I guess the first thing you need to know when asking whether the dining plan is worth it is “how much is it?” and that depends on when and where you buy it from. We bought ours on Undercover Tourist, at the time it was $20 extra compared to buying a one day ticket, it has now increased to $21 extra. Attraction Tickets Direct sell it for £26 and if you buy it on the day or on the SeaWorld website you’re looking at £34.99. So, if you’re just doing the one day at Sea World it’s definitely worth buying it at the same time as your tickets.
What’s included and how does it work?
One meal per hour which consists of one entree, one side or dessert and one non-alcoholic drink. They do scan your band so it really is once per hour. It’s only at participating restaurants which are:-
Voyager’s Smokehouse (except a few dishes) – a BBQ and Burger quick service
Expedition Cafe – Salads, sandwiches and cuisine from around the world
Seaport Pizza – surprise surprise pizza
Captain Pete’s Island Treats – hot dogs and chicken tenders
The Spice Mill – burgers, sandwiches and salads
Seafire Grill – fajitas, tacos and salads
Mango Joe’s – fajita sandwiches and wraps
That means this plan doesn’t include any of the snack carts or the table service restaurants including Dine with Shamu and Sharks Underwater Grill.
So now you all know what’s included and how much it is I’ll tell you about our experience.
We went to Sea World in early February which is low season and the park was pretty empty. This also means that the park hours are shrunk down and on a weekday it was open 10am-6pm so not a great deal of time to make the best of the deal.
On arrival we entered a different queue section to those without all day dining, typed in our details into a machine and it printed out some paperwork. After entry to the park we could take this to any participating restaurant where they exchanged it for bright green bands (kind of like you get for club entry) so you couldn’t transfer them from person to person without cutting them off.
You can get breakfast at Voyager’s Smokehouse, we didn’t do this but went to Expedition Cafe for a mid-morning snack. We just grabbed some cake, strawberries, tea and lemonade and it was great to have this option. We normally wouldn’t want to spend money on snacks in the park and the cheesecake in particular was so nice.
We were still in the area for lunch and I had spotted some nice looking rice so headed back for this. We had orange chicken and fried rice followed by more cake. Unfortunately, this was the most greasy disgusting rice I’ve had in my life. I was so disappointed because it looked SO good but it just wasn’t and we ended up leaving a lot of it (even my boyfriend left some and he eats everything!). I would have been really cross if we’d paid $24 for the two meals. I was glad to be on the dining plan because we could just get something else in less than an hour by this point.
Next up was Captain Pete’s Island Treats where we had one hot dog, and one chicken tenders, both with fries which we then walked (which took longer than we thought) up to the sea-lion and otter stadium to eat. Both of these were good, theme park food, but really how hard is it for a theme park to cook a hot dog?!
We tried to get a snack late-afternoon at Mango Joe’s but it was a bit chaotic and the queue was huge and we were heading to the Shamu show so we just left it (we’d probably had enough food at this point). Final stop after the Shamu show was Seafire Grill where we both got fajitas. I found it a bit sad that sweetcorn was an extra $1 – not sure why this was. These were fine, they definitely weren’t the best fajitas I’ve ever had, but they were perfectly edible so we did eat them. It was an early dinner, because the park closed at 6 we arrived to eat at half 5 which was the last time we could reasonably get food.
An overall appraisal – I’m glad I didn’t pay full price. We made our money back with just two meals and we had much more than that. It was nice to know we could go and get food whenever we wanted. If we were there in summer just cold bottled water would be very welcome once per hour and the park would have been open longer, proabably making all day dining more worthwhile. But, and there’s a big but, the food was pretty average/bad throughout the day across several places we ate at. Snacks such as crisps and dippin’ dots weren’t included which we definitely would have enjoyed more. It was nice to try, but I’m going to stick to my tried and tested method of a packed lunch and dinner in an off-site restaurant.
P.S. I’m really sorry I didn’t take more pictures of the food! x