Clearwater approves lease to aquarium for Dolphin Tale movie tour

CLEARWATER — The Clearwater Marine Aquarium, whose star dolphin inspired the upcoming film Dolphin Tale, will open a movie set and prop tour downtown in November.

The City Council unanimously approved a lease Thursday allowing the aquarium to rent the second floor of the city's Harborview Center, a defunct convention center and former Stein Mart.

Aquarium leaders pitched the deal last month because they expect overwhelming crowds from the film's release Sept. 23.

Shuttles will escort visitors between the aquarium and the second site, which leaders said will stay open for at least a year. Admission will cost about $7.

The aquarium will pay $1 a year in rent and about $120,000 to repay the city's center repairs. Mayor Frank Hibbard called the deal a "win-win," saying it could bring new life to the city's ailing downtown.

The 3-D film tells the story of Winter, a bottlenose who learned to swim with a prosthetic tail. The site will host the home and garage of Ashley Judd's character, as well as props from Morgan Freeman's office and Harry Connick Jr.'s houseboat.

The site will also host a gift shop and small touch tank. The aquarium's wildlife, including Winter, will remain two miles away at the aquarium on Island Estates.

Clearwater approves lease to aquarium for Dolphin Tale movie tour 09/01/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 1, 2011 8:55pm]

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