Our History

June 1938: Marineland opens as Marine Studios, with over 30,000 guests on the first day, and quickly became known as the world’s first oceanarium. The facility was founded by Douglas Burden, C.V. Whitney and Ilia Tolstoy, who each were involved in the motion-picture industry. The original vision for Marineland was to give the public an opportunity to view and learn about bottlenose dolphins. The facility was designed for Hollywood film-makers to shoot underwater footage for motion pictures and newsreels.

1940s: Presentations at Marine Studios evolve from simple dolphin feedings into complex animal behaviors and demonstrations. Our “jump masters” were some of the first to pioneer methods for animal care and training.

1947: Spray, the first dolphin successfully born in human care, is born at Marineland.

1953: The Atlantic bottlenose dolphin Nellie is born at Marineland. Learn more about Nellie’s legacy.

1950s – 1960s: Marine Studios becomes Marineland of Florida, one of the state’s leading public attractions, with as many as 500,000 guests per year.

2004: Natural depletion occurs, following the effects of salty air, hurricanes and time, causing Marineland to retire most of the original, older structures and exhibits. We began construction on a new, updated facility focused on education and intimate animal-human interactions.

2006: The facility reopens as Marineland’s Dolphin Conservation Center. The modern 1.3 million gallon facility was designed with the behavioral needs of the animals, logistical needs of trainers and viewing capabilities of guests and scientists.

2011: Marineland’s Dolphin Conservation Center is acquired by Georgia Aquarium and renamed Marineland Dolphin Adventure. However, we did not forget our roots.

Today: Guests will see tributes to our Marine Studios heritage everywhere they look. With our past in mind, we have chosen our path for the future: interactions instead of passive viewing. Gone are the days when the emphasis was on performing animals. Now our guests join our animals in their habitats and make the physical and emotional connections that inevitably lead to a true understanding of why we need to protect these incredible animals and their marine environment. Now, 70 years later, we continue to grow as a leader in marine conservation, animal care and community education.

Marine Studios Filmography
Marineland is the sight of many movies you have probably seen! All or some of the scenes in the following films were shot at Marineland.

  • "Marine Circus" (1939)
  • "Port Sinister" (1953)
  • "The Sea Around Us" (1953)
  • "Creature from the Black Lagoon" (1954)
  • "Revenge of the Creature" (1955)
  • "Secrets of the Reef" (1956)
  • "Sea Hunt" (1958, TV)
  • "Zaat" (1975)
  • "Sea Dream" (1978)
  • "Benji Takes a Dive at Marineland" (1981, TV)
  • "The Flamingo Rising" (2001, TV)

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Nellie's Legacy

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