Special thank you to SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove Orlando for hosting The We Grow Retreat and MediaVine. All opinions are my own for this Discovery Cove guide.
SeaWorld’s Discovery Cove is my new favorite Orlando family destination. My visit was nothing short of complete bliss and I’m so impressed with how much the park has to offer families. The park opened in 2000 and I’m not sure why it took me so long to get there. Here’s everything you need to know in the Ultimate Discovery Cove Guide.
Discovery Cove Guide: Everything You Need To Know
From A-Z, I’ve got you on what to expect at Discovery Cove. You really need to know what’s included in order to plan the best day possible. Check the park hours before your arrival and stay all day long to get the most out of your ticket cost.
What A Discovery Cove Ticket Includes
Your Discovery Cove ticket is an all-inclusive day pass to Orlando’s tropical oasis. A “day resort” ticket includes the following amenities for the whole family:
- Food (Breakfast and lunch) & Drink (Including alcohol with two frozen drink options)
- Animal Encounters
- Relaxation With Lounge Chairs, Lazy River and Freshwater Grottos
- Snorkel Gear
- Changing Rooms
The base rate tickets are based upon the season, with summer being the most expensive season. The “day resort” ticket starts at $159 per guest over age 3 and fluctuates depending on time of year. Kids under three are free with a paid adult ticket.
Besides that, there are many things included to make guests comfortable. Beach-friendly strollers, wheelchairs and scooters are available upon request. Allergy-friendly food options are available. Even the changing areas are stocked with essentials, like feminine hygiene products and swim diapers, which is always a nice touch.
What Are The Discovery Cove Ticket Upgrades
Even though I think there is plenty for the whole family included in the base ticket, you can add upgrades to enhance your Discovery Cove experience. I love the Trainer For A Day experience (for ages 6+) where you can interact and swim with dolphins. The SeaVenture (for ages 10+) is the park’s newest addition and it’s an incredible underwater experience. Here are several upgrade options, once again it’s seasonal pricing:
- SeaVenture (starting at $49)
- Ray Feeding (starting at $59)
- Animal Trek (starting at $79)
- Shark Swim (starting at $109 per guest)
- Upgraded Drink Package (starting at $30 per guest)
- Private Cabana (starting at $225)
- Spa Experiences
- Photo Packages (starting at $219)
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What Makes Discovery Cove Worth The Cost
The level of service is incredible and it truly feels like a paradise in the middle of the city. They offer something for all ages and even at full capacity it doesn’t feel crowded. I suggest maximizing your day by arriving as soon as they open. It takes a few minutes to check your party into the park and then you’re free to explore. Even though the park has been open since 2000, everything feels new and clean.
Discovery Cove Food Options
The main restaurant space offers a buffet-style quick service food option with outdoor seating. The casual food is not your typical park fare and offers variety for both meals. Breakfast includes fresh fruit, breakfast meats, eggs, yogurt, pastries, coffee and sparkling wine. Lunch includes deli sandwiches, fresh fruit, burgers, asian cuisine offerings and desserts.
Snacks served throughout the park include: pretzels, cookies, chips and slushes for the kids. Let them know upon check-in if you have a food allergy in your party. They can accommodate your special needs.
Swim With Dolphins at Discovery Cove
By far, the coolest experience at Discovery Cove is the ‘Trainer For A Day‘ swimming with dolphins experience. After a brief safety summary, your small group goes into the water and is introduced to a dolphin. The professional trainers teach you how to communicate, you feed them, the trainers answer your questions, take photographs and swim alongside them.
Guests use the oil-free sunscreen provided by Discovery Cove to protect the animals. Sunglasses are allowed during the experience along with water shoes, but jewelry and cell phone are strictly prohibited.
Purchase the photography package if you upgrade your day to include additional activities where phones aren’t allowed. The photographers photograph for you and your photos are placed on a CD for you to keep. Above all, this is probably the most popular upgrade available.
What To Know Before Signing Up For SeaVenture at Discovery Cove
SeaVenture is one of their newest offerings and it’s a cross between snorkeling and scuba diving. While wearing a helmet that attaches to an oxygen tank, you walk along the bottom of the the Grand Reef. Fish, sharks and rays are a few creatures to encounter.
If you’re claustrophobic, pregnant or can’t stand being cold, the SeaVenture activity may not be for you. You also experience a change of pressure in your ears that can be an uneasy experience. While I enjoy what SeaVenture offers, I can also relate to others that don’t enjoy it.
The Cabana Experience
To escape the sun, the cabana upgrade is a luxury experiences for families to enjoy together. Each cabana comes with private lounge chairs, a personal attendant to assist throughout the day, a stocked mini-fridge and snacks. Our attendant took care of what we needed, answered questions, kept the drinks coming and made sure we got to each special activity appointment.
What Kids Can Do At Discovery Cove
Of course, this Discovery Cove guide wouldn’t be complete without including things for the kids. While SeaVenture, Swim With Dolphins, Animal Trek and Swim With Sharks all have age limits, there is plenty for young kids to do without restriction.
Kids can splash in the Grand Reef area, feed birds in the Explorer’s Aviary, float down the Wind-Away Lazy River (which runs through the Aviary) and play on the beach areas of Serenity Bay. Life Jackets and floats are available for use. Our visit was full capacity, but there were plenty of life jackets available.
Children must be 6 years of age or older to Swim with Dolphins, Feed Rays, and participate in Animal Trek. Children under the age of 13 must be accompanied by a paying and participating companion age 14 or older.
Children must be 10 years of age or older to Swim with Sharks or participate in SeaVenture. Children under the age of 13 must be accompanied by a paying and participating companion age 14 or older.
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Save Money On More From SeaWorld
If you’re considering any of the other parks, like SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica or Busch Gardens, you can purchase a package ticket deal to save money. Take advantage of the offer if you plan to stay in the central Florida area for multiple days. Florida residents and military can also purchase discounted tickets.
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