Discovery Cove: cabana and dolphin swim questions


Ringleader to 3 kids in a Disney loving family
Apr 19, 2010
I'm new to Discovery Cove so I have a few questions. Yes, I looked through the stickied thread and I've gone to the DC website, watched videos, etc.

Have you rented a Cabana? What's your impression on that - would you do it again? Pros, cons.

Did you do the dophin swim or not? Any regrets either way? Or tips?

Any general DC tips you want to share?

Thanks in advance!


DIS Veteran
Sep 12, 2008
We have been to Discovery Cove now six (maybe 7? :scratchin) times. Half the time with a cabana, half the time without. Half the time doing the dolphin swim, half the time not.

Cabanas are a wonderful splurge but absolutely not a necessity (and you won't miss one if you don't have one.....seating and shade are both plentiful, and you spend so much time "doing" that you likely won't be in the cabana much anyway). That said, they're a nice meeting point if you have a group .... like two couples or older teens .... and a nice private spot if you have a baby that needs to snooze at some point during the day.

I always say the dolphin swim is a must-do on a first visit. Definitely have the experience once. Picking between the cabana or the dolphin swim would be a no brainer for me: dolphin swim for sure! (and the photo package too, if you can swing it....the pictures are the best souvenir EVER)

Tips: if you want to take advantage of the all-you-care-to-enjoy alcohol, plan to Uber there and back.

If you are doing the dolphin swim, arrive early (7:15 am if possible). That will get you one of the earlier dolphin swims. Afternoon Florida rain showers can often crop up and foul up afternoon swim times.

Visit the aviary as early as possible. The birds will be hungrier and more willing to eat from your hand.

The Grand Reef will be clearer earlier in the morning, before all the snorkelers stir up the sandy bottom. Be prepared, though.....the water is pretty chilly.

Don't plan anything for the evening. You're going to be tired from all day in the water and sunshine.

The warm chocolate chip cookies are AMAZING. Plan to grab some from the snack kiosks in the early afternoon.

The upgraded drink package (in our humble opinion) is not worth the extra $$ unless you are big drinkers. Tried it two weeks ago and was underwhelmed.

I'll post more if anything else comes to mind.

    DIS Veteran
    Jul 22, 2017
    I thought the dolphin swim was awesome and well worth the extra. We did not get the photo package - we did 2 separate swims, and brought a DSLR w/ telephoto lens & got great photos of each other that way. The best spot to shoot from is behind the photographer for your party's group - they pose all the photos in that direction. If you ask, they'll point you to the best spot to photograph from.

    The rest of the day was also fantastic. Grand reef is great. My friend was very nervous as she's not a swimmer, but used a life jacket and also really enjoyed the reef, as well as the warm lazy river which flows through the aviary.

    Definitely agree to go to the aviary first thing after it opens. There are 3 different rooms, so you can go past into the second or third room to feed in there while most people dawdle in the first one. The birds are much more enthusiastic before being fed all day. It is still cool to go back later, but for more attention from the birds first thing after they open is tops.

    There are free lockers in multiple locations. You can use different locker locations throughout the day for convenience.

    In addition to the free booze, there are also free sodas & slushies in multiple flavors and locations. With all the free drinks, there are also lots of bathrooms around. The swim vest is easier to deal with than the full wet suit in regards to taking it on and off, but either is do-able. You may need to pee in pairs to zip each other back in after...

    They have warm pretzels, chips, tiny rice crispy treats, peanuts, etc. for snacks available all day at the drink locations.

    I honestly can't see needing a cabana. You can toss stuff on any available lounge chair (they are plentiful) & have a meeting place that way. The lockers are free anyways for valuables. They are decent size lockers, and again you can get multiples if you need. They have towels available, sunscreen included, and shampoo/soap in the showers after so you can pack fairly light. They also provide bags for your wet suit afterwards.


    Oct 27, 2016
    The dolphin swim was the reason we went, for my daughters, but I can also see skipping next time myself as there is much to to do otherwise. Also it's a great place to relax.

    Re: aviary. You can also enter it via the not so lazy river! It's a nice break from floating around.
  • suevee

    <font color=red>I am in a frenzy!<br><font color=r
    Mar 28, 2000
    I am not a water person but my grands and daughter are. For me the cabana was wonderful. I love it.


    DIS Veteran
    Feb 13, 2006
    We did the cabana and absolutely loved it. We were on the back side of the stingray pool, which made for some long walks but it was awesome to have private access and a shallow area almost all to ourselves. We also did the dolphin swim and think it’s a must do, but really enjoyed swimming with the rays more. I think I was in that pool for about a total of 4 hours.

    If you are looking to do the dolphin swim and the cabana take a look at the elite package where you get a cabana and pictures for a lower cost than buying separately. It even comes with a few nice souvenirs (a bouy, picture frame, towel and bag).


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