As a blogger, I may be compensated in some way (either pay, product, or experience) for sharing the post below All opinions are my own. ~Heidi
It’s Tuesday and time for another one of my Trip Reports on “the other Orlando” If you missed the past 2 posts, be sure to check out our experience with Busch Gardens Tampa and our thoughts on Legoland Florida. Today, I’m letting Ashley take over the post and talk about their day on Monday, March 2nd. My parents and the girls went to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. (I have to admit, I’m rather jealous. We all LOVE the Dolphin Tale movies, but there just wasn’t time to fit a visit for all of us into the schedule this time.)
A Bit About Our Day
We got to Clearwater around 10am, so the aquarium was already open. Before you get to the ticket counter, you can see the boat that Hazel and her dad lived on in the movies. I thought it was very cool to see a prop from the movie! I love movie artifacts (I always really enjoyed walking through the movie artifacts at Hollywood Studios in the Backlot Tour when it was open!)
When you walk into the ticket counter, it seems pretty low class. They sell tickets out of what appear to be 2 trailers. We purchased our tickets, I ran away when my grandma asked a young guy if he was single (because that’s not embarrassing at all), and we went inside to check out what there was to see.
I love aquariums and looking at the different animals, and after seeing Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2, I was pretty excited to see Winter and Hope. When you walk into the building off the ticket center, you are in the gift shop. There were a lot of cool things to choose from and I eventually ended up buying a shirt at the end of the day.
We continued through the gift shop up the stairs to the main level. This is where we encountered Winter and Hope. Also on this level were Rufus and Harold and Mavis. We watched Winter for a long time, and enjoyed looking at the sea turtles. There were a ton of people on this main deck – obviously – so we ventured away to see a show up on the next level – outside.
The presentation we watched was called Dolphin Stranding. This is where they told us how they go out to rescue dolphins that are in need of help. It was very interesting and gave us a clear insight on how they rescued Winter and Hope in the Dolphin Tale movies.
After this, we kept walking through the building and ended up at the Sting Ray exhibit. Mimi, Poppy and Gracie all touched a Sting Ray while I stood off to the side because that’s just gross. (Later on that week, I got up the courage to touch a sting ray at Sea World.)
We boarded a trolley – after eating our packed lunches – and took a 5 minute ride over to another building in the city where they have an called Winter’s Dolphin Tale Experience. The HUGE building is full of movie props and information on Winter and Hope. They also have a simulation-like walk through that gives you an idea what it’s like to be part of a hurricane.
When we were done walking through and looking at all the movie props, we left Winter’s Dolphin Tale Experience and decided to take the boat back to the main building. The boat ride was great, and we had an awesome captain who told us a lot of facts about the area that we were in.
After we arrived back at the main building, I went to the gift shop and bought my shirt, then we decided to leave and head back to our house for a relaxing afternoon.
What We Liked
I LOVED seeing Winter and Hope- this was my main reason for going in the first place. I LOVE the Dolphin Tale movies, and I’ve been wanting to travel to Clearwater Marine Aquarium since.
The employees that worked there were SUPER nice and they always had a smile on their faces, and were willing to answer any questions that you may have had.
The boat ride back from Winter’s Dolphin Tale Experience was awesome, and we really liked hearing facts about Clearwater.
What We Didn’t Like
Winter didn’t have her tale on when we saw her. They had her doing shows without it. I don’t know if this is normal or not, but I found it a bit odd since the whole point of Dolphin Tale was to get her a tale.
When they built the building for the aquarium, I don’t think they knew they’d rise to fame. So it’s set up impractically, and there were too many people in too small a place.
When we got in line to ride the boat back to the main building, we had to walk down to the boat dock, which was easily 2-3 blocks away from the Dolphin Tale Experience. This is fine for someone who doesn’t mind walking, but both my grandparents were getting kind-of tired and found this annoying.
Will We Visit Again?
I would love to give Clearwater Marine Aquarium another go around. I think that they have what it takes to be a great place to visit. I enjoyed my day there, even though I did think it was a little overpriced for what you got out of it.
If you want to get any more information on Clearwater Marine Aquarium, be sure to check out their website! You can even see live webcams of Winter and Hope, which I find really cool!
Special thanks to Ashley for writing this post!
Be sure to stop by and visit her blog!