SeaWorld San Diego was the first in a series of marine zoological parks founded by businessmen David Demott, George Millay, Ken Norris, and Milton Shedd. The landscape architecture firm Wimmer Yamada & Associates laid out the landscape, creating a park-like environment characterized by mounded lawns, mature trees, and botanical collections. A traditional Japanese village with a garden designed by landscape architect Tadashi Kubo was a prominent feature. Plantings for the village garden were approved by landscape architect Garrett Eckbo, who had previously created design guidelines for the entirety of Mission Bay. The park opened in 1964 on 22 acres of filled marshland leased by the City of San Diego. As it grew over subsequent decades, reaching 110 acres by 1985, the landscape created by Wimmer Yamada & Associates was considerably altered.
Situated on a peninsula between Mission Valley and Mission Bay, this 189-acre site is a mix of an amusement theme park and an oceanarium. The development contains various animal exhibits, rides, stadium arenas, and amphitheaters. Sloping down towards the waterfront, the park also features a network of curvilinear paths bordered by Mediterranean garden beds, as well as Japanese, Polynesian, and Pacific Northwest regional plantings. The park is planted with some 4,000 different plant species, with several of the largest trees surviving from the Wimmer Yamada era. The original landscape design is more evident along the park’s northern border, where gently rolling lawns and curvilinear promenades, shaded by groupings of torrey pines and palms, meet the shoreline.