With pristine white-sand beaches, stunning lagoons and the most immersive animal encounters you’ll ever experience, Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida is quite unlike anywhere else. We can think of hundreds of reasons we’re dying to come back to Discovery Cove – here are our top 5!
SeaVenture has got to be one of the most incredible experiences ever. Wearing innovative weighted dive helmets, we walked along the floor of the Grand Reef, colourful fish darting around us. Nurse sharks dozed just inches away, separated from us by an 8 foot high, 21 foot wide glass wall that was so clear that half the people in our group hadn’t realised there was something between us and the sharks! No wonder they looked nervous when I walked straight up to the glass! While we were exploring the reef floor, our underwater guides helped us safely touch some really wonderful little creatures, and treated us to a fish feeding time like no other.
Things to consider:
What I loved most was that SeaVenture had all of the benefits of SCUBA diving, but without any of the hassle, equipment or training. As with SCUBA, however, some people can feel a little anxious hearing their own breathing or being surrounded by an excited school of fish, and it’s ill-advised if you’re flying the same day.
Note that children need to be 10 or over to experience SeaVenture.
2) Dolphin Swim
With the help of our guide, we waded into Dolphin Lagoon to meet Roxie the Dolphin and her mother Thelma. I honestly didn’t know what to expect – I somehow didn’t believe that a dolphin would actually come over and play with us, but that she did! Our guide showed us how to stroke her without hurting her or accidentally covering her blow hole, how to ask her to wave to us, and how to ask her to give us a twirl. Initially a bit tense being so close to such a magnificent and powerful creature, the children soon relaxed and were ready for a little swim.
While my swim with Roxie was pretty incredible, what really blew me away was this moment when my little 6 year old boy cast aside his fear of animals and his issues about getting his head wet. Magical.
3) Freshwater Oasis
This brand new attraction takes animal encounters to a whole new level. Rather than shuffling along a corridor to watch the otters, you and the children don wetsuits and snorkels and swim along a crystal clear and warm water path, separated from the otters by huge glass walls.
There are twists and turns to explore, a leafy canopy overhead, and an island along your swim with spritely little marmosets at play. The water is fairly deep, so I swam and walked with my youngest riding on my back, but there are life vests galore for those who can’t swim. All in all, a truly marvellous experience and one I wish we could revisit time and time again!
The aviary is hilarious. From the moment we walked in, birds were landing in my hair thinking it was a pretty neat place to nest. Upping the ante with a little pot of food in one hand, I was their new best friend – a little like the time Mads walked into a butterfly garden wearing a flowery top. While they were a bit apprehensive for the first few minutes, the children soon worked up the courage to hold little pots of their own, inviting the birds to land on them too. I helped prepare them beforehand with a few bird tips – the most important being not to panic and move your arm away when the bird lands or it will grip on tighter! The aviary is not for everyone, but for our family this was a real treat.
5) Snorkelling in the Grand Reef
When we flew into Orlando the last thing I thought I would be doing is snorkelling in crystal clear waters with rays fluttering by… but there I was! Mads was straight in there with her snorkel and mask, swimming around the shallows while a lifeguard looked on. My youngest isn’t yet a strong enough swimmer, so he rode on my back with his cute little masked face dipped into the water over my shoulder as we explored the reef. There are some deep grottos to explore too, and the combination of salt water and wetsuit makes you so buoyant that you can explore for ages without tiring at all. It’s such a lovely experience and one we could easily do every day!
There you have it – our little roundup of 5 reasons you MUST visit Discovery Cove. If you’ve been, we would love to know which experiences were your favourites. And if you haven’t been, go!
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a leading theme park and entertainment company delivering personal, interactive and educational experiences that blend imagination with nature and enable its customers to celebrate, connect with and care for the natural world we share. Over its more than 50 year history, the Company has built a diversified portfolio of 11 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind collection of approximately 67,000 marine and terrestrial animals.
The Company’s theme parks in Florida include Discovery Cove, a tropical oasis in the heart of Orlando where you can swim with a dolphin; SeaWorld, the world’s most popular marine life park; Busch Gardens, full of wild animals and even wilder rides and Aquatica, SeaWorld’s waterpark.
Disclosure: Compensation was provided by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.