Dolphins in Depth at Epcot - Disney World

Dolphins in Depth Review

Before my last trip to Florida, I put together a hub on where to swim with Dolphins in Florida. The experience I elected to do myself was the Dolphins in Depth tour at Epcot Center at Walt Disney World and so I thought I would share my experience so you can get an idea of what the tour is like if you're thinking about signing up for it yourself.

The Dolphins in Depth tour at Epcot is available on weekdays. Since there are other backstage opportunities involving the Epcot Aquarium, Dolphins in Depth is only done once a day, and starts around 9:30 a.m. It is highly recommended that you book your tour well in advance to avoid disappointment as only 8 people are allowed on each tour. Call Disney Tours (407) WDW-TOUR or (407) 939-8687 to schedule.

Currently the Dolphins in Depth tour costs around $170, but prices do change. If you are a Disney Vacation Club member, you get a 15% discount. You also get a discount if you are a WDW annual passholder and I would guess that they also offer a discounts to Disney credit card holders. So it is worth asking about potential discounts when you call them on the phone.

For the money you pay, you get the three hour tour, a t-shirt and your photo with one of the dolphins. I thought it was well worth the money for such an intimate experience.

Dolphin Swim in Orlando Photo by
Dolphin Swim in Orlando Photo by

Epcot Backstage

I arrived at Disney World during the first week of January, so I decided to schedule my dolphin encounter on Monday the following week.

On that day, I had to arrive at the Guest Relations booth just outside the main gate at Epcot at 9.30 a.m. Shortly after I arrived, a couple of Disney cast members came out and took myself and four other people behind stage at the Living Seas aquarium after having us sign paperwork absolving WDW of all responsibility for any mishaps. As the tour takes place "backstage" we also were not allowed to take any photographs at any time during the tour. So the only picture I have is the one of me and the dolphin.

Part of the three hour tour is 30 minutes or so in the water with the dolphins in waist deep water. This is naturally at the end of the tour and so I figured the 2.5 hours leading up to it would drag by, but actually it didn't. It was really interesting and now I would really like to go back and do the scuba tour that they do in the afternoons.

The Disney tour guides told us that when the Living Seas was first opened, the dolphins were in the main tank with all the other animals, but that shortly proved to be a big mistake. Because dolphins are bullies and like to spin sea turtles around until they look like spinning tops, and they like to use the Rays for games of frisbee and they really love annoying the sharks. So eventually WDW installed a barrier that keeps the dolphins out of the main tank, but lets brave and/or foolhardy fish travel into it if they are so inclined.

Me with one of Epcot's dolphins
Me with one of Epcot's dolphins

Meeting the Dolphins

After the educational tour, we got into our wetsuits (don't forget to bring your bathing suit with you) and went to meet the dolphins. The Disney cast members had fun parading us through the public areas of the Living Seas aquarium while we were all trussed up in wetsuits.

We had actually seen the dolphins earlier in the tour, but this time it was going to be up close and personal. Epcot has four dolphins, all male. During the meet and greet, we had two different dolphins to play with. My guess is that they trade off which dolphins take part each day so they don't get bored.

The trainer had us do different commands for various tricks that the dolpins can do. Most of the tricks for these close-up encounters tend to be of the type that get you splashed... a lot. I'm not sure who is more amused -- the trainers or the dolphins.

Then everyone got to have their picture taken individually with a dolphin in their arms.

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Comments 19 comments

Trsmd profile image

Trsmd 7 years ago from India

The Epcot Dolphin program is 3 hours for an additional $150.00. But there are other programs with different prices and different amounts of time.

WordWielder profile image

WordWielder 7 years ago from Austin

That sounds like a phenomenal amound of fun! Thanks for sharing an awesome, new adventurous idea for me to experience some day. Great hub! Feel free to read my hubs and join my club! Thanks.

maanju profile image

maanju 7 years ago from India

WOW wonderful hub

Debiana 6 years ago

Based on your blog, myself and my 21 yr old son, booked an encounter Oct 27th (our 25th visit to disney), I am SO looking forward to it. Thank you so much, for taking the time to write about your fantastic experience!!

Debiana 6 years ago

The Dolphins in Depth experience is now $200.00 a person

embitca profile image

embitca 6 years ago from Boston Author

Debiana, hope you have a great time. Thanks for the price update!

Lucy Morris 6 years ago

Do they give you any idea of where the dolphins came from? At least being all male they won't be bred. Obviously any dolphin in captivity and made to perform for you while Disney pockets your money is cruel and upsetting. I will be visiting in September and would like to learn more about how they are treated but would never take part in such a tour. They were spinning the turtles out of sheer boredom of being in captivity. They are too intelligent. I am never going to Sea World again and would hate to have to boycott EPCOT as well!!.

embitca profile image

embitca 6 years ago from Boston Author

Lucy, I don't remember where the dolphins came from.

There is nothing cruel or upsetting about the experience and the dolphins are not made to perform. If they choose to participate, that's great. But if they aren't in the mood, Disney does not force them. You are just plain out of luck.

Dolphins spin turtles and annoy other animals in the wild as well. In fact, dolphins in the wild have also been known to bully humans, such as surfers and swimmers. They are naturally aggressive animals and mischievous, much like humans.

If you are going to boycott EPCOT, you'll want to boycott all of the parks and resorts since it doesn't matter to Disney which park you visit. The money all goes to the same account, which makes boycotting only Epcot completely meaningless.

Marisa Wright profile image

Marisa Wright 6 years ago from Sydney

You can swim with the dolphins at Seaworld in Australia as well. You're right, embitca - no one can make dolphins perform if they don't want to! I have seen them playing around, ignoring the trainers and swimmers and there's nothing you can do about it.

I don't approve of anyone buying dolphins deliberately to keep them in captivity, but these days the dolphins in theme parks are often rescued, or bred in captivity many years ago and not able to be released.

Saskia 5 years ago

I'm going to Epcot this march break, and I've always wanted to swim with dolphins. However, do you think they could take a picture of you kissing the dolphin? I've always wanted one of those! Thanks :)

embitca profile image

embitca 5 years ago from Boston Author

Hi Saskia, they sort of position the dolphin in your arms. I think the photo op is designed to minimize any potential stress on the dolphin. My arms are holding him very lightly. I don't know that they would allow you to kiss him.

Carey 5 years ago

I would love to par-take in this encounter. However, do you know why Disney requires participants be 13+ to enter the water?

embitca profile image

embitca 5 years ago from Boston Author

Carey, I imagine it is for safety and liability reasons. Dolphins are very large mammals that can easily knock you over. Or drown you, if they wanted to.

Bill 5 years ago

Is park admission required to participate in the dolphin swim?

embitca profile image

embitca 5 years ago from Boston Author

HI Bill, no it isn't. The staff will meet you at Guest Relations and escort you back there afterwards so you won't need a theme park pass for that day if you just want to do the Dolphins experience.

Zendaya 5 years ago

Lucy Morris quit whining they treat the dolphins fine! So SHUTUP!!!!!! Thanks for all of the info great hub!!

SaraTimbs 5 years ago

Lucy, you obivously know nothing about dolphins or dolphin under human care, you might want to do some reseach before boycotting accredited facilites. And ALL the proceeds from the animal programs at EPCOT go to the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, so Disney pockets no money. Which is why it is so had to find information on this program, they get no marketing. I did the program and it is amazing, definelty a hidden treasure! Some of the cognitive reseach they do is ground breaking. And they don't have t-shirts anymore but little backpacks, which are cool. Thank you embitca for sharing your experience!!

jo-ann 4 years ago

I am going to Florida Orlandi Novemeber 6th to the disney century resort what to swim with the dolphins but at a ressonalbe rate is that possible

Amanda 4 years ago

Do you guys know how in advance you should book? I'm going in July at the end of this month and JUST stumbled across this! Wanted to do Discovery Cove but it was too expensive for our family and the amount of children who could participate in the actual swim! Darn it - I wish someone would have mentioned it earlier from our Disney reservations. :-(

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