Discovery Cove is a fantastic day and for us a definite high point of any Florida holiday. As with any park or any attraction, there are tips to try and help you make the most of your time. Before we went to Discovery Cove I researched a fair amount then we had a great day at the park (other than some rain in the afternoon). Here we share some of the tips and tricks that we used that made the day work for us and so hopefully will help you to have a great day.
When To Arrive – Th
e first thing I found mentioned a few times was about what time to arrive at the park so as to make the most of the time. The park officially opens at 8am but you are able to enter before that time and so we arrived about 7:20 to make the most of the day. When you first arrive you need to park up and enter the lobby where you are checked in for the day, there you are confirmed your time for the dolphin swim and you are handed your photo pass (nice keep sake) which is also your ticket for the other Seaworld parks if you have booked that ticket type.
Arriving early then gives you a chance to have a calm and pleasant breakfast (of course the price includes all food and drink) from the buffet and think through the day. This means if you can book a good Dolphin Swim time then it is a nice opportunity at 9am to go into the Aviary and feed the birds when they are at their most hungry where they will all come down from the branches and land on you to feed from your hand which the kids loved as much as the adults.
When To Go To Discovery Cove – If you are thinking what time of year then this does not matter that much, other than the more storms there are the more it interrupts the itinerary and there are more typically around September. When it comes to where in your holiday time (14 days most typically) our recommendation that has been to be mid first week this is to ensure everyone has caught up from the travelling, but more importantly so that if there is storms that stop the dolphin interaction you have more time in your holiday to reschedule coming back and complete the Dolphin swim, this also worked well for us with a child with a tummy bug as we were also able to reschedule our Discovery Cove Experience thank you to their support. Part of our thoughts with this is if one of the highlights is towards the end of the holiday we find ourselves almost wishing the holiday away.
What Time To Request The Dolphin Swim On The Day – The timing of the Dolphin swim is not too important from an experience side of things as the Dolphins are seemingly always willing and eager to play and interact but trying to get a swim time mid-morning would be deemed the best time. The reason for this simply being that depending on the time of year the most likely time for rain and thunder is afternoon and as soon as there is thunder and possible lighting all people have to come out of all water, this means all Dolphin interaction stop and remembering the park closes at 5pm this means there is not that much time left.
Let Children Try Snorkeling – A great part of this day is the lagoon with all the amazing fish and the small and large rays, I had not thought that much about it but I even think I might have enjoyed that more than the Dolphin experience as it was so peaceful and there was so much to see and so it was great to float along as a family and watch these amasing animals glide below you and even feel the stingrays. In order to make the most of this you want to feel comfortable in the water and snorkelling. You are given the snorkel and mask at the park but we would recommend practising if this is all new to you! We bought a cheap mask and snorkel and even let the kids play with it in the bath. Did we need to? Would they have been fine without it? We can’t be sure – but they WERE fine with it and they had an amazing time floating for hours amongst these graceful creatures.
Photos & Videos – When you arrive, a family/group photo is taken as a free photo, but once you have done the Dolphin swim you are walked into the photo/video lab to view the photos and decide if you want to buy them. One thing we suggest is to ready yourself for the photo prices, as with any Florida park they are pricey and so if you are ready for the price you will know if you want them or not and avoid the disappointment of having to decide if you have the pennies on the day.
We wanted, as I think most people these days would want, the digital pictures so that you can do what you want with them on your return and so this, of course, is in the top-priced package, it comes along with a DVD of the dolphin experience and a selection of photos in varying sizes including 1 bigger than you could possibly want :). The top package is currently $219 and is 8 photos of different sizes, 2 key rings that are too large to use, the important CD and DVD, super large photo, but also a nice Discovery Cove photo album and photo frame and so you do walk away with a nice bag of things.
DVD – Something I think more people might want to know is that the DVD comes with cheesy washy music over it, and watching a 20-30 min video with it on can be annoying rather quickly and so you, as we did, request the DVD without the music. The music is added as the sound is not great quality and in our example, our cameraman obviously had a bit of a cold and so a good few coughs and sniffs but if we wanted we could add music on, but you cant take it off!
Adding Discovery Cove to your itinerary is a great idea and the dolphins and lagoon are a great time to be had. Our dolphin experience video can be watched on the Discovery Cove Attraction Page to see what it is all about and some of our official photos are below.