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Experience a 30-minute dive adventure in The Living Seas aquarium.
Length of Program: 2 1/2 hours and is offered daily at 4:30 or 5:30pm.
Age Limit: 10 years or older. Proof of current SCUBA "open water" adult certification is required.
Cost: $150 per person (discounted to $120 per person with Disney VISA), Theme Park admission is not required. More Info/To Book: Call (407) WDW-TOUR.
Jimi Gooding - May 2002
Ron Rogers - October 2001
Leora DiGiacinto - September 2001
Chuck Toles - October 1999
Sheri Niklewski - September 17, 1999
Shawn Blaine - October 1998
Scott Liljenquist - December 1997
My new wife got me in to Divequest for my wedding gift. I've
logged well over 200 dives around the world in 12 years of certification,
and this dive was hands down, the absolute best dive I've ever been on.
I live in N.E. Florida, and I grew up on Disney, so this has always been
something I wanted to do, but things always got in the way.
We scheduled the dive for a Monday (May 13) at 5:30pm through the reservation system. We were told to meet outside the park on the benches next to Guest Relations at 5:15. We showed up at exactly 5:15, and the Divemasters were walking out as we were walking up to the benches, so make absolutely sure you arrive early.
The cost is $140, but they offer quite a few discounts, so if you're going to book this tour, make sure you ask about them. Our final cost was $120.
We were checked in, asked for our C-Cards, wetsuit and bootie sizes. They have up to XXL wetsuit sizes for us well fed divers. Disney provides all equipment, but you may bring your own mask for those who want or need to due to corrective lenses, etc. You will only need to bring your swimsuit if you don't have corrective lenses.
After checking in, one of the dive masters took off with our c-cards to make copies, and we were led backstage where we get to see the famous Disney dumpsters other reviewers have mentioned and the filtration system in the background. These things are GIGANTIC, the size of freight train cars, and there were probably a dozen or so of them. We did not get close: they were just kind of pointed out to us.
We entered a door, went up a few stairs, and through a door that put us on level 1 of Seabase Alpha. We walked across the floor to the door behind and to the left of the Diver Lockout chamber, and up another flight of stairs to a lounge-type room, where we were offered refreshments, signed a waiver, given back our c-cards, and watched a short video about the dive we're about to make (it's actually the first 10 minutes or so of the video you can buy for $35, but more on that later).
The waiver was the standard "You can't sue us if a shark bites your arm off" type waiver, but the interesting thing was that it mentioned that every creature in the exhibit was a protected animal, so you can't harass/chase/kill it.
We talked a little about the dive, and found out there's 4 eagle rays, 4 white tip reef sharks that are about 4 feet long or so, and one 6 foot Brown Caribbean shark named Marilyn for her beauty mark. We also talked about the 2 *GIANT* sea turtles they have, and where they like to hide. We were also reminded that we are "unofficial cast members" and we should act accordingly, and more importantly, that we were not to touch any of the animals--they may touch us, however.
Then, we were led to some locker rooms where we changed into the shorty wetsuits and booties they provided. They were in large bags with our names on them. The actual changing rooms were like large bathroom stalls with a changing area in the front and a shower in the back. We then re-assembled in the hallway and were led back out the door next to the diver lockout chamber, and down the observation hallway to the cylindrical area where they do the dolphin programs in the afternoons. There is a door there that leads to a spiral staircase and up to the top of the tank.
Once up the stairs, we met our photographer and yet another divemaster who would be taking us down. We were again reminded not to touch any of the animals, but told if we hide our hands when a ray gets close, they will become curious and will generally hang out longer. We were also told that there would be a 10-15 minute tour and filming session, and then we could do pretty much whatever we wanted. We put on our gear on the famous ledge, which is a 3-4 foot deep platform which made the gear really easy to put on, and after that, we were in the water!
First order of business was swimming through a coral formation and waving to the camera, next, we went through an arch by the restaurant and waved at the camera. Finally, we got to go into the Igloo, and take our masks and regulator off and wave at the camera and yell stuff. After that, we all went over to the shipwreck area and handled one of the cannon balls.
The divemaster paired us off, and we were set to do our own thing. I spent most of the time playing with the people on the observation deck, as my wife was there taking pictures. If you plan on having non-divers there, get the attention of the videographer, as (s)he will take a picture of you next to your family. One of the really magical/special things that happened on this dive was there was this little girl standing next to my wife and saw me blow a kiss to her. She went up and kissed the glass, so I took my regulator out and kissed her back. I thought it was pretty neat, and the little girl's mom got a real kick out of it.
The dive itself lasted approximately 40 minutes, and it was the quickest 40 minutes I've ever experienced. That's my only complaint, really--it was over *WAY* too quick because it was so much fun!
We went back to the locker rooms, showered, changed, and went back to the conference room, where we were shown the video they made for us, and had our dive logs signed. We were also given a tee shirt and a certificate, which was a really nice touch. After that, we were taken back to the exhibit floor, and turned loose to enjoy the park for the rest of the day and buy the video. If you are a diver, and you've been even remotely thinking about doing this tour..DO IT!
My wife and I enjoyed the DiveQuest on October 21. We both enjoyed the dive very much. I have been diving since 1982 and my wife since 89. There were about 6 other divers and all expressed their enjoyment as we were changing after the dive. It was great fun to be able to interact with nondivers in the observation areas and Coral Reef Restaurant. They also have a "new" jew fish that weighs about 600 pounds. I would recommend the dive to any certified diver visiting Epcot.
was an amazing, unique experience that I can't wait to have the
opportunity to do again. Any diver who just enjoys being in the water will
love this dive.
breeze through the beginning stuff and get to the good parts. We were
led backstage by 2 park employees, taken to a briefing room where we signed our rights to do anything away, then to a locker room where we changed into the shorty suit and booties we were supplied with, then through the 2nd level viewing area of the Living Seas (where any guest surely thought we were employees), and up to the top of the tank.
a little orientation from the top of the tank, we climbed in and stood
on a ledge, in waist high water, that was probably about 12 feet wide. Put
on the fins and mask/snorkel that was set out for us and slid into the
BC/reg that was also set out.
As the parks were relatively empty (OK, deserted!) the week we were there, we had the entire tank to ourselves! Just myself, my husband, the dive master, and our (Disney supplied) videographer! It was great! The four of us swam out to the descent line and down we went! (You don't have to hold the rope, just stay in the same vicinity.)
We were then led around the tank by the dive master, up through a couple of (man made) coral formations, through the "graveyard" area (where we were told that the cannon they have was unofficially borrowed from Pirates of the Caribbean!), over the ride tunnel, past the observation windows, into the dive bell where we could stand up and take our mask and reg out, and past the restaurant.
had told our guide that the rest of our family (my sister, her husband,
my brother-in-law and his wife, my mother-in-law and her sister) had priority
seating at the Coral Reef Restaurant, so we headed over there so the video
guy could take video of us inside the tank with our family outside. We
could see surprisingly clearly into the restaurant. They were sitting
on the 2nd level of the restaurant (it's in 3 tiers for anyone not familiar)
and we spotted them pretty easily--especially once they started waving
at us wildly. (I would recommend a table by the glass for anyone who plans
to have family eating there. It makes for much better and
easier pictures. And the restaurant is pretty good about sitting you there,
as long as you tell them when you make your reservation.)
we were done with the "photo shoot", we were set free to play
where ever we wanted. The fish in the tank are amazingly friendly, and
not at all afraid of people--they will swim right up to you as if you
are just another fish. The stingrays are insanely friendly--almost dog-like
behavior towards humans. A couple kept swimming right up to us and
"sniffing" us (if a stingray can look like it is "sniffing" anything!).
They ask that you do not touch the animals--but of course if one swims right up to you, it's fine. They just don't want you reaching out and scaring the fish. Also, if a fish is biting you (which none did) you are allowed to swat it away to stop it. Playing with stingrays is something I don't think you will find anywhere else. And what was even better than playing with the stingrays was playing with the people outside the tank!!! Seeing their reactions to seeing a diver lounging on top of the ride tunnel. Snapping pictures of you from the observation level. Waving. Pointing. It was also something that you won't find anywhere else.
This was definitely not the cheapest dive we've done, but I can't wait to be able to do it again. If you have your SCUBA certification, then go do this dive!!!
After the dive was over, we had time to shower and change and then back to the briefing room to watch our video. The only bad thing about the whole experience was the amount they wanted for the video, $35. Way overpriced, but when you have family who was there, and family whom you know would want to see it, you end up buying this overpriced video that you'll maybe watch twice. On the good side of the money-thing, we were told that *all* of the money we paid to do the dive (except for the charge for the video if you should decide to buy it) goes into the Disney Wildlife Fund. So at least it is going to a good cause.
So, one more time, this was the best thing we did during our trip to Disney, and every certified diver should try it!
After spending the better part of the day in Epcot with the family I proceeded to the main entrance Guest Relations at 4:15. While I was waiting I started talking with some of the other people who were there for the dive as well. Everybody was very excited especially the one who came back as the dive was closed the last time he was there (there was a problem with the filters after changing the gravel).
masters came out to get us at @4:30, checked our C cards and took the
sizes of the wetsuits and boots (they use body glove so they tend
to run on the small side), but don't despair as they go up to xxx-large
for us supertanker type divers.
After being escorted past the dumpsters and the filtration systems (the system is larger than the one used for the city of Orlando) we went upstairs to see a video and sign our legal rights away so Disney can not be blamed for anything. The locker rooms were the nicest I've seen, they include individual stalls with showers, body shampoo and hair shampoo for after the dive
All the divers met outside the lockers and were given instructions about behavior as we were now CAST MEMBERS and must act accordingly. While we paraded to the entrance of the tank there were a lot of guests who stopped to watch us open the door to the spiral staircase and proceed to the top of the aquarium.
When we first entered the tank area there was a very strong breeze and a distinct odor of fish. We were then shown the different segments, dolphin, manatee, and the coral reef, and then told that a NO SWIM area was up to the dolphin gates as they could sometimes play rough and try and bump you. There were no other NO SWIM zones.
All of our equipment was set up at the edge of the tank so we entered waist deep and put our gear on. All the equipment is Disney except you are allowed to bring your own mask. They even supply the MICKEY SPIT no fog. There are no second regs (octupuses) but the dive masters have buddy tanks.
There were two dive masters and one video diver who was also a dive master. We swam out to the descent line and extra weights were there in case (like me) you need a little extra to sink. The visibility was tremendous and the wildlife awesome. There was a giant turtle who swam with us then laid on the bottom so we were able to get within inches of him.
One important fact is you may not touch the sea life but I had a ray and one yellow fish that would brush up against me, I also had one of the Caribbean Reef Sharks dorsal fins almost graze my stomach as I was watching some other fish.
We were able to swim thru some coral and there is a big sphere with air pressure where you all get to go and remove your mask and reg., shout to the cameraman and then leave. The camera man was all over the place and tried to take your picture with family and friends that were watching you on the outside of the aquarium.
We all swam to the windows and entertained the guests especially the ones in the restaurant. The kids in the restaurant really liked to play along and the parents seem to get a kick out of it as well. We were down for 37 min. when the dive master signaled us to go up. I was surprised that it went so quickly and that I still had 1300lbs. left in my tank as they use 60 cu.ft. tanks.
We exited and returned to the locker rooms for showers and then went back upstairs to the classroom for much needed refreshments and our dive logs filled put. We all laughed with each other as we watched the tape of ourselves, received our t-shirts and exchanged good-byes. You are able to purchase the tape at a gift shop in the middle of the exhibit for $39.00, they don't take a discount for either American Express or Magic Kingdom Club but the proceeds for the dive and tape all go to benefit the preservation of the reefs. All in all this was the best $140.00 I've spent on diving and would recommend it to any diver.
I had a very unique opportunity to surprise my father with a 70th birthday present of a Dive Quest experience . My stepmother also went along. This is extracted from a trip report but I thought it would be nice for family members to see what their experience would be like. Usually, there is just one diver in the family so they don't do Dive Quest because they think it wouldn't involve everyone. Not so.
Participants: Non-divers - Me - Sheri (37), the planner and an accountant at an insurance firm, Disney fanatic - Rich (39), my wonderful husband and a configuration manager with a software developer, avid collector
Divers - my Dad, Bob, (turning 70 the week before the trip), a master scuba diver - my stepmother, Betty (younger than my Dad but I'm not willing to ask her!), also a master scuba diver and someone who keeps my Dad happy
Both my Dad and Betty are master scuba divers. They have their own scuba business in the Florida Keys (if you're interested in a tour, let me know). So the Dive Quest is a definite. This is a program where the participants actually get to dive in The Living Seas. I searched the RADP newsgroup for any information on the Dive Quest and there wasn't a single negative comment on it. In fact, the reactions were so enthusiastic that I knew I needed to book my Dad on it as soon as possible. The cost is $140/person so that will be my birthday present to him.
I emailed Betty with all the information I gathered and she willingly agreed to go along so she can be my dad's dive buddy. See what I mean about her making him happy? This will be a surprise present for my Dad and I'm hoping that the beans don't get spilled beforehand. I called and scheduled it for the Friday we're there. It starts at 4:15 at Guest Relations at Epcot so I'll have to invent an excuse for being there at that exact time. I'm going with a plan where I tell my Dad that we have a priority seating for a 4:30 dinner at Morocco but I have to re-confirm that with Guest Relations beforehand. I will include my Dad's reactions to the experience in case there are any other divers out there that want to do this unusual tour.
I was surprised to receive two Disney reservations in the mail for the Dive Quest. I thought this would be similar to Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue where you don't get any physical confirmation. But I got two separate paper reservations for the Dive Quest. I'll have to remember to take those reservations along with me.
Actual - Friday, September 17, 1999
We had spent the morning and early afternoon at Magic Kingdom. Then, we hopped on the monorail for the trip to Epcot. We arrived around 2:30 and had a nice break at the Fountainview Bakery and then did Ice Station Cool until it was closer to check in time. My dad still had no clue what was going on. I had told him that there was a problem with our Morocco priority seating so I had to check with Guest Relations at 4:15 (I actually had made the reservation for 7:30 after the dive).
We just had about a half hour so we walked towards the front again. Guest Relations is outside Epcot so we had to go back out. Right at the restrooms at Spaceship Earth I asked Rich where my video bag was. I am an avid videotaper and, of course, I had to tape Dive Quest. The bag is kind of heavy for me so Rich usually takes it from me. Well, he put it down on the floor at the Fountainview Bakery and forgot to pick it up. Panic. It's an expensive video camera. Plus I had my expensive still camera in there. Also, the car keys, my Annual Passport, my wallet with ID and money and credit cards. Basically, everything I owned for this vacation. Rich literally ran back to the bakery and it was still in the same place. Panic mode off. We slowly walked back to the restrooms since Dad and Betty had stayed there. With our little scare and Rich's use of the restroom, we got to Guest Relations at 4:00.
Dad complained about having to go back out of the park and wanted to wait inside. I said no because if something went wrong with the reservation, we'd all have to talk about what we wanted to do. Dad is not Disney savvy so he just went along with it. It really helped having Betty in on the secret. I went up to Guest Relations and had a little bit of a wait. [Hurricane Floyd had done the impossible a few days earlier - it closed Disney so a lot of guests were affected]. When it was my turn, I was told to sit on the benches over to the right and some one would come from backstage around 4:15 to check Dad and Betty in. The others had gone into the store nearby. They came out and my dad asked if I got everything straightened out. I said no, we need to sit down over here and talk about what we wanted to do.
I am terrible at keeping secrets, especially one this big. I had been shaking the whole day in anticipation. The big moment was here. I said "Dad, we're not going to be able to eat until 7:30". He gave me a look that said, what is the screw up here. Then I said, "The reason we're not going to be able to eat until then is because you're going diving". He said, "What, where?" I said "The Living Seas". He said "I don't have anything". I said "Yes, you do. Your bathing suit is in the bag". Betty had given me both bathing suits that morning when Dad was in the shower. He sat on the bench with a look of disbelief on his face. What a moment! I said "Betty's going too". Hugs all around. I'm sure people thought we were insane. It's hard to get my dad speechless but I did it.
I calmed down after that and explained the whole thing. He couldn't believe it. After a while, the other divers joined us and one of them struck up a conversation with Dad. They geeked about diving while we waited. After a while, two instructors came out. They took roll call and collected the C cards (certification cards). I knew they checked credentials very closely. One of the instructors took Rich, myself, and the wife of the guy who talked with my Dad, over to the side and told us how we could watch and where to meet the divers after. We were to be at The Living Seas observation area at 5:15. We could watch the whole dive. At one point, they would have the divers go up to the glass and we were to be in the background and they would videotape the diver with his/her family behind them. After the dive, we were to meet them at the gift shop (how appropriate) between 6:30 and 7:00. I really liked that the families were involved if they wanted to be.
We said goodbye for the time to Dad and Betty and set off to cool down. It was very humid which would continue for a while. We headed to Mexico for a standard - a margarita. We got the large one and it took me all the way to 5:15 to finish mine. Even with the humidity, it was still frozen. We got to The Living Seas right at 5:15 and were able to skirt around the movie after talking with the Cast Member out front. I don't know how the people inside knew we were with Dive Quest but we were taken immediately past the movie. It looked like we were going to have to ride the cars after but a Cast Member had the door open taking in a wheelchair so I asked if we could just slip through. He let us.
We rushed up to the observation area and saw Wife there. I hate to call her Wife but I didn't get her name. She said she had asked exactly where to be. The point where the divers go into the tank is exactly in the middle of the top observation deck. They were going to drop a rope for the divers to descend. We didn't see a rope but we waited a little longer and all of a sudden there were 10 divers in the water! What a rush! And I'm talking a closed throat, I'm gonna cry rush.
There were seven divers doing Dive Quest plus an instructor and the video camera operator. The last diver was a safety diver who just made sure no one went off by themselves or did something they weren't supposed to do. It was fascinating to see the divers in action. How often do you get to see something like that? The reactions of the people in the observation deck were interesting. I filmed a ton. The divers descended and then moved over to the right to go through some coral (it's fake and Betty said it was really hard for her to touch it because real coral shouldn't be touched). Wife, Rich, and I moved over and the hardest part was trying to get through the people at the glass so we could tape the divers. At this point, they had each diver with family members go up to the glass for the videotape. Wife went up first and they had her right at the glass, kneeling down. Her husband came right up and they got a great shot of the two of them. Then Dad and Betty came up and Rich and I knelt. The people around us were just oohing and aahing.
My Dad gave me a thumbs up and made like he was shaking my hand. I knew that he was having the time of his life. We were told about this filming beforehand and were prepared. I found it amazing how well the divers can communicate underwater with no verbals. It's all hand signals but it was easy to understand what we were supposed to do. Also, everything the divers are doing seemed to be in slow motion. My adrenaline was pumped so I had to make myself slow down.
Then the divers went off with the instructors around the tank. They had a set route. They went down to the lower observation level and then over to the restaurant. My dad later said the reactions of the diners were great. Especially the little kids. After 20 minutes of controlled diving, the divers went off with their buddies on their own. We had a great time following them. We had met all of them beforehand so it was interesting to see them on the other side. The husband came up to the glass, took off his regulator, and blew Wife a kiss. More oohs and aahs from the guests. We followed Dad and Betty around for a while and then we lost them towards the back of the tank.
We answered a few questions from people once they realized we knew the people in the tank. Yes, you have to be certified. Yes, it does cost money (the proceeds are used for research so my $280 can be written off on the taxes). No, it's not part of the Disney Institute. I ran around the tank taping as much as I could. Two young guys were diving and they came up to the glass, took out their regulators, and hammed it up for everyone's camera. After 20 minutes of free dive, it was time to go back up. I think I had just as much fun as my dad and Betty did. There were some very large sea turtles in the tank and the videotape guy got a great shot of Dad and Betty behind one of them. In fact, the turtle was so still that many people asked if it was real or fake. It was real and we saw it swimming around.
We didn't want to have to try and get back into The Living Seas so we wandered around for a while. We were able to hear the manatee presentation which we had never heard before. Then we did Sea Base Alpha challenge and, of course, we didn't do very well. We were across from the gift shop at 6:30 and met up with Wife again. We had a long wait. The divers didn't come down until after 7:00. If you do have a family member diving, it might be a better idea to set up a meeting place afterwards outside of The Living Seas. We kind of felt a little trapped since we didn't want to exit and try and get back in without seeing the movie, etc. Normally, I would have done this but my dad and stepmother are not Disney educated and there was an extreme possibility of them getting lost. I would suggest meeting somewhere at 7:15 since you are assured the dive will be completed by that time. It was well over an hour after the divers went up and we were able to meet them.
Dad and Betty bought the video (I think $30). They got free T-shirts and a certificate. Both were really happy with the dive. They said that where they do most of their diving, the fish are used to the divers. The fish in this tank just didn't move out of the way! It's their tank, after all. They said they had never seen so many fish in such a space. My dad couldn't get a stingray out of his way. What a nice experience and just one of the many things Disney does well.
I asked Betty for her contributions to this report and here's what she had to say - "From the inside of the tank at Dive Quest, it was well run and efficient - but of course that is what you would expect from Disney. The fish were much friendlier than on a real reef, the variety of life was excellent, the reef itself looked very real, I had a hard time telling the difference. Wonderful experience, your dad is showing the video to everyone."
My Dad and Betty are certified instructors and do very well with their business. And they just loved the Dive Quest. So I guess the verdict is that if you are a diver, you should do this. The dives are limited to eight divers and they dive twice a day - once at 4:30 and once at 5:30. So it's not something that a lot of people get to do. I'm so glad I did this for Dad and Betty. If you want to see the divers, try and be at The Living Seas around 5:30-6:30. The first group tries to go down around 5:15 and the second group around 6:15. It's not a perfectly timed dive but it's very interesting to see the divers in action. Also, the divers can see you quite well. Wave to them and they will wave back if they see you. They are having just as much fun as you are.
And I found that once my dad and Betty saw us in the observation area, they realized that we were there and following them. They were well aware of where we were on the other side of the glass. We could see them very well and I was surprised at how many times my dad waved to me or gave me hand signals. It made me feel like I was part of the dive as well. So if you were there on that day and saw a 37 year old woman behaving like a 10 year old child, well, that was me.
I hope this helps anyone trying to decide to do Dive Quest or not. Your family will be included as much as you want them to be. This was a highlight of my trip, not just because of the surprise, but because I really enjoyed seeing the divers. It's a once in a lifetime experience for everyone.
I did the Dive Quest at Epcot Living Seas on Wednesday 21 Oct 98. They had shut down the program for awhile because of work that was being done in the tank. Replacing the gravel filters caused the water to cloud. For my $140 this is how it went.........
We met at Guest Relations outside the front entrance. Talking with my fellow divers, I found out one of them lived a mere couple hundred yards from me at home. Astronomical! "It's a small world after all" !
Finally the representatives came out to meet us. Man and a woman. Very friendly and relaxing types. Joking around. They took everybody's C-card's for verification. I believe they actually contact your agency to confirm your certification. They took the cards into the office for quite awhile. They also get everyone's sizes for suits and boots.
Finally time to go in. Backstage, Cast Members Only, No Photographs or Video. We saw Disney dumpsters ! We entered the Living Seas from a back door. Up into the exhibit Sea Base Alpha. And into a conference room. We signed our lives away to Disney forever. Saw a short movie about the oceans and then the tank. Into a locker room we changed into our shorty suits. Back out into the public exhibit area, we walked into the center of the tank display and went up a spiral stair case to the top of the tank.
They told us this tank was the 6th largest salt water ocean in the world. I thought there was seven seas. I will have to look that info up. We met our Divemaster, two Safety Divers and Video Diver. A Disney staff of 4 for our 7 divers. Short safety speech. Our gear was all lined up for us. We all got it rigged up and into the water ! They reminded us that we will be part of a Disney attraction. Please behave properly etc
We followed the Divemaster for awhile around the tank. Up through some fake coral while the videotape each person. Then we posed at the glass windows with our respective family behind us. My wife just kept waving at me. You can see the people in the Living Seas and the Coral Reef restaurant. At the briefing they told us if we lay down at a certain spot in the tank the sharks may come close. The staff kind of steered the sharks toward us. As I lay there a 7 ft brown shark passed right in front of my face. I would say less the 2 feet from me. I have dove with bigger sharks in the wild but it was still exciting. They told us most of the fish are hand fed so keep our fist closed so the rays will not clamp down on our fingers. I did get bit twice by some small yellow fish in the arm. Did not hurt, just surprised me. I had never been bit in the Bahama's. The tank holds a collection of rays, sharks, sea turtles and fish from the Keys and the Bahama's. I had seen it all before but living in the Northeast I do not see this everyday. We paired up with our buddies and were free to explore the tank. The dive lasted 40 minutes.
Back down the spiral stair case and back thru the exhibit area to the locker rooms and a hot shower. Back to the conference room for refreshment sodas and free Dive Quest T-shirts and certificates. Dive log papers. They edited the video very quickly and we got to watch it. You could buy it for $37.10 . Not for me !
I would do it again because I do not get to dive with 200 ft vis and water temps in the mid 70's. Not to mention the critters. It was $140 worth of fun.
Shawn is happy to answer your questions, you can email him at email@example.com
After surfing Deb's wonderful page and happening upon the description of DiveQuest, my wife and I decided to give it a try. It sounded like a lot of fun, and being land-locked Utahns we don't get a chance to dive that much anyway.
We were scheduled for the 4:30 p.m. dive on Dec 10 (they do two sessions daily, 4:30 and 5:30), and I'll have to admit to being a little nervous beforehand. I hadn't been diving in several years, and now I was about to refresh my memory and skills in front of hundreds of observers.
We arrived at the Guest Relations booth outside the main entrance of Epcot about 4:15 p.m. Dive Quest does not require admission to the park. We were met there by the 7 other guests who would be in our group, and then shortly thereafter by our guide. She asked us right then for our dive cards. I had mine with me, but my wife's had been lost when her day planner was stolen several months earlier. We had called beforehand and were told that the Dive Quest CMs could access most dive certifications through their computer. My wife was certified through PADI, and they accessed and verified her certification even before we got to the classroom. Our guide also collected our wetsuit and bootie sizes, as well as t-shirt sizes.
With that out of the way, we were led through a gate just to the right of the Guest Relations booth and into the parking lot backstage. Even though it was obvious where we were going, I thought it interesting that our guide made it very clear that we were going backstage. As we walked to the rear of the Living Seas aquarium, she pointed out some of the stats about the tank. It is the world's sixth-largest ocean at 6.2 million gallons. The filtration system turns over the water in the tank every 2.5 hours, which works out to a rate of 35,000 gallons per minute (which is obvious when you're in the tank, but more on that later). We entered through a rear door and walked through a maze of hallways to a small elevator that took us to the classroom.
Once in the classroom, we had to sign the obligatory waivers stating that we would forever hold anyone even remotely connected with Disney blameless for anything that would ever happen to us for the rest of our lives. No, I'm kidding, but it is a very comprehensive waiver. Then we were shown a video about the dive that gave us a little insight on what to expect.
We were given a chance to ask questions and then given just two rules: don't touch any of the living creatures in the tank, and have a good time. The reason for rule #1 as it was explained to us is to prevent infection and the spreading of disease among the animals in the tank. The reason for rule #2 is that apparently some folks who do this dive get so uptight and concerned about messing up or looking dumb in front of all the spectators that they don't have any fun. There were also a couple pieces of " coral " there for us to examine. All of the coral and other formations in the tank are man-made of fiberglass and plastic, which is nice because you can't hurt it like you can real coral. Real coral won't grow in the tank because of the artificial lighting (the entire tank is covered by a roof).
We were then sent to the locker rooms to change and get ready. The locker rooms are very nice, and you're given your own locker for your personal stuff. There are individual changing stalls connected to a shower. We donned our wetsuits and booties, which were ready for us in the locker room when we arrived, and then proceeded to the waiting area. Once the group was together, we were led out into Sea Base Alpha by our guide. Not being the most svelte in stature, I was somewhat embarrassed to parade right through the middle of the crowd in my wetsuit, but it was also a lot of fun to be in diver's garb and see all the stares we collected.
Our guide stopped by one of the upstairs observation windows to point out the steel bars separating the dolphins from the rest of the larger animals. She explained that the reason for this isn't because the sharks eat the dolphins, it's because the dolphins like to play with the other animals just as they would in the ocean. They buzz the big grouper and "swirl" the rays and pester the sea turtles. The separation is to keep the dolphins from "playing" the other animals to death. We were then led to a hidden stairway in the middle of the big, round observation room. This stairway spirals straight up to the top of the tank.
The tank looks much more impressive from above than it does from Sea Base Alpha . It's huge. We were standing on a large platform at the middle of the tank, and our fins, masks, BCs, and tanks were all set out and waiting for us. We met our divemaster and our safety divers and sat for a few more minutes of instruction. We were told that the area between the "igloo" (the small, white airlock sphere) and the dolphin cage was the no-swim zone. We'd be taken through there on our guided portion of the dive, but during the free swim we were not to go there. Apparently a couple of the sharks and some of the more timid rays don't like the mass of divers and get agitated. So the no-swim zone was instituted, and the animals that don't like the divers know to go there to be left alone. We were also told that most of the fish and animals are very used to divers, and some of them are even hand-fed, so they'd probably be very friendly, forward, and even aggressive with us.
Into the water! The water was much colder than I expected, and it took a while to get used to it. After we'd all gotten properly weighted and descended to the bottom (it's 27 feet deep, which is the 30 foot depth of the tank minus the three feet of gravel that's on the floor) we began the guided part of the dive. We swam past the dolphin tank , and there was a female dolphin right at the bars to greet us. She waited and watched as we all swam past.
Next we went to the igloo, which is really a big clear plastic ball with a hole at the bottom that's filled with compressed air. The air inside is pressurized to keep the water out. We each got a turn to swim under the ball, stand up through the hole to the inside where it's dry, take off our mask and regulator, and SCREAM something to the underwater video camera being held outside the igloo by one of the safety divers. These screams were pretty clearly understandable on the video we watched later.
After the igloo we swam past the tunnel where guests enter Sea Base Alpha in the Omni-movers. We waved to those people riding by, and then continued swimming to the windows that look into the Coral Reef restaurant. Our guide told us to ham it up for the diners, which we did, and it was great fun seeing how many people took pictures and waved and seemed genuinely excited to interact with us. I was beginning to feel more and more like a CM, which only enhanced my feeling of comfort and my willingness to have a good time with the people on the other side of the glass.
We then swam to a large, round, vertical coral formation that's hollow in the middle. We each got a chance to swim in the hole in the bottom, and then float up through the formation to an exit near the top. The camera diver was there to film our exit from the formation, which was fun to see later on the video.
Next we all gathered on top of the tunnel for a group photo, and were then sent out with our buddies to free swim. This was, of course, my favorite part of the dive. We swam to the observation windows that look out from Sea Base Alpha and waved to the spectators. Those divers with family or friends inside Sea Base Alpha were given the opportunity to have the camera diver take a video that showed the diver in the water and the family/friends through the glass so they appear together. Very cool. Our divemaster was right, most of the fish are very friendly and completely unafraid of divers. During the free swim I came into close contact with (but didn't touch) two of the three sharks, the 600-pound grouper named Oscar, the male sea turtle, and scores of smaller fish too numerous to mention. If we were still, all sorts of animals would approach and swim very close to us, some even right up to my mask. I noticed that it was very difficult to remain still in the tank as there seemed to be quite a heavy current. After hearing about the filtration system moving such a large amount of water every minute I understood why.
Near the end of the free swim my wife and I were standing on the tunnel when one of the spotted rays approached us. He seemed very forward and friendly, and we later learned that the rays are hand-fed by divers which is why they're so fearless. We stood very still and he proceeded to wrap himself around my wife's head and shoulders, not touching her, but within about a half-inch or so. He then did the same thing to me. This was very, very, very cool for me, as I think that rays are among the neatest animals on earth. This was by far the high point of the dive for me.
Shortly after that happened I looked at my tank gauge and found to my dismay that I was just shy of 500 psi. We were instructed to see the divemaster when we reached 500 psi so I swam over, showed her my gauge, and was motioned to ascend. I was the first one up, but the rest of the group followed shortly. I later learned that we had been down for 40 minutes.
After getting out of the tank, taking off our gear, and drying off, we were led back to the locker room, this time through interior CM hallways. We showered and changed using the provided soap, shampoo, towels, hair dryers, etc. (In fact, everything we needed for the whole experience was provided. The only thing we had to bring was our dive certificate and a swimsuit.) Everyone met again in the classroom where we were given snacks and soft drinks and shown the video that was just shot of us in the tank. Our dive logs were signed and stamped with the Dive Quest logo , and we received our Dive Quest T-shirts . After that we were free to go, hang around and ask questions, or go back inside Sea Base Alpha .
My wife and I did choose to purchase the video, which is expensive ($35.00) and is sold at the gift shop in Sea Base Alpha. When we were ready to go we were let out into the park, and told that we could spend the rest of the evening inside Epcot without having to purchase admission to the park.
Looking back now, there's probably only one thing I would have done differently, and that would be to have more fun. Those who really hammed it up for the video were a lot more fun to watch later than those of us who didn't. Those who made it a point to interact with the guests on the other side of the glass seemed to have more fun that those of us who didn't.
I can't wait to go back. I would very, very highly recommend this tour. It was the high point of my trip, and I still catch my wife grinning about it from time to time. When I signed up for Dive Quest I was somewhat worried about paying that much money just to dive in a big aquarium, and even worried that the experience would be cheesey and dumb. Boy, was I wrong, wrong, wrong. Although Dive Quest is a bit pricey at $140 per person, it's well worth every penny. We've been diving a few other places in the world, but for sheer variety of wildlife, and the proximity and number of the animals, the fun of the spectators, and the friendliness of the diving staff, it just can't be beat.
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Disney's Hollywood Studios