DO NOT PAY FOR THE SEA LION TOUR. I would give it no stars, but that was not an option. Save your money because you will not be up-close with a sea lion like the title and the picture suggest. First, you go to Pacific Point Preserve and they tell you the difference between a sea lion and a seal; which can be read on the signs around the exhibit. Next, you go to where the “Clyde & Seamore” show takes place. You are asked to sit in the first two rows and then are quickly taken up to the tank, a group at the time to have your picture quickly taken. You are not allow to look at the sea lion (you keep your back towards him) and have to take a large step forward before you can walk back to your seats. Then you head back to Pacific Point Preserve where you are given a bucket of fish to feed them with everyone else. Just save your money and get to the show early to sit in the first two rows and spend $20 and get five trays of fish to feed the seals/sea lions at Pacific Point Preserve for the same experience.
We did the Dolphins VIP tour. It took you into the arena behind the scenes where there was no shade or place to sit and VERY VERY HOT. The best thing was letting the kids touch the dolphins. It was expensive; glad we did it once but won't do it again.
We have done several VIP tours in the Orlando area but our first tour was with SeaWorld. It set the “bar” for the rest of the tours on our vacation. If I remember correctly, the SeaWorld tour is conducted by a tour guide who is doing a residency or is a student at a college studying conservation or marine biology (I cannot remember the specifics). This made the tour very informative. The guide led us around to several of the animal exhibits, giving information on the conservation efforts of SeaWorld or other facts about the animals. We were also given special seating for two of the shows – in our case the dolphins and shamus. It was nice to be free of the worry about securing a good seat for two of the most popular shows. We were also given front of the line access to Kraken, Journey to Atlantis, and Wild Arctic. In addition, we were given backstage access to the penguin area where we were able to touch the penguin and listen to info from the trainers. There were other benefits around the park like free fish for feeding dolphins and sea lions. The tour also included a VERY NICE buffet lunch in the Backstage of Believe area where we could view the whales swimming around the tank (bravo SeaWorld). This was a great tour and it lasted all day. The guides were informative, the tour had a nice variety of components (shows, rides, exhibits), and it included a very nice buffet lunch. This tour is very much worth the money and I would recommend it for anyone visiting SeaWorld – return visitor or newcomers. Every one of my family members enjoyed every bit of this tour – shows, food, attractions, and exhibits. I don’t think we could narrow it down to one aspect.