Discovery Cove Detailed Trip Report

Discussion in 'Sea World / Discovery Cove' started by brenda1966, Nov 11, 2012.

  1. brenda1966

    brenda1966 DIS Veteran

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    I don't see a Sea World Trip Reports section, so I guess I'll post here in detail about our day to give others an idea about what it's like:

    Discovery Cove November 1, 2012


    The first challenge was buying tickets and justifying the cost. When I started looking the price was $259 per person, plus tax for our dates. Ouch! I waited, hoping a fall deal would come out, and finally AMEX offered one. I was able to get our tickets for $189 each, so with taxes right around $400 to walk through the gate. What does that buy us? A full day at Discovery Cove and use of the facilities, breakfast, snacks, lunch, and drinks; use of wet suits, snorkels, masks, sunscreen and a locker; the dolphin swim; and unlimited entrance to Sea World and Aquatica water park for 2 weeks. I think it’s still an expensive day, but when I remind myself of all that included it’s not as painful. (We did go to Sea World for 2 days and really enjoyed our time there. It was too cold for Aquatica and I read the park was even closed for 2 days due to the cold weather. )

    I buy our tickets about 6 weeks in advance and I select November 1st as the date and dumb luck couldn’t have timed it better. The cold weather that Super Storm Sandy had pushed down to Florida was moving on out and the temperatures were on the rise. Granted, it’s still cool and a bit windy during the day, but not cold like the previous days. We arrive at Discovery Cove at 8am. You can check in as early as 7:30, but since it is still quite cold in the morning I didn’t want to get one of the first dolphin swims. I wanted an early swim but was hoping for 10am. What luck – our swim is for 10:05! Perfect timing! We are checked in and then go eat breakfast. It’s a buffet with plenty of offerings to get us ready for a full day ahead.

    After breakfast we get our wet suits. I’m pleased to see they have full length wet suits. I had seen the short sleeved ones online and the vests that some people wear, but we are not cold water fans, so we both opt for the long sleeve, long pant suits. We struggle mightily to get them on. It is VERY difficult to just get them past your feet and onto your legs. Then to get them up and over your shoulders is also a challenge. Once you get it zipped up you feel like you can’t even breathe. Once dressed, we waddle over to the Aviary to feed the birds. My daughter feeds them while I take pictures. We see a beautiful white Peahen and enjoy watching the birds. Soon it’s time to go check in for our dolphin swim.

    We check in for the dolphin swim at 9:55 and sign our life away. They tell us a bit about what to expect and then we head into the water in groups of 8 or so. The water is mid to low 70’s and we are thankful for those full-length wet suits. We spend about 30 minutes in the water. First we meet Sasha and she’s a playful 6 year old. The trainer has her swim back and forth in front of us and we get to touch her and pet her each time. We each get a chance to feed her a fish. The trainer has her do some little tricks for us and make sounds for us (all sounds are made with their blowhole). Then we take photos with Sasha, one photo kissing her and then a family photo standing with her. It’s all very fun being in the water with her. Since she is young and playful (she swims off a few times) they bring in an older, bigger dolphin for our “ride”. Dixie is 40 and she’s the top dolphin. She is huge and we get a glimpse of her powerful 600 pounds as she swims back and forth in front of us so we can pet her – when her tail brushes up against your legs you understand the power. For the ride we swim out about 12 feet and tread water until she comes and picks you up. You hold onto her top fin with your right hand and her side fin with your left and she swims you back to the shallow end. It’s a bit scary and thrilling at the same time. After a few more pets and a belly rub our 30 minutes with the dolphins are over. I think we both really enjoyed it. It didn’t feel rushed and the excitement and the long wet suits kept us warm.

    Next we head to the Grand Reef. The water here is cold like the dolphin pool. We ease in and swim around a bit getting used to the snorkel and being with the fish and rays. There are quite a lot of fish and it’s a bit intimidating at first. Finally DD gets the hang of it and we make our way around the pool. There are areas that are nice and deep for the fish to swim and then little “rocks” and ledges around so that you can stop and stand up and take a break. We swim all around the pool and at one point I see a ray so big sitting on the bottom in the sand that I think it just has to be a statue. I ask – it’s not. It’s real and HUGE! We swim over schools of fish and see a lot of rays. We spend probably about 45 minutes here until we both start to get cold and decide we’ve had enough snorkeling. We quickly grab some snacks and then head to the warm water.

    Next stop is the Lazy River. The water is nice and warm. We are still wearing our wet suits and I wonder if we’ll get too warm in them – we don’t – we wear them all day. There are noodle-like floatation things around that can be used and we grab some and make our way through the lazy river. It is wonderful. When we are at a water park and you ask us what our favorite part is we’ll usually always say the lazy river! At one point the river comes to a waterfall and you can get out and walk around or go through. On the other side is the Aviary and there are birds flying around. In this area DD finds a small dead fish on the bottom of the pool and when she lifts it out of the water the birds come swooping down onto her. She lays the fish on the rocks so the birds can eat it and spends much of her time now looking for more fish and feeding the birds. To get out of the Aviary we go through another waterfall. It really is quite a long lazy river and we make the loop twice.

    Next we head to the new Freshwater Oasis. The water feels even a tad bit warmer here – really nice. There are some chairs to sit in the water and some paths to follow around, like the lazy river. In the middle are some small monkeys and in one area is a big glass window to an otter enclosure. The otters are sleeping and it’s after 1pm so lunch time for us so after one loop around this pool we get out for lunch. It’s a buffet again with plenty of options to choose from. The line is a bit long but moves along fast enough.

    After lunch we head back to the lazy river to look for more dead fish to feed the birds. It’s a nice sunny day but the wind has picked up a bit so we are both happy to have our wet suits on. After a while I decide I should go and purchase our photo package to avoid the late day rush. The cost of photos is criminal, but I want the photos and the CD so I fork over my credit card. The price of a nice wood frame is only $20 so that makes me feel a bit better about my extravagant purchase. I suggest DD get out of the water for a snack break, but she’ll have none of that. She just enjoys playing in the water so much. We finish our day in the Freshwater Oasis and are pleased to see the 5 juvenile otters are awake and quite active. They are siblings and follow each other all around. At one point a trainer comes in and feeds them fish and we get to see them swim around and grab the fish. We spend a lot of time in the water, floating, just watching the otters. We stay in the water until 5:30 PM when it closes and they shoo everyone out of the pools.

    The shower area is crowded but well stocked with towels and shampoo and conditioner. By the time we shower, grab snacks and hot tea and make our way out the front door it’s nearly 6:30pm. I’m impressed that we swam all day and only got chilled that one time in the Grand Reef. I’m ready to buy a wet suit for all my swimming needs!

    Overall I would say the day was a huge success and a highlight of our trip. We both really enjoyed the dolphin interaction and I think the timing of doing it early and doing the other cold pool early really was a good strategy. It allowed us to relax and play in the other pools without having to worry about being on time for anything. I also think moving from warm water to cold water is really hard on people like us whose lips turn blue easily, so doing the cold water pools early worked well for us.

    Would I go to Discovery Cove again? I think so, not soon, but maybe in a few years. The whole day was very enjoyable and a nice change of pace. We both just love being in the water, so lounging in the lazy river is right up our alley. There isn’t a lot to “do” in the park, no water slides, no water rides, just beautiful pools to lounge and relax and float in. There are tons of lounge chairs around and we saw quite a few people just relaxing in them. That’s not something that interests us. I couldn’t even get her out of the pool to get more snacks. I think a lot of people like the free drinks and food and snacks and like sitting around consuming those items.

    Would I go to Discovery Cove and not do the Dolphin Swim? No, although it reduces the price a bit I think the dolphin interaction was really fun and really the main reason to spend that much money for a day in a water park. If I wanted to just hang out at a water park and not touch a dolphin, I can go to the Disney water parks for much less money (although they don’t have wet suits). For us, the reason to go to Discovery Cove was to interact with the dolphin and we found the whole day quite a fun and enjoyable day.
     
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  3. janinca

    janinca Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for the trip report. Sounds like a great day. I will be posting my trip report very soon as well. Interesting that our conclusions on the dolphin swim are completely different. It is fun to read reports and see the differences in what made the day great for different people.
     
  4. brenda1966

    brenda1966 DIS Veteran

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    [​IMG]
    Added a photo of our adventure.
     
  5. janinca

    janinca Mouseketeer

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    Very nice! Thanks for adding that. What was your dolphin's name?
     
  6. brenda1966

    brenda1966 DIS Veteran

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    That is Sasha. But we rode Dixie.
     
  7. janinca

    janinca Mouseketeer

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    I showed my son your dolphin picture and he said their dolphin looks all fresh and new! LOL I guess compared to our old guy she does.
     
  8. brenda1966

    brenda1966 DIS Veteran

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    Yes, Sasha was a young one -- only 6 and playful. Not all nicked and scarred yet! But too playful to ride. Also much smaller than Dixie, who was 40.
     

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