We’ve made lovely family memories at Sea World on the Gold Coast over multiple visits. AJ even celebrated her second birthday there. Over the years the attraction has evolved but maintained the elements that encourage us to visit again and again. On our recent trip to the Gold Coast we thought we’d pop in and see what’s new.
As the kids get older it’s hard to know their reaction when they revisit an attraction but Sea World was a hit with both, particularly BJ.
Sea World has a wonderful range of animal exhibits including the polar bears, rays, dolphins, seals and the large aquarium.
We find the exhibits provide easy viewing for BJ from his wheelchair. Large floor to ceiling windows, low fences and unique under water viewing platforms mean BJ doesn’t miss out on anything.
Ramps lead to and from viewing areas at Polar Bear Shores and the Aquarium.
The polar bears are my favourite attraction at Sea World and if it weren’t for other family members being keen to move on I’d stand there all day marveling at them. We arrived at Sea World right on opening and hot-footed it straight to the polar bear enclosure. As is often the case at zoos and animal parks, the morning is the best time to see the animals at their most active. Mum and bub were out in the morning sun and we were the only ones watching them. In typical fashion the youngster was keen for a swim but Mum was not. I could relate to her as she paced and did a dance on the spot putting off the inevitable. She was clearly hoping not to go swimming on this particular morning but with her youngster in the pool she caved and did the responsible parent thing and got in. She playfully jumped on her bub as she did so.
It’s wonderful to have the option of watching the polar bears at play with accessible viewing above and below the water.
Large windows allow everyone easy viewing at the aquarium.
Although we’ve seen the seal and dolphin shows many times, we all enjoyed watching them again. Sea World does a great job of educating visitors on looking after our sea life in both shows.
Accessible seating is available in the front row of the seal show and staff will guide you on arrival at the theatre.
We chose to sit in the front row of the seal show because BJ finds it easier to concentrate if he’s close to the action. Staff happily opened a gate which was wheelchair accessible to allow BJ to sit up front. This area is in full sun which was fine for us in winter but in summer I suggest following the path to the regular stadium entry and sitting in the wheelchair allocated seating.
I hear Paw Patrol is a big deal these days so I popped my head into the Nickelodeon theatre to snap this pic. Wheelchair accessible seating is available within this area.
We’ve been lucky enough to have BJ participate in the special needs dolphin experience at Sea World on two occasions. He absolutely loved it!
On our latest visit I was thrilled to see Sea World has taken access to a new level with a newly installed (new since our last visit) hoist to allow easier access to the dolphin encounter for guests with a disability.
We found the trainers who do this experience to be excellent and the dolphin has been hand-picked for their suitability to work with children with special needs and people with a disability.
The special needs dolphin experience is available for a maximum of four people including 1 carer/companion who is free to assist the person with a disability and two other friends or family members can participate. The cost is $124.99 and it must be pre-booked by phone.
When you arrive at Sea World make your way to the Guest Services office. The staff there will discuss your needs and advise the most suitable rides. When BJ was little we could manage all the rides in Nickelodeon Land but obviously he’s outgrown those.
Castaway Bay is home to Battle Boats, an interactive water play ride which has a wheelchair accessible boat. Guests may stay in their wheelchairs for this ride but I suggest wearing a poncho or covering the wheelchair with plastic or you’ll be sitting on a wet chair for the rest of the day.
Our kids loved this ride on a previous visit but you need to be prepared to get wet. We did the ride after our dolphin experience and stayed in our wetsuits to avoid soaking our clothes. Participants on the boats have water cannons to shoot but you need to beware, people standing on the sidelines have water cannons at their disposal and are intent on wetting those in the boats.
A drying booth is available ($5 to use) if you get soaked but there’s a step up into the booth.
BJ loves riding the monorail at Sea World. Others use the monorail to lessen the walking around the park but for him it’s just a fun ride. The monorail has a designated wheelchair and pram compartment at the rear of the monorail. Personally I love the overview of the park the monorail offers. There’s ramp access at all monorail stations.
Parent Swap and Queue Proxy services are available within the park for guests who are unable to stand in a queue for extended periods, or have children unable to experience a particular ride or attraction and require supervision. Visit Guest Services for specific information regarding this service.
CHARACTER MEET & GREETSIf you’re keen to meet your favourite Nickelodeon characters, check the appearance times at the start of the day to ensure you don’t miss them.
PACK YOUR SWIMMERSAlthough we were visiting in winter, the days were warm and plenty of little people were happy to head to Sea World’s new attraction, The Reef at Castaway Bay which is one of Australia’s largest aquatic adventure zones.
The all new fully accessible interactive splash area features an array of water cannons, spouts and life-sized animal sculptures.
A pool wheelchair would be a wonderful addition to this area so everyone could truly enjoy it.
Several food outlets offer options for dining at Sea World and there’s a large undercover food court area which is accessible.
Sea World has several stand-alone accessible bathroom facilities. If you are looking for a large bathroom we recommend the one beside the water park. If you require adult change facilities you can access the First Aid facility at the park.
Medication which requires refrigeration may also be stored at First Aid.
LISTENING DEVICESAn assisted listening service which amplifies sound through headphones or induction loop is available at specific attractions for guests with hearing difficulties. A limited number of devices are available for hire from Guest Services for a refundable cash deposit of $25.
Assistance Animals are welcome at Sea World with the exception of restricted ride areas. Contact Guest Services for assistance. Due to Sea World’s quarantine status vaccinations must be current.
Guests who have an Australian Companion Card are entitled to 1 free of charge Companion Ticket so that their companion can provide care and support during the visit.
Discounted single day entry admission rates are available to guests holding a State or Commonwealth issued Disability Pension Card. Present your card to the ticket booth cashier when purchasing admission tickets to obtain the discounted rate.
Wheelchairs may be borrowed and are complimentary however a $20.00 refundable deposit is required. The deposit is refunded upon safe return of the wheelchair. ID is required to hire the wheelchair. As there are a limited number of wheelchairs available, it’s advisable to pre-book with Guest Services by phoning (07) 5588 2178.
Accessible parking is available at the front of Sea World in the main car park. However, if the person with a disability is the driver, I would suggest trying to get a spot in the limited accessible parking to the right of the entrance as this is level and avoids the hill at the front. This is also the drop off zone if you are visiting with someone who doesn’t have an accessible parking permit and has limited mobility.
You can read more about accessibility at Sea World on their website.
We received complimentary entry to Sea World so we could share all the accessible details. This was our fifth visit to the park so you can be assured our opinions are our own and our enthusiasm is based on the fun days we’ve experienced at the park.
I visited Sea World & found it very accessibl for a wheelchair. The only thing is that I would have liked to sit at the front for the seal show but as you say, the wheelchair spots are in full sun & also they are at the side so you don’t get a great view. We ended up going around & sitting in the wheelchair spots up in the main seating area.
I am so excited about the hoist access to the dolphin experience. My husband will now be able to participate (and me too).
I’m so pleased Deborah.
Monica Doran says
Wow thanks Julie yoy have made my day. My daughter has always wanted to swim with dolphins but needs a hoist. This post has showed my i can now book a holiday to Sea World to fulfill her dreams. Thank you