Even on a cold Saturday in February, Discovery Cove packed in the people to experience one of the most unique aquatic adventures in Florida.
SeaWorld Orlando has hidden away Discovery Cove for 15 years, a tropical paradise that somehow separates itself from the bustle of nearby tourist-filled International Drive. Inside, no more than 1,200 guests are allowed in per day, allowing freedom to roam without bumping into the usual theme park crowds.
Discovery Cove isn’t your average water park. There aren’t any slides or rides. An extremely lazy river and ample places to lounge around are among its highlights, providing a beach vacation for a day nowhere near the ocean.
SeaWorld recently offered us a chance to return to Discovery Cove to explore some of its more unique opportunities. The park is somewhat of a wealthy person’s dream water park. It’s not at all cheap to get in. A standard ticket costs around $180. Including a dolphin swim package brings it to around $300. Becoming a “trainer for a day” makes that around $500. And adding a private cabana is around $200 more.
Food and drinks are included, which are decent considering the fact that they’re unlimited. Discovery Cove definitely isn’t an exquisite culinary destination, but the cuisine does the job for keeping everyone fed.
But where the park does shine for those high prices is in its personalized treatment, particularly for the big spenders. Those who upgrade to a private cabana are catered to by a host who will bring fresh towels, snacks, drinks, and attend to just about any other need throughout the day. In addition, for chilly days like this February, the cabanas have space heaters making lounging on their private chairs much more enjoyable. For those simply looking to get away and relax, it’s a pricey but soothing experience.
Additional entertainment can be found at a cabana as Discovery Cove brings around some interesting critters (like this sloth) for some educational opportunities – and maybe a selfie or two.
Outside of the cabana, there are plenty of opportunities to stay entertained. In recent years, the park has found a nice balance between fresh and salt water experiences, both with and without wildlife – under the water, on land, and in the air. The Grand Reef offers close encounters with sea life while other parts of the park put guests in the same space as birds and a few furry friends.
Those who desire to get the most hands on will want to enroll in the dolphin swim, which gives plenty of tactile opportunities including the highlight ride while holding the smiling mammal’s fins. It’s simply fun.
Even more interaction occurs in the “trainer for a day” program, which includes going behind the scenes to safely touch sharks that are normally behind glass.
After spending upwards of 8 hours in the park, the only worry I had was staying warm as the sun set on an unusually cold day in Florida. But not even brisk weather can stop complete enjoyment of Discovery Cove, truly Florida’s most unique “water park.”
More information can be found at DiscoveryCove.com.