Sunday afternoon my family and I decided to visit a local aquarium. We decided on Clearwater Marine Aquarium since we've never been there. Its also the home of Winter the Dolphin from the Dolphin Tale movies.
First of all the admission was pricey $21.95 for adults. When we got there the place was very confusing to maneuver since they were under construction. We couldn't park in the main lot because they were very crowded , but at least out spot wasn't too far away. At the front entrance was the snack bar that led to the front door. This place is a lot smaller than I envisioned.
It was extremely hot, and only the bottom where the gift store is was air conditioned. On that level was a small animal hospital. When you head left you're met by a small tank with stingrays for petting. That was nice. A bit further and you see a medium sized tank with one sea turtle in it. I think they named her Mavis. Then in another medium sized tank you can see an underwater view of the Winter the dolphin. Then you head up the stairs to the second floor.
And there in the middle was a tank with Winter the Dolphin. I envisioned the tanks much larger and seats for many since this was the star! But no, the tank really wasn't all that big. It was circled by a gate, that unless you were one of the lucky few who had gotten a seat (there weren't that many!) you really couldn't see much of anything. There were two employees interacting with winter, but there microphones were so low you couldn't make out anything they were saying. And since it was so crowded, you really couldn't see what was going on either. I was very, very disappointed! I couldn't get one good picture of the dolphin. Also upstairs were a few very, very small rooms that they said were classrooms. a few otters in a tank by themselves, and the Pelican from the movie. Did I mention this place was so very small?
Outside they had another medium sized tank with stingrays that you could pet. If you look down from the platform you can see another place for underwater viewing. This one was for smaller sharks.
I was so very disappointed in this place. Knowing how adored the Dolphin Tale movies were they should be offering more activities or shows, especially for the price they were charging. They at least could have more seating and make it easier for all to see Winter since that's why people are here in the first place Besides . They did offer a free visit of their movie set. But you had to wait in the heat for the next trolley to take you since it was down the road from this facility. We didn't take them up on this offer, it was too hot.
So sorry Clearwater Marine Aquarium. I cant recommend you yo my readers. I've even overheard some of your patrons remarking that they would probably see more animals if they just went to the beach. If you want to go to an aquarium I recommend the Florida Aquarium in Tampa. You get your moneys worth there with loads of animals to see, and its air conditioned!