I am sharing the ultimate guide to Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida. Discovery Cove® is an all-inclusive day resort. Once you arrive, you feel transported to a tropical island. You can enjoy one-of-a-kind opportunities like swimming with dolphins, snorkeling with tropical fish and rays, hand-feed hundreds of exotic birds, taking pictures alongside flamingos, unlimited food and drink, and more.
Thank you to Discovery Cove for hosting us
Discovery Cove is one of the most incredible marine parks. It is an exquisite tropical island paradise. And I cannot recommend their experience enough. Everyone in our family had a blast!! We all felt like we were on the islands and no longer in Orlando.
Why Do You LOVE Discovery Cove?
Want to see all the highlights of the day? You can see them here.
There is so much to love at Discovery Cove. We all felt like we were on a tropical private island from arrival. I have never felt so relaxed in Orlando! We love that it is all-inclusive. Our kids love a buffet, and the food was so yummy. In addition to breakfast and lunch, they also had unlimited snacks and drinks (beer and wine for people 21 years and older.) We upgraded to the mixed drink package, and they had resort-style drinks that added to the day's fun.
They provide everything, and there is something to do for everyone. Our highlights included the following:
- Interaction with Stella, the dolphin
- Swimming with tropical fish in the Grand Reef
- Relaxing in the cabana
- Floating through the Discovery Cove Lazy River
- The unlimited food, especially the ICEEs, and pretzels
- Petting sting rays in the Grand Reef
What to Expect When You Arrive at Discovery Cove
Get ready for an unforgettable day at this one-of-a-kind attraction in Orlando! This all-inclusive day resort offers a tranquil oasis where guests can swim with dolphins, snorkel with tropical fish, and relax on a pristine beach. In this blog post, we'll discuss what to expect when you arrive at Discovery Cove, from the check-in process to the park's top attractions.
They have free parking. Then you walk into the Welcome building. Here you will check in with a representative. They book your extra activities, like the dolphin interactions, based on your arrival time. We had a cabana, so we were greeted by a staff member who walked us to our cabana. Then we went straight to get breakfast. We had our breakfast in the cabana. If you need a cabana, they have many tables and lounge chairs.
Ideal Day Schedule at Discovery Cove
- Arrive as early as possible. Discovery Cove opens at 7 am. We got there at 8:30 am, and that was my only regret, but vacationing with kids can mean everything takes a little longer in the morning.
- Dolphin Interaction
- Lazy River
- Snorkeling and exploring the Great Reef
- Showers and heading home
What to Wear to Discovery Cove
- Bathing Suit: I also brought a swim shirt for all of us since I knew we would spend most of the day in the sun. They have wetsuits, so you don't have to bring one. I chose to wear the vest instead of the wetsuit, so I wore my swim shirt. The kids wore wetsuits so they could look like dolphin trainers in training.
- Cover-up: You will want a cover-up for getting breakfast and lunch.
What to Bring to Discovery Cove
Guess of Discovery Cove should bring.
- Photo ID: Bring one for everyone who is over 18 years old.
- Cash or Credit Card: Discovery Cove is all-inclusive, so you don't need any money for your food or drinks. However, they have great souvenir shops if you want to take home a reminder of your trip.
- Swim Diapers: if needed for little ones
- Change of Clothes and Toiletries: They have showers where you can clean off at the end of the day. They have soap, shampoo, and conditioner. But remember a hairbrush and your deodorant.
- Water Shoes: The sand can get hot, so these are very helpful.
- Makeup Brush: This sounds funny, but Discovery Cove provides Reef-friendly sunscreen, and applying it with a makeup brush is easier.
- Completed Waivers: Everyone under 18 years old needs a Waiver.
- Optional Extra Bathing Suit for Little Ones: Since Slade is only 2, I always bring him a change of bathing suit so he does not get too cold.
Does Discovery Cove Provide Towels?
Discovery Cove provides towels and so much more, including wetsuits and wet suit vests. You have to wear one of them in the water for safety.
What NOT to Bring
- Jewelry: This is for the safety of marine animals. You can wear wedding rings, but I left mine in the safe at the hotel just in case.
- Sunscreen: They provide reef-safe sunscreen for you everywhere in the park. Apply it before your dolphin encounter since the closest sunscreen is a few minutes away.
- Outside food or drinks: You have unlimited drinks and food, so you don't need to bring snacks.
- Flotation devices: Discovery Cove provides life jackets and floats, so you don't need to get anything.
- Snorkel Gear: They provide masks, snorkels, and carrying bags in several park areas to grab and go. They even have prescription masks that you can get from the shop.
- Wetsuit: They provide wetsuits, so there is no reason to bring your own.
Hours Discovery Cove Orlando
Discovery Cove opens at 7:00 am and closes at 5:00 pm daily. I recommend getting there as early as possible to get a start on your fun-filled day. At 5 pm, we did not want to leave.
Discovery Cove Video Highlights
Discovery Cove Map
One of the highlights of this fantastic park is Dolphin Lagoon. You can swim and interact with dolphins in a safe and controlled environment on this tropical reef.
As you approach Dolphin Lagoon, the friendly staff will greet you. They will provide you with a brief orientation session and safety instructions. You will meet your dolphin trainer, who will guide you through your unforgettable encounter with these magnificent creatures.
The Dolphin Lagoon has three areas for your dolphin encounter. Guests of all ages are welcome at Discovery Cove. Children ages 6-12 must accompany a paying adult participating in the up-close animal encounters like the signature dolphin experience. During your in-water experience, you learn about and interact with Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.
Before entering the water, get a wetsuit and other necessary gear to ensure your safety and comfort. Then, you'll wade into the crystal-clear water and interact with the dolphins in small groups.
You can touch and even kiss the dolphins during your interaction and swim with your new friend. Your trainer will also teach you essential dolphin communication signals. They have incredible communication abilities, which you can use to interact with the dolphins. And get your dolphin friend to perform some tricks.
One of the most unique things about the Dolphin Lagoon experience is the opportunity to participate in a "dolphin swim." With a trained dolphin by your side, you'll be taken on a thrilling ride through the water, holding onto the dolphin's dorsal fin as they gracefully pull you along.
The zoologists did a great job of answering all our questions about Stella, our dolphin. The trainer's love for these animals was so sweet, and they provided them with world-class care. One of the highlights was the glide alongside one of these magnificent animals. They are such intelligent mammals. Kurt said I looked like a little kid on Christmas morning. We will always treasure the photos that the Discovery Cove photographer captured.
But the fun doesn't stop there. After your interaction with the dolphins, you can spend some time exploring the rest of Discovery Cove. From snorkeling in the coral reef to lounging in the tropical river, there's something for everyone in this fantastic park.
Want an unforgettable adventure with your family? Add Dolphin Lagoon at Discovery Cove to your itinerary. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience you will remember!
Discovery Cove Grand Reef
Step into an exotic island paradise as soon as you enter the water. The Grand Reef is breathtaking, with crystal-clear water and lush tropical landscaping. It is a massive saltwater lagoon home to thousands of tropical fish, rays, and sharks in deeper water.
The Grand Reef Discovery Cove was an unexpected highlight. I loved this area because it had something for all of us. Slade and I hung in the shallow areas and watched the fish and rays while B and Kurt snorkeled in the deep water. Then Kurt took Slade to the bridge over the sharks while B and I snorkeled. I did not think B would be super into snorkeling, but she loved it.
One of the best things about the Grand Reef is that it suits all ages and swimming abilities. You'll find plenty to do here if you're an experienced snorkeler or have never been in the water. The lagoon is shallow enough for small children to stand in. Still, there are also deeper areas for more experienced swimmers.
Explore Grand Reef
As you explore the Grand Reef, you'll encounter various sea creatures. Keep an eye out for colorful fish, rays, and even sharks. You can even try swimming with the sharks in the Shark Swim experience. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity lets you get up close and personal with these majestic creatures. All in a safe and controlled environment.
But that's not all the Grand Reef has to offer. Even hammocks and beach chairs can take a break from the water. You can also try snorkeling or relax and soak up the sun on the lagoon's white sandy beaches.
If you plan to visit Discovery Cove in Orlando, spend plenty of time exploring the Grand Reef. It has stunning natural beauty and adventure and is one of the park's most popular attractions. So what are you waiting for? Grab your swimsuit and get ready to experience the ultimate island adventure at the Grand Reef.
Discovery Cove Stingray Pool
One of the highlights you won't want to miss is the Stingray Pool. This unique experience allows you to get up close and personal. Sting with these gentle sea creatures in a safe and controlled environment. This is what you can expect in Stingray Pool at Discovery Cove.
Upon entering the pool area, you'll have a snorkel, mask, and flotation device to help you glide effortlessly through the water. You'll also receive a brief orientation from one of the experienced trainers, who will explain how to interact with the stingrays and answer any questions you may have.
Once you're ready, you can enter the pool and start exploring. The water is crystal-clear and teeming with marine life, including tropical fish and stingrays. Gliding past these majestic creatures, you'll feel like swimming in an aquarium.
Up close with Stingrays
But the real magic happens when you get up close to the stingrays. The trainers will be on hand to guide you and help you interact with the animals safely. You'll be amazed by how gentle and curious the stingrays are, and you may even get to feed them if you're lucky.
One thing to remember is that while stingrays are generally very docile, they have a stinger on their tails that can cause injury if they feel threatened. However, the trainers at Discovery Cove have extensive experience working with these animals. They will ensure that you stay safe throughout your visit.
And we loved watching the zoologists feed them. They were also great at answering all our questions. I was so proud of B, who went from freaking out when she saw them to petting them.
The Stingray Pool at Discovery Cove is an unforgettable experience that the whole family can enjoy. Whether you're a seasoned snorkeler or a first-timer, you'll love exploring this magical underwater world and getting to know the stingrays that call it home. Take advantage of this fantastic opportunity on your next trip to Orlando!
Discovery Cove Lazy River: Wind-Away River
Are you looking to relax, float away, or want some swim time? Look no further than the Wind-Away River at Discovery Cove in Orlando! From the lush tropical landscaping to the crystal clear water, it is a great place to swim for the rest of the day. Whether you're looking to take a break from the park's other attractions or want to unwind, the Wind-Away River is the perfect spot for some aquatic relaxation. Some parts of the river have shallow water, while others are deeper.
The Discovery Cove lazy River is like nothing I have experienced. This waterway goes through the park from sandy beaches to palm-covered walkways and rocky lagoons. The rocky areas come up sometimes, expectedly, so swim shoes are helpful. We especially loved the underwater cave area. The wind-away river takes you into the large free-flight Aviary. When you exit the Aviary, you go through a super intense wall of water. We felt like we were in Mexico.
I was glad we had Slade wearing a lifevest. We also used floatation devices for all of us, which I recommend. I was also impressed with all the lifeguards they had. The river varies in depth.
Discovery Cove Explorer's Aviary
You'll have the chance to experience a variety of attractions, and one of the most unique is the Aviary. This immersive experience allows you to walk among hundreds of free-flying birds worldwide, including parrots, toucans, and more. You'll be able to feed and interact with the birds as they perch on your arm or shoulder, making for a truly unforgettable experience. Whether you're a bird enthusiast or just looking for something new and exciting to try, the Aviary at Discovery Cove is not to be missed.
The Aviary is home to more than 250 exotic birds. You can hand-feed hundreds of tropical birds. You can also get there via the beach to skip the waterfall.
During your trip down the lazy river, you can pop out of the water and go to the Freshwater Oasis. This area has a rainforest canopy above with the sparkling clear springs below. Here you will find playful otters and curious marmoset monkeys.
Serenity Bay Beaches and Pools
You can also enjoy the warmer water of Serenity Bay. The water is crystal clear water, and there is even a waterfall. You can swim or grab a beach chair on the white sand beaches.
Unlimited Food and Drink
Included with admission, you can enjoy unlimited access to a great selection of food and drinks all day. Laguna Grill serves breakfast from opening to 10:30 am and lunch from 11 am to 3 pm. There was something for everyone in our family at both meals. The kids loved the pretzels and ICEEs. I lost count of how many they had. We upgraded to the drink package with mixed drinks too. They had so many yummy options.
Discovery Cove Packages
This all-inclusive park offers a range of packages and special offers to suit different interests and budgets, allowing you to customize your experience and make the most of your visit.
Discovery Cove packages include admission to the park, unlimited food and beverages, and access to the park's attractions and animal encounters. One of the most popular packages is the Signature Dolphin Experience, which allows you to swim and interact with dolphins in their natural habitat. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is perfect for families who want to get up close to these fantastic creatures.
Other packages include the Ultimate Package, which consists of a dolphin swim and access to the park's other animal encounters, such as swimming with rays and snorkeling among tropical fish. The Day Resort Package offers access to the park's white sand beaches, tropical lagoons, and winding rivers.
Visiting Discovery Cove will highlight your Orlando vacation, no matter your chosen package. With its stunning natural beauty and incredible animal encounters, it's an experience your family will never forget.
Exploring the Innovative Experience of Grand Reef
Discovery Cove's grand reef's innovative experience is unforgettable. This innovative attraction allows visitors to swim with thousands of tropical fish, rays, and sharks in a stunning underwater paradise.
One of the best features of the Grand Reef is its design. The attraction's creators went to great lengths to create a realistic and immersive underwater environment, complete with a coral reef, underwater caves, and even a shipwreck. The water is crystal clear and warm, making it the perfect place to snorkel, relax, and enjoy the stunning surroundings.
But what separates Grand Reef is the variety of marine life that visitors can interact with. The reef is home to thousands of colorful fish, including angelfish, butterflyfish, and tangs. Visitors can interact with rays and even small sharks, all under the watchful eye of experienced trainers.
One of the most exciting experiences at Grand Reef is the SeaVenture underwater walking tour. This unique tour takes visitors on a guided walk through the reef, allowing them to see the marine life and learn about the species that call the reef home. Visitors wear a special helmet that allows them to breathe underwater, making it a truly immersive and unforgettable experience.
Whether you're an experienced snorkeler or just looking for a new and exciting adventure, Grand Reef at Discovery Cove is to be noticed. It's innovative design and wide variety of marine life offer the whole family a unique and unforgettable experience.
These experiences are an additional fee; reservations are required, and capacity is limited.
Our cabana was terrific. We had one tucked away behind lush foliage along the lazy river. I loved having it because it was the perfect retreat for mealtime. We had a table under a tent with a fan. The kids always loved the refrigerator with drinks and the treasure box with unlimited snacks. I had plans of chilling in the hammock, but there was so much to do I never made it.
Since Slade is only two, we did not experience any of these, but I wanted to include them because they look fun.
Private 30-minute tour with our expert animal experts to go behind the scenes to meet some of our birds and small mammals. You start in a lush private oasis with a Discovery Cove Animal Ambassador, such as an anteater, armadillo, kinkajou, macaw, or sloth. Guests must be six years of age or older for this experience.
Enjoy this exclusive experience yot up close and swim with various sharks. Go into the shark habitat for an intimate shark training session. With Discovery Cove's expert Aquarists; there is much to learn about, with more than 20 sharks in the habitat! Enjoy a deep-water, free swim with blacktip reef, nurse, zebra, and bonnethead sharks. Five percent (5%) of the proceeds from this Program support the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. They conduct scientific research and host educational programs to conserve the marine environment. Guests need to be at least ten years old to participate in this experience.
Join Discovery Cove's expert aquarists in this exclusive, early morning experience as you help feed our various species of rays. You will provide thousands of beautiful tropical fish. You will learn how we care for all the animals. The session includes hands-on educational opportunities with the exciting animals that call the reef home. Guests must be at least six years old to participate in this experience.
SeaVenture is an innovative underwater walking tour where you'll feel at home under the sea while wearing a dive helmet. You will climb down a ladder and walk on the reef floor. You may come eye-to-eye with sharks through an 8-foot-tall, 21-foot-long panoramic window. Then you will experience one-on-one encounters with unique animals, schools of fish, and soft rays. You'll even get to touch remarkable sea life. Swim while schools of fish feed around you with the massive open reef as your backdrop. Discovery Cove donates 5% of the proceeds to Rising Tide Conservation, a non-profit dedicated to protecting coral reefs through sustainable aquaculture. Guests need to be at least ten years old for the SeaVenture experience.
This experience is with Discovery Cove's expert aviculturists. You will meet, mingle with, and help feed our famous Caribbean flamingos. This exclusive, intimate, and physically distanced opportunity to take a private stroll will make you feel like you're part of the flamboyance, a gathering of flamingos. You feed the beautiful birds one-on-one before wading together in the calm reef waters. A photographer will capture the experience. Our experts will answer questions and share fun facts and how they care for them. Guests must be at least six years old for the Flamingo Mingle experience.
Discovery Cove Celebration Package
We witnessed a super sweet couple who got engaged at Discovery Cove. You can have the dolphins have assisted in countless watery wedding proposals, launched love notes, and been a splash at the best of birthday celebrations. For each Special Occasion package, a bottlenose dolphin delivers a personalized message on a keepsake buoy, ending the already memorable dolphin experience. In addition to the special dolphin delivery, each package features an array of other impressive touches in a unique setting. Call 407-513-4600 for details.
Discovery Cove Cold Weather Policy
If you are booking your stay in the Winter and are thinking about the rare days, it is cold in Florida, have no worries. I have spoken to friends who went on a chilly day, and they said they had a great time. The resort provides wetsuits, so they spend much time in the water. The water is temperature-controlled for the animals. And they put out heaters to keep you warm when you first get out.
Directions to Discovery Cove
Discovery Cove is right across the street from Seaworld.
FROM THE ORLANDO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT:
Take Highway 528/Beachline Expressway Westbound
Get off at the International Drive exit
Take a left at the end of the ramp (follow signs toward SeaWorld®)
Make a right onto Central Florida Parkway at the third traffic light.
The entrance to Discovery Cove is on the left-hand side of the Central Florida Parkway.
FROM TAMPA OR HIGHWAY 192 HOTELS:
Take I-4 East (toward Orlando) to exit 71. This is the SeaWorld exit.
Bear right onto Central Florida Parkway when leaving the ramp.
The entrance to Discovery Cove is on the right-hand side of Central Florida Parkway, past the sign for SeaWorld Orlando.
FROM DOWNTOWN ORLANDO:
Take I-4 West to exit 72 (Beachline Expressway/FL-528/Airport).
Once on the Beachline, take the first exit (International Drive).
Make a left onto International Drive.
Make a right onto Central Florida Parkway at the third traffic light.
The entrance to Discovery Cove is on the left-hand side of the Central Florida Parkway.
6000 Discovery Cove Way
Orlando, FL 32821
Below are some questions we got from followers:
How Far is Seaworld from Daytona Beach
Seaworld and Discovery Cove are about an hour and 20 minutes from Daytona Beach.
How Far is Seaworld from Clearwater, Florida
Seaworld and Discovery Cove are about 2 hours and 30 minutes to 3 hours from Daytona Beach.
How far is Seaworld from Kissimmee, Florida
Seaworld is in the Kissimmee area, close to the theme parks. It is about 30 minutes.
Discovery Cove is part of a Seaworld park. As is Aquatica Orlando is a popular water park located in Orlando, Florida. The park is known for its thrilling water rides, including the Dolphin Plunge, a slide that takes guests through a clear tube underwater, and a pool with Commerson's dolphins. Other popular rides include the Taumata Racer, a high-speed racing slide, and the Roa's Rapids, a fast-moving river ride.
Aquatica Orlando also features a variety of family-friendly attractions, such as the Cutback Cove and Big Surf Shores wave pools and the Walkabout Waters interactive play area. The park offers many dining options, from quick bites to sit-down restaurants and cabana rentals for a more private and luxurious experience.
Suppose you're planning a trip to Orlando with your family and looking for a fun water park experience. In that case, Aquatica Orlando is worth checking out. With its unique rides and attractions, there's something for everyone to enjoy.
Looking for other places to experience dolphins
Gulf World Marine Park
In Panama City Beach, Gulf World Marine Park is a must-visit destination for families exploring the ocean's wonders. This park is home to diverse marine life, from sea lions and dolphins to stingrays and sharks. But Gulf World Marine Park is more than just a place to see animals.
One of the highlights of Gulf World Marine Park is the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of its resident animals. You swim with dolphins, interact with sea lions, and feed stingrays. These experiences are fun and educational, allowing you to learn about these fantastic creatures and their natural habitats.
Gulf World Marine Park is home to various live shows that will entertain the whole family. From the playful antics of the sea lions to the acrobatics of the dolphins, these shows are a great way to learn about these animals and their behaviors.
In addition to the animal encounters and live shows, Gulf World Marine Park also features a range of exhibits that offer insight into the world of marine life. You can learn about the types of sharks, explore a shipwreck replica, and even see a rare albino alligator.
If you're looking for a family-friendly destination that combines education and entertainment, look no further than Gulf World Marine Park. With its wide range of animal encounters, live shows, and exhibits, this park will surely delight visitors of all ages. So pack your sunscreen, grab your camera, and prepare for a day of fun and adventure at Gulf World Marine Park!
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
At Clearwater Marine Aquarium, there's much to learn, from sea turtles and otters to sharks and dolphins. It is an exciting and educational destination that uniquely offers families a chance to explore marine life. Located in Clearwater, Florida, this aquarium is known for its animal rehabilitation and rescue programs, as well as its incredible exhibits and interactive experiences.
Visitors to Clearwater Marine Aquarium can explore several exhibits and experiences, including the following:
- Dolphin Tale Adventure: This exhibit is based on the popular movie "Dolphin Tale" and features interactive exhibits and displays. Learn the real-life story of Winter, the dolphin. Visitors can even meet Winter in person!
- Otter Oasis: Otter Oasis is a playful exhibit that lets visitors watch as otters swim, play, and interact with each other. Visitors can also learn about otter biology, behavior, and conservation efforts.
- Shark Pass: The Shark Pass exhibit is a chance to get close to the ocean's most fascinating creatures. Visitors can see different species of sharks and rays, including sand tiger sharks and southern stingrays.
- Turtle Cove: Turtle Cove is an interactive exhibit that allows visitors to learn about the various species of sea turtles and their habitats. Visitors can even see rescued sea turtles and learn about the rehabilitation process.
- Behind-the-Scenes Tours: For a truly immersive experience, visitors can take a behind-the-scenes tour of Clearwater Marine Aquarium. These tours provide a unique perspective on animal care, rescue, and rehabilitation efforts, as well as the daily operations of the aquarium.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a must-visit destination for families who love to travel and explore marine life. From interactive exhibits to behind-the-scenes tours, there's something for everyone at this exciting and educational aquarium. So, if you plan a trip to Clearwater, Florida, add Clearwater Marine Aquarium to your itinerary!
Hawks Cay Dolphin Connection
Hawks Cay Dolphin Connection is a must-visit destination if you're looking for an unforgettable family activity in the Florida Keys. It is located on the beautiful island of Duck Key. This fantastic facility offers an immersive and educational experience.
The highlight of the Hawks Cay Dolphin Connection is the dolphin encounter program, which allows guests to interact with intelligent and fascinating creatures. During the program, participants will get to touch, feed, and even swim with the dolphins under the guidance of expert trainers.
In addition to the dolphin encounter program, Hawks Cay Dolphin Connection offers various other activities and experiences. Guests can take a behind-the-scenes facility tour, attend educational presentations, or enjoy a kayak or stand-up paddleboard adventure in the beautiful waters surrounding Duck Key.
One of the things that makes Hawks Cay Dolphin Connection stand out from other dolphin encounter programs is the facility's commitment to conservation and education. The trainers and staff are passionate about marine conservation and work hard to educate visitors about protecting these incredible animals and their habitats.
Whether you're a lifelong dolphin lover or just looking for a unique and memorable family activity, Hawks Cay Dolphin Connection is worth a visit. Take your chance to experience the magic of these amazing creatures up close and personal!
If you plan a trip to Orlando, you may also want to check out the Beaches closest to Orlando, Things to Do in Kissimmee with Kids, Things to Do in Cocoa Beach with Kids, and Things to Do in Amelia Island with Kids.