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
urn was immediately refilled and the tables were cleared very quickly. I understand you can have beer or wine during breakfast but we did not attempt to test this fact, we just accepted it.
We got our vests and mask/snorkel sets on the way to our beautiful cabana. There was a huge locker, a second storage area, sun screen, towels, fresh flowers, laminated sheet showing all of the fish in the reef and seating for six. Our cabana was on the reef and it was like the five cabanas shared a private beach. Our excellent cabana host, Todd, made sure we the fridge was always stocked, the snack chest was full, the floor was always swept and there were always clean towels.
The kids all participated in the dolphin swim and had a great time. They learned some signals, got to interact with the dolphin quite a few times and got to ride through the water holding on to the dolphin. The professional photographs were excellent. As part of our package, we also had a dolphin deliver a message on a buoy which is pretty special. Even though I had to choose who would receive the buoy, the photographers made sure to get a group picture of all the kids with it.
The lazy river has very little current and we
spent quite a bit of time swimming instead of floating – but we are impatient people. The water is warmer than the reef and it is fresh water. There are 2 waterfalls as you float through the aviary and your hair is going to get wet. You can exit the lazy river directly into the aviary instead.
Snorkeling the reef is amazing. We purchased a camera that is waterproof to 65 feet (more about the camera in a future post) and we had it with us all day long. The salt water is not cold, but it is cool. My husband spent as much time as possible snorkeling the reef and taking pictures.
Lunch is served from 11 am to 3:30 pm – you can eat more than once. About 11, we split a pulled pork sandwich. Later in the day we ate lunch again – my son said the hamburger was amazing. Everyone enjoyed all of the food but the pulled pork sandwich and ice cold beer was my favorite food of the day.
We all participated in the Sea Venture experience. I wasn’t nervous about it at all until I saw the safety video and signed the papers.
The helmet is heavy but you don’t notice it under the water. All of us felt differently about the air being pumped into the helmet. I felt a tightness in my chest and had to belch every couple of minutes to alleviate it. My husband felt the need to take a deep breath every few minutes. The helmet has a weird shape and if you are looking forward you can see very well. If you are trying to see with your peripheral vision, it is weird. You have to turn your entire body to see the person beside you. The divers took lots of pictures for us. All of us agreed that it was loud and it was pretty darn cool.
I got to pet a sloth. There is an area to meet animals during the day and one of them was a sloth.
As you enter the aviary, you can get a cup of food to feed the birds. You stand there holding your arm out, feeling stupid for a few minutes until a bird notices you. Then a bird lands on your arm and eats the food from the bowl – how cool is that!! The aviary has 3 different areas – we kept moving into the area with the least amount of people and all of us were able to feed at least one of the birds. There are laminated sheets with pictures of the birds are in the area so you can identify them.
It rained in the afternoon for a little while – the waterways were cleared when there was lightening but it didn’t last very long. This year it has rained almost every afternoon for a little while and our Discovery Cove day was no different. Having the cabana while it rained was amazing. I don’t know what the other people did but our family hung out, had a snack and relaxed – there may or may not have been a nap.
At the end of the day, we gathered our belongings and said a sad goodbye to Todd and the cabana. There was a short wait for a shower to be available – I was wet and didn’t want to ride back to the hotel that way so I waited. Here is my one complaint – the shower wasn’t hot. My husband’s shower was hot but mine was not. However, I waited until very close to 5:30 to shower (they don’t make you leave until 5:30 and the showers are still available). The shower was warm and the water pressure wasn’t fantastic but I was clean and dry when I left.
If you have read all the way to the end of this long description of our day, you can tell we really enjoyed our day at Discovery Cove. Schedule your own day by clicking the link through our website (we get a small commission to keep pay our website bills at no extra cost to you).