Orlando has a ton to offer but sometimes, when you live or visit here often, you want to get away for a bit and experience something new! Today on our Just A Day Away segment, we’re bringing you information on Marineland which is located on the beach in St. Augustine, FL! Marineland is one of Florida’s hidden gems & has been around since 1938. Lets look into Marineland, their history, what they have to offer guests, and my experiences swimming and interacting with a bottlenose dolphin!
Marineland opened its gates in 1938 under the name Marine Studios. It was built for 3 reasons. First, they wanted to build the largest aquarium (at the time) to bring guests to experience what they couldn’t anywhere else! Second, they built the studios to do research on aquatic life and animals. Third, they built the studios to film movies! Movies such as The Revenge of the Creature Of The Black Lagoon and Benji were filmed at the studios! From then till now, a lot has changed at Marineland Dolphin Adventure except for one thing. In a 75 year history, dolphins have always been the focus of this amazing place.
Marineland is not like other experiences in the Orlando area for one reason alone. There are no shows here. Marineland did away with their dolphin shows years ago to focus on the research and the interactive element with the dolphins. When I asked about the shows, they said that it took away from their focus of conservation and research. They believe you can connect more with a personal encounter with a dolphin then watching back flips from your seat in the stands.
I had the chance to spend some time at Marineland Dolphin Adventure last week. I took a tour of the location, experienced the behind-the-scenes tour and also got to experience a tour called The Immersion, which allows guests the chance to get in the water with the dolphins and help train them! Let’s look into what they have to offer first before I discuss my Immersion experience!
Marineland Dolphin Adventure pricing is on a tier system. Here is the breakdown of what they have to offer, the description and a starting point for pricing. Please keep in mind, pricing changes based upon season. Children 3-12 are priced less. Check the website here for current pricing! All packages also include general admission so keep that in mind as well!
- General Admission $11.95 per adult- for this price, you can get in to see the stingrays, sea turtles, and watch the dolphins swim.
- Behind The Seas Tour $21.95 per adult- Marineland Dolphin Adventure is proud to introduce a brand new (yet charmingly historic) guest experience- a behind-the-scenes and below-the-decks tour of their facility as well as new animal exhibits they call their “Behind the Seas” tour. A Behind the Seas tour includes general admission and is a wonderful way to round out your experience before or after your dolphin encounter.
- Touch and Feed $31.95 per adult- Enjoy the opportunity to interact with one of our Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins during this quick and exciting poolside interaction.
- Dolphin Designs $99.99 per adult- Have you ever seen a dolphin paint? Have fun and get creative with your dolphin artist as you collaborate to create an original work of art to hang on your wall. This program is truly a masterpiece!
- Discover Dolphins $169.99 per adult- Step into the dolphins’ watery world for a hands-on shallow water experience and meet our residents face-to-face.
- Immersion- $209.99-$229.99 per adult based on time of year- Participants will enjoy swimming with dolphins in deep water as well as spending time with them in our shallow areas. There is no better way than this to experience the grace and power of Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins.
Now on to the fun! I was invited to come experience the Immersion program at Marineland to share with you all! The program itself lasts around 1.5 hours with about 45-50 mins of that in the water with the dolphins. When I arrived I checked in at the front, I did my necessary paperwork for the tour. I brought along a towel and my bathing suit as asked and was told where to meet my trainer at the start of my program.
I arrived about 45 minutes early to check out what Marineland had to offer. I saw some large tanks with stingrays, sea turtles and more upon entry, so I checked them out first. I was told that they were new to Marineland and that they were hoping to do an interactive program with them in the future. I then walked the pathway on the beachfront to the main attraction, the huge dolphin tanks!
The tanks were very large and separated into different areas for different programs. The first tank I saw was the one with the new baby, who was just named today! She was born 3 months ago at Marineland and is doing great! There are also sections for the Touch and Learn area, a few holding areas to move dolphins around, and the main tank where I did my interactions. After learning about some dolphin anatomy and about my day, I went into the locker room to change and to get my mask and jacket to wear in the water.
After a brief safety instruction by our trainer we got into the water to meet the star of the day, Rosie! Rosie was born and raised at Marineland and was our dolphin for the day. We started out in the shallow area of the pool meeting Rosie and letting her meet us. We got to help with behaviors, gave her a ton of rub downs, and got to see how they train the animals for husbandry. After a bit of time in the shallow water, we got into the deep water to see what Rosie could really do. We saw her do some high jumps, underwater spins, and even got to play some football with her!!!
After spending a lot of time in the deep water, we went back into the shallow end to say goodbye to Rosie and have some more pictures taken by the photographer. There is a professional photographer with you taking pictures that you can buy at the end of your experience. After some candid photos, it was time to say goodbye to Rosie!
I had an amazing time with Rosie in the water, interacting and bonding with her. I have never had an interaction with an animal like I did at Marineland! When I was working with Rosie, it felt like we had a connection. She understood me and I understood her. Overall, this package was great. I had a great time not only with Rosie, but also learning about this history of Marineland and where they are headed next!
For anyone who loves Dolphins, Marineland has everything you would want! Make sure you get out to Marineland and experience one of these dolphin encounters for yourself! I would like to thank Marineland and their staff for having me out for the day! I loved the experience and hope to get back soon!
Have you ever been to Marineland? If so what did you think? If not, will you be going? Comment below and let me know!