Aquatica San Antonio is the beautiful family water park associated with SeaWorld San Antonio. The SeaWorld parks in Florida and California also have Aquatica water parks, so if that matches up better with your neck of the woods or summer travel plans, be sure to check those websites out. This post is contains some insider info into Aquatica San Antonio which my boys and I have decided is the place to hang during these dog days of summer.
My family and I were hosted by SeaWorld San Antonio and received complimentary park admission and amenities. All opinions are mine alone.
The temps are off the charts because it’s South Texas. The air is heavy and still and we get a little stir crazy in the house but spending time outside loses some of its appeal when it’s a gazillion degrees.
The perfect solution is a water park, right? The San Antonio area has no shortage of cool water parks but Aquatica is truly an experience. For one, it’s on the same property as SeaWorld and Discovery Point, so there are some other options you can pair with your water park visit, although please note, admission to Aquatica is not included in your regular admission to SeaWorld.
NEW IN 2018:
The all-new Taumata Racer. This is a high-speed waterslide where riders zoom downhill head first on foam bodysurfing mats. It’s also a competitive ride with six side-by-side lanes. Taumata Racer launches riders in an entry tunnel that makes a swooping, 180-degree turn, then straightens out to make two additional descents over the 375-foot slide length and 55-foot drop in under 10 seconds. Minimum height is 42″.
For another thing, it’s gorgeous. There is so much lush vegetation and carefully planned landscaping that you feel like you’re in a tropical rainforest and not a water park full of screaming kids. I mean…yes, the screaming kids part is kind of impossible to get around but I’ve never been in a water park with such a tranquil vibe. I’m sure most kids don’t notice the little details like landscaping but I notice and I really believe this contributes to the overall feeling that people walk away with.
Things to help you plan your visit to Aquatica Waterpark
Aquatica San Antonio has all the things you’d expect a water park to have: a lazy river ride where you can float to your heart’s content, splash pad areas for the little ones, an awesome wave pool and, of course, thrilling water slides and rides. It also has that SeaWorld touch, allowing visitors to learn about marine life and nature. Their conservation story and love for animals touches everything they do.
If you’re coming to San Antonio or if you live in the area, you should add this to your summer lineup of things to do to cool off. Here are my top tips to help make your visit to Aquatica a huge success!
1. Go on a weekday
Any water park or theme park is going to be insane on weekends or holidays, so if you can get away during the week, do it. We went on a random Tuesday and got there about an hour after the park had opened. We stayed until dinner time (whoo boy was it a long day!) and noticed that chairs and seating were consistently available and that lines for concessions and attractions were fairly short.
If you go on the weekend, arrive early to stake out a good base camp spot in the shade and prep your small humans for standing in line to get on the attractions. No one likes standing in line but a lot of other families are going to find Aquatica San Antonio just as appealing as you do, especially when it’s center of the sun hot outside.
If you go on a weekend, consider adding preferred parking to your package. You’ll pay an extra fee to park near the entrance…AKA the convenience of not having far to walk back to your car when you’re done splashing.
Your kids will be tuckered out at the end of the day and the steps saved (and the whining you don’t have to listen to) might be worth the extra money. How much is no whining worth, anyway? A MINT.
2. Scope out the park map/height requirements ahead of time
Aquatica has a variety of fun, splashy things to do, from Loggerhead Lane (the lazy river) to Walhalla Wave (a fun zero-gravity experience) to Walkabout Waters, which is basically the coolest outdoor funhouse, ever.
The minimum height requirements are 36”, 42” and 48”. Some of the kiddie attractions have maximum height requirements. The park maps lay out what the rules are and there are signs throughout the park for your reference.
My boys are just a shade under 48” and we enjoyed Hoo Roo Run and Stingray Falls. Since we visited during the week, the lines were short but we waited about 30 minutes for Stingray falls, which is a don’t miss. Get in line early. No spoilers, but the end of the ride is epic. Also, the wave pool is no joke. If your kids are weak swimmers, make them wear a life vest. There are plenty of those available.
3. Take water shoes
Wear aqua socks or other waterproof shoe or sandal that won’t come off in the water…as in not flip flops, unless they have a secure heel strap.
The concrete in Aquatica is HOT. San Antonio summer temperatures are consistently over 100 degrees and you will singe the bottoms of your feet walking between the attractions, or even from your chair to the water. If you forget these (or any essential item) you can purchase within the park but save your pennies and make sure you’re prepared.
4. Don’t visit on the same day you visit SeaWorld
As I mentioned above, admission to Aquatica isn’t included with a regular SeaWorld park ticket. There are a variety of ticket options, which you can check out here. My family has spent a full day at SeaWorld many times and we never run out of things to do. Likewise, there’s plenty in Aquatica to keep you entertained on a hot day. While I suppose it’s possible to power through and try to experience as much as you can in one day, I don’t imagine you’d have that much fun doing it.
“Here’s this awesome wave pool, kids. You have 18 minutes. Go!”
Yeah, not so much.
If you invest your family’s time and money in these experiences, do them (and yourself!) justice and take your time to enjoy them.
A SeaWorld/Aquatica weekend makes an awesome staycation if you live in or around San Antonio. A day at each park gives you ample time to see most things. There are plenty of adjacent hotels that offer shuttle services or specials for SeaWorld guests. We’ve stayed at the Hilton San Antonio Hill Country Hotel and Spa and I can’t recommend it enough. They currently have a SeaWorld package and their pool is the BEST place to relax after a long day at the park. SeaWorld is just under an hour from where we live so the idea of a staycation is super appealing…my kids loved it and we’d go back to the Hilton in a heartbeat.
5. Get a cabana
If you can swing renting one of the private cabanas available at Aquatica, do it. For most people, renting a cabana is a splurge and we are so grateful to our friends at SeaWorld San Antonio for hooking us up with this awesome little oasis for the day. It made a huge difference in how we experienced the park. We had a dedicated place to sit in the shade that included a ceiling fan and a fridge to keep our water cool. Being able to take regular, relaxing rest breaks was huge.
I wasn’t worried about getting too much sun, fighting for a space to sit down and eat our lunch or worry about whether my stuff was going to be okay on a beach chair. I actually felt like we had a really relaxing day, which is unusual for a mom who was flying solo with two seven-year-old boys in a waterpark. The cabana made all the difference.
Cabana rentals at Aquatica run from $75 to $400. We had the Standard Cabana, which included a table and four chairs, as well as two chaise lounges, a minifridge and a secure area to store our belongings, a ceiling fan, and the ability to close our screens to get some privacy. We also got bottled water, four souvenir towels and a bottle of sunblock. The Standard Cabana runs $150 for the day and it was seriously amazing.
6. Do the stingray encounter
The stingray experience is what sets Aquatica apart from the other waterparks. Have you ever wanted to meet graceful stingrays in a rare up-close-and-personal encounter? Don’t worry, they don’t have the stingers intact. The stingray encounter is a family friendly opportunity to come face to fin with Cownose stingrays in an exotic setting where you will have the chance to touch, feed and marvel at these amazing animals.
The cost is $20 per person and anyone under age 13 must be accompanied by a paid adult. If you’re interested in booking the stingray encounter, go to the Ke-Re Reef Feeder booth, and book a time early. You’ll pay for your experience, get your time slot, and given instructions on when to report back. If you’re late, you’ll be charged a $10 per person rebooking fee.
When you report in, you’ll be given safety instructions and SeaWorld educators will escort you into the water with the stingrays. The cownose stingrays are super inquisitive and you’re allowed to touch them and feed them. You have to do a shuffle thing with your feet to avoid hurting the stingrays…there’s a portion of the water that’s very shallow and if you dare you can move into the deeper water with them. It was the weirdest, coolest thing ever.
I did this with my two seven-year-old boys and honestly, I think they were probably a little young to be able to fully appreciate the experience. Kids need to be fairly fearless to get in the water with a bunch of stingrays and they must be able to follow the instructions and keep the safety of the animals first and foremost.
A feeding experience is included (you can purchase a tray of food without doing the whole getting in the water thing) and there’s a photographer in the water taking pictures, which are available for purchase.
7. Get the cashless wristband
The cashless wristband is free and saves you from running to get your wallet out of your locker every time you want to buy something. You can give your credit card or apply cash towards your park purchases – whatever works. This allows you to buy food, souvenirs, and anything else available for purchase in Aquatica and not worry about where to store your cash or your debit card in your bathing suit.
8. Visit Roa’s Aviary
An aviary inside a water park? Yes, and it’s so cool!
My only regret is that I made my kids wait until the end of our day to do this. We went to Roa’s Aviary on our way out of the park because I felt it would be wrong to miss it and as a result, we were rather rushed and didn’t really spent the time to do this experience justice.
Roa’s Aviary is a 13,500 square feet aviary containing over 100 birds representing approximately 40 species. Guests can enter through a door or through the beach. How cool is that?
Some of these birds are considered threatened or endangered and Roa’s Aviary helps with conservation efforts. There’s a birdwatching sheet available to help guests identify different species of birds and there’s also a SeaWorld educator on hand to answer questions. This was one of the best parts of our day and I wish we’d have spent more time here and had the opportunity to enter the aviary from the beach.
Aquatica San Antonio is just like any other waterpark…except is BETTER. Check it out for yourself.
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About the ride:
Our friends at Mazda and DriveShop USA allowed us the loan of the awesome CX-5 for the week. The CX-5 has a high level of comfort and refinement, a lot of room and modern connected conveniences. It’s a smooth, sweet ride and it’s an amazing family car. Our two boys ride in booster seats in the back and we had plenty of room. We did several shopping-type errands in the CX-5 and there’s a ton of room in the back for anything we want to haul around.
If you are looking for a small SUV, you seriously need to check this out because it’s awesome. We were sad to give it back.