In the water with dolphins V.I.P.

Due to the new measure this year we do not offer any foto moments or programs.

V.I.P. stands for Very Important Person, but we like it to also stand for Vivacious In the water Programme. A truly exceptional experience for real dolphin-friends, and also something really special to share with your friends or family. With the ‘In the water with dolphins V.I.P.’ programme you get to see, hear and feel our dolphins up close and personal and experience what it’s like to be a real dolphin caretaker. Moreover, you will get a unique look behind the scenes of the Dolfinarium. You’ll feel like a true celebrity, starring our dolphins.

Let yourself be enchanted

As part of the ‘In the water with dolphins V.I.P.’ programme, you’ll first get into a pair of wading trousers – and that’s a good thing too as you don’t want to upstage the dolphins as a V.I.P. – and then make your way into the water with the dolphins. You will observe the caretakers during the dolphins’ feeding and playtime. They know all there is to know about dolphins, so don’t hesitate to ask them about everything under the sun (and underwater)! They will also teach you hand gestures to communicate with the dolphins. Did you know that dolphins can sing, swing their tails and splash? They’d love to show off for you!

You also get to touch a dolphin and have your picture* taken with these enchanting animals. What’s more, we’ll give you an exclusive guided tour. You’ll get to go to places you’re not otherwise allowed to go and take a look behind the scenes of the DolfijndoMijn. You will attend a training session from the stage where usually only the caretakers are allowed to go. They will show you all the ins and outs of a dolphin show. You’ll also be allowed to go to the area below the stage, where you can see the dolphins underwater – and maybe they will swim straight towards you…

Fast Pass

If you think meeting a dolphin and catching a glimpse behind the scenes is the end of perhaps the best day of your life, think again! You’ll get a V.I.P. treatment all day long. You’ll also have a Fast Pass, which means you no longer have to wait in line for the three main shows:

You can enter these shows via the special Fast Pass entrance. There are even special places reserved for you at the DolfijndoMijn, so you’ll always be front and centre! But, er, beware of the splash zone…

*A Dolfinarium photographer will take the picture. You’ll receive one printed copy of the best picture after the show.

The ‘In the water with dolphins V.I.P.’ programme

The programme is run for groups of up to eight people so that both the animals and the participants get all the time and attention. You’ll put on a pair of wading trousers to keep your own clothes dry and get into the water with the dolphins, after which they’ll soon come over to greet you. After several extensive moments of interaction with the dolphins, you’ll attend an exclusive training session on stage at DolfijndoMijn. You’re also allowed to go to the area below the stage where you can see the dolphins swimming underwater. Swimming with the dolphins is not possible, but you’re allowed to touch the animals and take a picture with them. The full programme takes about 1.5 hours; participation costs €125 per person. If you have a subscription, you will get a discount of €12.50 – that’s only €112.50 per person! This price does not include admission to the park, so you also need a valid ticket.

As a participant, you need to understand Dutch or English.

Terms and Conditions

In the water with dolphins V.I.P. is an interactive programme. The safety of both humans and animals is always the main concern for our staff and caretakers. That is why there are conditions for participation. All conditions can be found here. Important:

  • If you have doubts about whether you meet the conditions, please send an e-mail to [email protected].
  • A valid admission ticket is required to participate in the programme. You can order this online.
  • The programme managers have the right to refuse participants on the day itself under the programme conditions for participation.
  • There will be no refund if people do not meet the conditions but who have made a reservation. If it becomes apparent, prior to or during the programme, that a participant does not meet these requirements and this affects or may affect the safety and execution of the programme, it might be decided to exclude someone from the programme. It would be very unfortunate if it turns out during the programme that participation is not possible. If participation is not possible, there will be no refund of the programme costs.
Admission

In addition to the costs of participation, you require a valid admission ticket to the park to participate in the programme. You can order this online.

Age

The ‘In the water with dolphins V.I.P.’ programme is suitable for children from the ages of eight and up. For the safety of participating children, children up to and including twelve years of age should always be accompanied by a participating and paying adult (eighteen years or over). This means one supervisor for every two children. A truly unique experience to share with your child or grandchild!

Height

For safety reasons, participants must be no less than 1.40 metres tall (4’6″). This will prevent you and our wading trousers from getting too wet. Wading trousers that fill up with water become very heavy, which makes walking and moving about difficult. Moreover, it is not pleasant for the next participant to wear wading trousers that are already wet. This is why we can’t make any exceptions and you can’t participate in this programme if you are less than 1.40 metres tall.

Health and mobility

The health and safety of both humans and animals are the main priority during the programme. It involves climbing and walking on a slippery surface, and a large part of the programme consists of standing up to your waist in water. You also have to walk independently in and out of the water by means of a ladder. If you unable to do this (on your own), we cannot guarantee your safety or the safety of our Dolphins. It will then unfortunately not be possible to participate in the programme.

Language

For your own safety and that of our animals, it is important that you are able to follow direct instructions. The default language of the programme is Dutch, but it’s also possible to have this done in English. It is therefore mandatory to speak and understand either Dutch or English – any other languages or the use of a translator are not an option.

Clothing

The Dolfinarium provides participants in the ‘In the water with dolphins V.I.P.’ programme with wading trousers to borrow. These are available in shoe sizes 36 to 50 (UK size 3.5-14.5; US size 4-15). The wading trousers do not have much stretch to them, so sometimes someone will have to borrow a pair of wading trousers with a larger shoe size than their own size. This makes walking and moving about more difficult and can cause uncomfortable and unsafe situations. If you have a considerably different size, please contact us prior to booking to enquire whether appropriate clothing is available.

Cancellation and/or changes

In the event of unforeseen circumstances or if there are fewer than four participants, we may have to cancel the programme. We will set a new date in consultation.

Upon cancellation of the programme by the participant, the Dolfinarium will charge the following cancellation costs:

  • Up to one month before participation in the programme that was booked, 35% of the programme costs;
  • From one month to ten working days before participation in the programme that was booked, 60% of the programme costs;
  • Within ten working days before participation in the programme that was booked or on the day itself, the cancellation costs are 100% and there will be no refund of the programme costs.

Please note. Any changes are possible up to one month in advance. If you want to change or cancel your reservation after that time, amounts that have already been paid will not be refunded. The alteration expenses depend on how long in advance the change is communicated. The possibility to change is subject to availability, and changes can only be made for another date within the opening times of the current season.

The alteration expenses charged by the Dolfinarium are:

  • From one month to ten working days before participation in the programme that was booked, €15 per person;
  • Within ten working days before participation in the programme that was booked, €25 per ticket;
  • Changes on the day itself are not possible and are considered a cancellation. There will be no refund of the programme costs.

You can change your reservation according to the terms and conditions. You can do so by sending an e-mail to [email protected]

Frequently asked questions

What does the programme entail?

The programme is different each time; it is largely up to the dolphins to decide how it goes. As it happens, they all have their own will and character… In any event, the caretaker will ask a dolphin to come up for a photo opportunity. You will also learn a hand gesture that will let a dolphin know that they can start singing, swinging their tail or splashing about, for example. The programme takes place outdoors. As we put safety for humans and animals first, there will be no swimming with the dolphins.

What should I bring with me?

Your tickets, and nothing else! You will borrow a pair of wading trousers from us, which you will wear over your socks and regular clothes. This will keep your clothes dry and help us keep the situation hygienic and safe for the animals.

Is the admission ticket included in the price?

No, the programme does not include park admission. A valid ticket is required to participate in the programme.

What time does the programme start?

The ‘In the water with dolphins V.I.P.’ programme always starts at 10 a.m. in the morning. So make sure you get to the Dolfinarium on time – keep in mind that it is about a ten-minute walk from the parking lot.

My child is twelve years old and is perfectly able to participate in the programme on their own. Is that allowed?

We understand that all children are different and that some children can participate on their own, but we are not in a position to judge for ourselves. It would be unpleasant if one twelve-year-old child is allowed to participate independently while another twelve-year-old has to bring a supervisor. That is why we are strict when it comes to the age limit and supervision in this programme. It would be very unfortunate if a child does not have a supervisor with them upon arrival and is unable to participate in the programme. Asking other participants to supervise the child is not an option; this would after all be at the expense of their own experience.

Can I also swim with dolphins?

This is not possible. Swimming with dolphins involves certain risks. We want to have as much control as possible over the interaction between humans and animals. This is how we guarantee peace and quiet for the dolphins, their environment and your safety as a participant as well as that of the animals. You won’t have to travel all that far to meet dolphins with the ‘In the water with dolphins’ programme, and what’s more, there will be more contact between humans and animals than there would be when swimming.

Can I also meet other animals?

Definitely! For example, you can also meet our California sea lions from really up close. Have a look here for an overview of all our programmes with animals.

What is the difference with the regular 'In the water with dolphins' programme?

The ‘In the water with dolphins’ programme will also get you up close and personal with dolphins, and you will be able to touch them and have your picture taken with them. But the V.I.P. programme will allow for even more contact with the dolphins, and you get to watch the caretakers during the dolphins’ feeding and playtime. Moreover, you get to go to places you’re not allowed to go otherwise.

Can I take pictures?

It is not allowed to bring a camera with you to the animal enclosure. A Dolfinarium photographer will take pictures during the programme, of which you will be given one printed copy as a reminder of this unique experience. You can also buy three extra photos for €30. Any visitors staying behind can also film you or take pictures of you and the dolphins from a distance.

I have swollen ankles; will I be able to fit the wading trousers?

We have wading trousers available in shoe sizes 36 to 50 (UK size 3.5-14.5; US size 4-15). It sometimes happens that deviating sizes, such as wide hips or larger chest size, present some difficulties when putting on the wading trousers. If you’re in doubt, please e-mail your question and your phone number to [email protected]

If you have any doubts, you can always come and try them on before you make a reservation. It is mandatory to wear a pair of wading trousers for participation, and it would be a pity to find out during the programme that you’re not able to participate.

Are the programmes also accessible to people with a disability or slight impairment?

It is difficult to assess whether someone with a disability or mild cognitive or physical disability is able to participate. In any case, people with a disability must always be accompanied by a paying participating adult. Our professional staff members are primarily concerned with the safety of people and animals. If, prior to a programme, they notice that a certain disability or impairment has or may have an impact on safety, they will decide on the spot whether a person is able to participate in the programme.

It would be very unfortunate, of course, if it becomes apparent at that time that participation is not possible. In that case, no refund will be issued. So, please be sure to make a realistic assessment based on the conditions for participation. For example, assess whether it’s possible to sit and remain seated on your own and whether you can move around to pet the animals. Also consider other factors that may have an influence, such as contact with others or being sensitive to sound or touch. If you need help making an assessment, please don’t hesitate to e-mail your question and phone number to [email protected] We can often find a suitable solution to still meet a dolphin.

Are the programmes also accessible to people who are ill?

‘In the water with dolphins’ is an intense experience. It is not advisable to participate in the programme in case of pregnancy, contagious skin problems and/or external inflammation, epilepsy, cardiovascular diseases, or medication that suppresses the immune system or may adversely affect the ability to drive. Nevertheless, we can often come up with an appropriate solution to meet a dolphin. Feel free to e-mail your question and phone number to [email protected]

I want to fulfil one last wish of a terminally ill patient. What are the options?

Needless to say, we would be happy to help fulfil wishes that are extremely important. To do so, the participant does, however, have to meet the conditions we set for the programme. Experience has also shown that this situation has a considerable impact on other participants. That is why we recommend booking a programme exclusively for your group (up to eight people). We also offer tailor-made options to give the person the attention they deserve. Would you like to know more about this? Please e-mail your question and telephone number to [email protected]. Please note: for children who have a critical illness, we have a partnership with Make-A-Wish Netherlands. They provide a careful screening and the necessary assistance during a tailor-made programme developed for this target group.

Can I book a programme exclusively for my group?

Certainly! An exclusive reservation of the ‘In the water with dolphins V.I.P.’ programme is possible for a minimum of one and a maximum of eight people. It is important that all participants meet the conditions of the programme. Send an e-mail to [email protected] to book an exclusive programme. We would like the following information from you: two preferred dates (you can request any date; we will check the possibilities), whether the standard programme time of 1.5 hours is sufficient for you, the number of persons, and the names and ages of the participants.

I want to propose to someone among the dolphins. Is that possible?

We are more than happy to contribute to these special occasions. The best option is to make an exclusive reservation for ‘In the water with dolphins’. You will have an unforgettable experience together with the dolphins, and there will be time after the regular programme to ask any questions you may have in an intimate setting. Want to know more? Send your question and phone number to [email protected]

Can dolphins bite or attack you?

Dolphins remain animals that may exhibit unexpected behaviour or movements. Think of young dolphins that want to discover everything in a playful way, or males that have something else on their mind during mating season. The safety of both humans and animals is always paramount. That is why the programme is supervised by our professional caretakers who know the dolphins like no other and can adequately anticipate their cues.

Is there a chance the dolphins do not show up?

Participation in the programme will not guarantee you get to touch the animals. If the animals indicate their unwillingness to participate, we cannot and do not want to force them to do so. But we should add that this hasn’t been an issue in all the decades we have been running this programme. If a programme cannot be continued, for example during the birth of a dolphin or due to weather conditions, we will offer a suitable compensation.

Has anything ever gone wrong during the programme?

During the programme, the safety of both people and animals is paramount and participants are supervised by a professional team. No accidents have occurred to date, not among the dolphins nor among the participants.

What are the prices for participation based on?

We have based the price of the programmes on our efforts and investments. The programme requires a lot of preparation and is fairly labour-intensive. We have also invested in special facilities to make it a truly unique experience, such as a separate room where the explanation takes place and signs with information about the animals.

What makes the programme in Harderwijk unique compared to other dolphin programmes worldwide?

The animals at the Dolfinarium will come up very close thanks to the unique set-up of the programme, where participants are in the water without swimming up to the dolphins. The participants also appreciate the personal attention and explanation of the caretakers. The interaction with animals is different each time, and that makes each programme unique.

Does the Dolfinarium exploit its animals with this programme?

No. Needless to say, the animals are the focus of attention at the Dolfinarium. We have set up our programmes with the utmost care, and the first concern is the welfare of the animals. The dolphins decide for themselves whether they want to get closer to the participants. And they almost always do – dolphins love to play and touch. We therefore see the ‘In the water with dolphins’ programme as an enriching experience for the animals, which makes it an enchanting experience for both humans and animals.

Is the programme harmful to the dolphins?

If there was even the slightest doubt as to the harmful effects on the animals or participants, we would not continue the programme. We have put the whole programme together in such a way that the animals are fully respected. We have been running this programme for decades now, and this experience has taught us that the programme provides variety in the dolphins’ everyday schedule. The research ‘A Retrospective Study of Bottlenose Dolphins Participating in In-Water Interactive Programs Showing an Overall Absence of Clinical and Subclinical Respiratory Disease’ also shows that the programme is not harmful to dolphins.

I do not speak or understand Dutch or English – is this really mandatory to participate in the programme?

Dutch is used as the standard language of the programme. However, this could be changed to English if needed. It is mandatory to speak and understand either Dutch or English. For your own safety and that of our animals, it is very important to be able to understand the instructions.

Other questions

Can’t find the answer to your question here? Feel free to contact us via +31 (0) 341 – 467 460 or [email protected].

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