Despite all of the time I’ve spent in Orlando over the years, I’d never been to Discovery Cove. I went to Sea World when I was very young and then again last year when friends had comp tickets, but Discovery Cove wasn’t all that interesting to me. This past Black Friday, Sea World had a great deal on tickets for all three parks, so we went for he first time in January.
I can’t wait to go back again. This will definitely be a part of our vacations in Orlando from now on!
Discovery Cove isn’t really a waterpark. It’s more of an interactive aquarium where you get to immerse yourself in the environment with the creatures that inhabit the park. Most of them are in the water, but there are some birds as well. It’s all inclusive, meaning that nearly everything you need in your day is included. There’s no extra charges for food or wetsuits!
Yes, I said wetsuits.
Discovery Cove states they require wetsuits on all waterways with the exception of Serenity Bay and the Flooded Terrace. They provide the wetsuits and they do go up to very large sizes. Neither of us had a problem with them, except getting into them was a problem. Getting them off and on to go to the bathroom was also (not) fun. However, when in the park I found it to be quite comfortable.
Some people wore bathing suits with a wetsuit vest. The water is at a comfortable temperature for the life within it, not necessarily what is comfortable for us humans. I’d opt for the wetsuit. We were also given a mask and snorkel to use for the day. Although the mask had to be returned – we got to keep the snorkel!
Or course, with COVID you are taking a bit of a risk here. The typical masks we are wearing now are not allowed to be worn in the water. I have felt pretty comfortable outside in the open air when participating in activities, so that didn’t bother me here. We did wear masks any time we were out of the water and not eating or drinking.
Food is also included, which is breakfast and lunch so make sure you get there early! We arrived early in the day and ate a nice breakfast selection. It’s not exactly gourmet, but it’s better than what I had in either of the other Sea World parks I visited in January. Breakfast was eggs, bacon, potatoes, pastries, coffee, & juice. My son had pancakes because he’s not so big on eggs. Lunch time there were great selections that were a notch above theme park food. I had the grilled churrasco steak as did my spouse. My son had salmon. We also had dessert – my choice was cheesecake. It was all good. There are soft drink and snack stations all around the park to grab a quick drink and small bags of snacks – all included. There were some higher-caliber snacks available to purchase and individual alcoholic drinks as well, or there was a daily drink pass available for the alcoholic drinks.
But, hey, you’re not coming here for the food. We spent most of our day at the Grand Reef where thousands of fish and rays hang out. Being January, it wasn’t all that crowded, which was nice. When I could stand still in the water undisturbed I had fish coming right up to me.
There are artificial reefs all over the place here, and plenty of places for the fish to hide when they don’t want to deal with you. I had a blast watching them, especially the rays. Discovery Cove employees hung out near the rays to make sure they weren’t being disturbed too much. One in particular decided to nap right in the middle of the water, and I was able to walk right up next to her.
The other place we hung out for a while was Serenity Bay and the lazy river that went around from it. Since there are no creatures here, the water is a balmy 85°F.
There’s all kinds of grottos and waterfalls here. In the lazy river you’ll stumble over rocks and under waterfalls as you wind into and out of a netted aviary.
While it was a warm day when we were there in January, a day of bad weather can really put the damper on your day. When out of the water there were sandy beaches to sit on and if it’s rainy or chilly, it’s not much fun. The next time we go back will probably be next April for that reason.
My son is on the autism spectrum, so I didn’t want to book the Dolphin Experience if he was reluctant to do it. We will be booking it the next time we go. He learned he likes snorkeling last year on a cruise and Discovery Cove was a great experience for him. He was the reason we ended up spending so much time at the reef area. He got to see so many fish and enjoyed the experience completely.
I had my doubts before we visited if it was worth the money, but now I can truly say yes it is!