Tips for making your time at Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida unforgettable!

Discovery Cove Orlando is one of those places that had been on our 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 we 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.

It is in essence an all inclusive theme park.

Is Discovery Cove Open Year Round?

The short answer is yes! Since Discovery Cove is located in Orlando, Florida temperatures will ebb and flow but typically chilly weather isn’t an issue that would stop visitors from enjoying their time at Discovery Cove.

Discovery Cove is open from 9am – 5pm for the water attractions, but should you decide to take advantage of the breakfast service that they provide, that begins at 7:15am.

If you’ve booked the dolphin swim or SeaVenture, those attraction times are assigned when you check in for the day, and are first come first served.

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 lunch that is included with your park ticket. Additionally, 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 of gear available, you can wear your swimsuit with a Discovery Cove lifejacket 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.

Sunscreen and towels are also provided when you are visiting Discovery Cove, so unless you needs a specific type of sunscreen, you can leave that at the hotel!

There are lockers at the front of the park, and it isn’t so large of a park that it would be difficult to walk back and forth between the lockers and the activity that your group is doing.

However, some people feel more comfortable buying a slash-proof bag that locks to a lounge chair. If that is the route that you go, here is one that we like from Amazon. 

If I could do my trip at Discovery Cove again I would get some water shoes before going. Originally we didn’t see the need for them, but the Wind-Away River has some very rough places that could resort in scraped and sore feet.

Photos from Discovery Cove:

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. This was a digital only option and included all of the photos from the day for $199

There are some other options that include physical prints of your photos which range from $99 to $251.

What you need to know about cancelling your Discovery Cove Reservation:

If for whatever reason you should need to cancel the time you have scheduled at Discovery but don’t think that you’ll be visiting at all, it is important to do it more than 30 days from your scheduled day.

Any cancelling 30 days or closer to your reservation and there are no refunds given.

Attractions included with a basic Discovery Cove Ticket:

These attractions that are included are in addition to the towels, sunscreen and unlimited food and drinks for the duration of your visit.

Dolphin Encounter
Explorer’s Aviary
Freshwater Oasis
The Grand Reef
Serenity Bay
Wind-Away River

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.

Grand Reef at Discovery Cove:

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.

Wind-Away River at Discovery Cove:

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 the 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.

Add-ons to your day at Discovery Cove:

Additional experiences that you can add-on include the Shark Swim, SeaVenture, and Ray Feeding.
SeaVenture, is Discovery Cove’s answer to offering scuba diving for everyone. It is a 45 minute underwater walking tour that provides a helmet that allows you to see and breath comfortably under water.  SeaVenture costs $49.00 per person.

Swim with the sharks at Discovery Cove.  If you or someone in your group is feeling particularly brave, then a swim with the sharks may just be in order! The shark swim add on is $109.00 per person.

Stingray feeding. Suit up early in the morning and help the staff at Discovery Cove as they feed stingrays. The Stingray feeding is $59.00 per person.

Cabanas at Discovery Cove

Another suggestion that we have is not to bother with the extra cost of renting a cabana.

We had several people tell us 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.

Should you decide that you do want to rent a cabana they start at the very basic level of service at $199 all the way up to a very VIP experience for $799

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!

Headed to Orlando and need other ideas for things to do? Check out our post about things to do in Orlando! 

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

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