Seaworld Gold Coast

Seaworld Gold Coast: The Best Theme Park for Toddlers

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Seaworld Gold Coast theme park with toddlers and children makes for a perfect family day out on Australia’s Gold Coast. From fun kid-friendly rides, interactive shows with their favourite television characters and of course, incredible wildlife encounters too!

While Seaworld Australia is a fantastic day out for all ages, it is definitely a favourite for families with younger kids! Check out our complete guide to visiting Sea World Gold Coast!

Seaworld Gold Coast resort and theme park

This article has been updated for 2022.

Growing up in Queensland, we were lucky enough to always have theme parks close by and plenty of opportunities to visit them. Living around an hour away meant it was an easy day trip from Brisbane.

This tradition is something we have continued on with our own kids, who absolutely adore all of the Gold Coast theme parks! And this started with our babymoon, in an attempt to discover which was the best Gold Coast theme park for toddlers.

While each of the theme parks on the Gold Coast theme have fantastic entertainment and activities for visitors of all ages, Seaworld would be our top recommendation! Read on to find out why.

Travel with toddlers brings a whole different set of challenges to travelling with babies and with older children or teens, but Seaworld does a wonderful job catering to younger kids!

SEAWORLD GOLD COAST THEME PARK

I can’t even recall how many times I have visited each of the big theme parks on the Gold Coast, as it would have been at least 30 times by now. Our kids have been to each of them a handful of times already too, pretty much since they were old enough to walk.

Now going way back, the first theme park my family ever took me to when growing up was Sea World Gold Coast. It has been around longer than I have and our first visit was when I was only a toddler myself before we lived in Queensland.

We have some awesome retro photos of us feeding a dolphin in a clash of 80s fashion horrors. Hello, big hair and shoulder pads!

I was around 3 or 4 and was both excited and horrified at the chance to feed a dolphin. I may have even cried. These things happen!

For our first theme park visit as parents, our eldest was only 2 and I was only a few weeks off my due date with her baby sister… heavily pregnant!

We decided Seaworld by far had the most to offer when thrill rides weren’t really an option. Although it was not the only theme park we visited that weekend.

The Seaworld theme park brand is well known worldwide for its focus on marine wildlife. They have always had some fantastic animal-themed attractions at the Gold Coast theme park too.

Seaworld in Australia is not affiliated with the USA Seaworld franchise and they are known for their conservation efforts, rescuing and researching marine life in the region.

Check out our recent visit to Seaworld Gold Coast and stay at Seaworld Resort & Water park:

The Best Things To Do With Toddlers At Seaworld Gold Coast

When working out the best theme park for toddlers on Gold Coast, there’s a lot of different factors to consider.

Every one of the Gold Coast theme parks has something pretty special to offer and they all cater to young kids to some degree. You pretty much can’t go wrong by picking any of them really, but if you want to focus your visit around visiting the Gold Coast with a toddler in tow, we want to make it easy for you.

Here’s why we think Seaworld is your best choice when visiting Gold Coast theme parks with young children:

1. The Wildlife

penguins at Seaworld Gold Coast

Seaworld Australia has the best wildlife experience, with Dreamworld being a close second with their Tiger Island and native animal experiences.

Here are the animals you can see at Seaworld:

  • Dolphins
  • Sharks
  • King and Gentoo penguins
  • Fairy penguins
  • Polar bears
  • Jellyfish
  • Seals and sea lion
  • Rehabilitated birds such as pelicans
  • Stingray and manta rays
  • Turtles
  • And a heap of other marine life in the massive tropical reef aquariums

The penguin encounter gives you the chance to see King and Gentoo penguins up close, which is always a delight for toddlers and kids. Who am I kidding, we all love seeing the penguins.

Seaworld Gold Coast penguins

Our toddler was over the moon to see real-life penguins. Especially considering what a show off this big guy was. We spent a long time watching them as she was completely captivated.

The enclosure allows you to view the penguins both above and below the water, which is great to watch how fast they are at swimming when they decide to dive into the water.

Seaworld Gold Coast polar bears

Next up, we headed over to check out the polar bears – one was having a lazy day, while the other was at play in the water, much to our toddler’s delight.

They have since had polar bear cubs in the park and have a special enclosure for the cubs, although when they are young it can be hard to get there at a time when they aren’t napping.

Their breeding program means you may get lucky enough to visit at a time when there are new cubs, but it is still super cool to see the grown-up polar bears playing.

There is an above-water viewing area and a below water area too, just like with the penguins, so you can see the bears no matter what they are doing.

tropical fish at Seaworld Gold Coast
sea turtle at Seaworld Gold Coast

There are also some huge underwater aquariums to give you an idea of how different sea life lives, with tropical fish and coral, sharks and even a massive turtle all swimming about together.

this is always so fascinating for our daughters and a great learning experience too.

Finding Nemo happened to be a favourite movie in this household at the time, so it was like a real-life Finding Nemo for our little fan… although we didn’t spot Nemo. We did see a Dory lookalike though.

Something that may be unexpected is the number of interactive animal experiences Seaworld offers.

This is definitely one of the things that make Sea World with toddlers and kids such a great option because they love to touch things. If you’ve survived the toddler years, you know what I’m talking about!

Seaworld Gold Coast

There are rock pool areas set up with starfish, coral and sea cucumbers that visitors to the theme park can touch. This is a pretty cool experience and every time we visit Seaworld, both of our kids love this opportunity.

It’s actually probably one of the best Seaworld toddler experiences if they are brave enough.

We were impressed that our sometimes timid little miss was eager to touch the starfish and sea cucumber – Although not too happy with the way the cucumber felt. SQUISHY!

She still has to touch it every single time though, even though her reaction usually involves a look of horror afterwards! Her little sister has never been scared of much so she is eager to get involved.

toddler touching a star fish at Seaworld Gold Coast

There is also Ray Reef which is a large pool filled with different types of stingrays that you can touch… YES, YOU CAN TOUCH A STINGRAY!

There are feeding sessions each day and they go crazy for the food. This is super cool. As an adult, I never expected to be petting a stingray, so of course, it is pretty exciting for kids! Although if they aren’t coming to the top of the water, those little arms may struggle to reach them.

And of course, one of the most famous wildlife attractions Seaworld is so well known for is its dolphins.

There are a few different dolphin swimming areas around the Seaworld theme park, as well as some over near Seal Harbour where you will also see seals at play.

All the enclosures are built to allow you to get a close-up view of the different animals, and the dolphins do seem to love the attention.

You can find the Seaworld Gold Coast show times.

2. The Rides

Seaworld Gold Coast Castaway bay

Seaworld does not have as many thrill rides as the other major theme parks – MovieWorld and Dreamworld on the Gold Coast have, however it has enough to keep the thrill seekers happy.

The best Seaworld rides for toddlers and younger kids are:

  • Dora’s Fiesta Carousel
  • Boots’ Banana Boogie
  • Bikini Bottom Crosstown Express
  • Castaway Bay Adventure Playground
  • Castaway Bay Battle Boats
  • Monorail

It also has some water-themed rides, although no longer the big water park section like Wet N Wild or WhiteWater World.

Rides were off the agenda for me, being so heavily pregnant on our first toddler visit, and of course, our little miss, being a tad too short after all, however, Simon was keen to at least try a few of the Sea World rides at the time such as the Storm Coaster.

Seaworld Gold Coast Storm Coaster ride

A more kid-friendly ride is the Castaway Bay Battle Boats. Each boat has water guns attached and you can spray others riding the boats, or better still, people standing around the edges of the ride.

There are water shooters set up along the perimeter too so you can join in the water fight without being on the ride. Maybe not a great one for winter because you get saturated, but it is a great one for a hot summer day!

Our eldest thought this was hilarious! Be warned… you get saturated if you are on the boats, which means the lineup is pretty tiny in the cold months!

Seaworld Gold Coast
This pic was from our earlier trip 3 years ago (since I’m clearly not heavily pregnant here) to show you the cool water shooters.

While not a ride as such, Castaway Bay also has a couple of cool attractions including a massive Sky Fortress, which is a playground for all ages pretty much. We spent time climbing around on it during our last visit for Simon’s 30th too.

Lily could have stayed there for hours. And on our visits since, her sister is a big fan too although since she is still only 3 herself now, one of us goes in with them while the other hangs out with the pram!

We have since visited with both kids, again a toddler-aged visit with our youngest and there have been quite a few new attractions put in over the past few years that cater specifically to children.

There is also the Monorail plus a couple of other rides weren’t able to go on due to the toddler and pregnant status we had going on. Funny though, our kids think the Monorail is the BEST RIDE EVER! Clearly, we aren’t raising daredevils in this family!

When we visited in 2021, our youngest adored the kids’ roller coaster, SpongeBob’s Boating School Blast while her big sister was terrified!

Read next: The BEST Gold Coast Theme Park accommodation

3. The Shows

Seaworld Gold Coast

Twice a day is the famous SeaWorld Affinity dolphin show, with plenty of stunts to amaze. This is one of the best Seaworld attractions on Gold Coast. The synchronized jumps by the dolphins are pretty impressive to see plus you get to learn lots about them too.

They are such incredibly intelligent animals and learn much the way us humans do, through conditioning and reward systems. As a psychologist, this is very familiar territory and goes to show the similarities between us and animals.

For a funny animal experience, the Fish Detective show features a storyline with seals and sea lions as part of the cast. Kids will love it!

UPDATE 2022: There is now a newer seal show in the place of the Fish Detective – Seal Guardian, a show which teaches kids about the importance of not littering and it is good for a laugh. Younger kids may get restless before the show starts so make sure you’ve got drinks and snacks ready to keep them occupied while everyone takes their seats.

There is a stroller parking bay just outside the doors for convenience.

Seaworld Gold Coast

There are also character-based shows aimed at the younger kids with a SpongeBob Squarepants 3D movie, a Dora and Friends stage show and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show.

There are plenty of opportunities for character meet and greets at certain times. Lily loves Dora! For bigger kids, they will love seeing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show and ride.

In the afternoon, the Jet Stunt Extreme show kicks off with lots of daredevil stunts on the water in boats and on jet skis. Bigger kids will love this however we often miss the show as it is at the end of the day when our little people are exhausted from a big day of theme park fun. It’s worth a watch though.

The one time we did stay for the show, the kids were impressed! They even sat in the rain to watch it.

4. Nickelodeon Land

Banana Boogie Ride at seaworld

The kids’ area Nickelodeon Land was previously Cartoon Network land, and got a huge renovation with new rides and shows, all with youngsters in mind.

We have since visited a couple of times and our kids especially love the Boots Banana Boogie Ride, which is a fairly tame ride with flying bananas that can go up and down as they go around.

And of course, like any popular family theme park, there is a carousel to ride on. Our girls still enjoy a ride on the carousel each visit and it fits a lot of people on each go so the wait is usually quite short.

toddler on carousel at SeaWorld australia

There are a couple of other rides that have a little more ‘bite’ to them that our kids haven’t been quite brave enough to go on yet, as we have a rather timid 5 year old now and a semi adventurous 3-year-old. But they are building up their daringness!

This area is perfect for visiting a theme park with a toddler because they always cater for the smallest of kids too.

It is because of this great area and the non-ride based attractions that SeaWorld is still the best theme park for toddlers in Australia because it offers more than just thrill rides.

Kids love the wildlife encounters and character meet and greets, plus with Nickelodeon Land, you will have trouble dragging them away.

The best Seaworld rides for toddlers

  • Monorail
  • Dora’s Fiesta Carousel Ride
  • Boots’ Banana Boogie Ride

5. The Reef At Castaway Bay

Kids playing at the reef at castaway bay seaworld

One thing I do remember as a kid is that Seaworld Gold Coast definitely had a lot more water-based rides and attractions, such as a mini water park when I was a kid. Even in my teens, I remember being able to go on the water slides at Seaworld.

This section is no longer at the park itself, however, if you are staying at the Sea World Resort & Water Park next door, it does have water slides and a water playground area for guests. This is one of our favourite resorts and we stay every couple of years and visit all the theme parks with the included attraction pass.

However, Seaworld does have a fantastic water attraction area perfect for toddlers and kids to enjoy.

The Reef is a water play area with water jets, cannons and lots of places to splash around, so make sure you do pack the swimmers and towels for your visit.

Our kids loved this section so much that we struggled to get them to leave and it was only because it was lunchtime that we could finally drag them away. Timed that on purpose knowing they would eventually be hungry enough to dry off and change – that’s our expert tip for you if you are visiting Seaworld with toddlers and kids!!

Related Reading – Best things to do on the Gold Coast with kids

Plus it makes the park an even better option now for the spring and summer months when Queensland is hot and you will want to cool down. Even we got pretty wet keeping an eye on the kids.

You need to keep an eye out for other people’s kids who aim water jets at you when you walk past… eeekkk!!

The reef at castaway bay at Seaworld Gold Coast with Toddlers

You may even want to stay at SeaWorld Gold Coast Resort, which is what we sometimes do for special weekends away. It’s a great resort for family travel and a convenient location too, with a Monorail station connecting you to the theme park.

Most room packages also give you free unlimited entry into Seaworld park, Movieworld and Wet ‘N’ Wild for the duration of your stay too!

6. The Food At Seaworld Gold Coast

toddler eating fish and chips at seaworld restaurant

There are plenty of places to eat at Seaworld to suit your kids. There are several different takeaway food places near the entry, including some healthy choices and some dessert options too.

Within the park, there is a covered food court area with burgers, Domino’s pizza and a few other options, plus lots of seating.

There is also the Dockside Tavern which is a two-storey restaurant with lots of seating, that overlooks Nickelodeon Land. It can get pretty busy but the food is pretty good.

Like any theme park, the food can be pricey so if you want to save your dollars, you might want to pack some food or at least some snacks from home, but if you don’t mind spending, then there are plenty of options to suit the whole family.

Why is Seaworld Gold Coast Great for Toddlers?

Seaworld Gold Coast is good for visitors of all ages, with attractions, rides, shows and experiences targeting all guests. What makes Seaworld especially great for toddlers and small children is the fact that they are less focused on the big thrill rides and more focused on experiences such as animal encounters and education.

They also have dedicated zones for the kids to have fun in with Nickelodeon land and The Reef. There are lots of fun shows for the kids to see and meet their favourite characters too.

We’ve also found Seaworld tends to be less busy than some of the other theme parks can be, which can be refreshing when you’re having a day out. Although don’t worry… it still has it’s crowds during the peak seasons, especially during school holidays!

The other thing that makes Seaworld a great Gold Coast theme park for toddlers is the fact that it has accommodation right next door that is completely kid-friendly and fun for the whole family.

This is such a convenience if your kids are getting tired and need a rest, as you can head back to your room for a middle of the day nap or break from the chaos.

Having this option can be a big factor in surviving a theme park with a toddler! Because it can be exhausting… but fun!

dad and daughter with the Seaworld Gold Coast walrus

Tips for Visiting SeaWorld With Young Kids

  • Keep your visit interactive as young kids are easily bored
  • Shows can be good for some downtime to rest weary legs
  • Wear comfortable clothes and shoes – don’t forget the sunscreen and hat
  • Consider packing snacks to avoid the expensive theme park food prices
  • Visit during the week and avoid school holidays so the theme park is not as busy
  • Pre-order tickets to avoid queuing
  • Plan your day before you visit so you know when shows are on

Seaworld Gold Coast Tickets

Tickets can be purchased at the gate or pre-purchased online or at participating ticket outlets. There are single and multiple day tickets available, including annual passes.

You can view the Seaworld Gold Coast prices on their website.

Seaworld Opening Times

SeaWorld Gold Coast theme park is open year-round, with Seaworld Gold Coast opening hours of 10 am to 5 pm most of the year. The opening times change slightly during the different seasons.

It may stay open slightly longer in the summer season or for special events during the year.

If you don’t want to make the transit, you can stay at Seaworld at the incredible Seaworld Resort and Water Park.

Getting There

Seaworld is around 1 hour from Brisbane by car. There are also public transport options available on the Gold Coast if you do not have your own car.

The Seaworld Gold Coast address is Seaworld Drive, Main Beach and you will find it easily as you follow the road, past the Marina Mirage and the famous Palazzo Versace hotel.

  • Book your flights – We use Skyscanner to research and book flights. You can set up a price alert for your travel dates, plus it compares most major airlines in one place.
  • Book your Accommodation – We use Booking.com or Hotels Combined to book most of our hotel accommodation when we travel.
  • Book your rental car – Compare the best car hire prices for your trip.
  • Book your tours & attractions – Our favourite attraction and tour booking services are Get Your Guide and Viator. Booking ahead will mean you don’t miss out on popular tours!

What do you think the best theme park Gold Coast is?

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Seaworld Gold Coast - Best theme park for toddlers