If you are a scuba diver and go to Disney World, you are really missing a bucket list opportunity if you don’t experience DiveQuest at what is now The Seas with Nemo & Friends (formerly The Living Seas) with its over 6,000 sea creatures. The Seas is so large that Spaceship Earth could fit inside with space to run around the perimeter. At 203 feet in diameter by 27 feet deep it contains 5.7 million gallons of salt water that is filtered every two hours and 43 minutes by an enormous filtration system in several huge tanks nearby.
Disney World Epcot Center DiveQuest
DiveQuest cannot be compared to open water diving. It is obviously a completely different kind of dive and is enjoyed for its unique merits. The DiveQuest experience takes about 3 hours. The dive itself is about 40 minutes. It is a shallow dive so the air in the tank lasts longer. Before the dive the 16 divers are treated to a back lot guided tour of the educational and research work taking place, observing first hand the magnitude of operations at The Seas. It is a fascinating experience as you walk past offices, research areas, and holding tanks for large sea creatures that are moved in and out of the facility via the roof, taking advantage of rising floors, and hydraulic lifts with harnesses.
I was interested in the food preparation area. A white board has the names of the variety of sea animals, and even the names of individuals for large creatures like the dolphins, sharks, and manatees. The board showed the recipes and volumes consumed by each animal type. Divers feed the animals in separate groups, the animals having been trained to individual audible signals to come eat. Interestingly, the food standards for feeding these creatures exceeds FDA standards for feeding humans.
We learned that the manatees are rescued animals, one having been injured by boat propellers. In fact we were told that one of them had been rescued, restored to health, released, and rescued again.
After the tour we were directed to a lounge room where we could relax a bit, get some instruction, sign our lives away, and then off to assigned lockers to get into wet suits before heading upstairs above the water level for final instructions and putting on tanks. We were supposed to have an opportunity to get on video with our family on the other side of the glass but my son and I waited and never saw the videographer, so I missed having that part of the experience recorded. Divers are not allowed to bring their own cameras.
There were a couple of other aspects of my previous DiveQuest experience that I thought were better by a small measure. On my previous dive the divers were made to feel a little special by being informed that they are part of the Disney World cast. It was also nice to have an opportunity to spend a little time with the family before going upstairs to don the rest of the equipment over the wet suit. That was not included this time. This time seemed a little rushed compared to the way it was done before.
Still, we had a great experience. I loved sharing the dive with my son. In addition to the fun of diving amidst a captive group of an amazing array of sea life in an “always perfect” environment, there is another captive group behind huge windows to entertain the divers. Many in this group, humans, are even related to the divers. It makes for an interesting and fun photo opportunity. The video taken by our family on the air side of the glass was interesting to see. My wife put her hand to the plexiglass and I did the same from the other side. The video made the 8-inch plexiglass thickness apparent. It was also really cute when a little girl from another family put her hand to the glass, too, so I reached up to hers.
One of my favorite things to do is to swim over to the large picture windows with a view into the restaurant. It is fun to go above the windows out of sight and then come down upside down to wave at the kids who are eating in booths at those windows. Asked nicely the restaurant guests will even offer to share their food with you, albeit a bit difficult to get to it. One of the young children was fascinated by a shell just outside the window and signaled for me to let her see it more closely. Uncertain whether it was ok to do so, it was just a shell, so I picked it up to show her and then placed it back where it had been. She was pleased by the attention which pleased me.
This time the DiveQuest experience was extra special, getting to do the dive with our youngest son and with our very happy youngest daughter and her mother following us with video cameras.
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