Hi! Have you seen the movie Dolphin Tale?
This 2011 hit is the inspiring true story of a dolphin named Winter who washed up injured on a Florida beach and eventually lost her tail. She was rescued and fitted with a prosthetic tail by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and the technology that went into it helps human amputees today.
Our family visited the Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Clearwater, Florida. Here’s what you need to know to decide if a visit to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is right for you.
See Dolphin Tale before you go
If you haven’t seen the movie, it’ll be hard to fully appreciate the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure. References to the movie are
What you’ll see
At the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, you’ll find many typical aquarium exhibits such as a stingray touch pond, a small shark aquarium, and educational displays. The facility was expanding during our visit, so there are more exhibits now than when we were there.
Shows and presentations are offered throughout the day. When you hear “show,” don’t think SeaWorld. Presentations at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium are small-scale demonstrations, where most visitors stand around a small pool. On a crowded Saturday afternoon in June, our family had no problem getting a good view of the popular dolphin presentation by taking our places just 10 minutes before the show.
We saw Winter swim with and without her prosthetic tail and were interested to learn that she only wears it for a few hours each day. The other dolphins from the movie were part of the show too and trainers talked about dolphin rescue and rehabilitation while the dolphins performed.
Up-close photo ops, backstage tours, boat tours and animal encounters are also available for an additional cost. In the gift shop, my kids were dying to get their hands on the tail-free dolphin plush toys.
Ways to save
A few discounts are available for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
The best anytime deal available to everyone is CityPASS Tampa Bay. You can save up to 51% if you bundle your admission to Clearwater Marine Aquarium with other popular destinations like Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, The Florida Aquarium, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo and The Museum of Science and Industry/Chihuly Collection. Click the button to see this deal on the CityPASS website.
Active military personnel with ID get free admission for themselves and their guests. Retired military can purchase discounted tickets through MacDill Air Force Base. Visit the Aquarium’s ticket page at www.seewinter.com/visit/tickets to learn more.
Kids aged 2 and under get in free anytime!
You can save up to 25% when you bundle your general admission with one of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s add-on experiences like the Behind the Scenes Tour or Sea Life Safari Combo. Visit the Aquarium’s ticket page at www.seewinter.com/visit/tickets to learn more.
The Bottom Line
Our family enjoyed visiting the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and we recommend it. Families who love Dolphin Tale or love supporting a facility that rescues and rehabilitates marine animals will probably enjoy the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Keep in mind that the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a rescue hospital first and a tourist attraction second. With the support of visitors, the CMA is expanding both its exhibits and its rescue facilities.
Good to Know
Where: 249 Windward Passage, Clearwater. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is just a couple blocks from the causeway between Clearwater and Clearwater Beach.
When: Open every day from 9:00 a.m to 6:00 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
How Much: General admission is $22.95 for adults (Updated December 2017). Visit www.seewinter.com/visit/tickets for current pricing details.
How Long: 2-4 hours
Amenities: bathrooms, snack bar, gift shops, free parking
How else can we help?
Need a place to stay? We stayed at Frenchy’s Oasis Motel, which has a view of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. We loved the convenient location, full kitchens, moderate rates and retro vibe. Click the button to see rates and reviews for Frenchy’s Oasis Motel at TripAdvisor.
Still need to see Dolphin Tale or Dolphin Tale 2? Check prices for Dolphin Tale at Amazon.com.
Want to save money at Clearwater Marine Aquarium? Check out the Tampa Bay CityPASS. You’ll save up to 53% on admission to Clearwater Marine Aquarium, if you also visit Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, The Florida Aquarium, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo and The Museum of Science and Industry/Chihuly Collection.
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