Having been to 50 states and several countries, people often ask about our favorite place. The answer is Discovery Cove in Orlando, Florida.
Admittedly, we worried we built the day up too much in our memories. Our visit was over 6 years ago and the day remains legendary in our minds. However, could a second visit to Discovery Cove really compare to the perfect day we remember?
We needed to find out!
I’m happy to report, our second time visiting exceeded our expectations. We’ve had no shortage of amazing travel experiences. But trust me when I say, our recent trip to Discovery Cove officially turned into our best day ever.
In a way, I’d describe Discovery Cove as Orlando’s best kept secret. It definitely flies under the radar of all the other theme parks. Often when I mention that it’s our favorite place in the world, people ask, “what is it?”
Description of Paradise
For those wondering, Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive day resort owned by Seaworld. It’s part marine experience, part tropical oasis. During the span of one day you can snorkel with stingrays, ride dolphins, float around a lazy river, and lay out on the beach. Not to mention indulging in all you can eat food and beverages.
Think cruise, without boarding a boat or showing your passport (assuming you live in the US!)
One of the best parts about the park is the exclusivity. The maximum number of tickets sold each day is 1,300. While the park is not overwhelmingly huge, it still feels like a very private resort experience.
Everything in the park is done with great attention to detail. From the food, to the different pool areas- care has been taken to make sure it’s perfect.
Admittedly, the ticket price is steep. It’s definitely a splurge kind of place for most people. However, I can’t stress how much it’s worth every penny!
Tips for booking Discovery Cove
- Ticket prices fluctuate throughout the year. Traditionally busy times are more expensive (summer, spring break.)
- Historically, September and October are good months to book for several reasons. First, it’s some of the lowest prices of the year. Secondly, the weather is still very predictably warm. And finally, many kids are back in school which makes the park volume very low.
- Sign up to receive emails. There is almost always a booking promotion. The worst promotion I’ve seen is for the premium drink package ($40 per adult.) The best promotion we’ve seen is 40% off admission. Try to take advantage of booking with a perk.
- You are able to adjust your park date within 14 days on either side of the day you book. You get one complimentary rebooking, and after that it’s $50 to adjust your reservation. If you rebook, you will not pay the difference (or be refunded the difference) if it’s within that window.
- If you are in the area for a few days, definitely take advantage of the SeaWorld and/or Aquatica ticket options. They are a fraction of the price if you book as a package.
- During your visit, you are offered the option to add a second day for 50% off admission within 7 days. If you want to spend another day in paradise at Discovery Cove, this would be how you’d want to book!
Things to Know About A Day At The Park
- Discovery Cove is open from 7AM to 5PM. Plan to arrive as close to 7 as possible. This allows you to get checked in, and gives you first priority on times for your animal encounters. Breakfast is served starting at 7:30, and you can also get a locker and wetsuit. The pools all open at 9AM.
- The dolphin swim is the most popular animal encounter. It is an add-on to the general admission price. If you’ve never done it before, it’s must. Children must be 6 years or older. Anyone in the family not participating can stand very close on the beach and take pictures. Otherwise, all photos are taken by a professional in the water.
- There are a lot of other add-on experiences: stingray feeding, trainer for a day, shark swim, SeaVenture. Quite honestly, unless you just WANT to do one of these- you certainly don’t need to. There is plenty to fill your day included in the park admission, and you will not feel like you’re missing out.
- The only other add ons possible are cabanas and day beds. Our first time at Discovery Cove we were gifted a cabana because it was pouring rain most of the day. Having small children, I can say it was incredibly nice to have a dry cozy place to relax when we weren’t in the water. Our most recent visit we saw no need for a cabana or day-bed. We barely got out of the water!
- Drink and snack stations are unlimited and open all day. Don’t miss the warm chocolate chip cookies they put out in the afternoon!
- If you do any of the animal encounters, you’ll want to plan to purchase a photo package.
There’s truly not a more special place in the world than Discovery Cove!
As always, thanks for keeping up with all of our crazy adventures. You may also enjoy reading:
*This post may contain affiliate links. By making a purchase after clicking through a link, Mom With A Map may receive a commission.