Can SeaWorld San Diego Open to Out of State Visitors?

April 20, 2021, 5:58 PM · SeaWorld San Diego announced today that it would begin welcoming out-of-state visitors, citing a change in California rules. But the state's websites showed no changes to California pandemic rules that prohibit theme park ticket sales to non-vaccinated out-of-state visitors.

On SeaWorld's website, the park stated that "per state Covid-19 restrictions, attendance is limited to California in-state visitors, and now out-of-state visitors will be required to show proof of a completed Covid-19 vaccine or a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of their park visit (required for guests 3 & up)." (See second update below for new information.)

However, California's Blueprint for a Safer Economy industry guidance for amusement and theme parks continues to require "in-state visitors only" across all tiers. Another state Blueprint document notes that "fully vaccinated persons from out of state may visit or attend activities or events that are restricted to in-state visitors," but SeaWorld's note offers a testing alternative for non-vaccinated visitors, though the currently published Blueprint guidance does not include support for that.

The state's most recent travel advisory also states that "non-essential travelers from other states or countries are strongly discouraged from entering California and should adhere to the quarantine procedures," which require a quarantine of seven days after arrival, with negative Covid tests, if they have not been vaccinated.

It could be that SeaWorld jumped the gun on a change in California policy that is soon to be released, or the state just hasn't updated its publicly published rules yet. Or that SeaWorld is testing California policy. I have reached out to SeaWorld for comment.

Update: A SeaWorld spokesperson referred to the second Blueprint document (linked above) and referred all additional questions to the California Attractions & Parks Association, a state industry trade group.

Update 2: (Apr 21) SeaWorld has updated its website with a new message that says, "Per state COVID-19 restrictions, attendance is limited to California in-state visitors, and now out-of-state visitors will be required to show proof of a fully completed COVID-19 vaccine (you are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second shot, or two weeks after the one-dose vaccine)."

This eliminates the testing option for non-vaccinated visitors that was not allowed under published state rules.

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Replies (5)

April 21, 2021 at 10:15 AM

Again, I will reference the current California Office of Tourism ad blitz occurring across the country that openly invites out-of-state travelers to the Golden State. The ad campaign does refrain from showing images/videos from any of the major theme parks (though one wide shot clearly shows the Santa Monica Pier), but it is a strong appeal to non-California residents to visit the state's tourism landmarks.

While Sea World San Diego is clearly a theme park, they are also very much a collection of aquariums and animal exhibits, and were able to operate as such before California changed their stance on the operation of theme parks a few weeks ago. Aquariums and zoos (including the San Diego Zoo - along with its Skyride) are prominently highlighted in the current nation-wide ad campaign, so it's reasonable to assume that Sea World would feel that they should be included with the types of tourist attractions being actively marketed to out-of-state visitors.

April 21, 2021 at 12:11 PM

I'm still trying to grasp the concept that the State of California can ban visitors from out of state from visiting theme parks but they can't seem to handle the homeless situation in several of their major cities. Does this mean that lawless people have more rights than normal people in California?

April 21, 2021 at 12:41 PM

What does that have to do with anything? Of course a jurisdiction can implement public health and safety restrictions. Consider this a warning for trolling Tim.

April 21, 2021 at 12:42 PM

Tim - It's a shame you equate homelessness with lawlessness.

April 21, 2021 at 5:48 PM

Sorry, Robert. I was trying to stir up a conversation and I went too far. So, in hindsight, I'm guilty of trolling. My apologies.

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