Epcot DiveQuest

Believe it or not, it is possible to dive in the Epcot Centre, Walt Disney World. In the "Living Seas" they have a huge tank were they take a limited no. of divers twice a day, at 4.30 and 5.30 pm.

It is a little expensive, USD 140, for the 3 hour trip. You can get more info on WDWs home page where you can make e-mail reservations that will have to be paid in advance. If you pay by using your American Express card, you get a discount..

I dove on Thursday March the 27th. 1997. I met outside Epcot at 4.15, there were 5 others in the group and we were met by Steve and Graig. The first thing that had to be done, was to collect C-cards that you would get back later if you were lucky :-) If the C-cards were without picture, additional ID was required. We were also asked for sizes for wetsuits (2.5 mm), shoes etc.

If you bring your family along for this meeting outside the gate, they will be told about when they can see you in the tank and were they should be. You are usually in the water 1 hour after you leave the gate, in my case around 5.30 pm. Remember that your family need some time to get into the viewing area.

We were then led the way to a "briefing room" where we were told about what to expect, how to behave etc. We were also given useful information about the "Leaving Seas" , like the size of the tank that would contain "Spaceship Earth" (the circumference), how the water is kept clean and so on. The tank is a 6 million gallon aquarium with 65 species of marine life including sharks, turtles eagle rays and lots of tropical fish.

After the briefing, we were led to the changing area to put on wetsuits and shoes. You are allowed to use your own mask. The reason for not being allowed using your own suit etc. is that they want to make sure that the equipment used in the tank is cleaned according to Disney standards so as to prevent damage to the life in the tank.

We then went through the ordinary areas were the public are admitted and thus were part of cast at Disney. Upon arrival inside the tank, we were given brief instructions about the equipment used, signals to use, were we could go in the tank and so on. I have seen on the newsgroups that there has been some complaints about the state of the equipment, something I asked about. It was admitted that it had earlier been minor problems, but this was overcome now and they would gradually change to another manufacturers equipment.

The crew in the water was three divers, one making a video of the dive. After having adjusted my buoyancy, we descended at 5.35 for the first part of the dive. This was the sightseeing part before "meeting" with the families on the other side of the glass. This included the waving to people eating at the restaurant (eating fish?), wonder what they thought?

Divers in Living Seas

Photographs by Walt Disney World

The last part of the dive was set aside for your own investigation of the tank with your buddy. The tank consists of artificial corals and real fish in abundance including sharks. So far no divers has been injured in the tank, according to Steve and Craig. As long as one does not interfere with the sharks, they just pass by you. After the dive, we were told how they feed the sharks: They are not fed with divers in the water, but from special places at the top of the tank. When it is feeding time, they stamp the floor of a special platform, this being the signal for the sharks to surface to be fed.

The deepest part of the dive for me was 7.4 meters (24 ft.), lowest temperature 24 C (75 F). The dive lasted 34 minutes. The visibility is very good (62 Meters/203 feet according to official papers), but due to poorer lighting condition than you have when diving in the sea, I had a feeling of lower visibility than was the actual case.

Divers in Living Seas

Photographs by Walt Disney World

After finishing the dive, we were shown around the rest of the tank, met the dolphins that we were not allowed to dive with, and also got lots of other interesting info. This was done with your wetsuit on and I think that caused the cold I have at the moment. This is the only negative experience that I have from diving the "Living Seas" at Epcot.

After the tour round the tank, we were taken to the changing rooms for warm showers and then to the meeting rooms for the end of the behind the scene visit. All divers were given a Dive-Quest T-shirt a special diploma and a video. Remember to tell them if you require another format than the American NTSC as they can also make PAL copies. If you do not bring your own logbook, you will be given stamped and signed paper for verification.

Was it worth it?

I have been asked this question a couple of times and would answer yes if you do not have to think twice to spend 140 dollars (or the rebated price). You get to see a lot of fish and also get to do what everybody is doing. However, it is a little dark there compared to the real seas.

If your main aim when diving is to get a deep dive, forget it.

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Copyright Arne D. Thronsen.Updated: 04-01-2005 Click to email WebMaster