So many wonderful Discovery Cove experiences await you at this intimate, SeaWorld-owned resort. You probably know that you can swim with dolphins here, but now you can also swim with sharks and feed stingrays!
Swim with an Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin
This is, of course, the main draw at Discovery Cove. The 50-minute experience begins with an orientation led by trainers and includes time for participants to ask questions. Next, guests get several opportunities to interact with the dolphins before swimming into deeper water and being towed back to shore by one of the alluring creatures. I loved feeding a dolphin, placing my hand on his heart, and even getting a kiss!
New Discovery Cove Experiences
The Shark Swim includes a shallow water talk and training session with Discovery Cove’s expert aquarists, followed by the opportunity to swim freely alongside several species of sharks in the deeper part of their habitat. The cost of the shark swimming experience, which takes place daily at 11:30 a.m. and 12 p.m. is an additional $85 above the normal admission fee.
Discovery Cove donates 5% of the proceeds from Shark Swim to the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, which conducts scientific research and hosts educational programs aimed at conserving the marine environment.
The Ray Feeding experience allows guests to assist Discovery Cove workers as they manage the feeding process of the cownose and southern stingrays. The cost of this experience is $50 on top of the normal admission fee. The stingray feeding experience happens every day, except for Tuesday and Wednesday, 7-8:30 a.m. All participants must be at least 10 years old and comfortable swimming in water. Children ages 10-13 must be accompanied by a paying adult who is also participating in the Ray Feeding experience.
In addition to feeding the rays, guests will also give thousands of beautiful tropical fish their morning meal before venturing out on a private, guided swim of The Grand Reef. All participants must be at least 6 years old and comfortable in water.
What Else is There to Do at Discovery Cove?
Snorkeling with thousands of exotic fish in the Grand Reef is an absolute must—and so is feeding the gorgeous tropical birds in Explorer’s Aviary. Guests can visit with otters and marmosets at the Freshwater Oasis and spend time relaxing in the soothing currents of Wind-Away River as it flows past sandy beaches, beneath cascading waterfalls, and through an underwater cave.
More Fabulous Discovery Cove Experiences
For an additional $49–$69 per person, plus tax, depending on the season, you can experience SeaVenture, a 25-minute underwater stroll on the bottom of the Grand Reef aquarium. Participants wear diving helmets (large enough to accommodate eyeglasses), and no experience or SCUBA certification is necessary. The minimum age for this experience is 10 years.
Trainer for a Day is an all-inclusive Discovery Cove day, plus exciting extras such as shadowing a trainer all day, a second enhanced deep-water interaction with dolphins (including a private photo session with two dolphins), a behind-the-scenes tour of all Discovery Cove support areas, and special meet-and-greets with tropical birds and small mammals. The program is limited to groups of no more than nine. Prices for the program start at $428 and include all the amenities of the dolphin swim package. Trainer for a Day participants must be in good physical condition and at least 6 years old, and participants under the age of 13 must be accompanied by a paid Trainer for a Day adult.
The Ultimate Way to Relax at Discovery Cove
Rent a private cabana for a treat well worth the splurge! Different locations, layouts, and packages are available, and prices are $200 and up. Some cabanas offer a view of the dolphin swim experience, while others are more secluded. All are nicely equipped with a private locker and a fridge filled with drinks. A canopy offers shade over a table and chairs, and the sun can be worshipped in chaise lounges in a beach-like area. My cabana even had a hammock.
Best of all, a cabana attendant regularly checks on guests and brings fresh towels, snacks, and drinks. If you have kids in your party, sand toys are available upon request at no additional charge.
Discovery Cove is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily; check-in begins at 7:15 a.m. Admission is limited, so purchase tickets well in advance. Prices vary seasonally from $276 to $361 per person, including tax (no children’s discount). Prices for Florida residents start at $233. Admission includes the dolphin swim; self-parking; Continental breakfast; a substantial lunch; snacks and drinks; use of beach umbrellas, lounge chairs, towels, lockers, and swim and snorkel gear. All you’ll need is a swimsuit, pool shoes, and a cover-up. Everything else is provided. On rare days when it’s too cold to swim in Orlando, guests are provided with free wet suits. Discovery Cove also provides fish-friendly sunscreen (guests may not use their own sunscreen). Also included in the package is unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica water park for 14 days surrounding your visit to Discovery Cove. Children must be at least 6 years old to swim with dolphins. Children ages 6-12 must be accompanied by a paying adult who also is participating in the dolphin swim experience.
If you’re not interested in the dolphin swim, you can visit Discovery Cove for the day for $180–$233 per person, plus tax, depending on the season.
Good to Know
If you’re participating in three or more add-on Discovery Cove experiences during your visit, you must plan to arrive by 7:30 a.m. for check-in and proper scheduling of your day.
Guests staying at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel Orlando, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, and Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort can use free transportation to Discovery Cove. For a fee, transportation is offered by SpringHill Suites Orlando and TownePlace Suites Orlando at Flamingo Crossings.
Discovery Cove is a beautifully landscaped place. There are waterfalls, winding rivers, and white-sand beaches. Its slower pace is a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks. The Discovery Cove experiences are unforgettable, one-of-a kind encounters with amazing creatures.