Discovery Cove’s Aviary

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At one end of the park, near the swim-in snack area and the lazy river, there is an Aviary.  You can walk into the area from the park or you can exit the lazy river and climb the stairs to a separate door.

As you enter the area, there is a cart to get a container of food.  As you walk around the three areas, you hold out your arm and wait for a bird to fly down and get some food.  You feel pretty stupid for a minute when you realize that the birds are ignoring you but it is pretty cool when a bird lands on your arm.  After after a few minutes, some of the bigger birds get heavy and you want to pass them to another person — that is pretty fun as well.

There are laminated sheets telling you the names of all the birds in the area so you can see what bird you were able to feed.  I didn’t think about it at the time, but these areas are very clean and do not smell at all.  Both times we visited, at least one of the areas was being cleaned.

This seems so simple but it was so fun we did it twice.  The second time we just dropped by as we were floating by on the lazy river.

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Discovery Cove – Our Private Cabana

As you know from previous posts, a private cabana was something we splurged on during our Discovery Cove trip.  This is not something we normally do but our daughter convinced the entire family to chip in so it wasn’t a huge addition to our overall cost.

After breakfast, we went to guest services as directed.  A very nice man escorted us through the park, giving us a more detailed description of different areas, directions around the park and stopping to pick up our safety vests along the way.  As we arrived to our Reef Side Cabana, he pointed out all our features and let us know that our Cabana Host would be stopping by shortly.

We wandered down to our reef side Private-Like beach.  We were smiling and feeling super special when we saw our name on the Reserved sign (such a little thing to bring such a huge smile). Continue reading Discovery Cove – Our Private Cabana

Discovery Cove’s Sea Venture

While enjoying our day at Discovery Cove, our entire family participated in the Sea Venture experience.  My mother had a similar experience on a cruise excursion and said it was a unique experience that we shouldn’t miss.  I wasn’t nervous about it at all until I saw the safety video and signed the papers – they kept saying how important it was to breath normally, made us all wonder why we wouldn’t breath normally.  I kept telling myself that it is only 20 minutes and there are quite a few divers there to make sure everything is fine.

The experience is in the Grand Reef, the same waterway where you can snorkel all day long.  You are required to wear a wet suit for this experience so we got our wet suits when we were passing by the area after our 1st lunch.  In August these can be a bit hot so we just tried them on and then left them 1/2 way down until we checked in.

We purchased an underwater camera safe up to 65 feet for our trip (review to come) but if you do not have an underwater camera, Discovery Cove will loan you one and allow you to purchase the pictures after your experience.

Only 9 people are in each group and your group time is scheduled as you arrive to Discovery Cove in the morning.  Note: If you are in the water when there is bad weather, they will take you out and then let you complete your experience after the weather has passed.

The helmet is heavy but you don’t notice it under the water.  All of us felt differently about the helmet.  Of course, it is necessary to have the air to breathe and to keep the water out of the helmet but it is loud and a very unique experience.  I had to belch every few minutes to alleviate a tightness in my chest, my husband felt the need to take a deep breath every few minutes and the kids didn’t have either of those problems.  My daughters both had pony tails and they both advise a low pony tail for the experience.

The helmet has a weird shape.  If you are looking forward you can see very well.  But, you can also see some things in your peripheral vision – so you naturally turn toward it.  Nope, can’t see it until you turn your entire body.  You have to turn your entire body to see the person beside you.   Along with the slow movement, this was a little strange.

There are divers leading you around while you are under the water.  They taught us all some signals before we walked down the ladder and they used them to make sure we were all ok.  They also used an erasable writing pad to tell us information about what we were seeing.  They even took lots of pictures on our camera for us.

We were able to hold several underwater animals and the divers fed the fish while we were all standing there under the water.  The fish were all around us – if you are a little bit claustrophobic or “fish” phobic, you will have a problem with this because there are lots fish and they are very close to you.  The large ray even swam by us while we were underwater.

 

This experience is an add-on and begins at $49 (price depends upon the day you attend).  I know that if you are able to participate in something like this event as a Cruise Excursion, it will cost more.

All 5 of us felt like this was a great addition to the day (even my teenager who paid for this part himself) and we recommend that you add this to your day at Discovery Cove.

I just ordered a key-chain diver’s helmet to use for this year’s Christmas Ornament — family tradition to get a new ornament from our vacation each year.  I will put the link at the bottom of the post so you can see it — it looks super cute.

Please call us or click the link to Discovery Cove on our website to schedule your day (we receive a small referral commission at no extra cost to you which will  help pay our website costs).  If you are not a Florida Resident, please do not reserve your space at those rates but click to the regular page as Discovery Cove requires your Driver’s license or State ID when you enter.

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Discover Discovery Cove

I have wanted to go to Discovery Cove since it opened and it FINALLY happened!  Our family spent the day in paradise.  Before purchasing our tickets, we discussed the different packages and the availability of private cabanas as a family and we decided that this is probably a once-in-a-lifetime event.  We decided to splurge and purchase the Elite package (more on packages in a different post) which includes a private cabana.

A friend told me to “arrive when it opens and stay until they put you out” – she was right!.  Although the waterways do not open until 8:30, breakfast is served early and the doors open at 7:15 am.  We arrived in the parking lot by 7:30 am and the line to enter was very long, we must have been one of the last people to arrive since the line was not very long behind us.  We stood in line for about 30 minutes but it was always moving and the foliage was beautiful.  Although the park was almost full to capacity, it was the only line we stood in all day long.

An excellent variety of good food was available for breakfast.  The empty coffee

Continue reading Discover Discovery Cove

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Bar Harbor Maine

A client is traveling on a Fall Foliage cruise in late September.  She asked me about some of the excursions and as I was reviewing the options and began researching Bar Harbor, some stunning photos appeared on my computer screen.

All of these fantastic pictures have made me want to pack my bag and join them on this cruise – and this is only the First stop!

I called the Chamber of Commerce and they sent me some great photos to share with you.

Most of the information I found was from the Arcadia National Forest so I jumped over to YouTube and found a videos from the National Parks Service as well:

I am adding Maine to my list – what about you?

 

 

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Hawaii UnCruise – Ocean Cleanup Event

Pulling debris from the ovean.(Blog by Keith and Sandra Merwin)

On Tuesday as the Safari Explorer transited from Lanai toward the island of Maui through the National Humpback Marine Sanctuary everyone was watching for humpback whales. While we did see humpback whales that will be the topic of another blog post. What else we found that day is our current subject.  Continue reading Hawaii UnCruise – Ocean Cleanup Event

Walt Disney World – Ohana Dinner Feast Review

Ohana signThe Ohana at Walt Disney World’s Polynesian Village Resort is a table service restaurant located on the second floor facing the Seven Seas Lagoon. All the food at Walt Disney World is expensive so is it worth while to splurge with table service? On our last visit (more here) we decided to celebrate a birthday with dinner at Ohana. We looked at several other restaurants but the menu and atmosphere interested us. We did make a reservation. None were available online for the dates we were on property so I called and talked to an agent. They found us a table and while the 8:30 p.m. time was later than we normally eat it worked out fine. Continue reading Walt Disney World – Ohana Dinner Feast Review

Hawaii UnCruise – Lanai

Bridge of the Safari Explorer
Keith talking to the Captain on the bridge.

After leaving Molokai we sailed for the island of Lanai. The distance between the two islands is only about 20 miles, so this wasn’t a long transit. One of the very different things about cruising with Safari Explorer is the open door policy on the bridge. If you go to the bridge and the door is open then cruisers are welcome at go on the bridge and talk to the crew there, look at the charts to see where we are going  and use the binoculars to scan for whales or other wildlife. If the door is closed, the crew needs to concentrate and you should come by again later. This is very different than other Cruise ships where the bridge is off limits at all times. We visited the bridge often and enjoyed visiting with the crew. Continue reading Hawaii UnCruise – Lanai

Walt Disney World – the Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness

Fort Wilderness at Walt Disney WorldWe love trying out different Disney Resorts. Staying on property is always fun and offers great benefits like free parking and Extra Magic Hours (Each day of the week, resort guests can enter a park one hour earlier or stay in a park up to two hours later than normal park operating hours.) As Florida Resident Annual Passholders we are often able to get special discounts on rooms. For this trip of three nights we chose the Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness. Continue reading Walt Disney World – the Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness