Updated: Nov 23, 2019
The Weber Family loves theme parks, and I recently had some free and discounted tickets to Sea World San Diego. So, the kids and I took a little trip downtown, and had a mostly awesome time (minus one big mom fail!), and you can read all about the details of our day here. Honestly, I feel a bit responsible because if had packed the right things that day, the whole mishap could have been resolved quickly, so that's why I also decided to share what you should bring in your amusement park bag here! Learn from my big mistake and bring ALL of the necessities!
It's probably no big surprise that I'm one of those people who prides themself on being able to find the best deals, and I saw quite a bit of advertising on the Sea World website about their All-Day Dining package. I had been teetering on the idea for a few days before our trip trying to assess whether it was worth the money to do the all day dining package or not.
Once we arrived at Sea World, I was still undecided but realized the only way to find out was to just try it out! So, as the kids were riding their first roller coaster, I headed to a snack kiosk and purchased the deal for $39.99 (plus tax, so it ended up being around $43). I opted to only purchase it for me because each of my kids is an "adult" per Sea World's parameters (over age 9), and I knew that was more than I wanted to investment for my experiment.
Before I get into my full assessment let's dive into the specifics about the dining deal.
The Sea World All Day Dining Deal allows you to get one "main entree" (which was pretty much a platter that included a side like fries), a drink (soda or water) and a choice of a "side" (usually a salad, fruit or dessert). At several of the places there were some restrictions, but honestly, there were enough other choices that it didn't really matter. Once you get to the check out, they scan your wristband and give you a receipt that is time stamped. After checking out, you have one hour before you can go back and get more food and beverages.
What's Not Included?
If you are using the Sea World All Day Dining Deal, street vendors and merchandise are not included. So things like ice cream, popcorn, and other snacks are not on the plan. At some of the restaurants, there were a few items that weren't included (higher priced platters like baby back ribs), but I didn't really notice because the food selection was sufficient.
What's the Price?
Like pretty much every theme park, the food is WAY overpriced, and I think the All Day Dining Deal is on the steep side too. (I'm a bargain hunter after all!) . For adults it is $39.99 (ages 10 and over) and children it is $19.99 (age 9 and under).
I think it's a bit silly to think that a 10 year old girl should have to pay the same as a 200 pound man, but I didn't get to make the rules, and that's why I didn't purchase the package for my kids.
Where Can You Go?
At Sea World San Diego there are many options for dining spread throughout the park. The participating restaurants include Shipwreck Reef Café, Calypso Bay Smokehouse, Mama Stella’s Pizza Kitchen, Explorer's Café, Pineapple Pete’s Island Eats and Flatbreads & Fry Cones, so there are quite a few options with a variety of menus.
1. If you are big eater or drink a lot of beverages (only non-alcoholic beverages are included), you will save money!
2. If you plan to eat 3 meals at Sea World, the food package is a good option. When I totaled up each meal, I estimated it would have been at least $20-$25 if you got an entree, side and drink. So basically after 2 meals you've hit your break even point, add some snacks and water throughout the day, and you are WINNING!
3. There are plenty of options and variety in food choices. I tried all sorts of different things throughout the day...pizza, pasta, fish tacos, sandwich, chicken tender basket with fries, to name a few. I didn't feel restricted by a limited number of choices. I also was glad they had fruit and vegetable side options.
5. There are many locations around the park. Having 6 different locations throughout the park made it easy to find a participating restaurant. I never had to walk far to find a place for a meal or snack.
6. The food was tasty and well portioned. Of the various things I ate during the day, which was A LOT, I enjoyed most of it. The only exception was a caesar side salad that was wilted and mushy, but overall the food was fresh and yummy for a them park.
7. It was convenient. When checking out, they simply scan your bracelet, and you don't need to get out a wallet and spend time waiting to pay.
8. It's nice to not worry about the price of food all day! There is some fun and a feeling of freedom that comes from paying a one time flat fee at the beginning of the day and not worrying about money for food for the rest of the day!
9. The meal deal gives you freedom to try new things that you may not normally order. There is some peace of mind in taking a risk and trying something I wasn't 100% sure about (like the fish tacos). I knew if I didn't like them, I could get something different in an hour and I didn't really "waste" any money!
1. On peak days, the lines are long. We went on a Sunday during the Seven Seas Food Festival and the park felt pretty crowded, and the lines for food were not different. I usually had to wait 20-30 minutes to get food, which is way too long in my book! This is my #1 complaint of the deal. If you are going on a slower day, it may not affect you at all!
2. For "foodies", the quality of food may not meet your standards. If you have a highly refined palette, you may not enjoy the quality of the food. It's mostly amusement park style food, not for fancy, distinguished tastes.
3. If you have food restrictions, you may not have as many options. If you are a strict vegetarian or have food allergies, the set menu may not work very well for you.
4. If you are not planning to be there all day, you will most likely not save money. You really need to eat more than 2 meals for it to make sense economically.
5. If you are not a big eater, the meal deal might not be for you! In general I do not eat an entree, side and drink at any meal. So under normal circumstances, I might not get my money's worth, but my husband on the other hand would definitely come out ahead!
6. The cost for younger kids is a bit pricey. For our family budget, paying over $40 for my 11 year old to eat all day just seems a bit excessive.
7. You might eat more food than you normally would. I don't know about you, but I get a "All You Can Eat Buffet" mentality when it comes to a flat rate meal deal. I want to be sure I get my money's worth so I eat a greater quantity and more often than I would if I was purchasing food a la carte. I also added dessert to several of my meals which I would NEVER do normally! So if you are watching your waste line, I'd skip the All Day Dining option.
A Few Helpful Tips
1. Try to look for shorter lines. My biggest complaint for the meal deal was the wait time in lines, and later in the day I found a few places with shorter lines. Keep a look out for the restaurants with the shortest wait times.
2. Buy the deal first thing! Don't wait to get the dining package. You will maximize your savings if you start using it right away!
3. Not everyone has to buy it. You may have a family of varied appetites, so keep in mind it might be best for just your heartier eaters to get the All Day Dining Package.
4. You don't have to get the whole meal every time! Even though the meal deal package ensures you that can have an entree, side and drink every hour, you don't have to get the full deal! You can pop in for a light snack or a drink and forego the bigger meal.
5. Be Adventurous. Try something new that you normally wouldn't! Having the Meal Deal allows you to branch out from your standard foods and not feel like you are losing any money. Don't like your food? Wait and hour and get something else!
What's the Verdict...Is All Day Dining at Sea World Worth It?
Honestly, it all depends. If you intend to be at Sea World all day long, you don't have food restrictions and plan on eating at least two full meals there, then yes, I think it’s worth it. If you are in "vacation mode" and don't want to worry about the pice of every food item all day, then you also may want to consider the Meal Deal.
For adults with lighter appetites and older children, it might not be worth it. So in a nutshell, there's not really a clear cut answer to whether the dining package is worth it our not! It totally depends on your family and budget.
Have you tried the Meal Deal at Sea World or another theme park?? What did you think? Did you come out ahead?? I'd love to hear your experiences!
Until next time, cheers to vacation mode and cheers to you!🥂
Read More About Our Day at Sea World and Other Amusement Park Tips:
P.S. Let's be MILF's Together! (Mom I'd Like to Friend)
…come find me online and let’s be virtual friends!