Gulf World Marine Park Panama City Beach
One of the original Florida coastal marine life facilities, Gulf World Marine Park is a great place for family fun and learning about marine conservation.
A Full Day of Family Fun
Along with dolphin shows, special events, and fish, reptile and tropical bird exhibits, the park offers enough activities for a full day’s adventure. Established in 1969, Gulf World is a fully licensed Marine Mammal Public Display Facility and a member of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. It is also the area coordinator for the Southeast Marine Mammal Stranding Network which aids marine mammals stranded in the wild. It is a long-term rehabilitation facility for dolphins and small whales and also provides temporary housing and care for injured sea turtles.
Located in Northwest Florida, Gulf World Marine Park is across the street from the gulf in the heart of Panama City Beach and is one of the area’s top tourist attractions. Along with the shows, exhibits at the park include a stingray petting pool, tropical gardens with lots of alligators, penguins, a shark pool, colorful tropical birds and reptiles.
The park offers several interactive programs as well as day camps for youngsters. Participants are advised to bring a swimsuit and towel for the Swim with Dolphins and Trainer for a Day programs. Day camps include lunch and snack, a tee-shirt and a souvenir photograph. Swim with Dolphins
Hear the underwater “speech” of dolphins, learn about marine conservation, be pulled around the pool on a dorsal fin and get a dolphin kiss or a dolphin handshake. This interactive dolphin program lets visitors get up close and personal with these intelligent and beautiful creatures. Programs sell out fast each day so reserve early by calling 850-234-5271. The price is $150 for a 75-90 minute program for ages 5 and up. Park admission is included.
Trainer for a Day
Dolphin Day Camp
You can follow trainers as they go about their daily routines with dolphins and sea lions and get a behind-the-scenes look at training sessions. You also can assist in food preparation and feeding, and you get to appear on stage in the show. Participants must be age 12 or older. The program costs $199 and lasts from 9 AM to 3 PM.
In this camp, you can spend a full day with the dolphins and participate in training sessions. Learn about bottlenose dolphins, rough-tooth dolphins, and marine conservation and make a fun arts and crafts project to take home. Camps cost $65 for ages 8 to 12 and run from 8:30 AM to 3 PM.
Other day camps for kids include Magic Camp (learn how magicians learn their magic and get to be on stage in a magic show), Reptile Camp, Avian Camp and Vet Camp (learn about the various roles and procedures of vets). All camps are for children ages 8 to 12, cost $65 and last from 8:30 AM to 3 PM.
Gulf World Marine Park Shows
Gulf World Marine Park offers the following shows scheduled throughout the day.
California Sea Lion Show
High Dive Team
Magic of Noah Wells
Underwater Scuba Show
Shark and Turtle Feeding
Exotic Bird Show
Gulf World Marine Park is open daily from March through November and for one week at Christmas. In summer, the best days to go are Saturday and Sunday when its less crowded. Tickets are $24 plus tax for Adults 12 and older and $15 plus tax for children 5 to 12. Children 4 and under are free. For more information call 850-234-5271.
Note: This article first appeared July 5, 2009 on Suite101.com.
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