Ever dreamed of swimming with dolphins? Snorkeling with stingrays? Lounging in a hammock on the beach? Floating down a warm lazy river?
Then you need to check out Discovery Cove! Our family has visited the park in Orlando twice now, and I can’t believe I haven’t written a blog post about it. So here it goes.
SeaWorld owns and operates Discovery Cove. It is well worth the effort and cost. The staff is very friendly and helpful, and the whole park is super clean and organized.
On our Spring trip, there was a trainer holding a sloth in the lobby as we finished our registration process. The sloth was really just hanging on him, like he was a tree! Then later in the day, we saw them again. This sloth was pretty clean, but in the wild sloths frequently are covered in moss or algae, like a rock or tree, because they spend so much time not moving or moving slow. They are super cute!
The big “event” at Discovery Cove is to swim with a dolphin, however there is so much more to do that you stay all day until you are ready to drop.
We started our day with some snorkeling in the lagoon with stingrays and tropical fish. It is such a neat spot! Our first trip was in the summer, no wetsuits required, however our second trip was in the Spring, and it was a bit chilly that time. We wore wetsuits or vests during the Spring trip, and actually you have to wear at least a vest while in the water as a safety feature. The stingrays were so pretty and there are several different kinds in Grand Reef, as well as many different types of fish.
After our snorkel, we grabbed some snacks from one of the many snack bars (and the kids loved that everything was included and you don’t have to “pay”); you can get a warm pretzel, some fruit, a frozen lemonade or an adult beverage. And by the way, both breakfast and lunch and snacks are included in your day at the resort! Also, your mask and snorkel and wetsuit or vest are provided, as well as a special sunscreen that will not harm the fish or animals. You get to keep your snorkel as well!
When you are ready for your dolphin encounter, you first watch a short video about dolphins, then the trainers talk about what will happen and the “rules” for interacting with the dolphin.
The dolphins respond to hand signals and the trainer lets you pet them and get to know them a bit. Then you swim out about 20 feet and catch a ride back with the dolphin. It is really a neat experience. You can feel how powerful they are as you hold onto the dorsal fin while they swim you back to shore.
Next we moved on to the lazy river. You start off in a cave-like area, and then float down the river. The water is warm and delightful. There are spots with rocks on the bottom, places to stop and rest (or take a cool picture), and even places to exit the river to see the bird aviary. As you float down the river, you will also encounter an area with otters and marmosets (the otters are in their own “water”, not swimming in the river). We saw on trainer holding a marmoset on the bank too!
You climb out of the river and go up some stairs to enter the bird aviary. The kids loved to let the birds land on their arms and then feed the birds (food is provided). There are some really exotic species and some more normal ducks as well. They have identification cards in the aviary where you can check what kind of birds you are seeing.
Overall, our experiences at Discovery Cove have been excellent, and I would recommend it to anyone. They have specials for Florida residents sometimes during the year, so that is a great time to visit. We can’t wait to go back and hope to see you there!