Clearwater Marine Aquarium is celebrating the Rescue Anniversaries of its famous dolphins, Winter and Hope, this weekend and you can join the fun.
Today (Dec. 10), visitors will learn how the CMA team rescues marine life with a mock stranding presentation at noon. Plus, each guest will receive a free Winter poster with paid admission. On Sunday (Dec. 11), each guest will take home a free Hope poster.
Winter was rescued in 2005 from a crab trap rope entanglement. Her story of determination inspired the popular film, “Dolphin Tale.” Hope was rescued five years and one day after Winter. She was found near the site where Winter was found at a similar age – just a couple of months old. After her rehabilitation, she was paired with Winter, and they have become the best of friends. Hope’s rescue in 2010 and her friendship with Winter inspired “Dolphin Tale 2,” the second film to be based on true events at CMA.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Guests can meet the human stars of the “Dolphin Tale” movies later in December when Nathan Gamble (Sawyer) and Austin Highsmith (Pheobe) visit Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure, Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s second location in downtown Clearwater, on Dec. 27 through 30. Admission to Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure is included in the prices of admission to CMA and complimentary transportation is provided between the two sites.
The actors have made several appearances at CMA during the last few years to promote “Dolphin Tale” and "Dolphin Tale 2.” My then-10-year-old daughter was fortunate to be able to meet them during one such trip two years ago, and she was thrilled with the opportunity to talk with the stars of her all-time favorite movies.
If the meet-and-greets work the same way as ours did, the actors had a limited time to meet fans, so no autographs were permitted. However, you could take photos, and CMA had one of its photographers there, as well. You have the option to purchase those images afterward. The meet-and-greets were included in the price of admission.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is just a 90-minute drive from Orlando. It's not a planned tourist attraction, so don't expect elaborate displays, shows and rides. What you will find at the working hospital is amazing in its own right -- volunteers and staff working to save animals, and you can visit the creatures and talk with the trainers. Plus, if you've seen "Dolphin Tale" and "Dolphin Tale 2," it's fun to recognize and walk through the places featured in the movie.
Winter’s Dolphin Tale Adventure shows images, recreations and actual props from the movie. My daughter was excited to see some of Hazel's actual clothes from the movie as well as recreated scenes. Especially realistic is The Hurricane Experience, a walk-through attraction in which participants go into a replica of Sawyer's house and feel it move from the force of the storm.