The Living Seas 

View dolphins, sharks, manatees and thousands of tropical fish as you explore an amazing coral reef environment. Try out wet suits, join our marine mammal researchers, check out our cutting-edge dolphin communication activities...

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The Living Seas is a Future World pavilion dedicated to enhancing the knowledge of man's relationship with the sea. It's located right next to The Land and you can hear it as you draw near. There is a small rock fountain right out in front with crashing waves. You'll also hear soothing music which was some of the original music written for the pavilion during the 1980's. Unfortunately, most areas of Future World have abandoned this music. Most of it was wonderful to listen to.
Entry and Film
Upon entering, you'll notice that the lights dim as you make your way inside through a curved queue. At the end, there is a waiting area where you may either choose to watch a short film or go directly into the aquarium area.
The film is titled "The Seas" and it is primarily concerned with man's effect on the oceans and the oceans effect on mankind. It's interesting to see if this is your first visit but otherwise, it can be skipped.
To enter the aquarium, you first have to ride a "Hydrolator". That's a fancy term for an elevator which take you "to the ocean floor". In reality, it drops all of about 3 inches but it's a nice enough simulation that Disney has been sued by a guest claiming that her ears were damaged by the fast descent.
Sea Base Alpha
Upon exiting the Hydrolator, you board a car on a continuous loading belt which allows you to see the aquarium for about 3 minutes. The views are spectacular but it's very short. However, you can spend all the time you want at Sea Base Alpha, watching the various fish. There's a complete man-made coral reef here with over 70 types of marine animals.
If you are interested in oceanography and undersea research, this is a good place to learn a little bit more about those topics. Keep in mind that these exhibits are not targeted at experts but at people with little to no exposure to the field.
I really like the JIM suit where you can climb inside an open backed suit and perform tasks using robot claws with your hands.
Be sure to check out the marine mammals too. There are some dolphins and manatees available for you to learn more about. The manatees are a special treat but their tank seems to be cramped. I'm no marine biologist so I have no idea if they are being cared for properly.
You can also partake in two specialty tours (for extra money) at The Living Seas. One is called "Dive Quest" and it allows certified divers to experience the large aquarium. I hear that they seriously check your qualifications so don't even try to sneak in if you don't meet the rules. The other tour is "Dolphins in Depth."
The Coral Reef Restaurant offers a dining experience where you can enjoy the aquarium while eating at a sit down venue. My husband and I decided to try this restaurant on the advice of some family members.
To enter the restaurant, you have to exit The Living Seas and follow the path around to the right side of the building.
This was one of two priority seating reservations we made for this trip. Supposedly the entire day was booked until after 2 pm unless we took at 11:50 am reservation. When we arrived, the restaurant was almost empty and didn't get crowded at all. We were seated immediately.
I had the cream of lobster soup, under the Caesar salad and an iced tea while my husband had the grilled rib-eye with sweet potato fries and corn bread. For dessert, we split a complimentary key lime crunch. The soup was wonderful and I really liked the small tureen it was served in. The salad was unremarkable other than the fact that the dried anchovies weren't flakes but actually full fish. My husband said his steak was wonderful. The dessert we shared is served in a parfait glass and consists of a key lime mousse drizzled with Midori and served with a almond tuille (crisp cookie). This was good but I don't think I'd pay for this out of pocket. Our bill came to $32.81 (before tip).
The service left a bit to be desired. Our server (Radames) often ignored our table altogether and he had to be hunted down whenever we needed water refills or the check. Our lunch ended up being quite leisurely because of this and we were in the restaurant for close to two hours.
The restaurant is set up in three tiers with the first right next to the glass. The other tiers are quite removed but you can still see the fish. We were seated on the second tier of the restaurant so we were quite far away from the aquarium. I didn't feel as if we were anyplace really special. There was no "We are surrounded by fish!" feeling to it. The decor is all in blues and greens with low lighting which was nice and for the most part, people were quiet which made for a pleasant environment.
However, I don't understand why they seat couples right next to groups with small children. We had already ordered and were just about to receive our meal, otherwise, I'd have insisted on a table change. The group next to us had a shrieking toddler who changed from shrieks to loud laughing interspersed by shrieks. The child and her older sister were also allowed to run around the restaurant interfering with the servers. This is generally a quiet restaurant and the family received many nasty looks from other tables. I heard some complaints being made to the manager about the situation. I don't expect a child free environment when I go to a Disney park or anything even close to it. I do expect that a non-fast food dining experience shouldn't be impacted negatively by other people, regardless of age. This one family did just that.
This same family was so clueless that they were videotaping the fish tank with a huge light flashing on their camera. All they'll get is light reflecting back at them on their tape! There were complaints made to the manager about that as well as the light was reflecting back around the dining area and shining on patrons. A cast member was sent over to instruct the family that they could tape, but not with the light. A short argument followed which ended with the family packing the video recorder away.

Be sure to give yourself enough time to relax and enjoy just watching the fish. That's the best part of this pavilion.
For better photography results, use faster speed film (at least 400) and if you are using a flash, be sure to point your camera at a 45 degree angle to avoid reflections. Also, turn off the light on your camcorder

The Living Seas

Mysterious, large beyond comprehension and always compelling, the seas may be the last frontier on earth still largely unexplored, The Living Seas is the largest facility dedicated to our fascination with the oceanic world. It’s a world full of wonders, as guests soon discover upon entering the wave - shape building. Here, you can explore a man - made coral reef. The perfectly duplicated reef ecology is home to more than 6,000 fish which will astound you with their beauty and color. At Sea Base Alpha, a model research facility, guests see ocean exploration techniques and thrill to the sight of dolphins and men working together. Kelp forests and Pacific coral reef offer stunning views and diners can observe marine life while staying high and dry at the Coral Reef Restaurant.

The Living Seas

If you emptied the water from The Living Seas in Epcot into one-gallon milk jugs and laid them side by side, they would stretch from here to New Orleans, Knoxville or Raleigh -- 540 miles. And the recipe for the artificial sea water called for 27 truckloads of sodium chloride, or common table salt. Imagine the ultimate dive site with guaranteed calm seas, no current, incredible visibility, vivid coral formations and more than 65 kinds of marine life. Imagine non-aggressive sharks, 400-pound turtles and majestic eagle rays. Imagine not having to get into dive gear until you're in the water.
The Living Seas at Epcot contains the world’s sixth-largest ocean and the biggest facility ever dedicated to man’s relationship with the underwater world.
The Living Seas was designed with the guidance of an advisory board of outstanding experts in oceanography and related fields. Its centerpiece is the world’s largest saltwater aquarium tank containing all manner of undersea creatures. The main coral reef environment is 203 feet in diameter and 27 feet deep, holding 5.6 million gallons of sea water plus another million gallons in its backup system.
Within the underwater world is a complete coral reef inhabited by more than 4,000 sea creatures, including sharks, tropical fish, rays and dolphins, all exotic and colorful forms of life that normally colonize such a reef in the Caribbean area.
Rockwork at the entrance sets the mood, simulating a natural coastline with waves cascading into tidepools. Inside, visitors pass examples of advances in technology, historical photographs and artifacts of famous undersea explorations. Early inventors and visionaries who laid the foundation for modern ocean exploration are introduced in an optional two-minute multi-media pre show.
During a seven-minute theater presentation, guests are introduced to the ocean’s deepest mysteries and the effect on people’s lives of the earth’s last frontier. Theater doors then open to reveal three "hydrolators," capsule elevators which take visitors to the ocean floor.
The vicarious explorers then board open vehicles for a three-minute voyage through tunnels past the entire coral reef seen through six-inch thick crystal-clear windows.
Disembarking at Sea Base Alpha, guests explore a model undersea research facility. Large-screen video shows man’s attempts to harness the ocean’s resources. Visitors can then walk into a two-story central viewing area, completely surrounded by sea windows which allow them to see the divers live and up close carrying out research studies.
Certified divers can experience Epcot DiveQuest, a program for Walt Disney World guests featuring explorations inside The Living Seas environment. To learn more about dolphins and research at The Living Seas, guests can join Disney’s Dolphins in Depth program. Both programs can be reserved through 407/WDW-TOUR.
The Living Seas is contained in a 185,000-square-foot structure under a single roof. The pavilion also includes the 264-seat Coral Reef Restaurant with viewing windows fifty feet long and eight feet high, giving guests still another panoramic view of the Caribbean reef as they dine.
The Living Seas Advisory Board is comprised of specialists in oceanography and allied areas and helps direct the scientific focus of the pavilion.
Divers experience all of this and more at Epcot DiveQuest, a program for Walt Disney World guests offered at The Living Seas pavilion, presented by United Technologies.
The dive takes place in one of the world's largest aquariums -- 5.7 million gallons of salt water with a maximum depth of 27 feet. To put it in perspective, Spaceship Earth, which is 160 feet in diameter, could fit inside the aquarium with room to spare. Epcot DiveQuest is an undersea spectacle: 2,000 to 3,000 reef inhabitants, including angelfish and trigger fish, sea turtles and sharks, put on a one-of-a-kind show for the divers and for Epcot guests who can watch through the tank's four-story windows.
After suiting up in waist-deep water, groups of eight divers are guided by a Living Seas specialist for a 20-minute dive, followed by a 20-minute free-dive period. The entire 3-hour program includes a presentation on marine life research and conservation and an overview of The Living Seas. An informal question-and-answer session follows.
Dives are scheduled daily at 4:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Participants also will receive a T-shirt, a certificate, and a dive log stamp as part of the $140 fee. Epcot admission is not required. Divers must show proof of scuba certification (no junior certification) and sign a legal waiver. All gear is provided, with lockers for changing and showering.

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