This past weekend SeaWorld San Diego joined the ranks of Southern California theme parks making the best of a bad situation by hosting Halloween festivities with physical distancing and facial coverings required in the interest of guest safety, much like Knott’s Berry Farm’s Taste of Fall-O-Ween event.
On Friday we visited SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular in San Diego and explored as much of what the park has to offer for this spooky season as we could. During our trip, I broadcasted live for over half an hour on the Laughing Place YouTube channel to show off some of SeaWorld San Diego’s Halloween decorations and merchandise.
Watch Mike Live at SeaWorld San Diego:
The biggest highlight of SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular for us was the Pumpkin Hunt scavenger hunt around the park. It cost $12 to participate in the activity, which encourages guests to follow a map around the park searching for pumpkins painted with images of sea life. As a reward for completing the map by applying the correct stickers corresponding with which animal was on each hidden pumpkin, we received a two-pack of SeaWorld Rainbow Waters mystery pins– ours contained a cute penguin and turtle!
Speaking of the Pumpkin Hunt, the following gallery contains photos of all ten pumpkin locations. Don’t flip through it if you don’t want to be spoiled, but I thought it would be interesting enough to include here in order to show off the clever hiding places and fun sea life artwork on each pumpkin.
But the hidden pumpkins weren’t the only Halloween decorations we found around SeaWorld San Diego. There are also a collection of octopus arms grabbing a variety of candies, oversized pumpkins turned into cartoonish fish, dancing octopi and starfish, and more scattered throughout the park.
During your visit, I also recommend stepping into SeaWorld’s Shark Encounter exhibit, which is also decked out with spooky Halloween decor like jack o’lanterns and piratey treasures.
Nearby, there’s a display dedicated to the Mexican holiday of Dia de Muertos, complete with skeletons and an ofrenda. Sadly during our time there one of the skeletons seemed to be losing its head.
As far as in-park entertainment goes, we came across a DJ entertaining guests in front of a socially distanced dance floor, plus Sesame Street’s Elmo (dressed as a skeleton) and Cookie Monster (dressed as… what else? A cookie) meeting and greeting with young fans– but don’t forget to schedule a reservation! We also saw several other Sesame Street-inspired floats ready to carry other characters as they come out for their appearances during the rest of the day.
When it comes to specialty holiday foods, there wasn’t too much to speak of during the Halloween Spooktacular, though we did see a colorfully themed menu at the Shipwreck Reef Cafe and some unique upside-down beers celebrating the scariest time of year.
I was thrilled to find that SeaWorld San Diego’s Wild Arctic exhibit opened to guests during our visit, as it is without question my favorite area in the park. Outside, employees had set up a “Candy Garden” trick-or-treating area for kids to gather sweets in their bags via a drop-tube. And inside, some of the Wild Arctic interactive touch features had been blocked off from access, but it was still great to wander through this heavily themed building and see some of the very cool (no pun intended) wildlife inside for the first time in many months.
Of course, no visit to a theme park during any particular holiday season would be complete without picking up some fun themed merchandise, like these SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular t-shirts and trick-or-treat bags.
While this event didn’t quite go all-out in the way of decorating for Halloween and entertaining guests in the way that Knott’s Taste of Fall-O-Ween did, I do think the minds behind SeaWorld San Diego did the best they could considering the extremely unusual circumstances of this year. And if nothing else, it’s always nice to get out and walk around in the open air and enjoy a spirited holiday celebration.
For more information and to purchase advance tickets to SeaWorld San Diego’s Halloween Spooktacular 2020, be sure to visit SeaWorld’s official website.
Mike serves as Laughing Place’s lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly “Who’s the Bossk?” Star Wars podcast. He’s been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general since a very young age and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.