What could be better on a beautiful day in San Diego? Excellent food, great music, and all the fun that SeaWorld brings rolled into one special event. It’s the second annual SeaWorld San Diego Seven Seas Food Festival, taking place each Saturday and Sunday from May 7th to June 12th. Our Day Trips TravelingMom has attended the event both years and found that it’s a SeaWorld San Diego highlight, before the big summer crowds kick in.
Admission to the event is included with your regular park ticket but food and drink tastings are an additional charge. The festival activities begin at 11 am and last until Park closing.
What is the Seven Seas Food Festival at SeaWorld San Diego?
Sea World San Diego Seven Seas Food Festival is a blend of high-end cuisine, music and beverages inspired by dishes from across the seven seas. The ambitious appetizers were created by Sea World San Diego’s executive chef, Axel Dirolf.
Seven festival areas are spread out around the entire park. Event guides are available at each location and include a map showing placement of each dining kiosk.
You can purchase your SeaWorld park tickets ahead of time (we recommend Undercover Tourist for discount tickets) and Seven Seas Food Festival purchases are paid for separately. Before we even entered the Park, I noticed that there were cash registers set up for facilitating food and drink purchases for the event. I attended this event last year with my kids and purchased the food-only sampler which allowed us five choices at any of the festival stations ($20.00). This year I attended with my husband and we each received a Food & Drink Sampler with five food and five drink choices ($40.00). There is also the option of a Wine and Dine Sampler ($35.00) and this includes five food items and five wine tastings at the California Wine Room.
I was given a punch card with a lanyard to present at each station when I made a purchase. Sea World Pass Members receive a 10% discount at all locations offering sample-sized food, wine and beer tastings.
Food that is Decidedly “Un-Theme Park”
I’ve always thought that the food at Sea World San Diego is top-notch for an amusement park. On a previous visit we attended Dine with Shamu, where we enjoyed sustainable fish, Swedish meatballs and a wonderful dessert bar. The cuisine is what you’d expect from a high-end San Diego restaurant. Certainly the higher prices reflect that too, but it’s lovely to be able to dine well and not just have pizza or hot dogs as your dining option. I mean, how often do you see duck confit or gazpacho on an amusement park menu?
At our first stop at California Fusion Flavors, we indulged in locally grown fingerling potatoes, drizzled with crema and topped generously with fresh pico and lots of crisp bacon. It was the perfect start. In this same area we also couldn’t resist the fresh berry tart with crème patisserie. I think I managed to finagle one bite of the tart once my three-year old got to it! It was a beautiful blend of tangy berries with sweet cream and a firm buttery crust.
While watching the Pets Rule! Show, my kids and I shared the grilled lamb slider from the Mediterranean Flavors section. It was quite yummy, with a buttery bun and shaved cucumber mint yogurt sauce, and we certainly could have each enjoyed our own. I was glad to see it return for the second year.
This year I had the pleasure of meeting with Chef Axel, and he shared with us some of his favorite dishes. Macaroni Shrimp was delightful with little bits of chorizo sprinkled in. I tried the Pork Belly Bao Sandwich, which I’ve never tried before but was surprisingly light and refreshing with the cool taste of pickled cucumber kimchi. Halo-Halo was also a new treat that I was a little nervous to try. I needn’t be scared because the mix of shaved ice, sweet potato ice cream and beans was fun and tasty!
My husband is a big seafood eater and he enjoyed many of the sustainable fish plates, a favorite being the seared sashimi grade tuna tostada at Latin America Flavors.
At Caribbean Flavors, we discovered that the coconut curry shrimp with banana leaf steamed rice was delicious, but too tiny for all of us to get more than just one bite. My kids enjoyed the flavor so much that I’m inspired to prepare a curry dish very soon. We topped off the afternoon with a mini flourless chocolate cake that was absolute heaven. Crispy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside, this dessert was the perfect closer to our Seven Seas Food Festival excursion!
As I was the only adult on my first voyage, I’d opted out of alcoholic beverages. On the second visit, my husband was with me and he appreciated the fresh varieties of beer on tap. The California Wine Tasting Room is elegant and rustic and features over 15 different wines. The Craft Beer Hub (also in the California Flavors area) will be featuring four different local craft brews, one for each week of the Festival. The Latin American Craft Beer Hub is doing the same in their Festival area. Several of the breweries will be offering brewing tips throughout the Festival as well.
Music and Dancing
Live entertainment takes place in two locations during the Festival – on the California Sound stage and the French Sound stage. Local artists will be playing a wide variety of music from blues, rock, bluegrass, ska, country and pop. On the French Sound stage, the tunes will be decidedly more Parisian with tunes accented in accordion and strings. On the day of our visit, we couldn’t help bopping to the beat of the bass as we strolled by!
The Polynesian Flavors area was new to the second year of the festival and judging by the crowds of guests sipping Mai-Tai from carved pineapples, this spot was a hit! Authentic Polynesian dancers take the stage here, including a sizzling fire dancer who had the crowd cheering!
After viewing the images of the foods online, I had my doubts that these ambitious dishes would look even remotely like the high-end appetizers that had been photographed. Amazingly each dish we received was served quickly, was perfectly prepared and was presented just as shown on the website. The entire experience was well executed and after last year’s visit, I had a feeling that SeaWorld San Diego’s first food festival wouldn’t be their last! I’m so happy to see the event return for the second year. We had a delightful (and delicious) time sailing the Seven Seas with SeaWorld.