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Dining with Shamu!

In the slide show above, you're viewing pictures of Shamu the whale---seen at eye-level during Lunch with Shamu! As you can see, when Shamu peeks over the edge of his pool, you'll be staring him right in the face! You'll be so close that all of his body may not fit into some of the photos that you take. You may even get to see Shamu's elusive eyes...which usually blend in so well with his body's black color that they seem to "disappear." But, Shamu really DOES have eyes; and if you're sitting close-up (and the lighting is right) you can see them!

Dine with Shamu the Whale!

Eat lunch at eye-level with your favorite whale!

How would you enjoy dining beside a sparkling blue pool, while Shamu and his friends swim beside you?

You can do just that---if you attend one of the daily "Dining with Shamu" meals at SeaWorld San Diego!

On this page, you'll see some close-up Shamu pictures taken at this event, and you'll discover details about the Dining with Shamu luncheon. These photos were taken in the new Shamu Dining Area (which is adjacent to Shamu Stadium.) As you will be able to tell, you'll get a great view of Shamu...while enjoying very attractive outdoor facilities at the same time.

Do you still need theme park admission tickets? Dining with Shamu is an extra-fee activity, so you'll still need to purchase your theme park admission separately. To discover SeaWorld's latest deals & specials, please visit our SeaWorld San Diego Discounts page.

Reservations for Dining with Shamu

Shamu poses by the It's fun to Dine With Shamu! SeaWorld San Diego's Shamu dining program is one of the most popular extra-fee activities at SeaWorld San Diego. Occasionally, an alternative program called Dining with Dolphins takes its place to give frequent guests some variety.

Other popular dining opportunities are available seasonally. These include Breakfast with Shamu, as well as the holiday-favorite, Dining with Santa and Shamu. All of these unforgettable SeaWorld meals take place in Shamu's Dining Pavilion near Shamu Stadium.

Reservations for special meals at SeaWorld: You would be wise to make reservations in advance for these popular Sea World meals. Call the main SeaWorld San Diego phone number at 800-25-SHAMU, then listen to the menu carefully. You may also make reservations online for Dining with Shamu, as well. For your convenience, here's a link to SeaWorld San Diego's Dine with Shamu reservations page.

Are reservations really necessary? SeaWorld always allows open spaces at "Dine with Shamu" and "Breakfast with Shamu" to be filled with last-minute, walk-up guests. However, whether or not there will be any vacancies at the last minute on the date you visit the park is a big question. During the busy summer vacation season, as well as long weekends and holiday periods, there's a good chance that you may NOT be able to get last-minute seating. (During the park's "slow season" for tourists, the chance of last-minute seating is much more likely.) It's really up to you if you'd like to risk the chance of being left out!

How much does it cost to dine with Shamu

Prices are higher than other restaurants at SeaWorld...but no higher than some of the park's special tours

The Reservation Center at SeaWorld San Diego 1.) Dining with Shamu Prices: As of this update (Summer, 2012,) the cost for the Dining with Shamu lunch buffet meal is $39 plus tax for adults & kids ages 10+. (Note: SeaWorld is free to raise its prices at any time; this info is intended to give you a general guideline for planning purposes, not to serve as notice of the latest prices.) The price to for kids to dine with Shamu is $19 plus tax (ages 3 thru 9.) Tax runs approximately $2 per ticket.

SeaWorld is free to raise prices at any time, of course. However, once your reservation is made and your fee is paid, you will be admitted for the price you paid at the time you booked your meal.

2.) Breakfast with Shamu prices: The adult breakfast buffet price is $26 (for ages 10 and over.) The children's price for Breakfast with Shamu is $16 (for ages 3 thru 9.) Babies and toddlers age 2 and under are admitted free.

3.) Dining with Shamu discounts: A discount for annual pass-holders is given for both breakfast and lunch with Shamu. Usually, the annual pass-holder discount is 10% off. Occasionally, however, there are "sale" periods, and on the particular day these photos were taken, I was able to get my Dining with Shamu ticket for 20% off!

4.) Dining with Shamu seat selection: At the reservations center, I was given a lanyard (necklace) to wear during the that all the employees would know that I was, indeed, a true paying customer. What I WASN'T told is that I had been assigned a seat at the meal right there in the Reservations Center. I showed up early to the meal (in order to get the best choice of seating) only to discover that my place was already pre-reserved for me! Moral of the story: if you want a table that's directly poolside, be sure and ask at the Reservations window! But, if you can't get a poolside seat, don't worry. The tables are arranged only 2-deep around the edge of the pool, so that even the 2nd tier of tables don't have bad views.

Dining with Shamu -- The Buffet

Dining with Shamu buffet: the Shrimp Creole After showing up at the Dining with Shamu poolside restaurant, the first thing you'll do is be taken to your assigned table. The day I attended, I discovered that I had been assigned to a 2nd tier table...meaning that I was not seated directly at poolside. I asked to be moved to a poolside table, but was told that---even though some of them were empty---they had all been paid-for and had to be held open throughout the show in case the "owners" of these seats came late. Fortunately, even the seats that aren't directly at the water's edge have a good view of the pool.

Once I was seated, a waitress took my beverage order, then told me to proceed to the buffet area to select my food. The buffet itself is served in a room adjacent to the poolside dining area. The food is served in elegant chafing dishes, and makes a beautiful presentation. The quality of the food served is good. The one point which could have been improved was that some of the hot entrees weren't as hot as I would have liked them, and were cooling rapidly by the time I reached my seat.

Dining with Shamu: A selection of cakes from the buffet's dessert table There are 3 tables within the buffet room: the large salad and main dish table; the large dessert table; and the small children's buffet table. At the main-dish table, you'll get your choice of either tossed or fresh-fruit salads. You'll be able to select from several vegetables, which on the day I dined with Shamu included a vegetable medly; rice; and vegetables in a sauce.

There were a number of main dishes. The "seafood dish of the day" was Shrimp Creole, which you can see in the image above. The spicing was quite piquant, and the shrimp themselves were large and tender.

Of course, since I was attending so that I could report about the buffet to readers of this website, I sampled several other main dishes. The beef tips were tasty but somewhat tough. The Chicken Florentine was good, although bland. The vegetarian dish, pasta in a garlic white sauce, was super-tasty. The turkey from the carving station was tender and tasty.

Dining with Shamu:  Closeup of a Shamu cookie One extra treat was the Tortilla Soup, which was served piping hot! It came with fresh avocado, grated cheese and tortilla chips to add-in as you wish, and the taste was pleasant and seemed authentically old-Mexican. In addition, there were several types of dinner rolls from which to choose.

At the children's buffet, parents could help their offspring select from several perennial kids' favorites---crispy chicken strips, hot dogs with condiments, or macaroni and cheese.

At the dessert table, there were sumptious selections that were as pretty as they were tasty. Three types of cakes were available: chocolate fudge, carrot cake and cheese cake. There were brownies, cookies, English Trifle...and the children's favorite, the Shamu cookie! The Shamu Cookie was a tender shortbread cookie covered with a flavorful chocolate frosting.

More Shamu buffet details and photos! If you'd like to see more photos of the Shamu lunch buffet (and discover more details about the menu) you may wish to visit the Dining with Shamu Buffet Photos page of this website.

Dining with Shamu: Viewing Shamu & Friends

Dining with Shamu:  A closeup of Shamu's face Seeing Shamu up close is what makes the expense of the meal all worthwhile. Whale-lovers will drool at how close they can come to Shamu. People who didn't even know that they were whale-lovers will BECOME whale lovers! (I don't think I ate a bite of my meal once the whales were in the spotlight...I was out of my seat oohing, aahing and taking photos the whole time!)

The show I attended began with a little blurb by one of the trainers about the pool and the whales. What was said, I don't know. Unfortunately, this little blurb was given at exactly the same time as when the guests were allowed into the buffet room to fill up their plates at the buffet...and no sound was piped into the buffet room via speakers. Therefore, only a portion of the guests actually got to hear the blurb! (I asked the attendant at the entry desk to see if the opening remarks could be repeated; but they weren't. On the comment card we were given at the end of the meal, I mentioned this hopes that the SeaWorld folks will correct this problem by the time that YOU dine with Shamu!)

A very young whale was part of the show I saw. Comments and demonstrations about how the trainers are teaching her to do tricks was included as a part of the show. There were 3 whales in all at the show I attended; 2 adults and the baby.

Would I recommend the Dining with Shamu meal to you? Most definitely. It was truly an experience I don't ever forget. However, as you can tell by my commentary, the meal and the program aren't 100% perfect. The food, though high-quality, was too cold in several entrees. And the trainer-to-diner interaction was completely absent on the day I attended. Nevertheless, Shamu was mesmerizing. Seeing Shamu from only a few feet away made this program a "don't miss" event for me. Perhaps you will feel the same way.

If you'd like to reserve a spot at the "Dining with Shamu" buffet luncheon, call the SeaWorld phone number at 800-25-SHAMU. A menu of options will be given to you; select the choice which takes you to information about dining. You will reach an operator who can answer any questions you might have about the Shamu meal, tell you the seating times for the date you wish to attend, and then take your reservation.

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