The SeaWorld Dolphin Interaction Program in San Diego, California is an amazing experience that truly has no words, pictures, or video to convey the feeling of what it is like to participate.
Swimming with the dolphins was my dream since I could remember and one I experienced once before at SeaWorld. My husband and two young boys watched in awe as I lived my dream. When that time was finished I saw my oldest child’s face and he wanted to experience it too.
The magic number in order to participate in the Dolphin Interaction Program is ten years of age. My husband and I secretly plotted to give our son the experience of a lifetime when he turned ten. I must have blinked because that sweet, little boy of mine grew into a tween and turned ten this summer.
He forgot about the age requirement from his request many years ago. We had not.
On his 10th birthday I took the photo of me at the Dolphin Interaction Program and placed his face over mine. Watching him unwrap the gift was priceless. He giggled. And giggled. Then giggled some more.
The Dolphin Interaction Program Experience
Reservations can be made online at SeaWorld’s website or in the park the day of your visit. Since the exclusive park experience is very limited in space, I highly recommend making reservations ahead of time.
Right next to Blue Horizons Stadium is the Dolphin Interaction Checkin area. After the waiver is signed and everyone checked in, the participants are escorted back to the locker room. Men and women are separate. Each locker is assigned with the participant’s name written at the top. Inside the locker is the SeaWorld wet suit, booties, and a place to put any valuables.
My husband was allowed to go in with our son to help him with his first wet suit. Even though this was my second time, the wet suit was not any easier. Luckily there is an attendant in the locker room for any assistance needed in sizing of the suit or booties. Once everyone is dressed and meets outside in the private area, the group is then escorted through the park to Dolphin Point, which is where dolphins can be fed from outside the pool area. Behind that pool is a separate area just for the program.
Participants are divided into two groups and the trainers ensure families stay together. Ramps give access to the pool with a zero entry method and I was thankful for the handrail as my eyes were just on the dolphins.
Family members are allowed to watch the program from a viewing platform and can take photographs and video of the entire session.
My son’s first experience in the pool was to have a dolphin take him across the pool. I was behind him and could not see his face, but my husband was able to capture the moment on video. Next was my turn and there are no words to describe what it is like to hold onto a dolphin and have them glide you through the water. The experience is quick, exhilarating, and will put a permanent smile on your face even if I had a less than graceful moment when momentum took over and a trainer rescued me from being on top of the dolphin. Yes, I left that part in the video.
After all members of our group experienced this then we began play time with the dolphin. The trainer provided excellent instructions and taught us some of the signals for the dolphin. Rewards of fish were one joy we were able to share and it was funny to see my son grab that fish and not even think twice about touching it since it was a treat for the dolphin.
Not everyone has the exact same encounter because the dolphins would get bored if they did the same thing over and over. My son was the lucky one to give the dolphin a high five, while I had the dolphin touch my hand high up in the air with a football in his mouth while others danced and played.
Dolphins love to have their picture taken. They even pose for the camera and we were given the choice of giving a hug or giving the dolphin a kiss. My son chose the hug. I chose the kiss.
We laughed and enjoyed being up close and personal with my favorite mammal while being soaked and loving every minute of it. Before we knew it the time was over and it was time to say goodbye to our new friend.
Back through the park and returning to the locker room meant it was time to wrestle out of the wet suit, enjoy a hot shower, and meet back up with my family to look at the photos taken by SeaWorld. I already knew from my first experience we were going to buy the disk of pictures to bring home. Several of the pictures shared here were taken by their photographers and the rest were taken by my husband.
My son was thrilled with his dolphin encounter and still talks about it as one of the greatest moments in his life. I think he will remember it for the rest of his life. I know I will.
Know before you go:
- Admission to the park is required in order to enjoy this experience.
- Dolphin Interaction Program has a limited number of slots available.
- Make a reservation online and early is highly recommended.
- Photographs are taken during the event and are available for purchase, but not required.
- You bring a bathing suit and SeaWorld supplies the rest.
- This experience is accessible. If you have special needs, contact SeaWorld by phone directly and they can discuss the situation with you. They were more than accommodating for my needs.
- Listening to instructions carefully is important so we didn’t fall off into the deep water.
- Allow about an hour and a half from check in time to picking up the CD of pictures.
- Here is a little secret you should know about. Kids are free in October and this year it included the Dolphin Interaction Program. When we purchased my ticket for this experience, my son was free. This was a tremendous amount of savings and I hope they continue to offer this in future years.
The SeaWorld Dolphin Interaction Program is a thrilling experience of a lifetime.
I am ready to go back again. Luckily I have a seven year old son who has the same birthday wish which means our entire family will enjoy the SeaWorld Dolphin Interaction Program experience together in a few years.
Our family received admission tickets to SeaWorld; however we purchased the Dolphin Interaction Program experience and the photography package. SeaWorld will always have a special place in my heart as were were annual pass holders for several years and also because my youngest son took his first steps at SeaWorld right after seeing Pets Rule.