The Age-by-Age Guide to SeaWorld

Planning a family vacation to SeaWorld? Whether you've got a baby, a tween or a crew of kids in between, find out how to make the most of your trip. (6 Photos)

Ellen Parlapiano on Aug 6, 2012 at 1:55PM

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The Age-by-Age Guide to SeaWorld

2012 SeaWorld Orlando

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Babies & Toddlers (Birth - Age 2)

Touring strategy: Stagger interactive exhibits with sit-down shows, so kids don't get too antsy (nab aisle seats so you can make a quick exit). Just don't try to squeeze too much into one day; Small takes help avoid big meltdowns.

Must-see attractions:
Anything with a touch tank! At Stingray Lagoon, kids can stroke velvety rays as they glide by. (Don't worry, they're docile.) Pet playful dolphins at the upper viewing area in Dolphin Cove, and watch their underwater acrobatics in the giant tanks below. At the Jewel of the Sea Aquarium, coral reefs swirl with colorful fish and kids can climb into pop-up viewing stations that put them right in the middle of the tanks.

Shows to catch:
Even though there's not a finned friend in sight, kids will be enchanted by the four-legged and feathered cast of Pets Ahoy!, starring some very talented cats, dogs, birds and pot-bellied pigs. During summer and holidays, sing along with Elmo and the gang in Sesame Street shows (check the website calendar to make sure shows are happening when you visit).

Places to chill:
Blow off steam in the shady, pint-sized water play area at Shamu's Happy Harbor, with spray jets and a sandbox for castle-building. (Pack bathing suits, water shoes and a beach towel.) This area also has kiddie rides, so after drying off, take a whirl on the Sea Carousel (infants can ride on your lap on the bench) or go for a spin on Swishy Fishies, a mild teacup ride. When it's time for feedings or naps, head to the calm and quiet Baby Care Center in the back of Shamu's Happy Harbor.

Worth the splurge:
Purchase fish food, so kids can hand feed the dolphins, sea lions and stingrays (or watch you do it if they're too squeamish). Check the park schedule for more details on designated feeding times and get there early so you can nab a space up front.

Hot tip: Admission is free for kids 2 and under. Since strollers must be parked outside most attractions, it helps to bring a baby carrier, so you won't have to miss shows if your babe dozes off.

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