This is my review of our visit to see Winter the dolphin from last August.
I think the popularity of the attraction has meant the prices have increased since we booked.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium. - review
We had breakfast at 6.30 and left Orlando just before 7am for the almost 2 hour drive to the Aquarium. My youngest daughter, aged 9, had seen the film Dolphin Tales 27 times and was very excited to see Winter, the dolphin in real life. We had booked the full package (Behind the Scenes Tour, Sea Life Safari Cruise, Tour of items/props from the film, dolphin training).
We made good time to in getting to Tampa, but got caught in the rush hour traffic in Tampa and only arrived at the aquarium just before 9.00am.
Entrance was straight forward, but it is clear that the popularity of the film has meant that the site has had to increase its facilities rapidly and it still has some way to go in these. In particular toilet facilities and food offerings were poor.
The aquarium itself is only small. Currently has 4 dolphins, some sharks, turtles, otters, pelicans etc. We had a tour around, met some of the volunteers and staff and the kids were very interested to see the dolphins and other animals. At 11.00 we had the Behind the Scenes Tour. Gained some interesting info. Some of the tanks and facilities look very rusty, but apparently this was done this way for the purpose of making it look more run down and realistic for the filming. Also saw the back offices, animal food preparation kitchens and had a view of some of the other items used to feed the ill animals.
Had a snack for lunch and then went on the Sea Life Safari tour. Went out into Clearwater bay and had a good view of the Bay and the hotels and beaches surrounding it. Stopped at one of the small Island and the kids explored for shells. my oldest daughter found a Sea Urchin that the staff running the boat trip were very interested in. The Sea Life Safari lasted about 1.5 hours and was a pleasant change.
When we got back we had a further look around before the kids did the dolphin training. The dolphin training was very well done and the 3 of them spent about 15 minutes to 20 minutes with the trainer called Tiffany and a dolphin called Panama. They absolutely loved this.
Overall a good day out that the kids really enjoyed.
After another quick tour and collecting some photos we left and drove to the Behind the Scenes tour of the making of the film. This had some interesting info, but by now we were pretty tired so we just had a quick look around before leaving about 5.30