View Full Version : Discovery cove

09-25-2009, 03:31 AM
My DW mentioned to me last night that she would like to swim with the dolphins in our 2010 trip, preferably on 4th July. There would be 3 of us that would do this and would come out at about £540 which is very steep for a one day excursion.

Is this worth the £180 each to do?

How far in advance would you book the 4th July - now too early?

09-25-2009, 03:35 AM
I to am going to discovery cove and found it hard to justify, until my mum pointed out that, if i got the ultimate package its a little more for 14 days out....and if we was to pay for 14 days out in the uk it would cost us well over a 1000 pounds so that settled it for me.....

09-25-2009, 03:46 AM
I feel the same, but two people in my work have been and said it was wonderful.

Also because we want to go to seaworld, aquatica and busch gardens, we have bought a ticket with all four together (14 day pass to all except discovery I think) .... this might be another option for you

09-25-2009, 04:29 AM
If you decide to go it's vital you spend the whole day there and take advantage of the food provided also, which is included in the price.

Our only trip there provided mixed memories, mainly down to the cooler weather we encountered in our March trip 2005. It was freezing and we also had to wait 2 hours for a thunderstorm to leave the area.

Discovery Cove is a unique experience, and only you can decide if the outlay is worth it, if you do decide to go and want an early swim I would aim getting there no later than 8am. If you go any later than that you probably will have to wait for an afternoon slot.

If you can afford it I would go for it, but if it will impact on other aspects of your holiday you may decide it's a luxury.

09-25-2009, 04:31 AM
Difficult one, although we have been twice and thinks its an amazing day I don't think its worth £180. If you asked my DW & DS they would probably say yes it is, they are Dolphin mad, I am not, I love the rest of the park, fish lagoon, aviary, lazy river, rays and all you can eat food and drink. Last time it cost me about £70 without dolphin swim, to me its not worth the extra for 25-30 mins with a dolphin.
We have been lucky getting dicounts with Annual passes, 1st visit only cost £100pp incl dolphins, 2nd trip cost more, only gave $30pp off.
Its a great experience and if you have the money then yes do it, my choice to spend £540 would be a 4 day cruise, I guess DW would go for Discovery cove, DS would say do both:goodvibes

Welcome to DISboards supameanie :welcome:

09-25-2009, 06:53 AM
We have been 6 times now and are about to go on our 7th visit. I am dolphin mad and do the dolphin swim, but DH usually just does the non-dolphin swim package. When we stayed offsite, we definitely get our money's worth out of this. We used to get the package that included admission to Seaworld and Busch Gardens. I usually spend at least 2 hours every day at Seaworld and the price also includes the shuttle bus to Busch Gardens. Now that we are staying onsite, it is not quite such a good deal for us, but it is our happy place and we still visit Seaworld at least once. This year, we initially had no plans to go, but DH said he really would miss it if we didn't. I also want to spend our second day in Florida at Seaworld. Looking at the ticket prices, just getting a day ticket to Seaworld would cost me $75. So that makes going to Discovery Cove a more attractive proposition. Add to that that we get two meals and unlimited drinks and snacks and it is not such a bad deal at all.


09-25-2009, 07:35 AM
We went in August and we all 4 of us said it was the best day of the whole holiday!

Loved the dolphin swim but all the other parts of the park are great too particularly the coral reef that you can snorkel around.

As someone else said if you get the ultimate package with the 14 day tickets for Seaworld etc included then its not too bad.

We booked about 3 months prior to going, as soon as we'd decided that we were definately doing it. I guess for 4th July it might be busier so probably better to book sooner rather than later

09-25-2009, 07:53 AM
I went to Discovery Cove on my trip in 2003 and swam with the dolphins and it was amazing! The whole place is just, wow! Swimming with the fishes is so bizarre. I'd definitely do it again in a heartbeat!

I wanna go next year when we go but BF can't swim and doesn't wanna pay for the money for it :confused3 I see his point as it wouldn't be much fun for him I don't think. If you can afford it I don't think you'd regret it!

09-25-2009, 07:55 AM
We - me, DH, DD12 DS 6 - did DC in august and it was one of our best days! Dolphin swim was fantastic and was worth the extra money just for the look om my kids faces!
The day was so relaxing and it was just what we needed after a week of pounding the parks. Wouldn't hesitate to do it again :)

09-25-2009, 08:09 AM
Thanks for all the replies, seems like my DW will enjoy it. I'll probably get many browny points as well for doing this. Always good to bank those points in case I want to do something in the future.

One question:

Are you allocated a time slot to swim with the dolphins when you book, or is it on a first come first served basis, therefore better to go at 8am?


09-25-2009, 08:17 AM
Thanks for all the replies, seems like my DW will enjoy it. I'll probably get many browny points as well for doing this. Always good to bank those points in case I want to do something in the future.

One question:

Are you allocated a time slot to swim with the dolphins when you book, or is it on a first come first served basis, therefore better to go at 8am?


First come first served as far as I am aware, unless there are any exceptions. Our son is disabled but we still couldn't get an early slot when we arrived on the day, however it was past 0830 or so I think, so if you really want an early swim definitely get there before 8am.

Any later than that and you will be looking at lunchtime onwards.

09-25-2009, 08:33 AM
I'm not sure if they've changed it since I last went but I'm sure we were given a specific time slot for the swim with dolphins.

09-25-2009, 08:35 AM
I'm not sure if they've changed it since I last went but I'm sure we were given a specific time slot for the swim with dolphins.

Yes you get a time but only when you checkin on the morning, not before you arrive.

09-25-2009, 08:35 AM
You are allocated a time slot,which can change depending on the weather.
It's an amazing day make sure you spend the whole day there..the food was delicious.:thumbsup2

09-25-2009, 08:36 AM
Yes you get a time but only when you checkin on the morning, not before you arrive.


09-25-2009, 09:03 AM
Be careful if you are booking for kids though..... my Aunt took my nephew (7) and he , who was keen to do it before they travelled - TOTALLY refused to get in the water. With dolphins, with fish, with anything - and when they got back to the villa he would not go in the pool as he saw a leaf and thought it was a fish.

I won't be going as I know my kids , though old enough now, would be scared (also I have ethical problems) but I think my eldest put it the funniest - "who wants to swim in a pool full of fish wee...":lmao:

I guess you either love this sort of thing or hate it....


09-25-2009, 03:43 PM
Has anyone done the dolphin swim at Epcot? Only I am having exactly the same debate and saw the Epcot one was only $150 so about £80-90 - anyone ever done this or know anything about it?

09-25-2009, 04:44 PM
Has anyone done the dolphin swim at Epcot? Only I am having exactly the same debate and saw the Epcot one was only $150 so about £80-90 - anyone ever done this or know anything about it?

I have done Dolphins in Depth at Epcot last year. It is not a dolphin swim. In fact, the dolphin interaction is not guaranteed. Here is my trip report from last year:

Yet another day with an early start for me. I had the Dolphin in Depth tour booked at Epcot. I got up and had my Key Lime Tart and headed to the bus stop. I did not have to wait very long for the bus and I got to the meeting point for the tour way too early. Still, I had brought my book, there were benches and the weather was nice so I did not mind at all. The other participants arrived quite early, too so we started to chat amongst ourselves.

At the meeting time, we were met by two trainers and a supervisor, who ticked us off, gave out name stickers and told us the ground rules (like no taking photos backstage) and then she left us in the capable hands of the trainers. We did a quick round of introductions and were asked what previous experience we had with dolphins. Most people have never had the chance to interact with a dolphin before and I had by far the most previous experience when it came to interacting with dolphins. There was a family of three (mother with son and daughter), two couples and myself. I was the only non-American person in the group, which came as somewhat of a surprise as there are usually plenty of Brits at Discovery Cove and Seaworld.

Once the introductions were over, we headed backstage to The Seas with Nemo and Friends and straight to the changing rooms. We were told to leave our bags and all jewellery in the lockers, but not to get changed at this stage. Once we had locked everything away, we met in the hallway in front of the changing rooms where we were all given a large puzzle piece that represented a body part of a dolphin. We had to put the dolphin back together and where told what each body part does.

Once we completed that task, we headed over to the public areas of the pavilion and were quickly introduced to the four dolphins through the glass. We then headed up through the air-conditioning duct, which had a spiral staircase inside. When we got upstairs, we were right on top of the tanks and got an impression just how big those tanks really are. On the intersection of two of the walkways that run along the top of the tanks, there was a little classroom set up, where we got a talk about the diet of the dolphins. This was followed by a short video about training dolphins and an interactive talk about training methods used with the dolphins. There was nothing new to me there, as they use the same methods and pretty much the same signals that they use at Discovery Cove.

Once the talk was over, we headed back down to the public area, where they had roped off an area right in front of the glass of the dolphin tank for us. They are working on shape recognition with one of the dolphins at the moment and we had a grandstand view of the training and research session.

They had two different shapes, a Mickey head and a T shape that were hung on suction cup hooks on the glass on the tank. A trainer would hold up one of the shapes in between the two shapes and the dolphin had to point towards the corresponding shape. If he succeeded, he was recalled by a trainer at the back of the tank and rewarded. If he got it wrong, he was asked to try again and if he got it wrong again was pointed to the correct shape and then rewarded. They kept swapping the two shapes on the suction cup hooks around. Once the dolphin started to get bored, they stopped.

Once the session was over, we headed to the classroom, where we did an exercise during which we had to guess how long certain items that people might drop in the water will take to degrade. We were totally wrong with this. This was then followed with a talk about conservation issues and a short video. During this session, we also learned that more people are bitten by dolphins around the Florida coast every year than are bitten by sharks.

After the classroom session, we headed back to the changing rooms to get changed into our wetsuits and booties. My hairstyle caused a little excitement. I had my hair braided on one of my cruises and they wove in beads as well. All hair accessories had to be removed and replaces with their hair bands. Unfortunately this was easier said than done with me, and it actually took about 2 hours when I got home after our vacation to remove the braids. There was no way I could have removed them. When I was at Discovery Cove, nobody even blinked about my hair even though I was actually swimming with the dolphin there rather than just standing in waist deep water. I mentioned that to the trainer and she disappeared off somewhere and then came back to check that the beads are completely woven in. She then said I was OK to participate with my braids provided that I tied the rest of my hair into a ponytail with one of their hair bands. I was only too happy to comply.

So we were finally off to see the dolphins. We went through the public areas of the pavilion and up the air-conditioning duct to the top of the tank. There two more trainers, who explained, what would happen, and what we would have to do if the dolphins did not cooperate, met us. We were asked to sit down on seats at the back of the interaction platform while the trainers called two of the dolphins over. We were slip into two groups and each group was assigned a dolphin and a trainer. Once the trainer was happy, we were called over. I felt quite uncomfortable, which really surprised me considering how many dolphin interactions I had done. There was almost no light in that area and I found this twilight very disorientating. Add to that that the platform was sloping downwards and the booties had hardly any grip and I was afraid that I would end up in the tank as the latest dolphin toy. Of course nothing happened and once the dolphin was between me and the edge of the platform, I was a lot happier. We got to touch the dolphin a few times and got a dolphin kiss. We then met another dolphin and were again allowed to touch him. After this we were asked to go back to the seats while they swapped the dolphins back. We were then called forward one at a time to spend some more time touching and hugging the dolphin and have a photo taken with him. Once the photos had been taken, everybody was called back onto the interaction platform and we were each taught the hand signal for a specific behaviour. We were not told what the dolphin would do, but one after the other was asked to make eye contact with the dolphin and give him the hand signal. My signal was for a tail walk. Once the dolphin had performed the correct behaviour, the trainer called him back and the person who gave the hand signal rewarded the dolphin with some fish and a rub down. Once everybody had done their hand signal, we learned some more hand signals, which we carried out together for behaviours like fast swims and breaches. Towards the end of our interaction, we signaled all the dolphins to show off together and then it was time to say goodbye to our new dolphin friends. They even waived goodbye with their tail flukes as we left the water.

We headed back to the changing room to get showered and changed. Afterwards we headed back to the classroom where we had to fill out a customer satisfaction survey, had the chance to ask more question and received our photo and a souvenir t shirt. I was really disappointed in the photo. The photo was really grainy and both mine and the dolphin’s eyes were bright red. We were then escorted back to the meeting point outside the park.


09-25-2009, 06:00 PM
We did DC last year and DBF and I loved it, really enjoyed our day there. It seemed to go by very quickly though!

We got there around 8.30am and we were given a 2.15pm dolphin swim, so I suppose it can vary as to what time allocation you're given. I didn't mind this time though, I had a theory that the water would warm up through the day - my theory proved to be incorrect :lmao: Still very cold!

It is a lot to shell out for and you need to be brave and try everything I think to get your moneys worth. As others have mentioned, make sure you eat and drink, as everything's included and the food is very nice. I don't think we took advantage enough of getting cool drinks throughout the day, I think we were too much in awe of each area we visited.

I loved the bird aviary, the fact you could feed them and they'll come and sit on your arm and shoulder was great. One of them took a shine to my DBF and took to cleaning his neck and shoulders :rotfl2: The trainer told us that the bird was taking the salt off his skin :)

You'll enjoy the day if you go - we did, we're going back again next May with my Mum, Dad and Brother also.

09-25-2009, 06:13 PM
A few pics, long time since I posted them. DS looks young here.






Ware Bears
09-25-2009, 06:29 PM
Great photos, Wayne. :goodvibes

We did Discovery Cove on our first trip ~ it was one of the best experiences of my life and well worth every penny.

09-26-2009, 06:38 AM
we did DC last year during TS faye, and due to this had a bad experience...
if you are on the ddp, by the end of your holiday food is no longer a massive pull, we had eaten everything at the parks, and whilst the food was very good, we just didnt make it worth our while.
Photos are also v expensive, we aware that, if like us, this was a one off, you have to buy the pictures;), its an added expense to a v expensive day already.
the dolphin swim is only about 20-25mins, so at nearly a grand for the five of us, it was an expensive half an hour!
we enjoyed it, but i wouldnt do it again, could think of other things to spend the money on, i think my kids would prefer "retail therapy":lmao:

09-26-2009, 12:14 PM
we did Discovery Cove on 2nd July last year and it was worth every penny although not something we could justify that often.

When we went to Seaworld the next day I remembered seeing something about getting a parking permit so I went to Guest Services to ask about it and was given complimentary parking for 2 weeks - worth asking on your way out the park

09-26-2009, 05:02 PM
We went to DC last year & loved every single minute of it, one thing no one seems to have mentioned even though people have said to book early is that DC is limited to just 1000 people per day.

We loved day & yes the photo's are expensive but they are great way to remember the day. You can relax on the beach sun bathing, go in the lazy river, the bird avery, the Ray Lagoon, The Coral Reef. I think people have also forgot to mention that you are also given your snorkling equipment, sun cream, you borrow the wet suits & you can also borrown the towels as well. The food is really good & the food & drink all day I think is great. I actually think that it is worth the money that you pay out for it, I know the dolphin swim isn't very long but if you like dolphins to me it will be worth but then again my hubby didn't want to do it all but ended up loving it & we are trying to find a way to pay for it again next year.

09-26-2009, 05:42 PM
We did this back in 2005. DW is a big dolphin fan so this was top of our list of things to do and was the first thing booked.
Although we had a good day and bought the pics and video, we have never felt a need to go back. As has already been said it is a very expensive day out and greatly depends on your budget for the whole holiday, as well as your love and interest in the sort of things that are on offer. In general we don't like the water parks so tend to give them a miss anyway.
The lazy river, ray pool and snorkeling with fish near the ship wreck all added to the enjoyment of the day.
My only complaint - and I can see why people would probably disagree with me - is that I think the term 'dolphin swim' is a little exaggerated, but thats just me :)

09-26-2009, 06:03 PM
Maybe I'm biased because DF actually proposed at DC, so I have great memories, but we were there 16th September last year, and thought it was wonderful. We got there for about 7.50am and we got a 10am Dolphin Swim. We first went for some breakfast, which was scrummy - loads to choose from! We then went and got changed and went down to the Aviary, which was just perfect, we even got to meet Luna, the little mini deer who lives around the bushes in the Aviary, and she let us feed her. Our swim was amazing, we have some wonderful photos and memories from our time with Cindy (our dophin), even without the proposal. We spent the rest of the chilling out on the lazy river, snorkelling, petting the rays and sunbathing.
The food was gorgeous, we ate LOADS. There's plenty to choose from and some lovely snacks if you get a bit peckish. It is an expensive day, but I would do it all over again. I have never been so relaxed in my life, and I have some amazing memories and photos. We plan on going again when we are back in Florida for our honeymoon, which will also save me buying SeaWorld & Bush Gardens tickets for the rest of our trip. IMHO it's totally worth the money, and if I never get the chance again I'll have some lovely memories. :goodvibes:

09-27-2009, 05:00 AM
Cleofish how did your hubby to be propose at DC?

I do think that DC is worth it & you the package that includes tickets to Busch Gardens, Seaworld & Aquatica, then you just need to book tickets for Universal & Island of Adventure if you want to go there which you can do here here & for cheaper & I do think it saves you money rather than buying a flexi if you are already looking at doing DC.

09-27-2009, 06:46 AM
We have been to dC twice, the first we did the dolphin swim the second we did not. DC, it being all inclusive, is a wondeful day out and our duaghter (now 11) would chosse DC over any of the parks in Orlando.

You can go to DC on a non Dolphin swin basis and that redcues the cost quite a bit. this year we bought 3 non swim ultimate tickets for £420.

09-27-2009, 09:14 AM
I took my daughter and my Mum in 2006. My daughter was 6 and my mum didn't do the dolphin interaction.I would HIGHLY recommend it although I appreciate that it is a lot of money. We also had the 14 day pass to Busch Gardens and Seaworld (Aquatica wasn't open then)

The service was fantastic, they couldn't do enough for you. The food was out of this world and you can help yourself to snacks and drinks. In fact we took a load of snacks back to our hotel with us in our bag. We also got to keep our mask and tube in the discovery cove net bag so that was a bonus. We still have them now.

The photos we bought there, while quite expensive, were so fantastic. My daughter still talks about it now 3years later.

We're going back to Florida October 2010 and we're deciding between this and the shark diving in Seaworld....I would happily pay to do this again. It really was a special day :goodvibes

09-28-2009, 08:17 AM
i went on the 26th of september last year just my eldest dd and i, couldnt justify taking the rest as they wouldnt have done the dolphin swim and we were on a budget.

i also loved it spent all day there took full advantage of the food drink and snacks,

we went at about 9 and got a swim of 12,40 it suited us, also not being a peak times of year is maby why turning up later was on then.

it is a lot of money but then so is all off the attactions in florida, we wont be going when we go back next year, but hopefully one time we will

09-28-2009, 03:55 PM
Cleofish how did your hubby to be propose at DC?

Well the sneaky boy booked it all online before we left for Florida. The story goes something along the lines that when we checked in (and I was uber giddy about seeing dolphins) he asked the check-in girl to 'use the bathroom', so she escorted him over, and which point he gave her the ring. She then took it away and gave it to the event co-ordinator who was in charge of the whole thing. We then went for our swim as normal at 10am, with the rest of our group, but at the end of the swim the trainer said they hadn't got our family photo properly, so she asked Matt & I to come back down for photos with the dolphin (Cindy). So the photog took a few pics (and I believe at this point they were sorting out behind us), and then the trainer told me sometimes the Dolphins bring back nice things from the water, so asked me to point to send Cindy away (which I did) and then stand with my hand out wide waiting for her to come back (at which point I started to wonder!!). Cindy then launched back at me with a buoy that said "Will You Marry Me?" on it, which I took, read and then hugged DF.

We then had some more photos took with Cindy & my bouy before we went to the shore to lots of 'Congratulations' etc. We were then led by our co-ordinator round to a privae cabana where my ring was in a treasure chest filled with tropical flowers. The cabana was all decked out in flowers, there was a table with a bottle of Champers, a framed picture of the dolphins, a box of choccies and a fridge stocked full of goodies. DF then got down on one knee, gave me my ring and that was that! We were treated like royalty all day, getting food service to the cabana if we wished, and they brought us everything we needed. We got the whole thing on DVD as part of the package, and we bought all the pictures on CD. It was absolutely amazing, and I believe they do a similar package for birthdays, anniversaries etc.
I have been told it cost a pretty penny, but it was worth every bit, and I'll never forget it. Hence why I love DC so much.

Sorry for the thread highjack - I still say the swim is completely worth it though!!:thumbsup2

09-29-2009, 01:31 PM
defiantly worth it if you've never been before its something you have to got to experience at least once not just for the dolphins but for the whole experience. me and my bf did it and we're not big dolphin fans but it was one of the best days of our holiday. even just swimming with the tropical fish and sting rays and feeding them if you catch that at the right time. we even brought all the photos which prob arent worth the money but had to to keep those memory's from an awesome day.