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Old 02-04-2013, 04:30 PM   #1
planning
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Sea World Extras

I'm currently planning a trip to Disney from June 6-12. I've only been there about 3 times in my life and I am excited to pass the experience on to my boys (12 and 5). I've only ever been to Sea World once when I was a kid...and that was in Ohio before they moved it, so I made my wife promise we could plan at least one day to spend at Sea World. Now that I'm about to purchase the tickets I'm seeing a lot of "extras" that I might be interested in purchasing, but the website doesn't have a lot of details on exactly what you're paying for and I'm hoping some of you have done these things and can share your experiences with me.

Basically I have decided to purchase one extra, but I don't know which one to get....so if you can help me decide I'd be eternally greatful!

- Behind the Scenes tour: This sounds like fun, but the write-up on the website makes it sound like more of a wildlife conservation PR tour. Given some of the other options, would I be better off passing on this for something else?

- Dolphins Up-Close tour: I would really like to take my family swimming with the Dolphins at Discovery Cove but I can't justify the $1300 price tag...even with the free access to Sea World and Aquatica. I'm positive this isn't anywhere near the DC experience but it could be a very memorable time for my kids depending on how much access we get to the dolphins. Has anyone else done this and can you give me a review?

- Sea Lions Up-Close tour: Same as above....could be a lot of fun but I'm hesitant to pull the trigger unless I can find more info about it and hear some reviews.

- Wild Arctic Up-Close tour: Sounds really cool, but the pictures look like it's a museum tour and not really an "interact with the animals" type of thing.

- Dine with Shamu: Since there's a sticky about this at the top of this board I'm assuming this is probably the most popular extra....sounds like it's a 1-hour "dinner" with about 30 minutes where the trainers and Shamu are around. Do the kids get to interact with the Killer whale? Is this the best of the bunch?

My biggest wish is for interaction with the animals. My kids would love to feed/pet dolphins, whales, Sea Lions, etc. so the more of that the better. I'm just not sure which extras allow that.

Thanks in advance for any help!
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Old 02-04-2013, 05:49 PM   #2
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I have never been on the tours. Now you can feed the dolphins, sea lions, sting rays and sharks. The dolphins and rays will allow you to also pet them. The sharks and sea lions you just throw the food down into the pit area where they are.

There is no interaction with killer whales. The dine with shamu you are behind a glass like wall and only get to watch. Now I do know one of the tours has interaction with the baluga whales. I don't know which one though.
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Old 02-04-2013, 08:09 PM   #3
alikennedy
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I would love to know more about these tours as well. Not going to Discovery Cove, but my dolphin loving daughter would like something extra! The Dolphin Encounter or swimming with the Beluga whales. Has anyone done either of these? Worth the $$$ and time?
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Old 02-04-2013, 08:41 PM   #4
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I am am not exactly sure if what we did is one of those tours but I will post anyway. My daughter had a wish granted to SW. They surprised us with a "dolphin meet and greet." After the first dolphin show, we went to where the trainers go to greet people leaving the show. After all the people had left the stadium, we were led "behind the scenes." We were instructed to put all of our belongings on a picnic table, then met some of the other trainers. We then were led to a small pool that had the main dolphin in the show in it, Bubba. One of the trainers took our camera and was the "photographer" which was nice because it has all 8 of us in the pictures.
The trainer then started tell us a little about dolphins and about SW dolphin show and animals. We all reached down to "pet" Bubba. Then they had Bubba "stand" out of the water and let each of us shake his fin. It was awesome. Then we all fed him some fish. After a little more talking and tricks being done, they had us sit in front of the pool and tried to get a picture of Bubba jumping above us. Our backs got drenched but the picture, and experience, was awesome! Then we were led back to our belongings and there were 6 "Bubbas," one stuffed dolphin for each. And they weren't small ones either!!
Like I said, I do nit know if that id the same as any dolphin tour, but for us, and the age of our kids, it was perfect
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Old 02-05-2013, 01:31 AM   #5
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I haven't done any of these tours, but if I had to choose, I think I would choose the dolphin tour. The website says you get to touch and feed them and it also includes a training session which to me means that each member will get a chance to give a hand signal to the dolphin to make it jump out of the water, wave, etc. I think your kids would most enjoy that one.
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Old 02-05-2013, 06:18 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kalimom6 View Post
I am am not exactly sure if what we did is one of those tours but I will post anyway. My daughter had a wish granted to SW. They surprised us with a "dolphin meet and greet." After the first dolphin show, we went to where the trainers go to greet people leaving the show. After all the people had left the stadium, we were led "behind the scenes." We were instructed to put all of our belongings on a picnic table, then met some of the other trainers. We then were led to a small pool that had the main dolphin in the show in it, Bubba. One of the trainers took our camera and was the "photographer" which was nice because it has all 8 of us in the pictures.
The trainer then started tell us a little about dolphins and about SW dolphin show and animals. We all reached down to "pet" Bubba. Then they had Bubba "stand" out of the water and let each of us shake his fin. It was awesome. Then we all fed him some fish. After a little more talking and tricks being done, they had us sit in front of the pool and tried to get a picture of Bubba jumping above us. Our backs got drenched but the picture, and experience, was awesome! Then we were led back to our belongings and there were 6 "Bubbas," one stuffed dolphin for each. And they weren't small ones either!!
Like I said, I do nit know if that id the same as any dolphin tour, but for us, and the age of our kids, it was perfect
That is really awesome and exactly what I'm looking for! Thank you for sharing your experience. With a 5 and 12 year old I think an experience like you had would make a lifelong memory.
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Old 02-05-2013, 01:11 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by planning View Post
That is really awesome and exactly what I'm looking for! Thank you for sharing your experience. With a 5 and 12 year old I think an experience like you had would make a lifelong memory.
Yes, and the "photographer" took a ton of pictures. So we have one picture of each person doing each thing. So cool.
My 7 year old will carry around the stuffed dolphin and say "I miss Bubba and Shamu." We are so very thankful for the opportunity, and the gift that was given by Sea World for our children
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Old 02-05-2013, 03:27 PM   #8
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The only one I've actually done that you mentioned is Dine with Shamu. I had done it twice previously years ago and I feel like the show portion lasted longer before and I know they did more things with the whales. When I went in January of this year the whale portion lasted exactly 20 minutes. For the cheaper price (it used to be $50 per adult!) its still a good value for an extra experience. There is no interacting with the whales, you're about 6 feet from the water (giving the trainers room to walk around) and there is glass in front of you now but its not very distracting. You do get a free 5x7 (I believe its 5x7) but there are no whales in the background of the picture, its just greenery outside of the check in area (though you may be lucky to get the fountain on the small lake)

As we were walking past dolphin cove we caught the tail end of the dolphins up close tour and it looked really neat. I don't know if there is a limit on the number of people in your group but the session I saw had two people per trainer and they were doing hand signals and getting the dolphins to do different tricks.

If you search you'll find a review of what I believe is the wild arctic up close tour where someone had done it more than once and it seemed really great.
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Old 02-06-2013, 06:08 PM   #9
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All of the programs mentioned in the original post are good educational programs with very limited or no animal interaction. Basically what you see in the description on the website is what you get.

If you're just choosing from your list, I'd recommend the dolphin or sea lion program. The sea lions (and harbor seals) are very entertaining, especially early in the day when you have food to give them.

The expense of going to Discovery Cove puts off a lot of people, but I will always say, IT'S WORTH IT. The entire experience of Discovery Cove (not just the dolphin interaction) is pretty amazing. Everything you need for the entire day is provided minus your swimwear (all you can eat food, drink, and snacks, sunscreen, towels, wetsuits, snorkeling gear...) The park limits access to 1000 guests per day, so it's not crowded like the other parks, and your admission gets you in to Sea World for the week.

The beluga whale interaction is the best interaction program at Sea World. It gets in in the water with the whales to interact, touch, feed, and assist trainers with behavior demonstrations.
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Old 02-06-2013, 07:00 PM   #10
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There are several videos of the tours on youtube. Just type in the name of the tour and it should pop up. We are booked for Behind the Scenes and the Dolphins Up Close tour for June. We have never been on either, but the youtube videos make it look pretty neat.
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