Zoo: Disney Epcot
Location: Orlando, Florida
Description: A 2.5hr tour of the Caribbean Coral Reef saltwater tank, including behind the scenes of maintaining the tank, a photo opportunity in the tank, and 30 mins of snorkelling.
Children Friendly (6): Their website does state must be a minimum of 8 years of age, so they don’t even recommend it for anyone younger than that. I think for older children it is actually a really cool experience. You can be up close and personal with a lot of the animals and experience something you might not be able to elsewhere. It was a little weird to get used to the snorkelling equipment they use as an adult, so if you are planning on taking children be aware you may have to help them quite a bit.
Animal Viewing (10): Absolutely amazing. You are right in the tank which is huge! There’s a great variety of animals to see: sharks, rays, lots of fish, sea turtles, and dolphins are in the neighbouring section as well. Some animals will come pretty much right up to you, but even those that stay towards the bottom you get an awesome view of.
Animals Happiness (8): All species seemed completely unfazed by our presence. Seeing as we didn’t do any diving below the surface the animals determined how close to us they were. We were given directions before beginning by staff on how to best conduct yourself while in the water to benefit the animals. Some guests were more inconsiderate of these rules (attempting to touch animals, moving quickly/splashing), which in turn caused some animals to move away.
Photography (3): No photos or video was allowed to be taken during the behind the scenes portion. Part of the tour was done in areas where it was allowed. Seeing as you’re in a tank which is also on display allows friends/family to take pictures of you during the experience if you position yourself right. They do take a complimentary photo of you right before beginning the in water session once you’ve entered the water and suited up, ours turned out awesome but that’s the only photo they provide of the experience.
Price (5): Seeing as it is Disney the cost of this is quite steep. That being said they do give plenty of time in each stage to talk about different aspects of the whole aquarium and answer any questions you have. You don’t need to bring anything with you except for a bathing suit, they provide everything else.
Safety (8): I did feel completely safe throughout the experience. There was always staff on hand to assist and explain different aspects. Snorkelling gear they used also worked as buoyancy so even those who are not as good of swimmers can participate. That being said the actual breathing gear was a little weird to get used to at first – not that it was unsafe but for the first bit until your comfortable it may FEEL unsafe. Also, the fact that it is in a giant tank with a number of different species there is always a risk.
VIP Experience (10): Absolutely a 10 rating. You experience the aquarium in a much different way than seeing it from the outside. The animals are so much closer and it feels like you’re in a completely different place.
Overall (7.1): I loved this experience. Definitely one of the cooler things I’ve done. You can see everything so close and so clearly, and who knows if I’ll ever be able to experience that in the wild. It is a little pricey but it won’t be something you forget!