Disney, Disney Springs, Family Fun, Hotel Review, Travel

I Found Dory At The Monterey Bay Aquarium #FindingDoryEvent

Last month I was treated to a very special up close and personal look behind the scenes at the Monterey Bay Aquarium which just happens to serve as the backdrop and inspiration for Disney•Pixar’s brand new animated feature, Finding Dory, which swims into theaters everywhere on June 17.Finding-Dory-Aquarium

 It was here at the Monterey Marine Life Institute that the animators and production team of Finding Dory spent untold hours researching the inner workings of an aquarium of this magnitude in order to bring the film version and setting to life.

Monterey-Bay-Aquarium #FindingDoryEvent

The film picks up six months after Finding Nemo, when Dory suddenly recalls her childhood memories. Remembering something about “the jewel of Monterey, California”, she is accompanied by Nemo and Marlin, as she sets out to find her family. Arriving at the Monterey Marine Life Institute, it is here that Dory meets Bailey, a white beluga whale; Destiny, a whale shark; and Hank the octopus, who becomes her guide.


If you’ve never been to the Monterey Bay Aquarium before, it’s worth a visit to California all on its own. The Aquarium is located right on the edge of the Pacific Ocean in beautiful Monterey, California. A part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the waters just off the decks of the aquarium are home to an amazing variety of marine life.



The Monterey Bay Aquarium was first opened in 1984 and has played host to over 2 million visitors each year including my own family who held annual passes to this fascinating glimpse of life under the sea. It is home to thousands of plants and animals, including more than 600 species of underwater life.  


It is said that that the best kind of learning is hands on learning where children are encouraged to explore and discover and in no place is this more true than at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  With the Pacific Ocean as its’ backdrop, the Aquarium gives a rare and special glimpse of where nature meets Monterey, taking full advantage of this unique setting. To illustrate how rare this aquarium truly is, we were lucky enough to be there two days after a wild sea otter climbed into a Monterey Bay Aquarium pool and gave birth to a baby otter, the second in mere months. Where else could you find a front row seat to creatures of the ocean and nature at its very best?


Since opening in 1984, more than two million schoolchildren and teachers have come through the doors of the aquarium and thousands more teachers and students take advantage of the in-depth programs via curriculum guides, online webcams and more. 

With so much to see and do, here is just a sampling of a few of the not to be missed exhibits awaiting you on your visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium:

Splash Zone

My own family’s personal favorite, the Splash Zone is a place where families can get up close and personal to the water and discover the ocean together.  


Home to over 45 interactive exhibits in English and Spanish, you can dive into a kelp forest, visit a coral reef kingdom or explore a rocky shore. Rockfish, sharks and penguins call these places home and of course it is here that, if you’re very lucky, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of Dory, Nemo and Marlin. 

I Found Dory-Monterey-Bay -Aquarium-#FindingDoryEvent

The Kelp Forest

Kelp Forest

The showcase of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is the main tank which stands 28-feet-high and holds 333,000-US-gallons of fresh sea water allowing for a perfect up close and personal view of the California coastal marine life. It was in this tank, that the aquarium became the first in the world to grow live California Giant Kelp.


The Monterey Bay Aquarium also is home to a mammoth 1,200,000-U.S.-gallon tank in the Open Sea galleries, which features one of the world’s largest single-paned windows.  But as magnificent as the tank and sea life is by day, being surrounded by the majesty of these creatures at night opens up an entirely new world that one can only imagine as we quickly discovered when we paid a visit to the aquarium after dark.



Now you can meet Hank the cephalopod and all of his underwater friends in the newly opened Tentacles Exhibition. At Tentacles you will be able to journey to a world of undersea magicians, masters of disguise and quick-change artists. This special exhibition is the largest, most diverse living exhibit ever created to showcase these amazing animals.  Make sure you stay tuned right here when we share with you what it was like to actually hold and interact with one of the creatures that inhabit this one of a kind exhibit. 


¡Viva Baja! Life on the Edge


From the slithery to the scaly to the spectacularly showy the ¡Viva Baja! gives you a special look and allows you to discover the incredible animals from land and sea from the coastal habitats of Baja California. Life here thrives on the edge of sand and surf, where rugged desert coastline meets the sapphire waters of the Pacific.

Meet The Sea Otters

Is there anything cuter than a Sea Otter?  The Monterey Bay Aquarium provides a safe haven for these rescued animals that are no longer able to survive in the wild. One of my favorite things that I learned during my visit was that each of the animals is occasionally off exhibit, acting as a companion or mentor to other stranded otters as part of the Sea Otter Program.


At the aquarium you’ll have the chance to get a first hand look at the antics of these playful southern sea otters as they romp, tumble and wrestle like they do in the wild. A two level exhibit,  the second floor allows you  to watch them swim at the surface, while first-floor windows give an underwater view of their lively acrobatics.

Life On The Bay


One of the things that makes the Monterey Aquarium unique and what sets it apart from other aquariums is the fact that it sits perched on the edge of Monterey Bay. The breathtaking ocean-view decks offer a great vantage point to spot wildlife, from sea otters to humpback whales and a place where I could sit for hours. In the Marine Mammal Gallery, you’ll find life-size models of whales and dolphins swimming overhead, and learn about life on the bay once again making learning accessible and fun for all.


Just how all of this will play into Finding Dory?  You’ll soon find out on June 17  but for now here’s a glimpse at the reason for our visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Disney•Pixar’s Finding Dory:

Finding Dory features returning favorites Marlin, Nemo and the Tank Gang, along with a host of new characters, including a few who will prove to be a very important part of Dory’s life and introduces us to Dory’s parents.

Finding Dory

Findng Nemo director Andrew Stanton  returns once again to bring this animated classic to life and  features the voices of Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Ty Burrell, Eugene Levy and Diane Keaton.  Look for Finding Dory to swim into our hearts and theaters June 17, 2016


Get into the swim of things:


Like us on Facebook: Pixar Finding Dory

Follow us on Twitter: Disney*Pixar

Follow Disney/Pixar on Instagram

Follow Disney Studios on Pinterest

Visit Disney/Pixar on Tumblr

Visit the official FINDING DORY website


Finding Dory swims into theaters June 17

Max Brace (Story Supervisor) and Angus MacLane (Co-Director) present at the Finding Dory Long Lead press day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, CA. Photo by Marc Flores. ©2016 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

©2016 Disney•Pixar

Up next, find out all about “Dory’s Story” where we share with you how Dory’s story came to be and how it was developed and taken from script to storyboards to screen in our interview with Co-Director Angus MacLane and Story Supervisor Max Brace.


Disclosure: I have been invited by Disney to cover this media event.All material and expenses for this event have been provided courtesy of Walt Disney Studios but all opinions my own