My family and I visited Discovery Cove in June 2017 and had an absolutely amazing experience! In fact, as we exited the park that day, we agreed to return in 2019 when my youngest son is old enough to participate in the Dolphin Swim Experience (Children must be at least 6 years old to swim with dolphins). Our day at Discovery Cove Orlando was truly one of the best days we've ever had while on a family vacation. You can imagine my excitement when I was offered an opportunity to participate in an exclusive agents-only tour of this incredible resort! Keep reading to find out why a day at this park is SO worth it...
First and foremost, Discovery Cove parks are all-inclusive day resorts. Included in the cost of admission is self-parking, breakfast, lunch, snacks, drinks (including alcohol for guests 21+), use of wet suits, souvenir snorkel, towels, day lockers, shower amenities and even eco-friendly sunscreen! You seriously don't need to bring anything but your swimsuit and admission ticket. How fantastic is that?!
There are three options when purchasing your all-inclusive admission: Day Admission (No Dolphin Interaction starting at $169), Dolphin Swim (30 Minute Dolphin Experience starting at $229) & Trainer for a Day (Enhanced Dolphin Interaction, All Day with Trainer, Behind the Scenes Tour starting at $428). There are also add-on activities such as ray feeding ($50), shark swim ($85) & SeaVenture (underwater walking tour wearing a dive helmet starting at $49). Additional options to enhance your visit to Discovery Cove include an upgraded drink package ($30) and cabana rentals ($249 with special occasion packages available). FUN FACT: Discovery Cove has an Engagement Package available for those looking for a unique way to pop the question. Imagine the surprise when a dolphin delivers a Will You Marry Me? buoy to the unsuspecting bride/groom-to-be! Talk about an unforgettable proposal!
Discovery Cove's hours of operation are 7:15A-5:30P. The resort is open daily most of the year but will close Tues, Wed & Thurs during non-peak times in the months of November through February. I recommend arriving and checking-in early, especially if members of your party will be swimming with dolphins or participating in any of the add-on activities. Guests are assigned a time-slot for their experience at the time of check-in: The earlier you arrive, the earlier you're dolphin swim, feeding, SeaVenture, etc. will be scheduled.
Not only should you arrive early to schedule your add-on experiences but also to get first dibs on loungers and the oh-so-relaxing hammocks situated throughout the property. And, let's not forget about the hot breakfast that's also included in your admission and ready for you upon arrival! Who doesn't love enjoying breakfast under a palm tree!?
After breakfast, swing by the wet-suit and gear hut before heading off to grab a day locker and apply (free!) sunscreen. Then enjoy all that the resort has to offer: snorkel with thousands of fish and rays in the Grand Reef, observe and feed hundreds of birds in Explorer's Aviary, grab a float noodle and let the Wind-Away River take you through the beautifully landscaped resort, or splash in warmer waters under a waterfall in Serenity Bay. Also, don't miss the Freshwater Oasis which is tucked away beyond Serenity Bay. Kids of all ages will love the shallow waters of this new attraction at Discovery Cove where you can observe playful marmosets and busy otters who are just as curious about you as you are about them!
My family really enjoyed the laid back, uncrowded feel of Discovery Cove. The resort is capacity controlled and they admit just 1400 people per day. That means there's no standing shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers, fighting over loungers or floats, or long lines to get a bite to eat here! With a limited amount of tickets available for each day, I do recommend that you reserve your day well in advance, especially if traveling during peak tourist times. Don't worry if you have to reschedule! Discovery Cove allows one complimentary date change prior to your visit. Additional changes to your itinerary are $50 per occurrence.
Not quite convinced that Discovery Cove is a good value? What if I told you that your admission ticket to Discovery Cove includes a 14-day unlimited pass to SeaWorld and Aquatica Orlando!? That's right...you can actually visit SeaWorld and/or Aquatica every day for 14 days surrounding your visit to Discovery Cove. (For reference, a single day ticket to SeaWorld is currently $100 and a single day ticket to Aquatica is $60) Choose the Ultimate Upgrade package ($25) when purchasing your Discovery Cove ticket and you'll also receive free admission to Busch Gardens, Tampa Bay and free parking at all the resorts! (For reference, a single day ticket to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is currently $90 and parking ranges from $15-$19 per day)
Now is a great time to book! SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is currently offering some great benefits when booking a hotel and ticket package. In addition to the perks listed below, you can get one FREE night at participating SeaWorld Official and Partner hotels. DEAL ALERT: I was able to score 5-nights in June 2018 for a family of 4, including Dolphin Swim at Discovery Cove and one free hotel night as well as all the benefits listed below, for just $1785! That's peak vacation season!!! What are you waiting for!?