|15412 Front Beach Rd, Panama City Beach, FL 32413, USA
|9:30AM–4:30PM 9:30AM–4:30PM 9:30AM–4:30PM 9:30AM–4:30PM 9:30AM–4:30PM 9:30AM–4:30PM 9:30AM–4:30PM
Gulf world Marine Park deserves kudos for the excellent rehabilitation and rescue they are involved in for marine animals along our coastline. Hence the one star. The profit part of the park is where guests can pay to watch shows and can pay extra to swim with the dolphins. Its quite old, outdated, and despite some improvements nowhere near state of the art. Some parts are even look like they need to be bulldozed. When we first moved here we loved this little place. It was family owned and we adored going and feeling like family. Over the years its changed- like all businesses- while some has been good and other changes not good at all. Its currently owned by a large company based out of Mexico. Mexico has little to no protections for marine mammals in human care.... do a little research if you wanna know where your dollars are going. The current programming includes shows and over 400 individual swim with the dolphins a day. Why- because people will pay $$$ to hang with dolphins. The almighty dollar wins over ethics again. I was an observer when 3 of my family members did a swim. It started innocently enough but my niece and her mom both received bruises and a rake mark that drew blood before they switched dolphins. I can only assume the dolphins were pretty sick of doing programs that day. It was laughed off as a cheeky little dolphins hijinks. I love dolphins too, and I used to be this parks biggest fan but they have sold out and the animals are the ones who will pay the ultimate price. Is that worth your money? Not mine. And the fact that one of their dolphins was caught many years ago in the wild (a practice thats illegal now) just seems so cruel. I cant imagine how much better off she would have been left as healthy breeding stock in the Gulf of Mexico instead of breeding stock for overpriced tourists programs. Its quite sad. Lastly my friends daughter did trainer for a day due to her interest in the career, going backstage all over the park made her decide to become a nurse. What you see as a guest is not the reality for the animals. There are many amazing aquariums and animal educational facilities all over the place- my advice go to one of those instead.
This review is about the experience that I had just trying to reserve a spot for one of the three Dolphin experiences. I cannot rate "Gulf World" itself because I never even got the opportunity to speak with anyone or have someone contact me about questions regarding this experience for my special needs daughter and our son. 1) You are directed from their website to call via phone to speak with one of their team members for special needs children. I called 5 different times during operating hours, navigated thru the options only to re-direct me to book it via the website. I never spoke to a "friendly team member". I left two messages to have someone call me back. No return calls. 2) I used their website and "Contact Us" feature after the first two calls and sent them an e-mail to have someone contact me as I had questions. No return e-mail or call. Clearly "Gulf World" doesnt know the word Customer Service and they lost out on $500 worth of income, had this family done the Dolphin tour. And this visit was during the non-peak season.. prior to Memorial Day. I guess they dont need the money or happy customers. If you are looking to experience this, better show up at the door or book it online. Oh and I drove past the place.. good luck on finding a parking spot. This tells me they are so busy people like me, well we just dont matter and that is sad. Sad because we could have had a wonderful experience instead of feeling like we did not matter. We found a much better way to spend our hard earned money. The Sea Screamer was an excellent experience and of course we were able to take the money we would have spent at Gulf World and purchase more souvenirs. Gulf World, you really need to fix your customer service or continue to read bad reviews such as this one. What I experienced was really a 0 Star not 1 star rating.
Let me start by saying that I dont normally review something unless I think its necessary, and this is one of those times. I just recently visited here on a field trip with my daughters class, and Id love to point out both the good and the bad to help people decide if they want to visit, because it is very expensive for what you get. PRO: - The animals are precious and well-trained. - The staff (for the most part) were friendly and helpful. - The sea lion / dolphin show was great. - Feeding the stingrays is a lot of fun. CONS: - The price. The park is very small. You can see everything in 30 minutes easily, and if you miss a show - well - youve just missed out. - The obsessive amount of promotion of things they sell. All of the shows have about 10 minutes where youre sitting there listening to them preach about what you can buy, and how. - The main dolphin show. Let me explain this one. The most popular attraction here has the longest spill about spending money and the encounters with them that it takes up almost half the show, when you are sitting there wanting to watch the dolphins. The prices for these interactions are also rather high, ranging from $90-$200 per person. During the show with the Dogs, Cats, and Birds the microphones were not working. Instead of taking a moment to fix that issue so everyone could hear the birds talking and the host - they continued and 80% of the audience didnt get to hear anything. I was a little disappointed with that. Over all if there are promotions going on where tickets are cheaper and youre looking for something fun for your family to do its a nice plan. It is very clean.
The staff was rude, the ONLY nice one was the guy taking pictures. They did have two photograph. So Im not sure who took which picture I will discuss in a minute. I didnt realize you can get a wristband for pictures . If you get a wristsband its $30 and you can take a pic with all the animals. And if you dont purchase the band you will have to pay$15 each time to take a pic. They do not tell you about the bands and I think thats horrible customer service. It wasnt really pack when we went and when we were taking pics with the animals, they were rushing us. I can understand if it was busy but it wasnt. And the picture arent good. In one picture an employeeshand is in the way and my dad held my son for a picture with the parrot. They could of told him to lower his arm because the parrot was in the way of his face. But No. My niece did a meet and greet with the Dolphins and paid good money for it and the pictures doesnt come with it. It cost $90 for a cd with her buying the meet and greet. It should come with it. Disappointed. Also the girl who was doing to the meet and greet whisper to the photograph saying this one should be delightful.(but being sarcastic) They need to all take a class on how to treat customers and not try to be greedy with peoples money. Hope they look at the pictures ,to make sure it comes out ok before the customer gets up. The only thing I can say thats good about the place is the shows.