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“Fun and entertaining...” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Dolphin Research Center

Dolphin Research Center
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Dolphin Research Center is a nonprofit education and research facility. Home to a family of dolphins and sea lions, we offer fun-filled narrated behavior sessions and educational presentations every half an hour. During your visit you can watch and learn all about these amazing animals including dolphin maternity, social groupings, physiology, natural abilities and more. You'll see how we care for them, how we're working with them in cognition and behavioral research and the importance of conserving them and their ocean habitat. DRC also offers a variety of interactive programs including the Dolphin Encounter swim program, Ultimate Trainer for a Day, Trainer Experience half-day program, Researcher Experience half-day program and Paint with a Dolphin. We are actively involved in programs for people with Special Needs, as well as veterans from the Wounded Warrior Project, Military families, and others. Most of our dolphins were born here. Others have come to us for a variety of reasons -- including those who were injured and rescued as youngsters and later deemed non-releasable by the government. We are deeply committed to providing all of them with a safe, healthy, happy home for life. The well-being of the dolphins and sea lions is our top priority. Your visit and participation in programs supports the care of our marine mammal family, the maintenance of their natural sea water home, and the rest of our mission to educate others about these animals and the importance of conservation. Thank you for your interest in Dolphin Research Center!
Useful Information: Wheelchair access, Food available for purchase, Bathroom facilities, Activities for older children, Activities for young children
Wichita, Kansas
Level Contributor
32 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Fun and entertaining...”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 13, 2013

We really enjoyed watching the dolphins and the paces that the trainers had them do. The trainers were entertaining themselves, and it was obvious that they enjoyed what they were doing. I liked that we were able to wander through the different areas at our leisure. We had to leave early when the weather became threatening, but this is definitely a fun place to go. Good for all ages.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank 6389LovetoTravel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DolphinResearchCtr, Public Relations Manager at Dolphin Research Center, responded to this review, July 15, 2013
Sounds like you enjoyed a relaxing, fun time at DRC. You're right, we all love what we do, and we particularly like that we get to share about the dolphins and sea lions with all of our visitors.

Thanks so much for coming in. We appreciate your support and that you chose to tell others about us.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Bradenton, Florida
Level Contributor
26 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“What a neat place!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 13, 2013

This place is not like Sea World or anything like that, where there are inches of glass between you and the wildlife. You're just a few feet away from the dolphins, seals, birds, etc...

At the Dolphin Research Center, there are a number of different 'pools' you can visit, and at different times during the day, you can watch the trainers interact with the dolphins. During the training sessions, you're able to ask questions directly to the trainers, researchers, and interns.

They have food on site, but I would recommend exploring the keys a bit for its many incredible lunch spots. DRC gives you a hand stamp when you pay for admission, so if you leave for lunch and want to spend some more time with Flipper's grand-dolphins, you can just show your stamp and walk right back in!

My girlfriend and I were down in the keys and came across this place on our way to grab coffee in the morning, so it was just the two of us, but there were plenty of kids there having the time of their lives. I have a young niece and nephew and would certainly consider taking them here as it is fun and very educational. Best of all, you're outside enjoying the air!

Visited June 2013
Helpful?
Thank thedopplereffect
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DolphinResearchCtr, Public Relations Manager at Dolphin Research Center, responded to this review, July 15, 2013
Thanks for coming in and getting to know the dolphins. You touched on one of the things that people often seem to like best -- the close proximity. You can really see when the dolphins are as interested in us as we are in them!

We're glad you discovered DRC on your recent trip to the Keys. Thanks for letting others know what you experienced.
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Silverdale, Washington
Level Contributor
77 reviews
24 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 54 helpful votes
“Shaking Fins and Splash Fights!”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 13, 2013

Went to this particular place with my companion. Neither of us had ever played with a dolphin, so I got the Dolphin Dip package, which includes admission and some playtime with the dolphins.
Now, this is not Sea World. This is not what Marineland used to be. This is a research and rescue center. The staff is constantly interacting with their charges, playing, and just enjoying time with them. They are teaching the dolphins, and studying them, and educating the public. Or at least trying to. I don't think many people go there to study.
Very personal between the staff and the dolphins. Very close. Really shows how playful they are as creatures.
And for the dolphin dip, you get to go into one of the enclosures and stand on a submerged platform. As a group you give a couple of commands to a dolphin or two, and they do the trick. You get to pet them, and shake flippers, and have a splash fight!
Really neat. Pretty damn coo.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Andy T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DolphinResearchCtr, Public Relations Manager at Dolphin Research Center, responded to this review, July 15, 2013
Splash fights are one of our favorite activities to share with the dolphins. They sure seem to enjoy it too! We're happy to hear that you experienced this fun in the Dolphin Dip. Thanks so much for visiting DRC and for telling others about your experience!
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Charlotte, North Carolina
Level Contributor
9 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Great experience swimming with the dolphins!”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 12, 2013

We had a great time with our Dolphin Encounter at the Dolphin Research Center! Me and my mother paid $199 to swim with the dolphins (Dolphin Encounter) and spent about 30 minutes in the water interacting with the dolphins. Our dolphins were Cayo and Flaggler (3 and 6 years old) and were tons of fun. They are brother and sister dolphins and often times Flaggler was showing off for his big sister. We were able to splash with them, shake fins, they gave a kiss, and they took us around for a swim. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience! For that experience, I feel that every dime was well spent and we also were able to watch many narrated "play sessions" with other dolphins and walk around the entire center. For visitors interested in paying just to watch, I find their general entry charge very expensive. For that reason, my husband and Dad did not join us that day and did not watch us interact with the dolphins. I really wished they could have been a part of it, however, I feel that the general admission ($23) was a little too pricey for the experience you would get observing dolphins, etc. Otherwise, wonderful experience! I also do recommend going ahead and paying the extra for the full Dolphin Encounter. From what I saw with the other sessions, paying less definitely resulted in a far lesser experience. It's worth it to pay the full price!

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
Thank puggypeggy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DolphinResearchCtr, Public Relations Manager at Dolphin Research Center, responded to this review, July 15, 2013
We're glad to hear that you enjoyed your Dolphin Encounter. You definitely "got" Cayo and Flagler's sibling "dolphinalities"! Sorry to hear that the rest of your family didn't join you in visiting DRC. If you have an opportunity to visit in the future, we do offer a AAA discount for adults on our general admission and there are admission coupons in many local travel and visitors guides. Perhaps that will help next time.

We appreciate you choosing to visit DRC and thank you for sharing your views here with others!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
199 reviews
94 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 150 helpful votes
“Wish I Could Give 6 Stars!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 12, 2013

Oh how I loved this place! We went on a summer Sunday and got there when they first opened. It was dead and we had the place to oursleves. What a refreshing change (say, in comparison to the Clearwater Aquarium, which was hot, stuffy, and crowded). When we walked in, they had a dolphin 'show' going on, and there were only a handful of us watching so we had a nice intimate setting and got to have a seat on a bench and just learn and enjoy. It was very educational without the feel of it being educational at all. It was hot and sunny, but a nice breeze, lots of shade/cover and a couple of rain showers kept us all cool. Lots of space and the grounds were beautiful and clean.

One of the cool things about this place is that the dolphins did people watching, instead of just people watching dolphins! That was amazing! They were so friendly and curious. They swam up to the areas you were standing! That was just so heart warming!

My kids did the Dolphin Dip and Encounter (prebooked online a couple of days in advance...there were still spots when we arrived). Yeah, these reserved programs were expensive, but totally worth it and actually quite affordable when you compare the swims/photo ops in Orlando and Clearwater. I am not sure why people complain about the prices or length of the swims - I felt like you totally got value for money here. I guess different people put a different value on certain experiences. And let's face it, in the end, the organization is not for profit and use $$$ to help with rescues as well - so it's all good.

My daughter also did a t-shirt paint activity too, which was a pretty cool thing! It was $65, but I feel totally worth it! I was also more than happy to cough up over $100 for almost 100 photos on a USB stick, as well. Precious memories captured beautifully. They even gave us certificates for all the encounters we did, with stickers to show which dolphins we did them with.

It was a big thumbs up from all 5 participants. Well worth the looong drive in traffic through the Keys!

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Pokee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
DolphinResearchCtr, Public Relations Manager at Dolphin Research Center, responded to this review, July 15, 2013
Wow! Thank you so much for such a thoughtful, detailed and enthusiastic review! We love knowing that you enjoyed yourselves so much during your visit and that you and your family took part in such a variety of activities. We know that everyone needs to carefully consider their budgets when on vacation. Please know that your visit supports the quality care and home for the dolphin and sea lion family and also helps to advance the Dolphin Research Center mission.

Thanks again!
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