Home to Winter the famous dolphin with the prosthetic tail featured in the hit movie Dolphin Tale, Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) is a wonderful place to travel with your family. Winter the Dolphin's story is an incredible one of survival and tenacity. Winter's inspiring story resonates with children and adults who, like her, have physical or cognitive challenges, have suffered life-changing injury or illness and had to struggle to adapt.
A combination aquarium and animal hospital, CMA is an engaging and educational facility that shares insights and information about sea animals from the Gulf Coast of Florida that will leave your kids wanting to learn more. CMA's core mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and release the animals that they find. Unfortunately, there are some animals that, due to unique situations, will never be able to be released. CMA provides a wonderful home for them. Clearwater Marine Aquarium is the permanent home to dolphins, sea turtles, otters, sharks, pelicans and stingrays. This is a unique family vacation that will give your family stories to tell for years to come!
SpecialGlobe Tip: Clearwater Marine Aquarium offers ADA Services including wheelchair accessibility, presentation scripts for the hearing impaired, sign language interpreting, and they allow service animals. You can learn more at CMA ADA Services.
SpecialGlobe Tip – Disney World no longer offers front of the line access but does have the FastPass+. Based on your specific needs, Disability Access Services or other accommodations may be provided. Guest Relations Cast Members will work with you individually to learn your specific needs. After meeting with guest services, it is possible to receive a disability card that acts like a fourth fast pass that you can take to FastPass+ line. They will give you a time to return (30-90 minutes). After you enter the FastPass+ line, they will mark the card and you can use it again. This helps fill the gap between the 3 FastPass tickets all families receive with their theme park admission.
For those families who have never been to Disney World, this is a must do and see. It truly is incredible. Disney does an amazing job creating a magical experience for families, which allows parents to be able to sit back and enjoy the park with their kids. The Wishes Nighttime Spectacular fireworks show over Cinderella's castle with Disney characters narrating was absolutely beautiful and my kids loved it! And so did I!
SpecialGlobe Tip: If you plan to stay on the Disney campus, I highly recommend staying in one of the 3 hotels that are on the monorail: the Polynesian Village Resort, Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, or the Contemporary Resort. The cost is higher than other accommodations but using the bus system with my daughter who struggles with prolonged wait times made the expense worthwhile, especially at the end of a fun-filled day at the park.
Sea World 7007 Sea World Drive Orlando, Florida 32821 888-800-5447
Sea World is one of my daughter's favorite places to visit. It is such an amazing place to learn about the underwater world and the animal life that inhabits it. Highlights for our family included the Blue Horizons with the dolphins and the One Ocean shows. If you have a family member who loves roller coasters, the Manta and the Kraken are not to be missed. My kids preferred the Shamu Express roller coaster that, according to them, was just thrilling enough!
SpecialGlobe Tip: Sea World offers a Ride Accessibility Program (RAP) that you can enroll in to receive accommodations for the rides. To enroll, you will need to go to Guest Services where you will receive a list of the rides and attractions as well as the requirements for riding and enjoying each one. They also offer Special Access for those who find waiting in long lines difficult due to physical or cognitive issues. The park allows service animals and offers wheelchair rentals, but you will need to reserve a wheelchair at least three days in advance of your visit.
Dinosaur World 5145 Harvey Tew Road Plant City, Florida 33565 813-717-9865
If you have a dinosaur lover in your family, this is a great stop to make. With 20-acres to explore and over 200 life-sized dinosaurs, your kids will have loads of fun! They can participate in a fossil dig and learn about becoming a paleontologist. Be sure to check out the Fossil Museum that has a nice selection of fossils. There is even a museum with animatronic dinosaurs that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck! There is a fun dinosaur playground for young kids to expend some extra energy. But beware of the amazing gift shop as you enter and exit because your little ones will surely find lots to love!
SpecialGlobe Tip: There is plenty of room to explore and nice wide paths for a wheelchair. They also rent wheelchairs for $5.00 plus tax.
Beaches – Siesta Key If you're looking for a day or two away from the parks, check out the Siesta Key Beaches. Siesta, Crescent and Turtle Beaches make up the 8-mile stretch of white sand on the Gulf of Mexico. Each beach is unique but they all offer a day of frolicking in the ocean and the Florida sunshine!
SpecialGlobe Tip: Beach wheelchair rentals are available at: Siesta Sports Rentals 6551 Midnight Pass Road 34242 Siesta Key, Florida 941-346-1797