SeaWorld Orlando’s annual celebration of brews and bites is back—and bigger than ever. The Unofficial Guides team has five tips for what you should savor at the park’s 2022 Craft Beer Festival.
SeaWorld Orlando’s 2022 Craft Beer Festival, which kicked off on August 5, will run every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through September 5. The event coincides with the final weeks of the Electric Ocean summer celebration; like last year’s Craft Beer Festival, it features food- and beverage-tasting booths located all around the park’s landmark lagoon. I happily attended a hosted media event on August 12 so that I could bring you all the best information.
Here are our top five tips to follow if you’re attending SeaWorld Orlando’s 2022 Craft Beer Festival:
1. Invest in a Tasting Lanyard
With over 100 different craft beers to try—priced at $12.99 per 12-ounce pour—plus dozens of different cocktails, you can easily spend a ton of money drinking your way around SeaWorld. And that’s not even considering the countless comestibles, which cost $10-$13 per appetizer-size portion.
The best way to navigate SeaWorld’s Craft Beer Festival without losing your shirt is to buy a sampler lanyard, which costs $55 for 8 tastings, or $70 for 12 (Annual Pass holders get 15).
You’ll get smaller, tasting-size portions when punching your lanyard, but that’s probably for the best if you want to enjoy a wide variety of options without passing out mid-park.
2. Meet the Meat (Skip the Seafood)
At EPCOT’s food festivals, we often recommend sticking with the vegan and vegetarian options, but at SeaWorld it’s all about the meat. SeaWorld Orlando Executive Chef Jomar Rios Berly recently arrived from overseeing upscale restaurants in Miami, and he has introduced numerous new and reimagined dishes to the Festival, including many with a Latin American flair.
The new birria pork taco, served with tomato broth for dipping, is a particular standout among the additions for carnivores.
Parks in the SeaWorld/Busch Gardens family have always been known for good barbecue, and the Craft Beer Festival lives up to that reputation with delicious drunken ribs, in addition to creamy mac and cheese topped with tender smoked brisket.
On the flip side, the seafood items we sampled—such as the beer-battered shrimp with kimchi sauce—were all overcooked and under-seasoned. Perhaps SeaWorld agrees that “fish are friends, not food.”
3. Take a Critter Break
To help pace your sipping and snacking, be sure to grab a seat for one of SeaWorld’s signature animal shows. Right now, we recommend attending Rescue Tails in the Seaport Theater, which replaces the Pets Ahoy show (a personal favorite). Instead of domesticated animals, this new production features wild creatures—from raccoons and possums to foxes and spiders—that were previously injured or orphaned.
If you can, catch this show in the evening when the park is open late for a special “Night Vision” edition, exhibiting owls and other nocturnal animals.
Another option is to visit Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, which has permanently decommissioned its unimpressive trackless dark ride and converted it into a walk-through that can be experienced with minimal wait.
Just be warned if you aren’t dressed warmly: The penguin habitat re-creates the lighting and temperature conditions in the birds’ native Antarctic, where it’s currently winter with near-perpetual nighttime.
4. Don’t Sleep on the Coasters
Before your belly gets too full, don’t forget to take a lap on one of SeaWorld’s superb roller coasters. By early evening, wait times for most of the major coasters were in the single digits, allowing us to practically walk onto Mako. The only catch is that frequent late-afternoon lightning storms force all of SeaWorld’s outdoor attractions to temporarily close, leaving little else to do but eat and drink.
One big exception is the new Ice Breaker multi-launch coaster, which posted wait times approaching an hour during my visit. Unfortunately, Ice Breaker also stops operating for the night nearly an hour before performances of Ignite 360, Electric Ocean’s fireworks and fountain spectacular.
As a result, this ride’s queue may close to new guests 2 hours before the park’s official closing time, and this fact wasn’t posted online or in SeaWorld’s app, so line up early if you want to break the ice.
5. Read the Fine Print
One final financial detail to be aware of before beginning your 2022 Craft Beer Festival adventure: Rather than raise prices outright like other parks have, SeaWorld has stealthily added small print to the bottom of all of its menus, advising guests that an additional 5% surcharge is being added to their bills.
Frugal guests now need to do mathematical mental gymnastics when looking at SeaWorld’s menus, in order to decide if it’s worth tasting one more sample. Caveat emptor!
For more information about the SeaWorld Orlando 2022 Craft Beer Festival, including a full event menu, visit seaworld.com/orlando/events/craft-beer-festival/menus/.
For all there is to see and do in the Central Florida area, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World, The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids 2020, and The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and sign up for our newsletter here. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube.