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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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Video: The Living Seas Pavilion

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