The Lunar New Year Celebration is back at Sea World San Diego and it’s better than ever! Most of the festivities are located near the main entrance. There are red signs leading you to the main festival area where you’ll find the Festival Stage where various live entertainment takes place surrounded by a few food kiosks. My family and I were invited to experience the limited time offerings and I left feeling nostalgic for all the Chinese New Year traditions that I experienced as a child.
The Chinese Acrobats of Habei
The mainstage show is the Chinese Acrobats of Habei in the Mission Bay Theater towards the back of the park near the Sea Lion Show arena. There are a couple of different versions of the show so you can check out different viewings throughout the day. We saw dancing fu dogs (similar to lion dancers), jugglers, and a mask act that changed instantaneously. This show tends to fill up, so I suggest lining up early. You can also reserve a seat for $7.00, but it’s not necessary if you plan ahead.
Live Entertainment at the Festival Stage
There are a few different performing troupes that perform on the Festival Stage. My favorite were the Lion dancers that were part of the martial arts troupe. I grew up going to church in Oakland Chinatown where the familiar sounds of the drums and gongs would signal the arrival of the Lion dancers. It has always been my favorite tradition to see the incredible acrobatics and be surprised by the erratic movements and loud sounds. It’s our tradition to feed the lions money for good luck.
The martial arts troupe also had a dragon dance. They explained that the dragon is different from the lion dancers because it has many people controlling it instead of just two. The dragon chases the ball of wisdom as it snakes and turns through the audience. During this performance, they invited the kids to help dance the dragon. There are multiple show times throughout the day, so be sure to check the schedule by the stage upon arrival.
In honor of the year of the pig, the pig stars from Pets Rule! are available to meet near the Lunar New Year plaza. The ambassadors are there to talk about their adoption and rescue stories and to answer any questions you might have. The Pets Rule! show is one of our favorites and features rescued animals like cats, dogs, and of course, pigs.
Lunar New Year Food
There are three food kiosks in the Lunar New Year area. One kiosk offers a dim sum trio (which is 3 pieces of different fried items and not like traditional steamed dim sum) and bao sandwich. The double bao sandwich had a piece of bulgogi beef in a steamed bun with a coleslaw mixture on top. We also tried the ramen which comes with either tri tip beef or tofu. My favorite was the stir fry noodles with either chicken, shrimp, or tofu. The noodles are grilled on site with fresh vegetables and are served hot.
Dates and Times
The Lunar New Year celebration happens on weekends with the final day on Monday, February 18. While the park opens at 10:00, the Lunar New Year section doesn’t start until 12:00, but stays open until 7:00. The first Chinese Acrobat show is at 11:15 so I suggest heading there first. The shows on the Festival stage occur throughout the day so there are plenty of opportunities to see all the shows. There are several festivals coming up at Sea World so I would highly consider getting an annual pass. The single day admission is the same price as the pass for the remainder of 2019, so you will have access to upcoming special events like the Seven Seas Food and Wine Festival coming soon.