Visiting Clearwater Marine Aquarium- Home of Winter the Dolphin

Little Monkey has wanted to visit Clearwater Marine Aquarium to see Winter and Hope, the dolphins from the movie Dolphin Tale, for a few years now.  I tried to make it happen last summer, but the timing just didn’t work.  This summer we were going to visit family in Florida and decided it would be the perfect time to detour a little and hit up the aquarium.

Winter_The_DolphinWe flew into the Tampa Airport, which is only about 30 minutes away from the aquarium.  The whole Tampa and Clearwater area is beautiful.  If you have been to an aquarium like the Monterey Bay Aquarium you may be thinking big, but the Clearwater Marine Aquarium was/is a working animal hospital where they help rehabilitate and release animals that can be released.  It isn’t huge.  That said, it was very cool to visit.

13731587_10207741999922776_2600484509752240932_nWhen we first got there we noticed the houseboat where Hazel lived in the movie.  

13782120_10207742000122781_8142116688568048979_nWhile we were waiting in line to buy our tickets there was a person walking around for us to feel and hold one of Winter’s prosthetic tails.  It was much heavily than I imagined it. 

At the aquarium they have Winter and Hope the dolphins, some sea turtles, cute little otters, pelican, rays, and a few miscellaneous others.  My advice is to get there when they first open because it does seem to get crowded.  I’m not sure if that is everyday or just because we were there during the summer.  Around the aquarium they had various different signs about scenes from the movie.  I even made Little Monkey reenact the Hazel crying scene.13782136_10207741999442764_170521002877627759_n

We watched the trainers working with Winter before Hope came to play and it looked like they were doing some massage.  Watching Winter swim with no tail was truly amazing.

13729042_10207742002242834_3895849082909010668_nHere is a video of Winter and Hope playing together.

About 1.5 miles away from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium they also have “Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure”, which has a lot of props and sets from the movie.  That was fun to visit too.  It is an indoor building not near the water.  We happen to plan the trip on a day when the actresses from the movie who played Hazel and Phoebe were there.  It was pretty cute.  Little Monkey was totally star struck.  It was like if I met George Clooney.  

13707542_10207741999202758_146097730864618353_nWe had a great time and if you have an animal lover or even just loved the movies it is definitely worth a visit to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.