Gulfarium - Amusement Park

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About

Summary

The Gulfarium is a family-friendly interactive marine adventure park on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, offering up-close encounters with a wide variety of sea life, offered with educational tidbits and an emphasis on conservation.

Written by

Amy Lynch

Distance

0.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

49.2 miles

Difficulty

1 of 5 diamonds

This amusement park is a relaxing and informative experience requiring very little physical exertion. The most physically taxing activity onsite is a one-hour snorkeling experience, appropriate for ages 5 and up.

Time To Complete

3 hours

In addition to the park's general exhibits and shows, you can customize your visit by opting for the animal encounters of your choosing (most run 15-25 minutes in length). For visitors who want the fullest experience possible, the snorkeling activity lasts one hour and the VIP training experience lasts 5 hours. All other activities are much shorter and can be mixed and matched to your liking.

Seasonality

All Seasons

The park closes one hour early during fall and winter but is open all year round.

Dog Friendly

No

Only service animals are permitted.

Fees Permits

Yes

A general admission ticket is $21.95, while an annual pass with unlimited admission and special onsite discounts is $70. Child, senior and military discounts are available as well.

Land Website

Gulfarium

Review

Intro

Since the mid-1950s, The Gulfarium has made a name for itself as one of the oldest marine animal parks in the world. Located on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, an area known for its lush array of sea life, the family-friendly attraction offers a variety of immersive experiences, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with the creatures that live there. It's a great way to spend a few hours (or even a full day) learning about the fauna that make up the broader cast of characters in the Gulf of Mexico and beyond.

What Makes It Great

Perched atop the sugar white sands of Fort Walton Beach, The Gulfarium is perfectly situated to provide plenty of knowledge about the variety of sea life inhabiting the body of water just a few steps away. From a 33,000-gallon indoor "living seas" aquarium to open-air pavilions offering up-close encounters with African penguins, bottlenose dolphins, stingrays, loggerhead turtles and more, it's a wonderland of animal education for kids and kids at heart. 

The Gulfarium's dedication to caring for marine life runs deep, evidenced by the fact that it was the first animal park to successfully foster a baby bottlenose dolphin into healthy adulthood — and, in the process, developed a milk formula for the species that's still used today. Throughout its exhibits, visitors learn about each animal's conservation status in an ongoing effort to keep the topic top-of-mind. 

If you're looking for a true Floridian experience, a stop at the park's "Discover Gators" exhibit is a must, giving you the unique chance to come close (but not too close!) to gators of varying ages and learn about the life cycle of the state's most famous reptile. While a general admission ticket grants you access to all exhibits, shows, and training demonstrations, the truly immersive animal encounters are offered as add-on experiences (i.e., not included with a GA ticket), so be sure to plan your visit in advance and purchase tickets for the more interactive perks of the park that interest you the most.

Who is Going to Love It

Great for families, the park is like a marine biology textbook come to life,and anyone who loves animals should enjoy a visit. Each animal encounter has its own age limit, but plenty are suitable for ages three or four and up, while the rest are geared toward kids who are at least five or eight years old. GA tickets are open for all ages, while children under two are admitted free of charge.

If you'd like to fully immerse yourself in the arena of animal care and training, The Gulfarium offers a "VIP Trainer" package where you can spend five hours working with the park's staff to learn what it takes to walk in their shoes. At $379, it's an investment, but an invaluable one for anyone with a deep interest in working with sea animals.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

Easy to spot thanks to its location at 1010 Miracle Strip Parkway SE on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach, just one-quarter mile east of the Brooks Bridge, The Gulfarium offers free parking and is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Hours are 9 am to 5:30 pm in the spring and summer, and 9 am to 4:30 pm in the fall and winter. Admission closes one hour before the park does.

Location

Gulfarium

1010 Miracle Strip Parkway SE
Fort Walton Beach, FL, 32548
30.394477, -86.593515

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