Earlier this year we took the kids to see Dolphin Tales.... amazing movie! So we were very excited to learn that the marina was only 1 and 1/2 hours from Orlando and immediately made plans to go visit Winter!
When you pulled it it was EXACTLY like in the movie---
which was very cool (in fact a lot of it still looks like it did after the hurricane!)
after paying some exorbitant entrance fees (for a hurricane riddled, partially operational aquarium with two large tents and a trailer as the ticket office and port a potties at the "facilities") we got to learn what REALLY happened to Winter! For instance he did not bang against the side and break the model to pieces... dramatic flair! He did however let them know in his calm, dolphin "esq" way that he wasn't down with the thing touching his skin that sheds like once an hour verses OURS that sheds like every three days. So the good doctor came up with the sock-- which has bolstered many other awesome medical advances since then!
We saw the trap that harmed Winter and learned that it took days and days for the tail to break down and til they finally amputated and was really very painful for the dolphin.
We walked up rickety stairs into what in the movie we saw as the entrance (grand hall-- remember where the boy met the Pelican, who by the way DOES NOT LIVE AT THE AQUARIUM) and it is all gift shop. and it is NICE! State of the art... and then you walk out of the gift shop into old, worn down pretty much yucky facility. Good thing there was a cute dolphin there! :0)
They kept announcing all the "ways" you could add expense onto the exorbitant entrance
fees over the loud speaker-- it was great.
Okay so on to the reason for the visit-- and the good part.
WINTER, the Dolphin.
It was worth the drive to Clear Water-- especially all the cool water ways you go to go over from Tampa
and it was worth seeing Winter and well that's all folks.
Rent the movie-it's great. BTW-- oh and no Harry Connick Jr. at the aquarium either, bummer.