SeaWorld San Diego vs LEGOLAND California

For parents who can’t decide between taking the kids to SeaWorld or LEGOLAND, our guide is the best way to compare these two family-friendly attractions.
Jess Tucker
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means if you make purchases through them, I may be compensated at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
SeaWorld vs LEGOLAND
A Healthy Battle
Admission & Parking Fees
Bundle & Save
Comparing the Locations
Things to Do
Comparing the Sizes
Tour Offerings
Our Decision

Highlights

SeaWorld San Diego vs LEGOLAND California
Cost
Exhibits
SeaWorld San Diego vs LEGOLAND California
Cost
Exhibits
Final Verdict

A Healthy Battle - SeaWorld San Diego vs LEGOLAND California

Ninjago Training Camp Play Structure at Legoland CaShark Inside Shark Encounter Entrance at SeaWorld San Diego

If you’re planning the perfect family vacation in San Diego, both LEGOLAND California and SeaWorld San Diego are sure to come to mind.

Our team worked together on this one, looking at what we see as the key factors to help you decide if you can only choose one, should it be a trip to SeaWorld San Diego or a visit to LEGOLAND California?

Welcome to Legoland Ca 2
Welcome to Legoland Ca 2

Two of San Diego’s Biggest Family-Friendly Attractions

LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad is filled with rides and activities for kids. Ride coasters, watch live shows, and build at stations located around the park.

For nature lovers, SeaWorld San Diego in Mission Bay Park is a wonderland. See animal shows, hit the rides, and learn about marine life.

But if you only have time to visit one of these attractions during your Southern California vacation? What should you do?

We worked hard to build a comparison guide designed to help you decide where you should go!

Sesame Street Bay of Play at SeaWorld San Diego
Sesame Street Bay of Play at SeaWorld San Diego

Other Family-Friendly Attractions

Family attractions are all over San Diego.

Other attractions that kids will love include Sesame Place San Diego, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and Birch Aquarium at Scripps all of which are some of the best things to do with kids.

Local Tips
Embrace Educational Opportunities
While you are at either park turn fun interactions into education opportunities. SeaWorld will help educate all about marine biology while Legoland is all about engineering and architecture.

Cost Comparison Including Parking

Compare the costs of visiting either park, including pricing for parking.

SeaWorld Exit at SeaWorld San Diego
SeaWorld Exit at SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego Pricing

Tickets at both parks vary in price depending on the date of your visit.

SeaWorld San Diego admission prices begin at $69.99 for date-specific tickets and $114.99 for any day tickets.

Anyone under 3 can visit either park for free with an accompanying parent’s ticket purchase.

Standard parking at SeaWorld is $25 per car. Other options include oversized parking for $30, $28 for up-close spots, and $35 for VIP. Annual pass holders qualify for free parking.

How to Get Discounted Admission

Your ticket to saving at either LEGOLAND California or SeaWorld San Diego is the Go City San Diego pass!

The all-inclusive version of the pass offers discounted rates for admission to both parks, plus a number of other attractions around San Diego like the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park and Sesame Place. Use our GVSD5OFF discount code for even greater savings!

Entrance into Legoland Ca
Entrance into Legoland Ca

Costs at LEGOLAND California

At LEGOLAND California, tickets for admission to the main LEGOLAND park start at $79. The park also offers park hopper passes, which let guests visit the waterpark and SEA LIFE Aquarium, for an additional fee.

Kids 3 and under can visit for no additional cost.

In the LEGOLAND California lot, parking starts at $30 for cars or $35 for oversized vehicles and preferred parking.

Legoland Sign at Legoland Ca
Legoland Sign at Legoland Ca

Cost Comparison: Tie

The cost of an average day at either park, including admission and parking, are too close to call a winner, so it’s a tie.

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Kids looking at knight at LEGOLAND California
Visit LEGOLAND California!
Create family memories at LEGOLAND California! Admission is included with your All-Inclusive Go City pass - enjoy over 60 rides and attractions! Bundle admission with Birch Aquarium at Scripps or the Safari Park for the ultimate day of savings!
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Local Tips
What attractions are included with a Go City San Diego pass?

Attractions that you can visit with a Go City San Diego pass include:

The San Diego Zoo, Birch Aquarium, SeaWorld, Safari Park, LEGOLAND, Harbor Cruise, USS Midway Museum, the NAT Museum, Whaley House, PETCO Park Tour, iFLY San Diego and many, many more!

Want to save more? Use our exclusive discount code GVSD5OFF to save an extra 5%!

Comparing the Locations of the Parks

See what makes the neighborhoods surrounding each park special and plan your day around your visit.

Boat Coming into Mission Bay
Boat Coming into Mission Bay

See What’s Happening in Mission Bay

Mission Bay is very beautiful, and you can experience some of that beauty without even leaving park grounds. There’s a seating area where you can look out over the bay which is an excellent place to take a break.

SeaWorld San Diego is far from the only fun thing to do in Mission Bay Park. There are plenty of beaches with opportunities to sail at El Carmel Point, swim at Crown Point Beach, and have a picnic at Vacation Isle Park. Swing by Mission Beach’s boardwalk to visit Belmont Park for more thrill rides.

Mission Bay is also a bit closer to Downtown San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter, Old Town San Diego and the San Diego International Airport (SAN), so if you're set to stay in one of those areas, I think this could be useful information.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly hotel that’s close to SeaWorld San Diego, we’ve got you covered with our Best Hotels near SeaWorld San Diego article!

Having Fun on the Beach at Carlsbad City Beach
Having Fun on the Beach at Carlsbad City Beach

Tour Carlsbad’s Attractions

LEGOLAND California is located in San Diego’s Carlsbad neighborhood. Bring the kids to the beach at North and South Ponto Beach or Carlsbad City Beach. With a Go City San Diego pass, you can save on surfboard rentals and other beach gear.

Stay near the park at an official hotel, the LEGOLAND California Resort Hotel or LEGOLAND Castle Hotel. For other options, see our article on hotels near LEGOLAND.

Other fun things to do in Carlsbad include visiting the famous flower fields in the spring and shopping at Carlsbad Village or the Carlsbad Premium Outlets, one of our picks for the Best Malls in San Diego.

Aerial Shot of Bahia Resort in Mission Bay
Aerial Shot of Bahia Resort in Mission Bay

The Better Location: SeaWorld San Diego

There are tons of family-friendly things to do in both neighborhoods, but SeaWorld San Diego has more nearby attractions and some nice views to boot.

Things you Can See or Do at Each Park

Both SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California are jam packed with things to do, all of which are fun for the whole family.

Activities at SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego is great for families, but it’s also an all-ages park where adults can have tons of fun too!

Getting on to the Manta Ride at Seaworld San Diego
Getting on to the Manta Ride at Seaworld San Diego

Rides

SeaWorld San Diego features both thrill rides and more relaxed family rides, so there are options for kids of any age. There are currently 16 different rides in the park, ranging from rollercoasters and drop rides to rafting, flumes, and spinning swings.

Beluga Whales Being Fed at SeaWorld San Diego
Beluga Whales Being Fed at SeaWorld San Diego

Presentations and Shows

At SeaWorld San Diego, presentations involve shows put on by animals and their trainers. They combine entertainment with education about some of the ocean’s most famous inhabitants.

Shows include the Orca Encounter, Dolphin Adventures, and the Sea Lion & Otter Spotlight.

Batfish at Seaworld San Diego
Batfish at Seaworld San Diego

Marine Life

SeaWorld San Diego is famous for its marine life shows and encounters. Visit the park’s aquarium to learn about the hundreds of species inside, including:

  • Harbor seals
  • Sharks
  • Beluga whales
  • Bat rays
  • Jellyfish
  • Orcas
  • Moray eels
  • Sea turtles
  • Pilot whales
  • Penguins
  • Sea otters
  • Walruses
  • Sea lions
  • Dolphins

Plus animals from the land and sky such as:

  • Macaws
  • Curl-crested aracaris
  • Flamingos
  • Sloths

Some exhibits have interactive elements like touch tanks and the chance to feed seals and sea lions.

What to Do at LEGOLAND California

LEGOLAND’s rides and exhibits are tailored to younger kids and are most fun for children no older than about 7 or 8. For kids in that age group, though, there’s still a lot to love!

Bionicle Blaster Ride Boats at Legoland Ca
Bionicle Blaster Ride Boats at Legoland Ca

Rides

LEGOLAND Theme Park has plenty of rides as well, including kart racing, coasters, and a deep sea adventure. Each ride has a unique LEGO twist, and many allow kids to build their own LEGO creations.

Other activities in the park include a boat cruise, rock climbing, and slide races. All water rides can be found at the LEGOLAND Water Park, which requires separate admission, but makes for a great way to cool off during San Diego’s warm summers.

Ninjago Weekends Legoland Ca
Ninjago Weekends Legoland Ca

Presentations and Shows

See shows starring kids’ favorite LEGO characters at LEGOLAND California. Properties like LEGO City and NINJAGO inspire live shows, a martial arts performance, and an interactive training session.

Other presentations in the park include dance parties and the Once Upon a Brick stage show.

Submarine on the Deep Sea Adventure at Legoland Ca
Submarine on the Deep Sea Adventure at Legoland Ca

Marine Life

At LEGOLAND California, guests can add on admission to SEA LIFE to walk through an aquarium. Though smaller compared to SeaWorld’s heavy focus on marine animals, you can still see plenty of creatures from the deep.

Dolphin at Seaworld San Diego
Dolphin at Seaworld San Diego

Which Attractions Reign Supreme: SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego offers more to do for older park guests, so in my opinion it’s more fun for the whole family or even adults without kids.

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Comparing the Sizes of the Attraction

Traversing both SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California requires a lot of walking. If you’re looking for somewhere to take a break, there are plenty of snack bars, restaurants, and benches throughout both parks.

Looking at Atlantis Water Roller Coaster at Seaworld San Diego
Looking at Atlantis Water Roller Coaster at Seaworld San Diego

A Look at SeaWorld’s Size and Amenities

SeaWorld San Diego spans over 200 acres, with tons of space for rides, shows, and marine animal tanks.

In addition to the standard fare of park food and snacks, there are special options too.

SeaWorld’s unique opportunity to Dine With Orcas invites guests to learn about killer whales while enjoying a buffet-style meal.

Plaza in Between Legoland Ca and Legoland Hotel
Plaza in Between Legoland Ca and Legoland Hotel

Navigating LEGOLAND California

LEGOLAND California is a bit smaller at 120 acres, but it’s also more densely packed with things to do, with less space dedicated to animal housing and show stages.

At LEGOLAND California, you can find themed restaurants like Everything Is Ramen and Benny’s Rocket Fuel which make taking a break for lunch just as fun as the rest of the park.

Park Size Comparison: A Tie

There isn’t much difference in terms of park size and layout, with SeaWorld San Diego being a bit larger and more spread out, while LEGOLAND California is a little smaller but more compact. For this category, it comes down to personal preference.

Which Fits Your Adventure?

Visit SeaWorld San Diego
Visit SeaWorld San Diego
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Visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Discounts Available
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Let’s Compare SeaWorld San Diego’s Tours to LEGOLAND California’s Tours

Both SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California offer VIP experiences for families who want to see and do it all.

Now let’s take a look at the different tours and backstage passes you can optionally purchase at both parks.

On the Ride at the Coast Cruise at Legoland Ca
On the Ride at the Coast Cruise at Legoland Ca

Tours at SeaWorld San Diego

The SeaWorld Ultimate VIP Tour includes front-of-the-line access to rides, a personal tour guide, animal encounters, and reserved seating at shows. The itinerary can be tailored to your family’s preferences.

Animal Encounters

Unique to SeaWorld, park guests can take animal encounter tours with live feedings, informative presentations, and the chance to swim with dolphins or be surrounded by penguins.

Other animals with up-close encounters at SeaWorld are sloths, belugas, killer whales, walruses, otters, sea lions, and turtles.

Additional Experiences at LEGOLAND California

LEGOLAND’s Ultimate VIP Experience lets you travel the park with a tour guide and take home some cool souvenirs. You’ll also get to go behind the scenes at your choice of location, with options for factory and model shop tours.

Which Has Better Tours: Tie

Since there aren’t too many differences in private tour type and quality between the parks, I consider this a tie, though the availability of animal experiences may make SeaWorld San Diego the favorite for nature lovers.

Tips to Visiting SeaWorld San Diego vs LEGOLAND California

Don’t book your visit to either park without knowing these tips first!

Atlantis Water Roller Coaster Ride at SeaWorld San Diego
Atlantis Water Roller Coaster Ride at SeaWorld San Diego

What to Know for SeaWorld San Diego

  • Honestly, there’s hardly a bad time to go to either park but the fall is my favorite with slightly lower crowds and incredible weather.
  • Most attractions at SeaWorld are open all year, so you don’t have to worry about missing anything.

Tips for Visiting LEGOLAND California

  • Both SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California are most popular during the summer, but in the off-season you’ll see cheaper tickets and fewer crowds.
  • Some water rides and attractions may not be open year-round.

Our Pick for the Better Park Overall

Main Entrance to Legoland Ca
Main Entrance to Legoland Ca

Your choice of which park is best will primarily depend on the age group of your party.

LEGOLAND California is designed for kids about 8 or younger. Young families should really give LEGOLAND California a look and also its aquarium and waterpark as well.

But SeaWorld San Diego has so many attractions and shows that will appeal to not just young kids but also teens and adults. With that in mind, and needing to select just one, SeaWorld San Diego is our pick for the best park to visit!

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Which One is Best for You?
Visit SeaWorld San Diego
Visit SeaWorld San Diego
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Visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
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