Marineland® Dolphin Adventure billed itself as “World’s First Oceanarium” when it opened in 1938 between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach in Florida. It began as a movie studio where Hollywood could come to satisfy its need for underwater action sequences. Later it became known for novelty acts performed by trained dolphins that in their heyday drew hundreds of thousands to its stadium seating every year. Today the first marine mammal park in Florida has an even larger oceanarium and far more mature purpose. Now operated by Georgia Aquarium, the former gimmicky theme park is solely dedicated instead to the study and preservation of the species it once presented as a circus act.
As a dolphin conservation and educational training center, Marineland Dolphin Adventure (as the former Marineland of Florida was renamed after changing owners in 2011) is no longer your average theme park. That era ended when the park had to be rebuilt after hurricanes Floyd and Irene. But that hasn’t diminished its capability to provide visitors with pure entertainment. This isn’t the place to come anymore if you want to see dolphins demonstrate their intelligence by jumping through hoops or performing other acrobatic stunts in exchange for treats. Instead, this the place to create a much more meaningful experience, one you’ll treasure. Visitors come to Marineland Dolphin Adventure to swim with dolphins—to join them in their natural habitat and form a personal bond with them.
Swimming with Dolphins
Although you are able to watch the dolphins swim and play in their massive tanks, the exciting part is that various programs like The Quest, The Immersion, and Discover Dolphins allow you to have a more personal, hands-on interaction with the dolphins. You are paired up with professional Marineland staff and educated on the proper techniques for swimming with the dolphins. Once completed, you put those skills to the test by exploring the water with the mammals.
Great for kids, the Dolphin Designs program allows participants to work hand-in-hand with a dolphin to paint on a canvas. Participants choose the colors and the dolphin does the painting. The result is a beautiful work of art that you can take home as a souvenir. Find out firsthand what it’s like to work with dolphins in the “Trainer-For-A-Day” program. You’ll hone news skills like preparing foods, feeding the animals and observing and tracking animal behaviors.
The park opened in 1938 as Marine Studios. It became immediately popular with producers of feature films and newsreels alike. If you’ve ever clicked over to a classic movie channel and caught “Creature from the Black Lagoon” or one of the 1940s Tarzan films starring Johnny Weissmuller, know that some shots were filmed at Marineland. The same is true of the old black-and-white, Lloyd Bridges TV series “Sea Hunt.” But from the time it opened, the park was equally popular among curious spectators, who came by the thousands to peer at sea life through the oceanarium’s portal windows. The commercial opportunities soon became apparent, and by the 1950s, the park was presenting dolphin performances.
But don’t get the wrong idea. The primary emphasis now may be preservation of the species, all along Marineland has been known for advancing methods for dolphin care. The first dolphin birth in human captivity took place at Marineland in 1947.
That’s the legacy Marineland Dolphin Adventure perpetuates today—and to which you contribute with your own gentle, staff-guided interaction with your new friends whenever you visit. Imagine this scenario: dolphins playfully swimming in front of you and the majestic Atlantic Ocean crashing waves behind you. The next time you vacation in St. Augustine, which is 18 miles to the north, or the Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach area slightly farther to the south, consider Marineland Dolphin Adventure for a truly unique water experience.