Dive Quest, Epcot, Disney World June 6, 2006
We met up outside the main gate to epcot at guest relations. We didnt have to wait long before two cast members showed up to take a roll call of who was there. They took our C-cards, asked what size t-shirts we wanted after we dove and our dive boot size. one cast member took our info and cards back while the other began our backstage tour. We walked through a door right next to guest relations and down a corridor to another "cast only" door that took us to the lot behind the Living Seas. He told us different facts about the Living Seas atraction and showed us the now famous Disney dumpsters and the filtering system for the aquarium which are twelve tanker truck sized filters.
Next we went in a back door to the Living Seas and got to see the "cast only" areas and corridors. He lead us to a room with a large tv and couches and tables for us to sit at and sign away all liability from Disney. Then we`re shown to our changing rooms with lockers and showers. We each had a bag there with our wetsuits and boots in them (they size the wetsuits from the t-shirt size we gave them earlier). There we change and re-group in the hall outside the changing rooms. Our host reappears shortly to take us through the public area of the Living Seas where i`m certain people must have thought we worked there. Up the stairs and into another "cast only" door that lead to the exclusive top floor. There we sat and met our dive leader, two dive masters, and our videographer. They had prepared our tanks, bcd`s, and regulators (atomic titanium!). They even weighted them before our arrival.
They came around where we were sitting and offered masks to those who didn`t bring them and "mickey spit" defog for us all. Then we were called one by one onto a platform three feet below the waterline where they helped us don our gear and fins (also atomic) and the dive leader led us out to an orange bouy where a down line was attached for us to follow to the bottom. once on the floor we grouped up and headed out for a quick tour around the aquarium and into the dive bell for the camera. They took us by the restraunt windows where all the diners could see us and then to the windows where our familys were waiting to see us to get video of them as well.
Finally we were sent off on our own. The first thing i saw was the giant grouper. This was my first dive since my certification and nothing I had seen to that point even came close to the size of these things. It`s like a large mouth bass the size of a small car. And of course there was the sharks. It was easy enough for my instructor to relieve my fears of sharks when we were training by simply saying that sharks are harmless, of course there were no sharks around durring training. So regardless of how much reassurance he had given me, sharks make me nervous, very nervous. There were also stingrays and beautiful turtles that we had been told not to touch. I explored a little but mostly played with kids at the windows and my family, it was great.
I guess since it was my first dive and the fact that sharks make me nervous i ran low on air first. so i went up to the bouy where the dive leader met me to see what was wrong and i told him. He offered me another tank to keep diving but i was really tired of avoiding sharks so i headed back to the platform. There i got a chance to look around at all the gear and equipment they had. It was by far the best dive i could hope for. They used only the best gear money could buy and treated me like they were all there to make my day great.
When everyone was done we went back to the changing room and showered, got dressed and met back in the room with the big tv. There they had all our stuff laid out: C-cards, t-shirts, brochures of the dive, a DWCF pin, and a certificate commemorating the dive. Our original guide came back and showed us the video they made of us diving. It was really cool getting to watch that. They offered them to us to buy for $35 and then led us out where i joined my family at the Coral Reef restraunt for supper.
I cant wait to do this dive again (maybe without the fear of sharks). All the people were incredibly nice even the other divers. There were dive instructors there and people who had been diving for decades, most had done this dive before, and all swore it was the best you could get.