Lemon Shark in Bora Bora

Lemon Shark in Bora Bora

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Disney DiveQuest- Epcot Center Orlando Fla.



Disney Dive Quest I have to say that of all my dives this one has to be one of the most memorable.  It is really a beginner dive but I recommend it to any level diver.

  It is at Disney’s Epcot centre in Orlando Florida.  The cost is $175 but if you go online you can usually find a coupon that you can save around $25 but it is well worth the money.  Disney has created one of the largest salt water aquariums in the world at just under 6 million gallons. 


 You do not need to purchase a park pass for the day as they meet you outside the front gates at guest services.  The whole experience lasts about 3 hours and about 45 minutes of that is actually in the water. They supply all needed gear the only thing you bring is a swim suit.  If you have a mask with corrective lenses you can bring that along and they sterilize it prior to the dive.  I have way above average sized feet, Size 18 seriously stop laughing.  So I was allowed to bring my own boots.  They cleaned those for me and boy I tell you they never smelled better.  

First they take you on a behind the scenes tour of the aquarium.  You get to see the filtration system, the veterinary dept and where the food is prepared for the approx 6,000 inhabitants of the facility.  It is most likely the cleanest kitchen I have ever scene, I would guess it to be more hygienic than any of the restaurants in the whole park.



  The aquarium houses several white tip reef sharks and a brown Caribbean shark.  We were told that when it comes to feeding the sharks they are fed more than 4 times what they would eat in the wild so they don’t even bother with the other fish in the tank.  They are fed in the dark with a pole and they will not feed them if there is even cleaning staff in the viewing area.  This is done so that the shark will never associate humans with food.  I think this a great idea and shows that conservation is a big part of the program.  I have been on shark feeding dives in the past and I understand it is a big tourism draw but I personally do not believe in the practice. 

 After the tour we are brought into a conference room and there we signed the standard waivers and showed our c-cards.  They give a pretty thorough brief of the dive and instruct us that we are not to touch any of the inhabitants and we are introduced to the dive team.  It is really a very well run setup.  From there we go to the change rooms and get ready for the dive.  I guess while we are in the conference room they are somehow laser measuring each of the divers because when we are escorted to the deck all of our gear is set up waiting for us and they have everyone sized and sorted before we are even there.  I love dives like that. 

Once we are geared up we are sent out to a buoy in the middle of the tank and told to wait for the group.  We all descend together and regardless of your level the dive masters check out your skills before they pair you up and send you on your way to dive your own dive.  There are some neat coral formations manmade of course but pretty realistic, minus the all too frequent bleaching we see nowadays.  There are some Eagle Rays, Giant Turtles, Jew fish groupers, and so many other varieties of fish that it would take forever to start listing. 


Around the outside of the aquarium is the public viewing area so you can interact with the guests and your family can witness your underwater prowess.  Also there are some restaurants at the lower levels so you can harass the diners during your dive. 

There is a small dive bell with an acrylic dome that you can stand in and remove your mask and have a good photo op, the video is sold at the end of the dive.  They explain during the briefing that the sharks swim in a pattern so if you want to get up close and personal watch them as they swim by a rock or coral formation and then settle in and wait for them to return and they will go right over top of you.  What they did not tell me was that pattern was not a big circle but actually a figure 8 pattern so when I say the big brown Caribbean swim over a rock I settled in and waited for him to come back.  Just as I was thinking he was gone and I was wasting valuable bottom time the shark reappeared from behind me just over my head.  As an almost exclusive fresh water diver with very little salt water, and no shark experience at that time I did my best to remember the part of the tour that said how well fed these sharks were and that helped me through an otherwise stressful moment of my dive. 

 One notable incident during my dive was as I was waiting for my turn in the dive bell I felt a tugging on my left shoulder.  The dive buddy I was assigned had already felt the need to tug my fin, poke me, and tap my mask to point out every fish that swam within 20 feet of us so I assumed it was him again and ignored him.  Then the tugging became more of a pinch and when I turned around I saw that it was in fact a giant turtle and I was standing directly in front of a feeding tube fixed to the wall.  That gave me a bit of a scare but really it was not painful. 

 I finished the dive and surfaced, I was smiling so much I risked drowning from the water that was pouring in my mouth from around my regulator, what a dive.  I was not the only one who enjoyed the dive.  There were 6-7 other divers with me and they were all talking at the same time.  Did you see the, and the, how about that…. It was obvious that the dive was a hit with everyone. 

We shed our gear went and changed and returned to the conference room where we viewed the DVD of our dive and debriefed.  The Dive master asked us what we thought and everyone raved about the whole experience.  I mentioned my near death experience with the turtle and I was told I should go to guest services to tell them.  I shrugged of the suggestion and said it was really nothing it did not hurt.  The dive master said no really go to Guest services “everyone leaves Disney happy” 

 So after I purchased my DVD I did head to guest services and told them I got bit by a killer turtle.  They seemed genuinely concerned for my wellbeing and asked if I was ok.  I assured them that I was ok and I would not be suffering any long term damage from the incident.  They then asked me how many members I had in my family; I said 6 without blinking an eye and poof from her printer out popped 6 1 day park hopper passes to Disney world WOW!  $175 dive of a lifetime, and I have 6 park passes good for 20 years!

Yeah it seems everyone does leave Disney happy.  Great dive, great people, an absolute must. Just watch the turtles!

3 comments:

  1. I Didn't know they would let people in there. How do you set that up?

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  2. They allow any certified divers to participate. They also have a surface supplied air system, SNUBA for participants without certification. Contact Disney at (407) WDW-TOUR or (407) 939-8687

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