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, if you’re closer to those locations. Know before you go is more important in 2020 than ever, so I’ve put together some insider tips that will help you make the most of your visit to Aquatica San Antonio.
My family and I were hosted by SeaWorld San Antonio and received complimentary park admission and amenities. All opinions are mine alone. Also, this post may contain affiliate links, which means if you book or buy through links in this website, I may earn a commission. Thank you for your support!
The dog days of summer are my least favorite time of the year. The humidity and heat index are high. We get a little stir crazy inside our house but it’s not fun to be outside unless there’s a cool body of water nearby. We’re an outdoor family but the outdoors loses some appeal with its a a gazillion degrees Fahrenheit. Okay, so I’m exaggerating but only a little bit.
The perfect solution? A water park. There are several great water parks in the San Antonio area but Aquatica tops my family’s list. Aquatica is co-located with SeaWorld and Discovery Point, so you have options on pairing your visit to Aquatica with other activities. Please note admission to Aquatica is not included in your regular SeaWorld admission. You can see more about admission policies, prices, and hours here.
What’s new at Aquatica in 2020:
Because of new social distancing requirements and a focus on keeping guests safe, Aquatica (and also SeaWorld) have implemented a reservation system. This helps control the number of people admitted inside Aquatica daily. Everyone must have a reservation, regardless of ticket or pass status. The good news is that making a reservations is super easy and you’ll get instant confirmation. You’ll need to take the printout with you on the day of your visit and have it ready as you go through the gate to park.
You must wear a face covering when entering Aquatica and when in line for food and in the shops but when you’re otherwise enjoying Aquatica, you don’t have to have them on. There are six feet markers everywhere, including in line for the water slides. All the employees I saw, including the lifeguards, had masks on at all times.
We got to (finally!) try out the Taumata Racer. This is a high-speed waterslide where riders zoom downhill head first on foam bodysurfing mats. It was new in 2018 and we hadn’t been to Aquatica since 2017 so it was fun to see what’s new while still enjoying the same beautiful, lush park we remembered.
The Taumata Racer is 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″.
One of the reasons I love Aquatica so much is the landscaping. There is so much lush vegetation and beautiful flowers that you feel like you’re in a tropical rain forest 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 do 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 you will experience at SeaWorld.
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 busier on weekends or holidays, so if you can get away during the week, do it. We went on a random Friday and got there about an hour after the park had opened. We stayed until the park closed at 5:00 p.m. I noticed chairs and seating in the shade were consistently available and that lines for concessions and attractions were fairly short.
If you go on the weekend, plan to be in line before the park opens. Stake out a good good base camp spot in the shade (keep reading to see my recommendations on cabanas and premium seating) and prepare your kids 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. The current pandemic situation is minimizing the number of people waiting and the crowds but weekends are still going to be busier.
Consider adding preferred parking to your package. This means you’ll pay an extra fee to park near the entrance. If you plan to stay the entire day or combine your visit to Aquatica with a visit to SeaWorld, the ease of not having a long trek back to your car at the day’s end is worth the extra $10.
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 fun house, ever.
The minimum height requirements are 36”, 42” and 48”. If your kids are over 48″ they can take part in all the attractions at Aquatica. Some of the kiddie attractions have maximum height requirements. There are lots of parks maps and height requirement signs throughout the park for your reference.
On our first visit to Aquatica in 2017, my kids were just a shade under 48” and we enjoyed Hoo Roo Run and Stingray Falls. If your kids are at least 42″ they’ll be able to enjoy those rides and they provide a little bit of thrill, although not as much as some of the 48″ height requirement slides. And, in all honesty, I’m good with the 42″ thrill level, although it’s been quite a long time since I was 42″.
No matter how tall or how old, do not miss 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 and they’re sanitized regularly by Aquatica Staff.
3. Water shoes are NOT optional
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 all day 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 in a relaxed way. 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 have a really awesome pool whic is a great place to rld 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 but it’s worth it to have the little oasis away from the hot sun. 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. There was also a safe for our belongings, which eliminated the need for a locker rental. Lockers are readily available if you need them.
Cabana rentals at Aquatica run from $150 to $400. We’ve stayed in the Standard Cabana, which currently runs $200 and most recently, in the Premium Cabana, which runs $350. You can read here for the list of amenities included for each level. If you can swing the splurge, I think the Premium Cabana is the way to go. The biggest draw for me was the little sun deck we had attached to our cabana. We had direct pool access right from the cabana, which we absolutely loved.
My husband worked for part of the afternoon from our cabana. It was private enough for him to take a couple of work calls before he hopped in the pool with the kids and I. You might be thinking “What in the world, it’s a water park, dude. Just put away your work.” But, this is 2020 and more folks are working and learning remotely. While I’m ready for things to go “back to normal” I’m also appreciating the flexibility our current situation offers.
If the cabana rental isn’t in your budget, consider renting loungers. This is basically reserved seating in the shade in desirable areas of Aquatica. This is a very affordable option and the benefits are not having to worry about whether you’re going to get a great seat in the shade and having a semi-secure area to set up your base camp for the day. You still get a little bit of the VIP feel without the full price of a cabana rental. This will run $10-$25 and I think it’s totally worth this to be guaranteed a shady spot to sit.
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 $15 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 can also book online or, if you’re in one of the cabanas, your host or hostess can assist you with booking. 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 boys when they were seven and honestly, I think that was 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. We didn’t do this on our most recent (2020 visit) to Aquatica because my kids were older and were hyper into the water slides but I think they would have appreciated and enjoyed it more at this age.
If you want to commemorate your stingray experience, there’s a photographer on site who will take pictures 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.
You can also purchase all-day dining at Aquatica San Antonio. There are two packages – one for just Aquatica and one that includes SeaWorld and Aquatica for a little bit more. You can eat as often as every 90 minutes, which might sound like a lot but if you have growing kids or hungry teenagers, this is an excellent deal.
8. Visit Roa’s Aviary
An aviary inside a water park? Yes, and it is so cool!
2020 update: The birds have been removed. I’m not sure if this is temporary…I’m hoping it is because it was really part of what made Aquatica stand out for me. I’m leaving the info up for reference for now and I’m crossing my fingers that this will come back at some point.
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. I recommend being intentional about visiting versus rushing through on your way out of the park.
Aquatica San Antonio is just like any other waterpark…except it is BETTER. Check their website for a list of current specials and operating hours.
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