit to Aquatica is Ke-Re Reef, a cove that allows visitors to get up close and personal with stingrays. This tropical reef offers guests a chance to see several species of fish and stingrays. Guests can pet the beautiful creatures for free, or pay a little extra to feed them. (Stingrays’ mouths are on the underside of their body and they use them like a vacuum. When fish are being sucked off your hand by a passing stingray, it is both exhilarating and a bit nerve-wracking.)
For a truly unforgettable experience, pay for a stingray encounter. Even young (brave) children love wading in the water with Cownose stingrays and feeding them, as the creatures headbutt their legs. My boys squealed a lot during their encounter, but then immediately asked to do it again. Anyone under age 13 must be accompanied by a paid adult. This experience starts at $20 and can be purchased in advance online.
And, of course there are shows. Fire twirlers, a didgeridoo player, island dancers, and more entertain the crowds here. Your day will be full. In fact, you may need to plan a return trip to visit the SeaWorld side of the park, because it’s unlikely you’ll be able to squeeze in all of SeaWorld’s shows, animals, and rides as well. Fun Cards, which allow you unlimited visits throughout the season, might be the way to go if you live nearby.
10 Tips for Visiting Aquatica San Antonio:
- Arrive early. If you are waiting in line before the gates open, there is a good chance you will be able to ride the most popular attractions – Walhalla Wave and Stingray Falls – a few times before the park fills up. The entrance to Aquatica is inside SeaWorld, so you must enter SeaWorld first and then wait in line to enter Aquatica.
- Return late. Consider taking a break from the heat midday and heading back to Aquatica at dusk, when lines are shorter once again. Have a look at the waterpark hours when planning your trip. Some days Aquatica is open until 8 p.m., but other days it closes earlier.
- Check height requirements before you go. To ride three of the water slides kids must be at least 42” and for another three, riders must be 48”. Children must be 36” to enjoy Stingray Falls. Also note that no hand-held infants are allowed on the lazy river.
- Everyone under 42” is encouraged to wear a life vest. This used to be a requirement, but the park has eased up on this policy. Complimentary vests are available throughout the park.
- Pack snacks. The food restrictions are the same for Aquatica as they are for SeaWorld. Straws are prohibited. Soda and sandwiches not longer allowed. What you can bring: one bottle of water per person and single-serve sized snacks (approximately two ounces or less). Be sure to check the policies online before packing, as they seem to get stricter each year.
- Head to the back of the park, near Walhalla Wave, to find shaded lounge chairs on the beach. This area tends to be less crowded than the central beach. Another low traffic area is the small beach near Roa’s Aviary.
- Bring your own pails and shovels, so kids can play in the real sand on the beaches.
- Make sure everyone is wearing proper swim apparel, made from swim material. Rash guard shirts are permitted. When the park first opened, cotton shirts were prohibited, but the park seems to have relaxed this policy in recent years. Still, I have seen people turned away from a ride for not having the right swim gear, which would be disappointing.
- Locker rentals are $10 – $20, plus a deposit. Bring an additional $20 for parking.
- Aquatica is not included in SeaWorld admission. It costs an additional $40 on top of your SeaWorld ticket. You can save $5 on a single-day ticket to Aquatica when you purchase your ticket online.
Check out the FAQ page for Aquatica, for more information, and have fun planning your Aquatica adventure!