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June 18, 2015

Meet stars of 'Dolphin Tale 2' at Clearwater Marine Aquarium in July

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If you or someone in your family loved the “Dolphin Tale” movies, next month might be the perfect time to visit Clearwater Marine Aquarium, where the film was shot and Winter and Hope, the dolphins, live.

The young stars of the movie -- Nathan Gamble (Sawyer), Cozi Zuehlsdorff (Hazel) and Austin Highsmith (Pheobe) -- are visiting the aquarium again, and fans can meet them. Zuehlsdorff will be at CMA July 19 through 22; Gamble, July 22 through 25; and Highsmith July 25 through 28. So, July 22 will be the only day when visitors can meet both Zuehlsdorff and Gamble, and July 25 pairs Gamble with Highsmith.

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The trio of actors has made several appearances at CMA during the last year to promote "Dolphin Tale 2," which was released in theaters in September 2014. My 10-year-old daughter was fortunate to be able to meet them during one such trip last summer, 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.

Last summer, the three actors joined Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO David Yates for a question-and-answer session with that we attended. You can view it here.

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.

Included in your ticket to Clearwater Marine Aquarium is transportation and admission to Winter's Dolphin Tale Adventure in downtown Clearwater. This location shows images, re-creations and actual props from the movie. For a complete explanation of what you can do at the two locations, see my previous post.

NOTE: Prices and operating hours were correct at the time of that blog’s publication, but they have since changed. Tickets can be purchased in advance online at seewinter.com at a discount or in person at the box office.



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December 13, 2014

Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to Winter the dolphin, offers special holiday events

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Although I focus on Orlando's unique family attractions, I've written about Clearwater Marine Aquarium and its most famous resident, Winter the dolphin, several times since I became a blogger for AllEars.Net. If you're a regular reader of my blog, you know this is in part because CMA is a place that my family and I enjoy spending time together. But a bigger motivation for me is that I know my daughter is far from alone in her love of Winter, and I want our readers to understand what they can gain from squeezing in a visit to Clearwater when they are in Orlando for a theme-park vacation.

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The release of the "Dolphin Tale 2" DVD this week has given me another opportunity to share with fans, new and seasoned, what is new in Winter's world this month.

First, the DVD. It, of course, contains the cinematic release, but "Dolphin Tale" fans will be pleased to find a slew of bonus features, as well. (You can read my review of the movie here.) Viewers can see what real-life rescue and rehabilitation work at CMA is like, and it's inspiring -- just like a visit a CMA, which is a working animal hospital. Those interested in movie-making will find fascinating the bonus short that reveals how underwater scenes in "Dolphin Tale 2" were filmed. In another segment, Bethany Hamilton, the professional surfer who lost an arm in a shark attack, is shown meeting Winter. As with other meetings between the famous dolphin and people with disabilities, it's touching to witness. Finally, there's a blooper roll. Fans of Winter and the film franchise clearly will enjoy this latest DVD release.

But if you find yourself in Florida during the weeks surrounding Christmas, CMA even has some special events that will take you beyond simply watching Winter's story on the screen. Holiday Mini-Camps are offered from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 21-23 or Dec. 29-31.

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The official description of the camps is as follows: "Join us as we learn all about our Florida marine life and their cold water cousins through fun-filled interactions with some of Clearwater Marine Aquarium's resident animals. Discover how blubber and fur work to keep animals warm, prepare treats to lift our rescued animals' holiday spirit and spend time out on the water, seeing animal adaptations in action. Tour behind-the-scenes areas, participate in a fish feeding session, play educational games and make crafts, as we compare animal adaptations here in Florida and in the coldest regions of the world. Have a Holly Jolly holiday full of fun at Clearwater Marine Aquarium!"

The three-day price is $199 for members and $240 for non-members. Single-day prices are $75 for members and $90 for non-members. There is a waitlist for the Dec. 29-31 combo session. You can register on the CMA website.

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As if that isn't enticing enough, two of the "Dolphin Tale 2" actors will be visiting the aquarium, and visitors will have the chance to meet them. Nathan Gamble, who plays Sawyer, will be at CMA Dec. 27-30, and Austin Highsmith, who plays Phoebe, will be there Dec. 20-22. My daughter was over the moon when she met both actors during a visit this past summer. 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.

During the summer, Gamble and Highsmith joined Cozi Zuehlsdorff, who played Hazel, for a question-and-answer session with Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO David Yates that we attended. You can view it here.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium is just a 90-minute drive from Orlando. Whether you're a local resident looking for a little different holiday experience for the family this year or an out-of-state visitor who has never been this close to Winter's home, the holiday mini-camps and the actors' visits are good excuses to take a road trip and experience one more mid-Florida attraction that makes this state so unique.



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September 18, 2014

'Dolphin Tale 2' surely will inspire more children to appreciate marine animals

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One of the joys of parenthood is being able to share your interests with your children. (It's not too difficult to persuade them to go to the Orlando theme parks with me!) But perhaps even more wonderful is being introduced to your children's passions and having the chance to learn from them and their interests.

Three years ago, my then-seven-year-old daughter and I saw "Dolphin Tale" at the movie theater. Like so many other children, she fell in love with its star, Winter, and dolphins in general. Before that film, I didn't have much more than an average knowledge of dolphins, though I certainly appreciated their gentle nature and beauty.

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Since then, we both have learned together about marine life as we visited Clearwater Marine Aquarium where Winter lives; became pass members at SeaWorld Orlando, where my daughter has participated in dolphin feedings, taken up-close tours and talked with trainers; spent a day at Discovery Cove where we swam with a dolphin; witnessed a rehabilitated manatee release at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge; and watched an endangered sea turtle make a nest and lay its eggs on a Brevard County beach under the watchful eyes of a state-licensed guide.

These experiences have been fascinating, fun and probably not something my husband or I would have explored had it not been for my daughter's passion. You see, she wants to be a marine biologist and a dolphin trainer. Fortunately, we live in Orlando -- and not Indiana, where I grew up! I'm not naive enough to believe that her interests might not change before she goes to college in eight years, but I am supportive of what inspires and motivates her now.

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The sequel to "Dolphin Tale" debuted in theaters over the weekend, and I'm certain it will move a new audience to become interested in dolphins, sea turtles, pelicans and other marine life. Although some aspects of the story have been changed for the big screen, of course, "Dolphin Tale 2" is based on a true story -- one of rescuing yet another young dolphin, named Hope. (Fun fact: Hope arrived at Clearwater Marine Aquarium on the day film crews wrapped shooting for the original film.) This family friendly movie does offer its audience some life lessons, though perhaps not as dramatic as the original movie. Ultimately, "Dolphin Tale 2" takes viewers on a journey to a feel-good ending.

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The young stars of the movie -- Nathan Gamble (Sawyer) and Cozi Zuehlsdorff (Hazel) -- have visited the aquarium to meet with fans and to promote "Dolphin Tale 2" in the months leading up to the sequel's release. My daughter was fortunate to be able to meet them and Austin Highsmith (Pheobe) over the summer. You can watch their question & answer session with Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO David Yates that we attended here. (Fun fact: Yates appears in "Dolphin Tale 2"; see if you can spot him.)

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"Dolphin Tale 2" also brings back veteran actors Harry Connick Jr. (Dr. Clay Haskett), Kris Kristofferson (Reed Haskett), Morgan Feeman (Dr. Cameron McCarthy) and Ashley Judd (Lorraine Nelson) to reprise their roles. One notable cameo is that of surfer Bethany Hamilton, whose arm was bitten off by a shark. Her appearance reminds us of the many children (and adults) who have been inspired by Winter. The bottlenose dolphin was nursed back to health after the loss of her fluke and was successfully fitted with the first prosthetic tail fin.

If, like my daughter, you just can't get enough of Winter and her friends, you, too, can visit Clearwater Marine Aquarium and see them for yourself. The facility 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.

Included in your ticket to Clearwater Marine Aquarium is transportation and admission to Winter's Dolphin Tale Adventure in downtown Clearwater. This location shows images, re-creations and actual props from the movie. For a bottlenose to fluke explanation of what you can do at the two locations, see my post from last year.



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About Dolphin Tale 2

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the Dolphin Tale 2 category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Winter the dolphin is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.