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Old 06-05-2012, 11:19 PM   #1
windycitymom
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Discovery Cove Review - Memorial Day weekend

We did Discovery Cove and the dolphin swim for the first time and loved it! Like others have said, it's pricey but worth it. There is free parking and when we arrived there was a short line to enter. They had nice ladies out front greeting people and asking if anyone wanted any water (they handed out plastic water bottles). I'm trying to add pics, but it isn't working.

We ate breakfast first before going to our cabana. It was a nice variety of food like southwest eggs, regular eggs, sausage, bacon, french toast, fruit, cereal, pastries, juices, etc. You could have as much as you wanted.

After breakfast we were escorted to our cabana by our attendant for the day. We were a family of five, mom and dad and three boys (early 20s). We arrived about 8:30 am and got a 12:20 pm dolphin swim. Our cabana overlooked the dolphin lagoon so we were able to watch what happened.

The cabana comes with it's own private fridge stocked with drinks and after 11 am, your attendant will stock your fridge with alcohol. We asked for Bud Light Lime, but you had other choices as well. There is also a larger locker so we could lock things up. The fridge was stocked with minute maid lemonade, coke, coke zero, sprite and water. He also brought a basket of snacks (chips, pretzels, granola bars, trail mix). Of course we could have any snacks at any of the stands. There were four chairs and 2 chaise lounges in the cabana. There was also an overhead fan. I paid $229 for the cabana with premium package and I would do it again (mind you, I'm very budget oriented).

I also purchased the premium photo/video package which was $175. We received a CD of our pics, a DVD of the entire dolphin swim, a large poster, seven 6x8 photos, 2 key chains. Without the premium package, the CD disc is $150 alone, so it was worth it for all the extras.

The bird aviary was very cool, however, I did get some bird doo-doo on me, but the staff have towels you can use to wipe it off LOL. The warm water river was really nice too. The reef with sting rays and fish was amazing! They should call it a "dolphin encounter" not a "dolphin swim" because you really aren't swimming with the dolphins, but you are interacting with them. You get to pet them, feed them fish and watch them do tricks. Then, you grab onto the fin and the dolphin pulls you to shore. Because we bought the premium package, we surprised our son by having a dolphin bring him a buoy that said "Happy Birthday." He was totally surprised as we didn't tell anyone what we were doing. It was great fun and worth the money to me. Swimming with a dolphin was on my bucket list. I'm so glad we bought the premium photo package.

After our dolphin swim we went and had lunch. There is lots of variety and you could ask for whatever you wanted. Our boys ate their share of food and more! There were plenty of tables and chairs too. You could also get beer and wine at lunch too.

I was very impressed with our attendant (Shannon) and didn't expect him to be so attentive. He brought us our swim vests, and my husband asked for a wet suit. He got our sizes right just by looking at us. He took our alcohol order and said he would have it waiting in our fridge after 11 am. He would stop by and ask if he could bring us anything. He brought us pina colada's and warm pretzels. When we finished with our dolphin swim, he was waiting there to hand us towels! We felt so pampered. Luckily I had some cash on me so I could tip him. I would rent a cabana again in a heartbeat!

We showered there afterwards and they have towels stocked in the bathroom so you can shower with fresh towels. There is also shampoo and body wash in the showers. They provide plastic bags so you can put your wet suit in there when finished. They had two hair dryers. They have an attendant in the bathroom at all times sweeping the wet floor and stocking up on towels.

This was a very relaxing and fun day. It was not a "budget day" but the memories will last a lifetime!!! Even though my boys are young men, it was priceless seeing the smiles on their face. They loved it too and had the best time! If you are thinking about it, just go for it!!

Our attendant told us that wedding proposals happen at DC almost daily, and sometimes that get 5-6 in one day. It's cute because the dolphin brings a buoy that says "Will You Marry Me?".

Let me know if you have any questions, and if someone tells me how to post pics I will.
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Old 06-06-2012, 04:49 AM   #2
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THANKS for a great review. We are going in August and can't wait. I booked a premium package cabana too. Glad you put the info in there about tipping the cabana attendant. I would have never thought about that. Putting that on my list so I have cash handy.

When you go view and purchase your pictures. Did you do that right at the end of the day or should I leave some time earlier in the afternoon to do that? And where else do they take pics, other than in the dolphin encounter area?


OH, any scoop on the status of the opening of the Freshwater Oasis??
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Old 06-06-2012, 05:14 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bas71873 View Post
When you go view and purchase your pictures. Did you do that right at the end of the day or should I leave some time earlier in the afternoon to do that? And where else do they take pics, other than in the dolphin encounter area?
I know, for sure, that photographers are also found in the aviary and by the waterfall in the lazy river (though not constantly in either location). They may be other places as well.

We picked up our photos at about 3:45 or so. Lines were minimal at that time, but I can imagine things would get much busier right at park closing time.

OP.....great review! Makes me that much more excited for our next visit in August!!
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Old 06-06-2012, 10:04 AM   #4
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Thank you

Thank you for this post, we are taking my mom next summer and I have been looking for TR on DC
Thanks again
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Old 06-06-2012, 01:51 PM   #5
windycitymom
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For the photos, they take you immediately after your dolphin swim to go view and select the photos. Your photos are uploaded immediately to a screen so you can see them. I knew I was getting the premium photo package for $175 so I just had to choose which photos I wanted for the 6x8 photos that they print out there. They also give you a CD of all of your photos so there is no need to fret over which ones to print. Later on, then you go pick up your finished package around 4 pm or so. Our attendant escorted us to where we go pick up our package. There was no one in line so I was helped immediately.

They also take a complimentary group photo when you first enter DC. This if free regardless if you purchase a photo package or not. There was also a photographer in the aviary and we had him take a family photo, but usually he likes to take photos of the birds on you. We didn't see any photographers anywhere else.

I was hoping the Freshwater Oasis would be open, but it wasn't. No one would give a date when it would be open. That seems really cool, so I guess I'll have to come back some day. I was amazed at all the stingrays in the reef. I'm glad I wore water shoes ($10 from Walmart) because I would have been afraid of accidentally stepping on a stingray or stepping on a slimey rock.

I don't know if DC was at capacity or not, but it didn't seem very crowded at all for it being Memorial Day weekend. The longest line was for the food, but even that moved along.
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Old 06-06-2012, 01:58 PM   #6
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Thanks for the info windycitymom!!

Water shoes. Never would have thought about that, but that's probably because I hate shoes and am either barefoot or in flip flops when the weather is cooperating.
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Old 06-10-2012, 10:42 PM   #7
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thanks for the great review! we will be there for Father's day, and I booked a cabana as a surprise for hubby.

now I"m wondering if I should upgrade to premium package - there is a discount for the photos with that, right?
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