Tips for visiting Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida

Discovery Cove Orlando is one of those places that has been on my bucket list for quite some time.  Last fall, after saving and pinching pennies for months, we were finally going.  My husband was very leery about the expense of Discovery Cove, but in the end, I left him no choice.  We were going.  By mid-day, he said to me, “I have to admit, this was worth every penny.”  If Discovery Cove is something you are on the fence about then I say do it!

Discovery Cove Orlando, Florida

Discovery Cove Prices

The rates vary based on time of year, we went in late October and paid $289 a person for the day, for us this included the dolphin swim.

I know, I know, that’s a lot of money, but there really is a great value associated with it.

This price included admission to the park, the dolphin swim, towels, sunscreen, food for the day, alcohol, and you get included an admission ticket to one of their other theme parks, SeaWorld, Aquatica Waterpark, Busch Gardens, and Adventure Island.

Food at Discovery Cove

Food at Discovery Cove

Upon arrival and check in we went over to the Laguna Grill for breakfast.  The food wasn’t as gourmet as I was expecting, but it was certainly very good.  You could get sausage, bacon, eggs, potatoes, pancakes, pastries, etc.

You will also return to Laguna Grill for your included lunch and there are drink and snack stations throughout the park.

It’s all inclusive so the kids were thrilled with the unlimited ice cream and the parents were thrilled with the unlimited beer and margaritas!

What to Bring to Discovery Cove

One of the nicest conveniences of Discovery Cove is you don’t have to pack anything when you go.  You can literally just show up! There are two options available, you can wear your swimsuit with a Discovery Cove jacket or you can opt for a complete wetsuit.

We were there on a chilly October morning that was quite overcast so we opted for wetsuits.

There are several professional photographers in the water with you and several options available for purchasing photos.  After some deliberation, we ended up just buying the disk with all the photos.

Dolphin Encounter at Discovery Cove

Dolphin Encounter at Discovery Cove

The 30-minute dolphin encounter was the highlight of my vacation, as we learned about the species, saw up-close tricks, swam, and posed for photos.

After our dolphin encounter, we went over to the Grand Reef where we got snorkeling equipment and explored the coral reef habitat where you are literally swimming among the stingrays, colorful saltwater fish, and you can snorkel down to see the sharks through the glass.

The Wind-Away River may have been what I was most impressed with.  It’s a lazy river basically, but it is fresh water and absolutely magnificent with its natural rock and beauty.  The lazy river takes you past sandy beaches, through the rainforest, beneath natural looking waterfalls, and through an underwater cave. Occasionally you will see staff along there water line carrying exotic animals that you can hop out of the water to learn about and touch.  We could have spent all day in the Wind-Away River.

If you want to get out of the water for a bit you can also check out the Explorer’s Aviary.   Additional experiences that you can add-on include the Shark Swim, Seaventure, and Ray Feeding.

Other Discovery Cove Thoughts

Get some of those cheesy water shoes before you go. I didn’t see the need for them, but the Wind-Away River has some very rough places where you can easily scrape up your feet.  My only other suggestion is not to bother with the extra cost of renting a cabana.  I had several people tell me not to do that and I’m glad I didn’t.  There are plenty of places to relax whether in the shade or in the sun, so you really won’t need a reserved resting place.

If you’ve been debating a trip to Discovery Cove we encourage you to start saving now! You are bound to make some unforgettable memories with your family!

Considering a trip to Discovery Cove? We have tips for making your visit a success.