Walt Disney World’s Epcot Seas Adventures DiveQuest

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This year, my Lil’ Road Dog and I are embarking on a new challenge. (He loves viewing all those YouTube challenges by the way.) Therefore, I have come up with a 12 for 12 challenge for us. We plan on accomplishing 12 aquarium dives within the next 12 months. Especially, since as of his December 2018 birthday, he is newly scuba certified. My Lil’ Road Dog is an official Junior Open Water Diver. That means he can now dive with me to his maximum depth of 60 feet. Hopefully, we will be able to do one every month, at least that’s the goal.

Video Still Courtesy of Austin (WDW Videographer)

Yes, you read correctly, aquarium exhibit dives, and yes, it’s a thing. I thought it would be a great way for him to continue to practice his skills in pretty pristine conditions, and see marine life that’s taken me half my diving career to see.

One of the most engaging aspects of aquarium diving is the variety of species available for observation and interaction. You are able to see animals on a single dive that might take years of open-water diving to see (as it has me).

Our first aquarium dive took place in one of the happiest places on earth, Walt Disney World (WDW)!  I chose to start the year and challenge off with a big splash. My Lil’ Road Dog and I took part in WDW’s Epcot Seas Adventures – DiveQuest. As stated on their website, this experience allowed us to immerse ourselves in a scuba experience with guaranteed calm seas, no current, unlimited visibility, and incredible marine life and coral.

The underwater adventure occurs at WDW’s Epcot Future World in The Seas with Nemo and Friends Pavilion. There were two time slots for us to choose from: 4:30pm or 5:30pm. We chose the 4:30pm time slot. All participants must be SCUBA-certified and 10 years of age or older to participate. You must also provide proof of certification, such as your C-card. All the diving equipment is provided. You need only to bring your curiosity, great attitude, and swimsuit.

Video Still Courtesy of a WDW Videographer

Also, you are not allowed to take any pictures or video while in the backstage areas. Therefore, the only footage of the experience I have to share is that captured by Disney’s underwater videographer during our aquarium diving excursion. I was able to purchase it at the end of our dive.

Our day started early in the morning with a direct flight from Houston to Orlando on one of our favorite airlines – Southwest.

Once we arrived, we caught the tram to ground transportation and proceeded to walk to the car rental pick up area.

We selected an SUV from National’s Emerald Aisle and started our drive to our hotel where we would be spending one night.

We chose to stay off-site, at Hilton’s Home2Suites, instead of at a WDW Resort since our stay would be such a quick-turn. By the way, don’t forget to have some small bills and/or change with you in order to pay the Florida tolls. There’s no escaping them if you’re driving.

We arrived at the hotel around lunch time, checked in (luckily for us, a room was available), dropped off our bags, and walked over to one of the fast food restaurants to grab something to eat. Afterwards, we headed back to our room to rest until our 4:30pm WDW DiveQuest aquarium dive.

We left the room around 3:30pm to head over to Epcot for our dive. We were both excited and didn’t want to risk being late. The hotel was only about 15 minutes from Epcot.

The parking costs us $25, but it’s good for the entire day in case you choose to come back later to explore the park.

We checked in at the Main Entrance of Epcot. They ask that you be there 15 minutes prior to the start of your experience. We didn’t need to purchase park admission in addition to the experience cost because the guides are able to take you through a backstage employee entrance to the aquarium exhibit. You literally don’t get to see any of Epcot’s Park going this way. But, if you are traveling with friends and/or family not participating in the experience, they will need to purchase park admission. They will not be able to accompany you on the behind the scenes tour part of the experience, but will be able to view your dive through any of the 56 giant acrylic windows at The Seas with Nemo & Friends.

The Epcot Seas Adventures – DiveQuest lasts about 3 hours. You spend about 40 minutes on the actual dive and the rest of the time touring the massive backstage infrastructure that filters and maintains their enormous man made ocean.

My Lil’ Road Dog and I waited, along with three other participants, at the check-in area for our guide.

Once he arrived, we were greeted and escorted behind the scenes. After entering the backstage area, our Tour Leader, Wes, checked us all off on his list, collected our C-cards (given back at the end of the dive), asked our shoe sizes (for booties used with fins), and whether or not we wanted a souvenir t-shirt or baseball cap that would be given to us at the end of our experience. They allow you to change your mind on your option or t-shirt size after seeing them in person. So, don’t worry. This is also the time I could tell our guide was sizing us up for our wetsuits. We were never asked our sizes out loud in front of the other participants.

After the backstage tour part of the experience, Wes took us to a meeting room in order to fill out some waiver paperwork. Then, he escorted us to the changing rooms and we were given a locker key. There are separate changing rooms for males and females. Upon entering the changing room, you see a locker with your name on it containing your wetsuit, booties, and a towel. Everything fit everyone – Disney Magic! The adults were given a shorty wetsuit, while my Lil’ Road Dog was given a full long sleeve one. Actually, this was to his benefit because he gets cold so easily, probably due to his lack of bodyfat – I wish! The changing rooms were clean and contained a swimsuit rinser, shower stalls stocked with shampoo, conditioner and body wash, and bins for wetsuit and booties return.

Upon exiting the changing rooms, we handed over our locker keys to Wes, who placed them in a safe until after our dive. Next, he escorted us to the aquarium staging area and introduced us to our Dive Master Kenny, our Safety Diver Lawrence, our Underwater Videographer Austin, and our Video Editor Katie.

On the ledge of the aquarium sat all of our dive gear set-up and fully assembled. We all went to our corresponding gear set-up, sat on the ledge, put on our fins, and then helped putting on our integrated weight BC’s and tanks. This was concierge diving at its best! Disney’s customer service continues to impress me.

After everyone had their gear on, we swam over to the buoy located in the middle of the aquarium to begin our descents. We all excitedly plunged into the depths of the 5.7 million-gallon saltwater Carribean Coral Reef Aquarium to begin our experience with over 6,000 sea creatures. The clear water and lack of currents allow for amazing observations of sea turtles, angelfish, eagle rays and sharks. We were told by our Tour Guide Wes, during the backstage portion of the experience, that their aquarium environment is the second largest in the U.S. The first being the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.

Video Still Courtesy of Austin (WDW Videographer)

After everyone reached the bottom, our Dive Master Kenny, spent the first ten minutes touring us around the aquarium to get us familiar with the environment. He also wanted to ensure that our Underwater Videographer Austin, could get good opening action shots of each of us. Then, we were set free to roam the aquarium at our leisure for the rest of the dive. We instantly became newly appointed temporary Disney Ambassadors, as we could all be seen from one of the many giant acrylic windows throughout The Seas with Nemo & Friends exhibit area, as well as the restaurant. It was fun waving at all the spectators, especially the little kids.

Video Still Courtesy of Austin (WDW Videographer)

This was my Lil’ Road Dog’s first aquarium dive and he loved it! He did experience some problems equalizing one of his ears, but he never panicked. He remained calm and worked through it. I, as well as Safety Diver Lawrence, kept an eye on him, assisting and providing help as needed. I was so proud of my Lil’ Road Dog!

Video Still Courtesy of Austin (WDW Videographer)

Video Still Courtesy of Austin (WDW Videographer)

Video Still Courtesy of Austin (WDW Videographer)

After our dive came to an end, we surfaced, and were assisted with our gear removal and given towels. Next, Wes promptly escorted back to the changing rooms, gave us our keys, and allowed us ample time to shower and change. The warm showers felt great!

Then, Wes took us back to the meeting room where we signed our waivers. At each table sat our C-cards, t-shirts, and other DiveQuest memorabilia. While in the meeting room, we were given the opportunity to view the video footage edited by Katie shot by Austin. It was about a 10-15 minute video with all of us in it. The small size of our group made the experience that much more pleasurable. After gathering all of our goodies, Wes escorted back out to the main entrance. There, we all said our goodbyes.

Disney truly made this a wonderful experience for me and my Lil’ Road Dog. Disney Magic is Real !!!  If you love scuba diving and Disney, this is an experience not to be missed.

1 Aquarium Dive Down…11 more to go !!!

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