There are no sky-high roller coasters or cartoon characters at SeaWorld Orlando’s Discovery Cove, but that’s sort of the point. More a secluded natural oasis than a typical theme park, the marquee attraction here is the opportunity for one-on-one animal encounters, including a 30-minute swim session with dolphins, snorkeling among hundreds of brightly colored tropical fish, and wading in a lagoon filled with rays.
In addition to the up-close animal interactions, the lush grounds also house an aviary and a beautiful temperature-controlled swimming area.
The point of a visit to Discovery Cove is to experience a day of exclusive relaxation, much as one might find when visiting a private island. As such, admission prices are all-inclusive; it’s $289 for a day that incorporates the dolphin encounter and $189 without it, although I can’t imagine coming and not participating in this one-of-a-kind experience.
Food and drinks throughout the day, gear rental for snorkeling, towels, lockers, beach chairs, and even sunscreen are included in the price of admission. (Private cabanas are available for an additional rental charge.)
Even better, admission to Discovery Cove also includes 14 days of consecutive admission to SeaWorld Orlando or Busch Gardens in Tampa. Reservations are required and should be made well in advance, as the park is filled to capacity most days; reservations made more than 100 days in advance are eligible for discounted rates. There are also occasional seasonal discounts.
The Trainer for a Day program adds an additional semiprivate dolphin interaction (you can ride them!), a behind-the-scenes tour and Q&A session with a trainer, and a gift bag; adding this program brings the total admission fee to $488.
© Jason Ferguson from Moon Florida, 1st Edition