If you told me my family would be swimming with dolphins in Orlando on the coldest day in Florida’s recent history, I wouldn’t have believed it but that’s exactly what happened earlier this month. Despite the cold weather, we had an amazing experience and look forward to many visits back to Discovery Cove®. Our Florida family travel was planned for an entire month before our visit but the cold weather was un unexpected challenge. Discovery Cove park is an all-inclusive day resort with many different animal encounter experiences. Snorkeling in the Grand Reef®, playing with otters in the Freshwater Oasis®, swimming with dolphins and so much more, Discovery Cove is a great getaway for the entire family.
The resort is located near SeaWorld Orlando and perfect for the ultimate Orlando week if you plan to visit Discovery Cove, SeaWorld and Aquatica. We’ve visited Seaworld San Diego many times with our oldest daughter, the SeaWorld Kid Blogger. She’s been counting down the days until she is old enough to swim with the dolphins but at the California park she has 11 months before her 10th birthday and can participate in the Dolphin and Beluga Interaction Programs. However, at Discovery Cove, the age requirement is six years old.
An all inclusive Dolphin Swim day at Discovery Cove includes so much more than just walking the lush property and enjoying the beautiful water with the dolphins. You’ll also enjoy the following:
- Breakfast, lunch, beverages and unlimited snacks
- Complimentary use of snorkel gear, wetsuits, towels, lockers, sunscreen, showers, changing rooms, and all day self parking
- Unlimited access to The Grand Reef, Serenity Bay, Explorer’s Aviary and Wind-Away River
- Unlimited admission to SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica Orlando for 14-consecutive days around your reservation date
We arrived mid morning and were greeted by our private cabana attendant upon check in. Prior to our day at Discovery Cove, I had a phone conversation with a representative regarding our complimentary visit and the anticipated cold weather. She assured me the resort is well equipped for rare cold days and we would be comfortable with heat lamps throughout the park, warm water regulated for animals and guests and full body wetsuits. Coming from Arizona, Florida temperatures in the 40’s were intimidating but I was greatly reassured our visit would be spectacular. I feel so fortunate for not changing our plans because our day really was more wonderful than anything we could have expected.
Our private cabana had a wonderful view of Dolphin Lagoon with secluded dining area, hammock and fully stocked refrigerator. The safe with key was an excellent alternative to using a locker and provided a secure place for us to leave our personal belongings during our planned activities. Towels and sunscreen and an attendant to assist with all our needs made it easy to enjoy the day and forget about the abnormally cool weather.
We explored the resort after changing into our wetsuits. As reassured previously, the wetsuits and the warm regulated water had us feeling very comfortable while enjoying the activities. The Grand Reef is the warmest water in the park so my husband and two year old daughter enjoyed playing there while our oldest daughter and I participated in our dolphin swim. The Grand Reef is also where you’ll find Ray Feeding, SeaVenture and the Shark Swim – all activities that require an additional reservation and have age requirements.
The dolphin swim experience begins with an educational video and then your group is escorted to Dolphin Lagoon to get in the water. Photographers are present and personal cameras or recording devices are not permitted for the dolphins’ safety. The interaction is very educational with many opportunities to ask questions throughout the trainer’s presentation. We learned about our dolphin’s distinct personality while watching behaviors that help us understand their behaviors in their natural environment. My daughter enjoyed every second of the 30 minute interaction. Each participant was given the opportunity to swim alongside the dolphin at the end of the interaction making it a real dream come true for many guests.
The trainers are very considerate of groups visiting together and many photo opportunities are presented for lasting memories of the experience.
Our youngest daughter has a few years to go before she meets the six year old age requirement so my husband participated in the dolphin swim interaction in a group after us. He brought our toddler over to the Dolphin Lagoon and we easily transitioned so our entire family could enjoy the dolphin experience.
We brought home all the photos and a DVD with video memories from our experience with the dolphins. Big sister’s first time in the water with dolphins was more magical than she ever expected.
Relaxing in the Freshwater Oasis and on the Wind-Away River provided more animal encounters and kept us warm on the abnormally cold day.
The all-inclusive resort provides a hot breakfast, hot lunch and snacks throughout the day. A fabulous kids menu and snacks the entire family enjoys added to our wonderful experience. Unlimited beverages include Coke products, water, hot chocolate, coffee and alcohol for guests 21+. We definitely appreciated our private cabana attendant’s delivery of warm cookies and hot chocolate during one of our colder moments out of the water. We took a break for lunch before visiting the Explorer’s Aviary. The warm balanced meal was delicious and because it is buffet style, everyone in the family selected their favorite meals.
Explorer’s Aviary is full of hundreds of colorful birds with the opportunity to feed them fresh fruit by hand. Our two year old daughter has always been fascinated by birds so this experience was incredible for her. The educational hour we spent in the aviary gave her more experiences with birds than she has ever had collectively in her entire little life. She’s asked to go back everyday since our visit!
Children under three are free to visit with a paying adult but do require a reservation. While Florida’s warm climate is generally consistent with weather comfortable for swimsuits and water parks all year, don’t let a cold forecast change your plans to visit Discovery Cove. It was a very cold day when we visited but as promised, the resort is fully equipped to keep guests comfortable on even the coldest days.
What are you most excited to experience with a visit to Discovery Cove?