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Dining with Shamu Buffet Photos

Enjoy delicious, well-presented food while Shamu, your favorite whale, swims by you!

In the slide show above, you're viewing pictures of the "Dine with Shamu" lunch buffet...along with some close-up pics of Shamu. As you'll notice, you'll get so close to Shamu the whale that, at times, you won't be able to fit his entire body within your camera's viewfinder!

Will you enjoy the "Dine with Shamu" Buffet?

Many people DO---it's one of Sea World's most popular dining choices!

Picture of Shamu posing on shelf at the Dining with Shamu restaurant If you're trying to make up your mind whether or not you'd like to attend the Dining with Shamu buffet at Sea World, you can check out the Shamu buffet photos on this page to help you decide. The buffet, after all, will cost $39 (plus tax) for each adult in your party, and $19 for each child (aged 3 through 9). Therefore, a family of 4 will be spending over $100 for this thrilling, but short, pleasure. It's not an experience that every family's wallet can handle without some serious forethought.

On this page, you'll also see photos of the Shamu's poolside dining complex at SeaWorld San Diego. As you can see from these images, it would be hard to get much closer to Shamu unless you dove into the pool and ate from a floating table!

View Shamu from Poolside Tables!

Dining with Shamu:  photo of poolside tables for parties of 4 The tables which make up the outdoor eating area for the Dining with Shamu buffet form an "L" shape. Tables that seat 4 guests lie on one side of the L, while tables for larger groups lie along the other section of the L. In both sections, one row of tables lies directly next to the water (separated only by a pool gutter about 2 feet wide.) This space is a protection that the guests won't get too wet while they're eating...but there's no guarantee that you and your equipment WON'T get splashed. On the other hand, all the whale's tricks which involve splashing are performed away from the edges of the dining areas.

In both dining sections, one row of tables gets direct on-the-water viewing, while the second row of tables does NOT have direct viewing...but lies 10-15 feet away from the water, instead. How well you'd be able to see from the "inside" tables depends on how tall you are...and how tall the guests sitting in the poolside seats across from you happen to be. (And, whether or not they're wearing wide-brimmed hats, or whether they're standing up for a better view of Shamu and his friends.) The "inside" seats would have a better view if they were elevated on a platform...stadium-style. But, alas, they're not. Considering the possibility that your family's viewing may be blocked---especially if you have youngsters with you---it would be a wise idea to insist on poolside seats when you make your reservations at the SeaWorld San Diego Reservation Center.

Dining with Shamu:  photo of poolside tables for larger parties If you can't get a poolside seat on the day of your visit, all is not lost. There is a "blank" area (with NO tables in it) where you can stand and view the show if your own "inner" table has an obstructed view.

In the photo above, you see the section seating area which features tables for parties of 4. As you can tell from viewing this picture, Dining with Shamu features outdoor, open-air seating; there are no indoor seating options available.

As you dine, you'll be protected by an overhead canopy...which has fans in case the weather gets hot (and heaters in case the weather is cool.) Both sides of the dining area are wall-less, which means that you'll be open for breezes and for the side-slanting rays of the afternoon sun (especially if you have a seat on the outer edge.) Fortunately, San Diego weather is generally pleasant year-round, so this outdoors-only arrangement won't usually cause you discomfort---even if you do happen to be the one who gets the seat in the sun.

In the photo to your right, you see the part of the seating area which has tables for larger groups. This area is fortunate because Shamu's "posing shelf" sits right in front of these seats. Shamu will hop up onto that shelf to sit posed right in front of your eyes!

Dining with Shamu Buffet Photos -- The Buffet room, Entrees and Salads

Dining with Shamu:  photo of the Buffet Room To your left, you see a picture of the buffet room where you'll select your favorite entrees, side dishes and desserts from a selection of several choices in each category. You may stick with only one selection--or try them all!

Traffic in the buffet room flows one-way, and guests may fill their plates from both the left and the right sides of the table.

At the main buffet table, you'll start by grabbing a fresh plate and taking a salad. The day I attended the Dining with Shamu buffet, there were 3 salads from which to choose---a fresh fruit salad, a tossed salad, and a Caesar salad.

The fresh fruit salad contained bite size pieces of watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, and pineapple, as well as seedless red grapes. All the fruit was in very fresh condition. There was no added sugar or salt.

Dining with Shamu: photo of the tossed and fresh fruit salads The tossed salad contained mostly iceberg lettuceThere were bits of cherry tomatoes, carrots, leaf lettuce and purple cabbage mixed in with the iceberg lettuce. There were 3 dressings from which to choose---a French (or was it Russian?) dressing, a Ranch dressing, and an Italian dressing.

Going further down the Dine with Shamu buffet line, the guests next come to the vegetable selections.

Vegetable dishes included a colorful vegetable medley (see photo below in the "General Information" section) which contained lightly cooked zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots.

Dining with Shamu:  Photo of the Rice Pilaf and Vegetarian main dish

There was also "pecan rice pilaf" being served, a concoction which contained mostly rice, but was attractively decorated with pimento bits and pecan pieces.

Heading along the buffet line, guests next come to the main dish/entree section. There was a vegetarian entree called "Creamy Garlic Tortellini" that was quite delicious. This contained pasta in a garlic white sauce, with cooked broccoli and carrot bits added for both taste and decoration.

Baked chicken is a favorite entree of many dieters, and this option was not missing from the Shamu lunch buffet. (The buffet menu said the chicken entree would be Chicken Dijon; but the sign by the chaffing dish said Chicken Florentine.) At any rate, the seasoning on the chicken was mild and it was difficult to tell exactly which flavoring was intended. The poultry was fresh and tender.

Dining with Shamu: Photo of the Chicken Dijon and Beef Bourguignon The Beef Bourguignon contained beef squares and pearl onions in a mildly seasoned sauce. The beef was fresh and the dish had a nice flavor, but the beef itself was quite chewy. Also, if a guest chooses this selection, it's best to have put some rice pilaf onto the plate that the beef's sauce can be absorbed instead of running all over the plate into the other food selections.

The buffet's Shrimp Creole was outstanding. The main ingredient of this entree was actually SHRIMP! The shrimp was tender, fresh and flavorful. The spicing was quite piquant, so it was nice to have placed a bed of rice pilaf underneath to counterbalance the hot spices. Attractive long slices of red and green bell peppers added to the taste of the Shrimp Creole, as well as small amounts of cooked tomato and celery bits. Unfortunately, the Dine with Shamu buffet menu states that the buffet will feature a "tasty seafood selection," which leads me to believe that the Shrimp Creole is probably just one of several different seafood dishes that are rotated through the buffet offerings on different days. Well, hopefully the other selections will be just as good as the Shrimp Creole!

Dining with Shamu:  photo of the Turkey Carving Station Last on the line of entrees, you'll find a carving station. A tender breast of turkey was the meat being served here on the day that I visited. There was no stuffing available to go with the turkey, but there was cranberry sauce.

Also, at the end of the buffet line, there was a kettle of Tortilla Soup sending a savory aroma into the room with each puff of steam arising from within. This soup turned out to be delicious. There were bowls of avocado, grated cheese, and tortilla chips beside the soup which guests could add to their bowls as desired. Also, at the end of the buffet line were yeast-risen, white-flour rolls and pats of butter.

Dining with Shamu Buffet Photos -- The Children's Table

Dining with Shamu:  Photo of Chicken Strips at the Children's Buffet Table Children get their own, personal buffet table at the Dine with Shamu event. Crispy-fried chicken strips are one of the highlights for kids. These are rather heavily breaded and mildly seasoned.

Hot dogs are another "entree" at the kid's table. Buns and condiments (mustard and ketchup) are provided, but there are no "extras" such as chili or cheese.

Macaroni and cheese is the 3rd main dish offered at the children's table. The macaroni wass tender and the cheese sauce was mild and fresh, not dry and crusty.

Dining with Shamu:  Photo of Macaroni and Hot Dogs for the kiddies

Because of the potential for mess-making at the SeaWorld kid's buffet, it would really be best for an adult to accompany children to the buffet table.

One good thing about the Children's table at Sea World San Diego---there's no limit on the amount of food a child can take. One young man loaded up with an entire plateful of chicken strips, and left the buffet grinning from ear to ear.

Dining with Shamu Buffet Photos -- The Dessert Table

Dining with Shamu:  photo of the Dessert Table To your left, you see a picture of the Dessert Table at the Dining with Shamu buffet. What a lavish feast! There are nearly as many dessert selections as there are salads, vegetables and entrees put together!

In the foreground of this photo, you can see the visually stunning Cake Tray, where 3 types of appealingly decorated cakes are arranged. The chocolate cake was moist and the fudge frosting sufficiently gooey to please most any chocolate-lover.

The carrot cake was also moist. Each slice was iced with a vanilla-cream cheese frosting & decorated with a frosting "carrot" on top. The side of each slice of carrot cake was decoratively garnished with almond slices.

The cheesecake was tasty and had a pleasing texture. Each slice came decorated with a slice of mandarin orange and dollop of whipped cream. A cherry sauce was available.

Next to the cake tray was a serving bowl of large, fresh strawberries. Another dessert in the vicinity was a large bowl of English Trifle, featuring layers of vanilla cake, vanilla pudding and strawberry sauce, and topped with whipped cream covered with pastel "sprinkles."

Dining with Shamu:  photo of the brownies and cookies
Another section of the Dining with Shamu dessert table featured chocolatey brownies, iced with a fudge frosting. There was a choice of plain brownies, or brownies containing walnut bits. Another dessert selection in this area was chocolate chip cookies. The cookies, however, looked rather average and ordinary compared to the other desserts at the table.

Another highlight of the dessert table was the array of Shamu cookies! Each Shamu cookie was distinctly whale-shaped, featuring fins and tail flukes. Each chocolate-covered cookie also looked as if it had been air-brushed with a faint edible white "paint;" the white markings on the cookies made them resemble Shamu even more closely. Underneath the chocolate was a vanilla shortbread cookie which was tender and flaky.

Dining with Shamu:  Photo of Chocolate-covered Shamu cookies and plain sugar cookies

For guests who don't like chocolate, plain (unfrosted) sugar cookies are also available...though these cookies are round rather than Shamu-shaped. These cookies have faintly decorated tops consisting of large sugar crystals.

Separate dessert plates and forks are provided at the dessert table. You may select your dessert immediately after choosing your entrees, or you may return later. (However, later the Shamu show will be underway...keep that in mind!)

Dining with Shamu -- General Information

Dining with Shamu:  Photo of the Vegetable Medley In the photo to your left, you can see the Vegetable Medley I described earlier on this page.

Here are some general thoughts about the Dining with Shamu buffet--

1.) One way to make this delightful dining-with-the-whales experience more affordable is to attend Dining with Shamu on a day when you're NOT paying for park admission. This is entirely possible, because there's often a "Fun Card" sale in progress at SeaWorld San Diego. During a Fun Card special deal, all guests who pay for a one-day ticket to Sea World San Diego receive a "Fun Card" which allows them to return to SeaWorld an unlimited number of times for the entire rest of the year! In other words, your family's park admission tickets can come out of one paycheck...and your tickets to Dining with Shamu can be taken out of a different pay check later in the year!

2.) Another way to make the Dining with Shamu experience more affordable is to use the EZ Pay system for buying annual passes for your family. This plan is a great idea for SeaWorld lovers who wish to return to the park time and again. A monthly deduction is taken from your checking account. Meanwhile, you'll get free admission to the park, free parking on every visit, AND a discount to the Dining with Shamu meal. The usual discount is 10% of the meal's price, but there are also occasional "specials." For example, the day I attended the buffet, the annual passholder's promotional discount was 20% off. (These promotions are most likely to happen during the "slower" fall, winter and spring seasons, when SeaWorld is trying to boost the attendance at Dining with Shamu.)

3.) Admission to the actual dining area is not available ahead of time. Instead, you'll have to stand in line until the dining area "opens." The waiting-line area is not shaded, nor does it have bench seating available.

4.) The entire Dining with Shamu area is a non-smoking area of the Sea World San Diego park.

Advance reservations: If you'd like to make advance reservations to the "Dine with Shamu" experience, call 1-800-25-SHAMU, and select the "dining" option from the menu. To make Shamu dining reservations on-line, you may use the following link to head to the SeaWorld official website.



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