However, there might be no more unique experience than Discovery Cove.
Owned and operated by Sea World, Discovery Cove can probably best be described as a water park, but that term doesn’t necessarily encompass everything about the attraction, nor the price range of it tickets. What is Discovery Cove, and is it worth the cost? Let’s find out.
Originally opening in 2003, Discovery Cove is described on the park’s website as “a unique all-inclusive day resort where you and your family will experience exciting animal encounters in a breathtaking tropical atmosphere.”
The best place to begin determining if Discovery Cove is worth the price is an examination of what’s included with the park’s admission. Some of the general amenities included with a Day Pass to the park include:
- Snorkeling in The Grand Reef
- Hand feeding exotic birds in the Explorer’s Aviary.
- Up-close animal encounters including with Asian small-clawed otters in the Freshwater Oasis area.
- Unlimited food, beverages, and select beers and wines.
- Complimentary snacks throughout the day.
- Lockers for unlimited use throughout the day.
- Shower and changing facilities.
- Fresh towels.
- Animal-safe sunscreen.
- Snorkeling gear and wetsuits, with prescription goggles available upon request.
- Access to lounge chairs and hammocks throughout the resort
- “Freshly prepared” breakfast and “gourmet” lunch
- Access to Serenity Bay, 85-degree freshwater pool.
- Access to swimming and snorkeling with “thousands of tropical fish” in the Grand Reef coral habitat.
- Access to the Wind-Away River, where they could ride the “soothing currents of a tropical river as it winds past sandy beaches, into our aviary, through a dense rain forest, beneath the rocky terrain of cascading waterfalls, and through an underwater cave.”
A day pass to Discovery Cove including all listed above usually costs anywhere between $195 and $315 per person depending on the day, however, discounts and other offers can often be found, sometimes lowering the cost to as lost as $115.
Swimming with Dolphins
Discovery Cove’s first upcharge is also arguably the experience the park is best known for: Swimming with bottlenose dolphins. As described by the park’s website, “The signature dolphin swim experience begins with your group meeting a dolphin in one of our crystal clear swimming areas. Next, one of our animal care specialists will teach you all about dolphin habits, behaviors, their incredible communication abilities, and the relationships they build on a daily basis with these incredible animals. After that, each group member will get a chance to individually interact with a dolphin and learn about that dolphin’s personality through behaviors.”
A Day Pass with the Swimming with Dolphins package added usually costs somewhere in the $200 to $300 range depending on the day, but like the normal pass, discounts can often be found,
There are additionally a litany of further uncharge experiences offered at Discovery Cove including various animal tours and feedings, trainer for a day programs, VIP tours, access to cabanas and day beds, specialty drink packages, and photo packages, all with varying prices.
Oh, and did we mention swimming with sharks?
That’s right, for somewhere approximately between $169 and $200 (on top of a normal ticket) guests can “Step into the shark habitat for an intimate shark training session with Discovery Cove’s expert Aquarists; and, with more than 20 sharks in the habitat – there is a lot to learn about! Take the next step and don a snorkel and mask to enjoy a deep-water, free swim alongside blacktip reef, nurse, zebra, bonnethead sharks.”
So, is Discovery Cove worth it? Well, as we’ve established, the prices are pretty steep… but even the lower level pass includes a litany of all-inclusive elements that more than make up for it, especially when compared to many of Orlando’s other themed entertainment offerings. Beyond that, though, the answer to the question lies in how important animal encounters are for a given guest. If they are, the prices for Discovery Cove are more than worth it for the once-in-a-lifetime chance to get up close and personal with creatures like dolphins, sharks, and otters. However, if one is simply looking for a trip to a water park, they’re likely better off going to one of the area’s other — almost undoubtedly cheaper — options.
Have you ever been to Discovery Cove? Did you find the experience worth it? Let us know in the comments below.
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