Everyone who makes the pilgrimage to the "land the mouse built" wants to feel special, and the theme parks are well aware of this fact. With this in mind, there has been a recent trend in the theme park industry towards VIP style tours. These behind-the-scenes experiences range in price from around $20 to more than a few hundred, (or more) but can make an average day at any park unforgettable.
SeaWorld Orlando is quickly expanding their behind the scenes offerings, and virtually every major attraction can be augmented with a special tour. At SeaWorld they are referred to as immersive animal connection experiences.
“VIP moments bring to life an array of opportunities to interact with amazing animals, and experience up-close tours and educational programs. Available year-round, these wild adventures offer a one-of-a-kind gift that creates a lifetime of memories,” stated Elizabeth Bassler, SeaWorld Public Relations.
Recently, the Local Getaways examiner was able to enjoy one of their most popular animal encounters, the Dolphins Up-Close tour. During this approximately 60 minute tour, visitors are able to see how the park cares for their dolphins, participate in a training session and even touch a dolphin.
The tour begins at the Dolphin Nursery,which is a temporary home to dolphin mothers and their newborn calves. Here, you are able to see a brief interaction between the animal care staff and the doplhins, as well as ask questions about dolphin behavior. You may also get wet, which is great during the long, hot Florida summer.
From their, a knowledgeable tour guide escorts your group through the park to Key West at SeaWorld, which spans five acres and celebrates the legendary mystique and animals of the Florida Keys while it immerses guests in the quirky, carefree ambiance of America's southernmost city. Here, you are taken to Dolphin Cove, where the dolphins live and frolick in a tropical lagoon with rolling waves, a sandy beach, underwater viewing and naturalistic coral reef. You are broken into family groups, assigned to an animal trainer, and given the chance to interact with some of the most amazing animals you’ll ever meet. You are an active participant in their training, and are given a chance to shake hands and touch the amazing creatures. Here, you will most likely get wet!
After the experience, you are able to view pictures taken during the tour, and then encouraged to view Blue Horizons®, a breakthrough theatrical spectacular that showcases graceful dolphins, a rainbow of exotic birds and an entire cast of world-class divers and aerialists draped in elaborate costumes. This is the perfect show to see following your Dolphins Up-Close Tour, as it some of the training behaviors you learned about during the encounter in their full glory.
The experience starts at $59 for ages 10 and up, $39 for ages 3-9. Pricing may vary by season, check specific date for actual price. Admission to SeaWorld is not included and is required.
Children under 3 are free but require a tour reservation. All guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a paying adult. Small groups will be combined to form a tour group of about 16 guests. Late arrivals may miss tour components or may not be accommodated due to limited tour availability. Tour times, prices and components are subject to change and availability.Cancellations with less than 24 hours notice are nonrefundable. Participants must check in the park’s Information and Reservation counter at least 30 minutes prior to the tour start time.
If you’re interested, be sure to book online to save time and guarantee a spot, because they can sell out fast. Pass Members save 10% by booking online or calling 1-888-800-5447.
After you’ve spent some time with the dolphins in their care, you’ll quickly understand what makes these clever characters some of the parks’ most popular animals. It is well worth the additional cost, and the memories will last a lefetime!
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