Photo Credit: Mike Aguilera/SeaWorld San Diego
Displaying the nativity during the Christmas season is a tradition practiced by families around the world. Whether figurines are set on the fireplace mantle or near the Christmas tree, for many, the manger scene sets the tone for the most joyous time of the year. Mary and Joseph look adoringly at baby Jesus, surrounded by the wise men, angels and the shepherd’s flock.
Imagine this epic story unfolding right before your eyes, larger than life, as SeaWorld presents a live nativity from a new point of view: told through the eyes of the animals. Running November 18 through January 6, the all-new O Wondrous Night, The Greatest Story Never Told— featuring live majestic animals including camels, a donkey, doves, sheep and llamas—debuts at the marine park as part of SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration. Family and friends will create new holiday traditions during this heartwarming show filled with dozens of classic Christmas carols including “Mary, Did You Know?” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” all performed under the stars at the park’s Nautilus Amphitheater.
“We’re overjoyed to bring this touching story that is told by the animals,” said SeaWorld San Diego entertainment vice president, Rick Schuiteman. “We have always taken tremendous pride in connecting our guests with animals, and through O Wondrous Night, we let the animals be the focus of this special holiday moment.”
The entire park will be aglow with a yuletide atmosphere. “There is truly something for everyone at SeaWorld,” said Schuiteman.
The most nostalgic element of SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration, which park guests love, has got to be Rudolph’s Christmastown. Based on the animated television version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (which debuted in 1964, the same year, coincidentally, as SeaWorld), this magical area features classic vignettes from the story, including the Island of Misfit Toys and Bumble’s Cave. Christmas card photos are just waiting to happen here, where you can gather your loved ones in a gigantic snow globe, or snuggle up to Rudolph and his friends Clarice, Bumble and Yukon Cornelius. Every evening includes a sing-along, tree-lighting ceremony of the 40-foot Happiest Christmas Tree.
Over at Sea Lion and Otter Amphitheater, SeaWorld's silly sea lions Clyde and Seamore are back again this year, in their hilarious holiday hit Clyde & Seamore’s Christmas Special.
With all this merrymaking throughout the park, where can Santa be found? Tucked away in Santa’s Cottage, of course, part of a festive area brimming with cheer called Santa’s Christmas Village sponsored by Coca-Cola. (Village dates are Nov. 18–Dec. 31). Here’s a place where friends and family will want to cozy up, have some hot chocolate and take in all the holiday cheer. For kids who want to sit on Santa’s lap and share their wish list, instead of waiting in line the entire time, you can check in for a pager, and then have more time to explore the Village, including educational and up-close encounters with real reindeer, “Merry Moments” with Santa’s elves, storytime with Mrs. Claus and yummy sweet treats.
Another SeaWorld favorite is back again this year and it stars some of the most beloved animals in the world: bottlenose dolphins! Along with their pilot whale pals, they get into the holiday spirit in Dolphin Island Christmas, celebrating the season with a tropical twist.
Just walking around SeaWorld is an experience in itself.
The park goes all out, with more than a million holiday lights, hundreds of Christmas trees, 5,000 feet of garland and a 40-foot tree with an animated light show. At the center of it all is SeaWorld’s 320-foot Skytower Tree of Lights, the largest Christmas tree in Southern California, which dances in sync to classic holiday songs. The Skytower Tree of Lights has long been a San Diego holiday tradition for San Diegans and visitors. Even animal exhibits such as the Shark Encounter and Penguin Encounter get a splash of the festive spirit with specialty-themed décor inside.
“I love seeing how much our guests enjoy the warmth and joy of the season together. Christmas at SeaWorld has become a holiday tradition where families gather to celebrate,” said Schuiteman. “It’s unlike any other holiday celebration in town, where the season meets the sea and where traditions shine bright.”
SeaWorld is open year-round and has a variety of admission ticket offers that provide tremendous value perfect for both Southern California residents and tourists. Visit SeaWorldSanDiego.com or call (619) 222-4SEA for more information.