Making a Splash: Marineland Re-Opens to the Public

World’s First Oceanarium Places Greater Focus on Education, Research and Conservation

MARINELAND, Fla., March 3 /PRNewswire/ — Marineland, the Florida destination originally opened as the world’s first oceanarium in 1938, reopens its doors March 4. The historic attraction is undergoing a major renovation under the management of Jacoby Development Inc. and is opening its new 1.3 million-gallon Dolphin Conservation Center this spring.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Marineland is one of Florida’s most nostalgic and best-loved attractions. The oceanarium proudly houses both the oldest known bottlenose dolphin in human care, Nellie, who is 53 years old, as well as the last known blonde bottlenose dolphin, Lilly.

“Marineland is truly a piece of Americana, and we could not be prouder to restore this piece of Florida history,” said Jim Jacoby, CEO of Jacoby Development Inc. and longtime marine life supporter. “Marineland is a great example of how environmental tourism can benefit not only visitors and the neighboring community, but also marine animals and research.”

While Marineland was once popular for its dolphin shows where people watched dolphins jump through hoops, play a variety of sports, and pull dogs on surfboards, the modern-day focus of the oceanarium has evolved to focus on one-on-one dolphin encounters. Not just any “swim-with-dolphins” program, the intimate interactions at Marineland offer guests a sense of appreciation for the ocean’s fragile ecosystem while being immersed in dolphin research and entertainment. Visitors can anticipate the opportunity to pet, feed, and swim with the magnificent animals.

The original Marineland was founded by the prominent Whitney, Burden and Pratt families, as well as Ilya Tolstoy, grandson of the great novelist Leo Tolstoy. Marineland’s original name, Marine Studios, reflected the founders’ desire to establish a water-related film capability, including the creation of the world’s first underwater film studio.

The town of Marineland is also home to the University of Florida’s Whitney Laboratory for Marine Biosciences, a leading marine biotechnology research center, which uses research and education to create a sustainable coastal economy and environment; and a National Estuarine Research Reserve facility.

Jacoby imagined a more modern Marineland as a resort destination with a goal of not only entertaining guests, but also educating them to be more sensitive to the ocean and its wildlife. As such, much consideration was taken for the comfort level of each animal during the move into the remodeled facilities. He also hired Billy Hurley to lead the park into the 21st century.

“Swimming with dolphins is one of the things most people have on their list to do at some time in their lives,” said Hurley, general manager of Marineland. “This will be a more authentic experience, and a more personal interaction, than anything else available out there.”

Future plans for Marineland include a resort hotel, condominiums, spa, expansion of the Whitney Lab, and upgrading exhibits and displays to better educate and entertain visitors.

Visit and or call (904) 471-1111 for more information or to make reservations.

About the Jacoby Group of Companies

The Jacoby Group of Companies is focused on real estate, education, energy and research — all with a focus on sustaining the environment. Founded by Jim Jacoby in 1975, the company has expanded its focus from its initial endeavors in retail center development to broader endeavors that embrace and promote environmental stewardship. The Jacoby Group of Companies’ initiatives include mixed-use development, eco-resorts and wetland preservation as well as ventures in medical research, environmental and alternative energy research, and new education tools.

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