Gulf World Marine Park

Gulf World Marine Park: Spend an Unforgettable Day with Dolphins, Sea Lions, and Penguins
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Get acquainted with the creatures of the sea at Gulf World Marine Park. You'll enjoy ample opportunities to observe, learn about, and even play with your favorite marine animals. Whether you adore dolphins, sea lions, or penguins, you'll love seeing the ocean's most majestic creatures up close.

- The Local Expert Team

Since 1970, Gulf World Marine Park has brought awareness of the ocean’s amazing animals to Panama City Beach. This attraction aims not only to entertain, but to also educate. The park contributes considerable funds to the Gulf World Marine Institute, which is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating marine animals.

If you’re on a budget or are simply satisfied to observe your favorite animals from afar, you can stick with general admission. Your ticket grants you access to a variety of daily shows.

However, if you crave a more personal experience, Gulf World offers an array of interactive programs. Depending on which program or package you choose, you can experience once-in-a-lifetime encounters with dolphins, sea lions, or penguins.

If you don’t sign up for Gulf World’s interactive programs, your visit will likely last between three and four hours. During that time, make sure to stop by the grill or snack bar for tasty treats. You’ll also find clean restrooms and a gift shop.

From photo managers to trainers, the staff members at Gulf World are notoriously friendly and helpful. Their passion for marine wildlife is evident the moment you arrive. You will appreciate the care that goes into every detail of your experience — and the care that staff members show towards Gulf World’s many marine animals.

A few of our favorite activities include the following:

Dolphin Encounter
Guests of all ages and comfort levels are encouraged to take part in the Dolphin Encounter. You’ll learn more about dolphins as you interact with them up close. The dolphin will jump up and touch your hands during the hand target activity. This special experience ends with a dolphin kiss and hug.

Royal Swim
Thrill-seekers rejoice — there’s no experience quite like Gulf World’s Royal Swim. During this unique encounter, the dolphins will push on the soles of your feet to raise you above the water’s surface. Other activities include handshakes, hugs, and kisses.

Feathers & Friends Show
Dolphins may be a top attraction at Gulf World Marine Park, but there are plenty of other activities to keep you entertained. The Feathers & Friends show is, perhaps, the most enjoyable. Featuring a cast of feathery, furry, and scaley critters from local animal shelters, this show captivates audience members of all ages. Better yet, guests enjoy numerous opportunities to interact with their favorite animals.

Penguin Encounter
Immerse yourself in the saltwater habitat of the African black-footed penguin. Not only can you observe the penguins up close, you just might be able to touch or even cradle them. Throughout this experience, you’ll interact with animal care specialists, who offer up fascinating insights on penguin behavior.

Stingray Bay Feeding
Stingray feedings are scheduled during regular intervals throughout the day. Stop by at the right time, and you can touch or even feed these fascinating creatures. You’ll be impressed not only by the stingrays, but also by the habitat in which they’re housed: a 20,000-gallon indoor oasis.

Options abound for learning about and interacting with your favorite marine animals. Make memories in Gulf World’s uniquely educational environment.

Insider Tips:
-Due to space limitations, those who participate in Gulf World’s dolphin encounters can only be accompanied by one observer. This person must pay regular admission along with a special observer fee. Don’t expect your companion to capture the adventure; cameras and cell phones are prohibited.
-Plan to arrive at least half an hour early if you sign up for an interactive program. Early arrival is also recommended for Gulf World’s shows, as seats tend to fill up fast.