Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Discovery Cove, Orlando Review

This past weekend, my husband, eight year old son and I had a chance to explore Discovery Cove, Orlando and I am so excited to tell you about it! I have to say, this was seriously one of my absolute favorite experiences that I have had related to this blog, or really in my life. Discovery Cove impressed all of us so much, and we had a terrific day together!

We first arrived at 8:45, which we thought was prior to opening but that was not the case. Apparently, they start letting people in at around 7:30, but you cannot start swimming until 8:30. I was a little bummed because you get your ticket to experience the Dolphins based on a first come, first serve basis, so I thought that we would not be seeing the dolphins until late that afternoon, but that was not the case at all. We ended up with passes to see the Dolphins at 9:50, so not a long wait at all! We then were greeted by a personal guide, Tina, who escorted us to the cabana that we had reserved for us.  This cabana was stocked with snacks and drinks. It was nice having an amazing place to get out of the sun and just relax for a while! It had a fan going too, so it was a great place to cool off from the hot Florida sun. Since our swim with the dolphins was so soon after we got there, we had just enough time to grab a wet suit for the boys (and a vest for myself because my pregnant belly would not be fitting nicely in a wet suit) and head to the fully equipped bathroom to get changed. I mention fully equipped because there are showers, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, clean towels and even a blow dryers for you to get cleaned off at the end of the day.  We then headed to the Dolphins and got to experience Roxy first hand!

I was initially shocked at how a Dolphin felt. I did not expect them to feel so rubbery in texture. They felt nothing like a fish (I was explained it was because they are mammals!) Roxy is very well trained, and knew exactly what she was doing. She truly is a majestic creature! The trainers and support staff were so very knowledgeable about the HUGE influx of questions I had for them! Nothing I threw at them had them perplexed. After doing a few tricks to show off Roxy, we were able to have her take us for a swim, and even got a chance to kiss her. I admit, it seemed a little weird to kiss a dolphin, but it was a once in a lifetime experience, so I did it...but just know that's the reason for my weird face in the photo. Unfortunately, they do not allow any kind of camera while you are having your dolphin experience, so unless you have someone on shore, you will have to purchase photos (which I did-again, once in a lifetime!)

After we spent about 30 minutes with Roxy, we headed back to our cabana where we went for a little swim with Sting Rays. This worried me some, so I asked Tina if it was completely safe, and she assured me that it was because these guys get their barbs trimmed regularly. Hello, Steve Irwin, I just had to make sure! My son loved this the most, and had a blast out there snorkeling and taking nice photos underwater of the fish and rays.

Then it was lunchtime (they include breakfast until 9 too but we missed it!) so we headed over. All snacks and food, even alcohol, is free in the park!! Free icees all day for this pregnant lady with her icee craving, made for a happy mama! Lunch was pretty amazing. My son had chicken tenders, fries, strawberries and chocolate cake. I had a bacon burger, mac and cheese, steamed veggies and cheesecake and my husband had similar to me. It was definitely NOT fast food quality, and delicious!! They have soft pretzels, warm cookies, chips, rice crispy treats and more for snacks throughout the day, which we took full advantage of! For those wanting alcohol (we did not take advantage of that because I am pregnant and hubby is our driver) I saw Parot Ice and beer. It had me wishing I was NOT pregnant for the afternoon!

We then spent some time between the Wind-Away River and Fresh Water Oasis. In the Oasis, you can watch otters interact as you relax in the water and stay cool, which is pretty neat. The River was quite the workout in some places, but had a nice stream that pushed you along too! The water in both of these places was a bit warmer, so it did not take getting used to like the other places. We enjoyed using the supplied noodles and swim vests for my son because the water gets as deep as 8 foot in some places. We also visited the aviary, which I did not think that I would get my boys out of. The food for the birds is also complimentary, so we had plenty of interaction with the birds. One landed on my husbands shoulder and stayed with him for the duration of our visit, and both my son and myself had a visitor on our head!! There are three separate rooms with different types of birds to interact with!

After all that, we headed back to the cabana, allowed our son to swim with the rays a little more, snacked, and picked up our photos (One complimentary photo was included when we arrived at the park!) We then showered, and headed out. We stayed thoroughly entertained until around 5pm (park closes at 5:30) and had an absolute blast!

I will tell you, that for our family on a budget, the price is pretty alarming at first. However, once you factor in that the park also includes 14 days of unlimited Sea World and Aquatica admissions after your visit to Discovery Cove, really this price is your entire VACATION! For this time of year, for a Florida resident, the park admission is $150. To include the dolphin package, you are looking at around $220. That includes all food and drinks, and again, the Sea World and Aquatica visits! Kids 2 and under get in for free as well. The experience was WELL worth it to us! We loved everything about Discovery Cove and will definitely be going back when our toddler is old enough to experience the dolphins for himself! It is the perfect family friendly place where parents can relax a little. There are ample life guards and also I saw a lot of amenities for physically disabled people to be able to experience the park and enjoy themselves too!

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 Disclosure: This trip was received in order to facilitate review. I have not been compensated for this post. Top Notch Material blog will always provide honest opinions, beliefs or experiences on products reviewed. We will only recommend products or services that we feel are of benefit to our readers. If you have any questions, please contact me at nursemommypaige at yahoo dot com. The disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


  1. WOW this is a trip think that we will be taking next summer. Just from the review I might spend a lifetime there. Being a florida girl myself I have shied away from the beaches because of the shark attacks. But this looks like what I have been looking for to do. Thanks for the beautifully written review

  2. I was wondering if this was worth the price of admission and now I have my answer thanks to your wonderful review!! It will be going on my list of places!!