Have you ever wanted to swim with a dolphin?
Discovery Cove Florida is a wildlife water park with a difference where you can:
- snorkel with sting rays and shoals of multi-coloured tropical fish
- swim and interact with a dolphin
- hand feed exotic tropical birds
- or simply lounge beside beautiful sandy lagoons (not a roller coaster or ride in sight!)
Discovery Cove Florida is situated across the road from SeaWorld Orlando and is a very exclusive theme park as each day, admission is strictly limited to 1000 guests and you must make a reservation and buy your ticket in advance, you cannot simply turn up on the day and hope to get in.
You should book up well in advance if you plan to visit Discovery Cove around main holiday times like Easter or Thanksgiving.
As soon as you arrive at Discovery Cove Florida, your are aware of its intimate and very personal feel. For a start there is the option of valet parking and because of the limited numbers, the park never feels crowded.
Firstly you are greeted in family groups in the main reception and individual photo-ID cards are made up for each party member.
To save the hassle of carrying money around with you, you can register a credit card on your ID and then use it to pay for food or gifts throughout your stay. Note that a complementary lunch is included in the price of the ticket.
A guide then takes you to the main facilities (with a stop for a family photo portrait - included in the ticket price) and shows you to the changing facilities and locker areas where you collect your mask, snorkel, beach towel plus wet suit or jacket to wear whilst in the water. You get to keep the snorkel when you leave.
Then also supply you with special sun cream that is suitable for use in the water with the various fish etc.
If you have chosen to swim with the dolphins then you will be given a time slot and location to meet up at prior to the swim.
For the rest of the day, you can do as you please; there is no sense of urgency or having to queue.
There is a tropical reef area where you can snorkel amongst a wide variety of tropical reef fish and sting rays; there are waterproof laminated cards showing you all the different species. Barracudas can be seen through the sides of a sunken shipwreck (but you do not need to worry as they are separated by a thick glass pane).
There is also a river course that you can swim around but be aware that after swimming through the waterfall, the water is over 6ft deep so if you do not like swimming out of your depth, get hold of a life-vest before you start the swim as there is only one place to get out (at the aviary, near the beginning).
In the free flight aviary (which can also be reached by a path) you can walk amongst many highly colourful tropical birds and guides are on hand to give you small cups of food with which you can hand feed some of the birds.
The one thing that sets Discovery Cove apart from all the other wildlife water parks is the opportunity to swim with dolphins. See the Dolphin swim page for full details.