An Introduction to Discovery Cove

DISCLOSURE: My husband and I were invited guests of Discovery Cove, however all opinions are all my own.

Discovery Cove Welcome

An Introduction to Discovery Cove

Over the next few days I will be sharing more about my experience at Discovery Cove, and I wanted to start off by sharing and overview of the amazing Signature Experiences and Amenities that you can enjoy in the Park.

Discovery Cove is a unique reservations only, all-inclusive park where you can experience up-close encounters with exotic marine life and animals or just relax on pristine white sand beaches all day long.

While the park is quite spacious with a lush, tropical feel the daily attendance is limited to about 1,300 guests per day so the atmospehere is more intimate. It really provides a resort experience unlike any park in the world today.

Discovery Cove


Discovery Cove is a full day adventure with operating hours of 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. daily. Guest can begin the check-in process at 7:15 a.m., and I strongly advise you to get there as early as you can to maximize your time in the park!

Walking into the Discovery Cove lobby, you feel as if you have been transported to a tropical hideaway.

Discovery Cove Lobby Panorama

Once you are greeted you will be escorted to a check-in desk, and this is where you will be issued your passes for the day and have the opportunity to review your day’s plan to make any changes.

If you will be participating in the Dolphin Swim Experience, not included with your park admission, this is when you will receive your group information and time slot.

Other Discovery Cove amenities that are included with admission are freshly prepared breakfast and lunch at the Laguna Grill, unlimited snacks and drinks at several locations throughout the park, free equipment rentals, non-toxic sunscreen, towels, and a souvenir snorkel.

Discovery Cove Laguna Grill
Laguna Grill


It was a chilly morning, so it was really cool to take a moment to look out over the park from the back of the Lobby building.

Discovery Cove Early Morning Look Out


After you all checked-in for the day, had a little breakfast at the Laguna Grill, and have picked the perfect beach chair it’s time to get out there and explore Discovery Cove!

Discovery Cove Signs

Discovery Cove Signature Experiences

Our first stop of the day was the Explorer’s Aviary, a free flight aviary where you can hand-feed exotic birds.

Discovery Cove Explorer's Aviary

The Aviary has three separate areas for the birds, and each area has their own guide with specialty food for the birds in that area.

The birds in the Aviary eat often, and once you pick up a cup and stick your arm out you are sure to have one or more birds visiting you in no time!

Discovery Cove Aviary Peacock

While I am not a huge bird fan, the guides help make me comfortable with the process.

Meanwhile, I didn’t think that Dave was ever going to leave!

Discovery Cove Aviary Dave

After the aviary, we decided it was time to visit the marmosets and otters in the Freshwater Oasis.

I was extremely lucky to be able to attend the Grand Opening of this area a few years ago, so I was stoked to revisit some old friends!

Discovery Cove Freshwater Oasis Trail

Designed with a rainforest canopy above and sparkling-clear springs below, the Freshwater Oasis is a way to relax and explore water-filled trails that lead you down windy offshoots, an island inhabited by adorable marmosets, and face-to-face with playful otters.

Here is a video of the Otters from when the area first opened that I adore!


I love spending time in the Freshwater Oasis!

Located near the Freshwater Oasis, you will find Serenity Bay and Wind-Away River.

Serenity Bay is your chance to slip into the refreshing 80-degree temperature water for a swim or a place to take a break and soak up some sun!

Discovery Cove Serenity Bay

Serenity Bay is a great areas for larger families to reconnect after activities that may take them in separate directions and for smaller children to really let loose.

After you’ve had your fill of splashing in Serenity Bay, grab your snorkel and head into the Wind-Away River.

Discovery Cove Windaway River

You can ride the smooth currents of a tropical Wind-Away River as it twists past sandy beaches, through a dense rain forest inside the Explorer’s Aviary, beneath the rocky terrain of cascading waterfalls, and through an underwater cave. If you glance down as you travel along, you might find some interesting artifacts.


I will mention that the Wind-Away River is quite long and can be draining! We did end up taking a break to catch a snack after one trip around the River.

While I love the Freshwater Oasis, Dave’s favorite place to spend time at Discovery Cove was snorkeling in The Grand Reef.

Beyond the sandy and slightly rocky beaches of The Grand Reef, you will find a vivid and stunning habitat full of tropical fish and rays.

Wordless Wednesday Discovery Cove The Grand Reef

There really is no feeling like gliding next to a gigantic ray among a school of beautiful fish. I did have to stop several times on my first loop around, because my breath was taken away. I joked that my goggles didn’t fog up, because I was crying. It really was a truly amazing and peaceful experience.

Photo: Discovery Cove


Further out in the reef, and safely behind glass, we found sharp-toothed reef sharks.

Above ground around The Grand Reef, you can take paths and bridges to the reef’s islands and hidden grottos.

Discovery Cove The Grand Reef Walkway

While the above mentioned Signature Experiences are included in Discovery Cove admission, guests are able to add on two unique experiences.

The first experience, is the park’s signature 30-minute dolphin swim experience.

Before you enter the water, you will have to attend a short orientation session (10 minutes) led by Discovery Cove’s expert dolphin trainers to discuss safety and offer an opportunity for participants to ask questions.

Next, small groups wade into the shallow water of the Dolphin Lagoon for the in-water experience with the dolphins.

Discovery Cove  Dolphin Experience


At the end, one at a time, guests and a trainer will swim into deeper water for a personal “dorsal tow” back to shore.

Since you aren’t allowed to take photos during your Dolphin experience, afterwards you can view photographs and video of the interaction, talk about their experience with trainers, and ask any remaining questions.

Discovery Cove Shelley Dolphin

It is important to also know that Discovery Cove can accommodate guests with disabilities who are able to maneuver themselves with limited assistance (or with the aid of a personal assistant) during their dolphin experience.

I’ll be talking about this experience more soon, but let me tell you that I am KICKING myself for waiting so long to do this!

Another option to add on to your day is The Grand Reef’s innovative experience called SeaVenture, which is an underwater walking tour.

Discovery Cove Orlando Valentine's Day Dolphin Experience Grand Reef
Photo: Discovery Cove

In SeaVenture you wear a dive helmet, no SCUBA certification is necessary, to experience The Grand Reef by climbing down a ladder and setting foot on the reef floor.

During the journey, there are one-on-one touches with unique animals, schools of fish, velvety rays, and even unique sea life found along the way. The adventure ends with schools of fish feeding around the divers with the massive open reef as the backdrop.

The SeaVenture experience has been compared to ‘walking on the moon – but surrounded by fish.

SeaVenture sea star
Photo: Discovery Cove

The program is about an hour long including orientation (SeaVenture walking tour length is approximately 25 minutes) for groups up to eight people per excursion. The cost is $59 per participant.

I didn’t get the chance to experience SeaVenture, but I am really considering a return trip to give it a try!Discovery Cove Lobby Dolphins

There is one more extra perk that is included in the Discovery Cove Day Resort Package.

The package includes unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark in Orlando (can be added for an additional charge) for 14 days surrounding your Discovery Cove park visit.

Discovery Cove Scenery 3

Currently, Florida Residents can take advantage of a Dolphin Swim Resort Package Special starting at $219.

The Florida Resident Dolphin Swim Day Resort Package includes:

  • A reserved 30-minute dolphin interaction*
  • Hand feeding exotic birds in a free-flight aviary
  • Encounters with playful otters and curious marmosets
  • Freshly prepared breakfast and lunch plus unlimited snacks and drinks
  • Unlimited admission to SeaWorld® and Aquatica ™ Orlando for 14 consecutive days. **

It is important to note that these packages are available with and without the Dolphin Swim Experience. Purchase by December 31, 2015. Blackout dates March 28-April 13 and June 22-August 17, 2015, subject to availability. Other restrictions may apply. Not valid on previously booked reservations or in combination with other offers. Proof of valid FL residency for each adult is required at check-in.

**14 day ticket valid on visits surrounding your Discovery Cove day.

I can’t wait to share more about our Discovery Cove visit!

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