San Diego is well known for its famous zoo, but the city also offers two major amusement parks popular with both locals and visitors to San Diego. Each of the two parks, SeaWorld and Belmont Park, offer attractions on a completely different scale but each provide a great day out of excitement and adventure!
SeaWorld is a 22-acre marine themed park located in the Mission Bay Park area of San Diego and is one of only three SeaWorld parks in the country. The park offers a large variety of animal exhibits, shows and amusement rides that will appeal to people of all ages, and all are included with a single cost of admission.
SeaWorld's animal exhibits allow visitors to enjoy close encounters with a variety of sea life. Some of the major exhibits in the park include the Shark Encounter, Dolphin Point and the Penguin Encounter. In the Shark Encounter, a moving walkway travels through an underwater viewing tunnel where visitors will find sharks swimming all around them including above their heads! Dolphin Point provides an excellent opportunity to get up close and personal with bottlenose dolphins as visitors can feed and touch the dolphins. In the Penguin Encounter, visitors can spend time with nearly 300 penguins and enjoy their antics.
The extremely popular shows at SeaWorld include One Ocean, Blue Horizons and Pets Rule! One Ocean is an exhilarating and educational 25-minute multi-sensory show featuring the world famous Shamu killer whale. This is easily the most popular show in the park so guests should definitely show up early to grab a good seat! Blue Horizons is a thrilling show featuring playful dolphins doing a variety of tricks, and Pets Rule! is a fun show with animal tricks performed by cats, dogs and even potbellied pigs.
Finally, no amusement park is complete without a fun selection of rides. SeaWorld offers a collection of ten amusement rides ranging from mild to wild. Adults and teens will enjoy the exciting Manta roller coaster, Journey to Atlantic water coaster and Shipwreck Rapids, while younger children will enjoy Elmo's Flying Fish and Oscars's Rocking Eel. All members of the family will enjoy SeaWorld's fabulous Bayside Skyride, which provides a fantastic overhead view of Mission Bay.
San Diego's Belmont Park, located at Mission Park, offers a more traditional seaside amusement park experience. Belmont Park's admission and parking are completely free, with rides available on a pay-as-you-go basis. The star of this historic park is undoubtedly the 1925 Giant Dipper wooden roller coaster. This coaster is one of only two in California still operating on the coast, and the two-minute ride still packs a punch!
Belmont Park complements the Giant Dipper with a variety of exciting rides. Thrill seekers will enjoy the Beach Blaster, a giant rotating swing ride that reaches 60 feet in the air. Belmont Park features two unique rides that are actually controlled by the rider. The Control Freak is an action packed ride where riders use hand controls to move their car forward, backward or even flip it upside down! The Octotron runs along a roller coaster style track where riders can control the forward/backward motion as well as the speed of the spin. Families with younger children will probably prefer the more traditional rides such as the Liberty Carousel, Tilt-A-Whirl and Speedway Bumper Cars. In addition to the mechanical rides, Belmont Park offers a variety of other attractions such as an arcade, laser tag and a sky ropes adventure course.