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The day was sunny, albeit slightly chilly in the Orlando area. We arrived at our destination bright and early in the morning, an 8 a.m. start to fully reap the experience of the day ahead of us. The air was crisp, the birds singing wonderful songs in the surrounding trees as we traveled through an open lobby to our lush outdoor aquatica.
Discovery Cove has been a long-awaited bucket list destination for my family. As 2020 slowly stripped us of our journeys, we dreamed of a relaxing day filled with hands on activities, and a peaceful resolve. I had been looking forward to swimming with dolphins for as long as I can remember, always having something pop up that prevented that dream from happening. I was determined that 2021 would be our year to finally fulfill this quest.
We started planning in May of 2021, deciding that since this was going to be a birthday celebration for both my son and I, we would go all out for our day. We booked a VIP experience, complete with private cabana, dolphin swim and a private meet and greet with an exotic animal on premises. Our VIP guide, Todd, was wonderfully attentive, filling us in on our day and escorting us first to our reserved table at the Laguna Grill.
The food and drinks were part of the all-inclusive package, serving up small pastries, sausage, bacon, eggs, and other typical breakfast items. We had hot coffee and our son was already enjoying his time watching the birds walk around as we dined.
After we had our fill, Todd brought us over to our private cabana for the day, which was right off Dolphin Cove. A fantastic view of the dolphin’s was right before us in the water, and our cabana was fully stocked with sodas, waters, and a variety of snacks, ranging from chips to rice crispy treats. We had our own locker, where we were able to store all our valuables throughout our visit without worry. Public lockers are also available at a convenient location.
We settled in, and Todd informed us we were going to walk over to our private animal encounter (Animal Trek- as part of our VIP package). We traced our steps back through Discovery Cove to a small area near the entrance, where we were escorted to meet an adorable armadillo named Trace and his handler, who answered all questions we had. My son loved this interaction, you can see by his face how much this delighted him to be so up close and personal.
All that and our day was still just beginning. We headed back to our cabana to retrieve our wetsuits and headed over to Serenity Bay, where the water was a very warm 85 degrees on this somewhat chilly Florida day. We even passed a flock of flamingos as we approached the water!
Swimming here was extremely rejuvenating. Pool noodles in hand, we floated around the winding river until we decided to head over to the Freshwater Oasis to watch the otters in their encloser and catch a glimpse of some marmosets as they hung out in the trees above us on marmoset island.
After a while of relaxing in the lazy river, we headed back to our cabana for drinks and snacks. We were lucky to snag a free drink promotion that was being offered at the time of our booking, so we used this to our advantage. Discovery Cove offered many signature cocktails, beers, wine, hard seltzers and classic frozen cocktails, plus unlimited soda and slushies. My son tried his first lemon slushie here! A nice, cold drink as we sat on the beach was just what we all needed.
Then the time finally arrived to meet the dolphin’s we would be swimming with! After a brief introduction video, we headed to Dolphin Cove and stepped into the 73-degree waters. There was no mistaking the water here was chilly, and you do not move too much once inside, yet the chance to meet these dolphins was something I’d been looking forward to for such a long time that the coldness did not affect me (too much). Our son would tell a different story, yet he was able to withstand the temperature and enjoy his time.
Capricorn, Gala and Lester were our wonderful dolphin’s names. Their trainers were so friendly and knowledgeable, teaching us small signs to do for the dolphins to react, and Capricorn even brought a buoy over from across the cove, directly to my son and I in honor of our birthdays! We now have this wonderful buoy sitting on display in our living room, a fantasy memory of this adventure.
We took a small ride on our new-found dolphin friends, had professional pictures taken and even ended with some soft, wet dolphin kisses.
It was such an amazing experience.
The rest of the day we spent eating and drinking, making our way over to the Grand Reef after lunch to snorkel. There were corals and exotic fish surrounding us, including some very friendly sting rays. Sting rays are our son’s favorite sea creature, so this for him was the highlight of the afternoon. He laughed as they swam passed, stroking their backs as they went by. It was a perfect ending to our day here.
As with any trip, we did not get to tackle everything we wanted in our one day stay at Discovery Cove, so I do feel a return trip will be done sooner rather than later. There is still so much to do: the Explorer’s Aviary, Swimming with Sharks, Stingray feeding, and Seaventure. Plus, I have a new bucket list goal! I must meet one of their friendly sloths by the name of Louie.
I simply cannot wait to start planning our next visit back!
Message Rebecca today for more questions on Discovery Cove and for your next trip!